Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Utah Trip: The Seagull

I forgot to mention the seagull in the previous post about Temple Square.

Did you know that the California Gull is Utah's state bird? Not for the reason you're probably thinking ... that the Great Salt Lake is nearby.

Rather, it is due to Mormon folklore. I found this description online that is nearly the same that was relayed to me by a missionary at Temple Square on my last visit about 10 years ago:

The California gull was selected as the state bird in 1955. The gull is considered the state bird of Utah, probably in commemoration of the fact that these gulls saved the people of the State by eating up the Rocky mountain crickets which were destroying the crops in 1848.

Orson F. Whitney says that in the midst of the devastation of the crickets, "when it seemed that nothing could stay the devastation, great flocks of gulls appeared, filling the air with their white wings and plaintive cries, and settled down upon the half-ruined fields. All day long they gorged themselves, and when full, disgorged and feasted again, the white gulls upon the black crickets, list hosts of heaven and hell contending, until the pests were vanquished and the people were saved. After devouring the crickets, the gulls returned "to the lake islands whence they came."
The missionary's version of the story said that the birds gorged on the crickets, then flew off presumably to the Pacific Ocean from whence they came, disgorged the crickets into the sea, and then returned until the fields were cleared.

The Sea Gull Monument in Temple Square features two sculptured gulls standing atop the monument. You can see the monument to the pioneers, mentioned in the previous post, in the background.


Mark H said...

The Mormon Cricket story, eh? I always envisioned it as something pioneers who had NO media and LOTS of myths in their day, saw something different than is re-told today..... but that's pretty much true about ALL religions. After all, the Bible wasn't "written" down until hundreds of years after the writers were MYTH came alive..

michael sean morris said...

Oh those wacky Mormons! They're so imaginative... They really should write a book.