The Golden-crowned Sparrow is ‘the bird’ to find if you live in southern Utah. The normal range is along the coastline of California, Oregon, Washington, western Canada, and Alaska. Every once in a while one slips through the imaginary range barrier and ends up in southern Utah. On one of my first Christmas Bird Counts, at Zion National Park, our Christmas Bird Count (CBC) team spotted a flock of White-crowned Sparrows, and right in the midst of 25 birds was a Golden-crowned Sparrow! I didn’t know it was so special until the others in the party started jumping up and down. Well, maybe not quite like that, but the enthusiasm was enormous! Christmas Bird Counts are a great place to learn what’s what, how to identify bird life, and to have a lot of fun.
The Christmas Bird Counts are coming soon. You too can have the thrill of becoming a ‘birder’ if you so desire. Each year volunteers spend the whole day walking, driving, or just observing how many birds are in a particular area. Give me a call to sign up. St. George CBC is Tuesday, December 14. Silver Reef CBC is Thursday, December 16. Volunteers are assigned with one or two bird specialist to verify unfamiliar species. This is a full day affair with nature. The habitat varies from fields, open range, wooded areas, reservoirs, rivers, and wetlands. You will be placed in an area that suits you best. Information is passed on to the National Audubon Society so they will know what is happening in the bird world and if a bird specie is increasing or decreasing, and why. You will need warm clothes, binoculars, a bird book, a lunch or nearby place to stop for food.
Who knows, this just might be the year for you to find a Golden-crowned Sparrow. Golden-crowns can easily be mixed in with other bird species. Look for the golden crown, bordered by black on the head. This large sparrow has white wing bars, brown and black stripes on the back, and a long tail. The Golden-crowned has a descending, three-note whistle. The Alaskan gold miners heard, and came to know this bird well. They used to call it the Weary Willie bird because its song sounded like ‘I’m so weary’. Today people tell me they think the song is ‘oh-dear-me’. Birding can be fun. Add a new dimension in your life, go on a Christmas Bird Count.
The artist this week is Judy Warren. The drawing is colored pencil. For more information about birds, or the Christmas Bird Count, call Marilyn or Keith Davis at 435 673-0996.