"Life Bird List"

Indigo Bunting

        Whenever you meet a really serious birder, they talk about a ‘lifer’, or ‘life bird’. This birder keeps track of every specie seen, noting the date and the location on his Life List book. Some bird species are so important to this type of birder that he walks miles, climbs hills, fords rivers, and flies continents just to find the birds he’s alway wanted to see. A Life List holder understands the habitats for special birds and knows where to look. The bird I would like to see in the wild, up close, is the Indigoindigo bunting Bunting. It is common in the Eastern US, but not so common in the West. It has just recently moved to Arizona, New Mexico, and California, so it is possible to see one pretty close to home.

        The first time I missed seeing an Indigo Bunting was at a Spring Retreat. We were at the Tonaquint Park in St. George and I was enjoying the early morning hours searching the trees and skies when some dude from Salt Lake spotted the Indigo Bunting near the building, and by the time I got turned around it was gone and never seen again. Another time I missed seeing an Indigo Bunting was at Beaver Dam where the wash dumps into the Virgin River. "An Indigo Bunting" my friend called out, but I was busy dredging a can out of the water with a stick and I missed it again. I’m still looking for this bird. I guess I’ll have to do some traveling, because the Indigo Bunting is common in the East. It’s range is from New England to the Gulf states, west to Kansas and Texas. It winters chiefly from Mexico and the West Indies south to Panama, preferring open woodlands, forest edges and clearings. Seldom does it come to feeders except at migration. Make up a little bird seed with finely chopped nut meats for your feeder. If one is in the area, it may decided to drop by and stay a while.

        The Indigo Bunting is actually a Blackbird. It has no blue pigment, but the diffraction of light through the structure of the feathers makes them appear blue. A beautiful blue. John West is the artist of this Indigo Bunting. Thank you John and I hope you continue to share your talent with the world.

***Conservation and hunting groups have enhanced the migration paths to keep birds alive for future enjoyment. Support the groups that make this possible: National Audubon, Nature Conservancy, Ducks Unlimited, National Wildlife, Peregrine Fund, etc. These are the groups that strive to make it possible so you too can have your own Life Bird List.

        Remember, for more information about birds, call the Red Cliffs Audubon at 435 673-0996.

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