"Black Snow"

European Starling

        Just as February was coming to a close, the streets of St. George felt a coat of white snowflakes fall upon them. The weather forecast told that snow was possible, but it was Spring in Dixie, or supposed to be. Spring is when migrating birds travel in large flocks on their way to the breeding grounds. When those flocks need rest and food, they will settle out of the sky like a soft, black cloud covering an open field or maybe the bare branches of a tree. Many times they are forced to fly on to where the weather is better.

        We were looking out our window, into our pasture, and all we could see were low clouds and white snow falling. The next moment it looked as though black snow was falling, and soon the ground was literally covered with black feathered snowflakes. A large flock of Starlings had settled for a little ‘rest and rehab’ right next to our house. The air was full of songs and chattering. When we looked in the front yard at our feeders, the trees were full of Starlings. Starlings aren’t everybody’s favorite, but their singing is legendary.

        Cold blustery days can turn out to be a great time to view birds. These early migrant Starlings were sure the weather in the St. George area would be warm and balmy, as the chamber of commerce had advertised. Now they sat bedraggled and wet, trying to find themselves shelter and something to eat. The birds were only on the ground a short time when a Sharp-shinned Hawk appeared overhead and zippppp - the whole flock took to the air, for there’s safety in numbers. Truly this was Nature in action. What a great wet weekend!

        Marilyn Davis is the artist. If you have questions about birds, or need details of upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon Presentation and Field Trip, call 435 673-0996. Members and the public are welcome

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