ARTISTS AND BIRDS

"A Sight to Remember"

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

    Well, the bugs are out in force with the onset of the summer heat. Today after watering our pasture, and doing all the other honey-do things that take up time outdoors, my Honey decided to come inside for a rest on his super duper La-Z-Boy chair. He was wearing cutoffs outside, (which is a great way for intruders to find a movable hiding place) and one of those outdoor creatures landed on his pants. Then, while enjoying the comfort of his chair, something crawled up his leg, "Woo, woo"... he called! Slap, slap, slap... and a quick jump to the ceiling produced one dead body of a poor Honey Bee.gnatcatcher People have a natural flight reaction to creepy crawlies, especially up the legs. Birds have a totally different reaction. Birds see these small creatures as a gourmet treat.

    The Blue-gray Gnatcatcher is one of those birds. It is found in Utah each summer, doing its thing of hunting food, finding a mate, building a nest, and bringing new life to the world. Gnatcatchers are lively birds, constantly flicking their long tails upward while gathering insects from the branches of trees and bushes. I am told they prefer moist deciduous woods, but I have often seen them in scrub habitat, chaparral, and desert landscape. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers build exquisite small cup nests, of soft materials, on horizontal branches, which are exceedingly difficult to find, unless the adults are in the process of feeding their young, being noisy and conspicuous.

    On a field trip to Kolob Reservoir, I saw my first Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. A first sighting is always the best. I remember hearing the unfamiliar, low pitched song... "zee-you, zee-you" with a few trills, whistles, and clicks. I remember seeing the blue of the feathers, the black wings and long black tail which made this an awe-inspiring, unforgettable sight. They are one of my favorite birds. I look forward to seeing them each year. I hope they become one of your favorites, too.

    Brenda Rusnell is the artist of the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. What a beauty. And what a great artist. We look forward to each new drawing. If you see this Gnatcatcher, have questions about birds, the next Red Cliffs Monthly Meeting, or Field Trip, call Marilyn Davis at 673-0996.  

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