ARTISTS AND BIRDS

"Observations on the Road"

Rock Pigeon

        When we change the environment to fit our needs, many bird species are able to utilize, adapt, and even expand their range. Geese and ducks graze our golf courses, gulls harvest our garbage dumps, hawks make good use of power poles, and freeway overpasses become bird havens from winter storms.

        One cold, rainy day in November we traveled north into a winter storm, feeling lucky to be in our warm, comfortable vehicle. The skies were full of black clouds and squalls of rain..... but no birds! (We always have to look for birds.) Power lines held only a few scrunched birds huddled together against the wet and the wind. When we zipped under a dim freeway overpass... we saw birds.... lined up on the support beams! From that point on, we looked under each overpass and found birds, and most ofpigeon them were Pigeons. The overpasses were not only for vehicle use, they were "dry and out of the wind - Bird Condos". These feathered city dwellers have learned to conserve energy and hide from predators, utilizing the structures man has created. The next time you are stuck at a stoplight, under an overpass, look up and see who else is sharing this space with you.

        You can usually learn something new, when you observe nature. On a Fall trip to Ogden, a few years ago, the power lines by the railroad tracks held hundreds of Pigeons. A rainbow of colors stretched across the lines... every color of Pigeon we had ever hoped to see was on display! Each time we revisit that same area, we look for large numbers of Pigeons, but only see small groups. Was there a grain spill along the railroad track that day, or was it some kind of a bird convention going on? Now I am wondering if the new road construction, with its many overpasses is offering better housing accommodations from cold weather.

        The enjoyment of bird watching when you travel adds zest to life. Chance observations may surprise you. We love to watch Rock Pigeons as they rise, soar, roll, and land in unison when we travel. When you are on the road, have fun making new observations of wildlife. The Rock Pigeon has been used by man for food and entertainment for over 5,000 years. They have the largest range of any species: Britain, Ireland, Arabia, Central Asia, Himalayas, Mongolia, Japan, New Zealand, North and South America. Pigeons have successfully followed man wherever he moves across this planet. Most people welcome these friendly birds and have bred pigeons for different colors, for food, and even for their droppings (fertilizer). Because of this tinkering by man, the plumage of feral Rock Pigeons comes in a variety of colors. What color of Rock Pigeon lives in your area?

        This week’s artist is Gregory E. White, a young man I met at South Davis Community Hospital in Bountiful, Utah. Gregory loves to draw animals and volunteered to draw this Rock Pigeon. Thank you Gregory for sharing your talent with us.

        **Rick Fridel will present "Birds of the Christmas Bird Counts" at our next Red Cliffs Audubon meeting on Wednesday, December 10, 7:00 p.m. at the Tonaquint Nature Center. Come join us and get prepared to participate in the upcoming CBC’s. For more information: Call Marilyn Davis at 435 673-0996.

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