ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"A Feathery Mystery"
A huge black feather fell from the sky and landed in my sister Joyce Sevy's backyard. With a feather this large, she wanted to know what kind of bird it came from. Ummmm! "Honey" I said, "we gotta do some detective work!" Our first thoughts were . . . it's a wing feather . . . maybe from an Eagle, Turkey Vulture, or even a California Condor. We checked a bird book or two to identify this large, shiny feather, but no luck. Bird books aren't that detailed in describing large wing feathers of birds.
Not to worry - in today's information age for difficult questions - go to the internet! The birds we thought the feather could belong to do not have black wing feathers, but instead have shades of grays, blues, and browns. We eliminated the Eagles, even though their feathers were big enough and long enough. Then we had to eliminate the Turkey Vultures that fill our summer skies in Washington County. Could it be a California Condor wing feather? Condors are seen frequently in Zion National Park. Alas, we were out witted once again. It's time to go back to step one.
My honey shook his head, scratched it a few times and tried to remember birds we saw this year that were totally black. The only one that came to mind was the Raven. But did the Raven have such a long wing feather? With more checking we found several websites that had pictures showing that exact wing feather. One site in particular was about the Apache using this feather in religious ceremonies. This turned out to be a fairly good detective story. It showed that the culprit in any mystery is not always the one you assume it to be, and in this case, was the black Common Raven which lives in our area year round.
If you have "something of a feathery mystery" you need to find out about, maybe we can find the answer for you (we have lots of birder friends).
The more you find a reason to be outdoors - even in the summer - the better life gets. Red Cliffs Audubon activities begin again in September with Presentations from specialists and Field Trips where all the great birds hang out. The public is always welcome.
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