By  Marilyn and Keith David

"East Zion - Continued"

Golden-crowned Kinglet

kinglet    Roads are dangerous in the high country when wet. On the east side of Zion it's possible to pull off a paved road and have your vehicle bog right down in clay-mud, and no one to pull you out. We were in east Zion and there were no human sounds, no car engines running; just the quiet, still hush floating through the skeletal leafless trees, and the Juniper/ Pinyon still clad in shades of green. A great place to find yourself on a sunny winter day.

kinglet    We pulled to the side and stopped.... nothing....then a chatter and a flash of blue in a nearby gully. Three Jays were busily finding food at their so-called breakfast bar. Then the trees began to move with tiny flits of brown..... and a flash of gold. Golden Crowns! We found 8 Golden-crowned Kinglets! A rare bird find in Utah, almost as elusive as real gold. Kinglets are among the smallest of our native birds. The Ruby-crowned and the Golden-crowned are the only two Kinglets that occur in North America, We have much to learn about Kinglets, especially how, despite their small size, they survive and thrive in cold northern climates where days are short, nights are long, and temperatures may dip to -30 degrees.

    Golden-crowned Kinglets are important predators on insects and their eggs, especially in coniferous forests. Insect foods consist of aphids, bark beetles, and scale insects. Their diet also includes some tree sap. Breeding Bird and Christmas Bird counts indicate that population trends for the Golden-crowned are increasing. This bird and other species that breed in the far north, where habitats are less disturbed, experience greater nest success. That's okay with me. I wish everyone could have an experience of seeing this beautiful bird at least once in their lifetime.

    Brenda Rusnell is the artist for this week's Golden-crowned Kinglet. Thank you Brenda for sharing your talent with us. Watch for that beautiful golden crown and striped face. For more information, call Marilyn Davis 435 673-0996.

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