by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Passing Through"

Townsend’s Warbler

townsend's warbler        If you are looking for a bird that will make you exclaim - WOW - then hope you come across a Townsend’s Warbler. This is a bird of the Pacific Northwest that nests in coniferous forests from Alaska to Oregon. If that area’s not in your summer travel plans, then maybe you could catch it as it migrates, wintering along the Pacific Coast, in Mexico and Central America. No? Well, the great news is . . . when it migrates, it passes through Utah, and you can find it while staying right here.

        We were at Clear Lake Wildlife Management Area this weekend, doing a little ‘birding’. The area has several lakes, ponds, and wet areas that play host to a great many bird species. Each time we stopped our vehicle to scan the scene, the cars filled up with flying insects and we wished for more insect eating birds. Our group traveled around each pond, through the wetlands, looking at each hiding place, to find common, new, and colorful species. In the midst of our travels, we found a batch of Russian Olive trees hiding a zillion smaller birds, and one was the magnificent Townsend's Warbler. In the swampy areas of the dry deserts of Utah, wherever any water gathers, you will find Russian Olive trees. Birds love these trees for cover and protection because the trees come well equipped with large thorns to slow down predators hunting small birds. Stands of Russian Olive trees across the desert floor advertise, like a bright spotlight . . . come let me shield you, and feed you. Anywhere there are Russian Olive trees you find moisture, plant growth, and insects taking advantage of the water. Fortunate for us, the Townsend's Warbler found its way to the Russian Olive tree in Utah's desert oasis.

        Townsend’s Warblers, start their migration early while there is still an ample food supply. Their migration route takes them from one oasis to another, or each agricultural area, all the way to Central America. This early migration ensures there will be a buffet menu of insects on their long journey to the tropics.

        The Red Cliffs Audubon is back to its normal schedule. We meet each 2nd Wednesday of the month at 7:00 p.m. Then the following Saturday is our monthly Field Trip. The public is always welcome. The upcoming Christmas Bird Counts are December 26 (St. George), and December 28 (Silver Reef). For information about birds or the above events, call 435 673-0996. Brenda Rusnell is the artist for the Townsend’s Warbler. Brenda is a busy lady teaching drawing and colored pencils for ICL. Thanks to Brenda for the art work she shares with us.

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