What Bird is This,
Wandering in the Wilderness?

Dennis Jones of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was in Indian Creek, a few miles northeast of the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park, when he noticed a large unfamiliar bird standing on a sandstone ridge.  He got a couple of picture of the bird, but couldn't find the bird in his Peterson's "Western Birds" field guide, so he sent the photos into the webmaster of the Utah Birds web site to see if he could find out what kind of bird it is.

Little did he know that in order to find the bird in the field guide, he would have had to look in the "wading birds" section, between the egrets, and the ibises.

What was this bird of the marshes and wetlands, that eats mainly fish for his diet, doing in the dry red-rock country of southeastern Utah?  Why wasn't he roosting in a tree somewhere, waiting for the sun to go down so he could "go fishing," instead of sitting on sandstone in the middle of the desert? Was he lost or looking for something or someone special--maybe that illusive significant other? 

These mysterious birds--it's a mystery how they can be so regular--it's a mystery how they can show up where you least expect them.  The Magnificent Frigatebird that showed up at Minersville Reservoir at the end of May 1999 -- what was his story?  Or the Vermilion Flycatcher that was found near the American Fork boat harbor one fall a few years ago--we figured he got turned around and went the wrong way, but who knows!  Is the American Redstart that was just spotted in the Jordanelle Wetlands the same one that was in the same place last year?  If it weren't for the band on his leg, put there last year, same time, same banding station,  we'd probably never know.

These glimpses we catch of these feathered creatures as they go about their "business," are both surprising in their consistency and consistent in providing surprises and amazement.  Is this what makes birding so fascinating?  A picture of a Black-crowned Night-Heron on a sandstone cliff in the desert--kind of makes you smile.

(Enlargement from the top photo)  .