by Marilyn and Keith Davis

"Easy Pickings"


        We took a ride through the Washington fields to enjoy being away from the city and the urban scene. It was a beautiful, typical winter day for southern Utah. As we came closer and closer to the Staheli Family Farms, we saw a whole sky full of birds. There were hundreds of them! Wow! I know that bird numbers are controlled by Mother Nature regarding food, water, storms, weather, and predators, but what was happening with all these birds today? They were Eurasian Collared-Doves. They were on the power lines, on the fences, on the tops of each building or shed, and all Eurasion
                        Collared Doveover the ground. They were everywhere! Doves love grain I know, and in the native world they have to search far and wide for seeds. When man plants seed crops like the Stahelis and migrating flocks find ‘easy pickings’ they’re gonna wanna sample it. When birds learn it’s easier to share a farmer’s crop than look for food on their own, the farmer better watch out. My father-in-law used to make sorghum from the cane he grew in Hurricane. He said that many years, when the seeds of the cane became ripe, it was a race to see if he could harvest the seeds for next year’s planting, or if the birds would beat him to it.

        It is not unusual for migrating birds to start their trip-flight of thousands of miles and then find, when there is no turning back, that fire, drought, or urban sprawls have left them without food of native grains and grasses to survive. When their natural food supply is gone, where do they go? What do they do? As for the Eurasian Ccollared-Doves we saw in the hundreds, they are not a migrating bird but they are an expanding bird. Their numbers have grown all across the United States in only a few years. Have they congregated back to Dixie to survive a cold winter? We live in an interesting world. We are all trying to survive and stay alive, both you, me, and the birds. We will attempt to keep you updated with this ‘new to our world’ bird as information becomes available. If you have questions about birds or stories to tell, call me at 435 673-0996. Marilyn Davis is the artist this week painted with color pencils.

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