ARTISTS AND BIRDS
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bearclaw poppy

"Poppies, Rock Wren, and a Trip in Time"

Rock Wren/Bearclaw Poppy

        If you are one who likes to learn about the world around you, then go on a field trip with specialists like Dr. Ranee Van Buren, Utah Valley University, and Elaine York, of The Nature Conservancy. That’s what I did on Saturday, May 2. This field trip, by invitation, was to see the Nowhere Else on Earth - Dwarf Bearclaw Poppy.

        Dr. Van Buren said that if you stood in the middle of St. George and threw a rock in any direction, you would find the habitat for this Poppy. First we went to the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve east of I-15 and south of Brigham Road. What a sight! The landscape was dotted with clusters of white flowers. The blooms were so numerous androck wren white that it looked like gobs of tissue dropped here and there. After that we went to the unfinished road of the Southern Corridor, just above the Arizona Strip, known as the White Dome. Again, poppies were scattered across the landscape. Seeing this dry, rocky area was like taking a trip back in time to the St. George that was settled by my Great Grandparents. For years and years people have struggled to find water to make this desert bloom into what we enjoy today. This dry, rocky, stark, one of a kind, habitat that I saw was home to the endangered Dwarf Bearclaw Poppy. This is the only place on the planet where this Poppy grows. The Nature Conservancy is fund raising for the White Dome Nature Preserve, to keep an open space as St. George continues to expand to the South.

        While giving the Poppies our careful attention, a bird song rang out across the desert. It was the intricate song of the Rock Wren. Rock Wrens are known for their ability to live in harsh, rocky environments, and this terrain of eroded gypsum in shades of gray and white sediment fit that description. I followed the bird call, and there perched on a rock, was a Rock Wren. The Wren was busy, busy, attracting a mate and setting up housekeeping.  Rock Wrens can be seen year round in southern Utah.  Seeing the Poppies, the Rock Wren, and going back in time made it a special day for me. 

        If you have questions about Rock Wrens, other birds currently raising their young in southern Utah, or the Dwarf Bearclaw Poppy, call the Red Cliffs Audubon at 435 673-0996. The Rock Wren was drawn by Marilyn Davis.


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