by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Stuck in Dixie"

Tree Swallow

tree swallow
       Over this last week there was three inches of snow in Beaver, Utah and heavy cold rains mixed with snow across the State.  What happened to spring up north?  This is the kind of weather that can raise havoc in the bird world.  

        Imagine in your mind a huge cold blanket that lays from the Black Ridge on I-15 to points north through the State of Utah.  Under this cold blanket there are few insects, for it’s too cold for them to hatch out.  Many birds start their migration pattern as far south as South America and head north.   They begin their journey according to seasons that are integrated into their body and DNA.

        Driving the Washington Fields, going to Sandia Nursery to purchase flowers and vegetables, we noted the air above each agriculture field was filled  with thousands of Swallows.  Driving toward home, there were even more Swallows next to the Virgin River searching the skies for anything that  might look like an edible bug.  Thousands of Swallows have arrived in Washington County this year only to run into this cold wall of atmosphere sitting over the north where there is no insect food base.  The weather forecast says that our weather is going to improve, but up north it is still going to be cold and rainy.  Wet, cold weather may cause people to grumble at the inconvenience, but for birds it’s a matter of survival.  There are only so many insects to share, and once the food supply is exhausted the birds will be stuck in Dixie, against that cold blanket of air, with no place to go.  If it weren’t for birds like Swallows, we would be up to our armpits with bugs.  They are one of man’s best friends and benefactors.   Enjoy the many Swallows, and hope for better weather up north.  

        The artist for the Tree Swallow is Marilyn Davis.  The next General Meeting for the Red Cliffs Audubon is Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at 7:00 p.m. at the Tonaquint Nature Center.  Come early and see if you don’t find two or three Swallow species flying in the area.   The following Saturday is our Field Trip to see the California Condor at Kolob Reservoir.  Meet at 7:00 a.m. at the BLM.  Bring lunch.  Public is welcome.  If you would like to know more about birds, quirks in the weather, and upcoming activities, contact the Red Cliffs Audubon at 673-0996 or check out our home page.  

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