by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Food and Easy-Takings"

Mourning Doves

mourning dove
        We were driving through the Washington fields just two days after Halloween. As we came closer and closer to the Staheli Family Farms where ‘Halloweeners’ love to visit their corn maze, we saw a sky full of birds. There were thousands of them! Wow! Bird numbers are controlled by Mother Nature with food, water, storms, weather, and predators. Today, food and easy-takings were on their minds. We saw Mourning Doves in the corn maze, on the power lines, in the silage pits next to the road, and all over the sky above. Doves love grain. In the native world they have to search far and wide for seeds, but in our modern world of farming thousands of acres, birds soon learn it is easier sharing our crops, than looking for the hard to find seeds of native grains and grasses.

        If birds are migrating by the thousands, and decide to stop on one farmer’s property, it can turn into an economic disaster in just a few hours. When a rancher is raising cattle in a feed lot like Staheli Farms, and thousands of birds are eating the cattle’s food from the feeders or the silage pits, it becomes a major problem. Not only is the cattle’s food being consumed, but their droppings can contaminate the remainder of the food the cattle must eat. We live in an interesting world. We are all trying to stay alive and survive.

        My father-in-law used to make sorghum from sugar cane. He said that many years, when the seeds of the sugar cane became ripe, it became a race to see if he could harvest the seeds for next year’s planting, or if the birds would beat him to it. Look to the skies and watch for the fall migration to warmer country. Call me if you have a bird story. It’s always fun to hear what’s going on in southern Utah. Brenda Rusnell is the artist of the Mourning Dove. If you have questions about birds or the upcoming Red Cliffs Audubon activities, call 435 673-0996.

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