"A Childhood Treasure"

Black-headed Grosbeak

        Summertime is the best time.... in St. George. Anyway that’s what I thought when I was growing up here. I lived next to my Grandma’s house, and in between we had a vegetable garden, currents, figs, apricots, pomegranates, and grapes... lots of grapes. My father planted the grapes from cuttings and we had a great variety. We even had a grape arbor next to our house, where we all slept in the Summer to keep cool.

        Our large, 16 Rd x 16 Rd lot was my jungle. I would get up way early, sneak through the bushes, follow the irrigation ditch, and then find treasures no one else knew about. A coolblack-headed grosbeak stream of water came every five days, for two hours. With the summer heat, we made sure never to miss a turn, and hoped no one mistakenly took our turn. The huge Mulberry and Bean Pod trees kept my jungle shaded, cool, and the ditch wet a long time. I can still feel the squishy mud between my toes; remember, shoes were an option for kids in those days. I loved being Jane of the jungle (Tarzan movies). I can remember sneaking through the muddy ditch between the grapevines and the profusion of the plants, when I heard a cat mew in the bushes. It must have been an invisible cat, because I couldn’t see it.... but I could hear it. My Grandma came out to see if she could help me find it. She told me that it just might not be a cat, that it could be a bird. What did I know at age eight about birds? I only knew that cats said... mew. Sure enough, when we got close and searched through the vines, out flew a Black-headed Grosbeak...a bird... not a cat!

        The Black-headed Grosbeak has a range from the Pacific coast to the middle of the US Great Plains, and from south western Canada to the mountains of Mexico. Like today, some stopped along their migration route in St. George where they discovered a good supply of food. They ate seeds, insects, spiders, berries and fruit. This childhood "treasure" is still sneaking around my yard today. Hard to see, hard to identify, but a frequent visitor to our yard and around our feeders. The delight I felt as a child seeing an unknown bird is still felt today when I see this bright flash of color soaring through the trees. I hope you have an opportunity to see this beautiful Grosbeak. Look for them in a rural area.

        Mary K. Feezer is the artist of the Black-headed Grosbeak. Mary has exhibited her art work in the Grand Teton area, and being a friend of mine for many years, has contributed to this column. Thank you Mary. Your talent is appreciated.

        Red Cliffs Audubon monthly meetings will begin Wednesday, September 10, at the Tonaquint Nature Center, 1851 South Dixie Dr. Time: 7:00 p.m. Public welcome! Plan to arrive early to "bird" in the area. You just might find a treasure. For more information, call Marilyn Davis 435 673-0997.

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