ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"Oak Grove and Hummers"
For a real treat this summer, plan to visit Oak Grove Campground on Pine Valley Mountain. Take the Leeds exit from I-15 to Silver Reef and keep going west. The road turns to hard gravel just before you enter the Dixie National Forest. I remember going there with my family back when the steep road would make our car radiator boil over. There were several small streams feeding into Leeds Creek along the way, and it came in handy with the radiators we used to have on cars back then. The road was really narrow and it kept all us kids quiet, watching ahead for any cars coming down the canyon. Well, it is still narrow, but with lots of pull offs to the side of the road. If you don’t mind backing up or pulling off to let another vehicle pass, this will be a great place to go. It is cool, lots of huge trees and bushes, and a zillion birds singing.
Just a few years back we were coming down from the Hurricane Mesa road to highway nine and saw this huge mountain on fire. The whole eastern face of Pine Valley Mountain was burning. We could see flames and smoke billowing as each new strand of timber was engulfed. The fire went on for days until it finally burned out. Fortunate for you and me, Oak Grove Campground was left untouched. Today the burned area has filled in with green, and Oak Grove Campground has a fully mature landscape. Camping is first-come, first-served. That’s what the Campground Hosts told us when we stopped by their campsite. Their campsite had two bird feeders with dozens of hungry hummers, all trying to feed at the same time. I was excited to see they were Broad-tailed Hummingbirds. I think they were excited to see me too because three hummers came within inches, looking me over. I was wearing red. Young Ivan Richardson also wore red and they came right to him. One hummer sat on his finger.
Oak Grove has some pretty low temperatures at night, but that’s okay with Broad-tailed Hummingbirds because they have the ability to enter torpor, a slowed metabolic state which maintains a body temperature of about 54 degrees. What magnificent birds we have among us!
Ivan Richardson is the artist of the Broad-tailed Hummingbird. For more information about Red Cliffs Audubon events or young Ivan Richardson, call 435 673-0996.
- Red Cliffs Audubon