ARTISTS AND BIRDS
by Marilyn and Keith Davis
"A Day Well Spent"
Most of our bird counts here in southern Utah take place on warm, wonderful days. Once in a while a bird count can be snowy. The reality is . . . any day outside in beautiful southern Utah will be a day well spent.
From the East Entrance at Zion National Park and a few miles further outside the Park, there’s a good possibility that you can see a Bald Eagle in winter. This is the bird that most everyone holds in awe because of its size, beauty, and fame as our country’s national bird. An eagle’s strength and 'killer beak' makes him a successful hunter and keeps its dinner table filled. But when the sky is full of snowflakes and the landscape is covered in white, most animal life is under cover and Eagle’s hunting success may not be so good. With an Eagle being such a magnificent bird, it’s hard to hold being a carrion-eater against him, but "road kill" is an important part of many raptor’s diet.
Today there was a heavy covering of snow over everything, laying a mantel of white across the trees, bushes, hills, and open ground. With so much snow it was hard to hone in on the white head and tail of the Bald Eagle on this bird count. However, we did hone in on the black Ravens coming, going, and grouping. The Ravens are known to group when they are harassing a competitor for food. Ravens would also be going after any ‘road kill’, and was this the reason the Ravens were grouping? We followed the Ravens across the landscape and found Bald Eagles in three different trees. With a wingspan of six and a half feet, the Bald Eagle is at home any time in the sky no matter what the weather. There had to be a food supply, even if we couldn’t see it. Finding Bald Eagles made the day special.
Enjoy being outdoors this winter. Watch the skies and see what’s out there. Maybe you’ll find out why so many ‘snowbirds’ make this their winter retreat. Pat Brier is this week’s artist of the Bald Eagle. If you have questions about birds or any future Bird Counts call 435 673-0996 or go to our website at redcliffsaudubon.org.
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