Birdnet Hotline Highlights

January 2009

Review Species Reported This Month:
Cackling Goose  Cache Co.  Salt Lake Co.  Washington Co.
    Ruff  Davis Co.
    Lesser Black-backed Gull  Washington Co.
    Glaucous-winged Gull  Washington Co.
    Rusty Blackbird  Juab Co.  Summit Co.
    Streak-backed Oriole  Kane Co.


Ryan P. O'Donnell (11 Jan 2009) - Craig Fosdick and I struck out on relocating the Harris's Sparrow we found yesterday, but a Mew Gull is back at the Logan Fish Hatchery. This may be the same bird that was first spotted there in February of 2008. The bird seen last winter was a first-winter bird, and the one seen today was a second-winter bird. Most of the ~80 gulls there were Ring-billed, but there was also one California Gull and one Herring Gull present. At the Logan River Golf Course, the Greater Scaup and Hooded Merganser seen yesterday could not be relocated, but I did see one Taverner's Cackling Goose among about 150 Canada Geese. 

Ryan P. O'Donnell (10 Jan 2009) - I had a great day of birding around Cache County today with Stephanie Cobbold and Craig Fosdick. ...The birding picked up speed in Trenton, where we found one Harris's Sparrow among White-crowned, Song, and American Tree Sparrows, with one Marsh Wren. The look was dissatisfyingly brief so Craig and I will be returning tomorrow to try to get a photograph. Just a half-mile or so down the road we found an adult Northern Shrike.


Joel and Kathy Beyer (31 Jan 2009) -  This afternoon at Farmington Bay WMA (Davis Co.) we found an adult Mew Gull near the second bridge on the west dike road. Also in this area were a dozen Least Sandpipers, 10 Lesser Yellowlegs and several American Avocets. The Mew Gull was species #101 seen by us this January in Davis County.

Paul Higgins (25 Jan 2009) - The very beautiful female Varied Thrush is still at Fielding Garr Ranch, south of the spring.

Carol Gwynn (10 Jan 2009) - I birded the Antelope Island Causeway, and nearly all of the rarities had gone elsewhere. The 3 Long-tailed Ducks were still at the bridge closest to the island on the north side. A passing Peregrine got the hundreds of Shovelers all excited. ...

Jeff Bilsky (6 Jan 2009) - Just spoke to Carl Ingwell who had a flock of 7 Snow Buntings on the Antelope Island causeway just past MM2. There were also two Lapland Longspurs in a flock of Horned Larks near the entrance gate. Good birding.

Brian Currie (3 Jan 2009) - I birded AIC from about 12:45 to 4:15 today. ...Ruff (between mm 2 and 3)... Snow Buntings (2 - between mm 1 and 2, about 3/10s of a mile from mm 2 going towards mm 1) ...Long-tailed Duck (drake and hen at the bridge)....

Stephen T Carlile (3 Jan 2009) - Made a quick trip to Antelope Island today to see if I could get the Varied Thrush. A lifer for me as was the Ruff last week. Didn't get there until 2:00, so I had to hustle. The road to Garr Ranch was snow packed, but safe at a reasonable speed. It was cold but beautiful. After about 45 minutes at Garr Ranch found the Varied Thrush on the southern edge of the "woodlot". I found the Varied Thrush by first seeing a "surprise" Hermit Thrush and then noticing movement on the ground below. There was the Varied Thrush pecking at something. One thing can lead to another. Once found the Varied Thrush was very cooperative. Also saw a very noisy and visible Virginia Rail at the east end of the spring. (I need to get a camera.) On the way back found a Northern Shrike. Saw the Ruff both coming and going, in the same area already noted by Deedee. This is the fourth time seeing the Ruff for me and every time it has been in the same general area, mixed in with Killdeer; so check out the Killdeer. Today's Ruff siting was 4.6 miles west of the AI Causeway entrance fee station.

Tom Fletcher (1 Jan 2009) - I went to Antelope Island today to see the Ruff (and Varied Thrush). In addition to these great birds and many more, there was a Northern Shrike (a juvenile, I believe) on the east side of the road not far from Garr Ranch. I hope that one of the folks that was there for the count saw it also.


Dave Hanscom (17 Jan 2009) - Rusty Blackbird still at Fish Springs... ‏The blackbird was in his usual location again today. Thanks to Pat Jividen for directions. Although a noisy group of birders had scared him off just before we arrived, he returned soon after they left. We parked a ways down the road to give him some space, and he was soon back feeding along the edge of the canal. ...

Pat Jividen (14 Jan 2009) - Rusty Blackbird‏... I went out to fish springs again today with Steve Carr. We saw the bird again within 15 feet of where we saw it Monday. If you go out to see it check in with either Jay or Robert and they'll show you on a map the place to bird.

Colby Neuman (14 Jan 2009) - My dad and I made a quick trip to Fish Springs NWR today...highlights are below... American Bittern 1 - flushed by north spring ...Great Egret 2 - 1 feeding in avocet and 1 in egret ...Rusty Blackbird 1 - seen in housing area and later along the collection ditch...

Terry and Pam Sadler (8 Jan 2009) - On The Fish Springs CBC we sighted a bird in the springs area of the refuge that stumped us. The bird was in the foggy mist and most difficult to identify. We thought the bird might possibly be a female Rusty Blackbird but our view was so poor we couldn't rule out female Cowbird, or a variant male Brewer's Blackbird. We couldn't tell for sure if it had a yellow eye. The bird flew before we were able to get better looks at it or photograph it. Refuge Manager, Jay Banta, relocated the bird yesterday afternoon and this morning was able to get a better look at the bird. He believes it may be a female Rusty Blackbird with a yellow eye and some rusty wash in the body with a light eyebrow and throat. The bird his staying fairly close to the area where it was first sighted.


Lu Giddings (10 Jan 2009) - I just arrived home from my southern swing a few hours ago. Based on encouraging notes from Kris Purdy and Chuck Larue, I finally did something I should have done yesterday morning: break out my field guides. Upon review of my field notes I'm quite certain that the bird was definitely *not* a Bullock's oriole. I believe there is a very good possibility that the bird may have been a Streak-backed Oriole.  My first impulse when I saw the bird was that it was a hooded oriole, as the head was very clearly and completely a brilliant orange in the overhead sunlight. There was no black cap and no black eye line. The belly was completely orange. The underwings appeared dark, but I didn't see them clearly. It had a slight black bib, more like the bib of a Bullock's oriole than the larger (in relative terms) bib of a hooded oriole. I was never in a position to see its back and I was not able to focus on its upper wings or bill. I did not hear the bird call.

Lu Giddings (8 Jan 2009) - At about 11 a.m. this morning an adult male Bullock's oriole [see above Jan 10 post] was seen flying from the vicinity of Southwest Applied Technology College in Kanab west across the road, just south of Kanab Middle School, and toward Kanab Creek. I had excellent looks at the bird in bright sunlight. I spotted the bird in the air as I drove south toward it. I watched it for 5-6 seconds. At it closest it passed within about 50 feet. I did not have time to attempt to relocate the bird after it disappeared into the Kanab Creek gulch.


Geoff Hardies (24 Jan 2009) - The Winter Wren is still in City Creek Canyon. we found it today above picnic area number 6. Not much for activity there today with the only other sightings being an American Dipper and a Belted Kingfisher.

Tim Avery (10 Jan 2009) - This morning I led a hardy group of 5 out on a freezing field trip around Salt Lake County. We birded Lee Kay Ponds, Lake Park, Decker Lake, and the Jordan River. The goal was gulls, and for the most part we missed out on many of the species that had been seen in the past weeks. We of course had plenty of California and Ring-billed Gulls at pretty much all our stops. In all we might have had 6 or 7 Herring Gulls between Lee Kay and Decker Lake. Only 2 Thayer's Gulls (1-1W & 1-2W) at Decker Lake, and one gull that I figure had to be hyrbid. It was larger than Herring Gulls nearby and had a honking big bill. The iris wasn't yellow, but a light brown and still kind of pale. I thought it might have been a Glaucous-winged X Herring Hyrbid, but couldn't be sure. ... At Lake Park where previously reported was a Greater White-fronted Goose.

Carl Ingwell (8 Jan 2009) - ...I drove over to Lake Park. Immediately after turning into Lake Park, I saw a Greater White-fronted Goose feeding with the Canada. There was a huge amount of Geese hanging around.

Colby  Neuman (7 Jan 2009) - Numbers and diversity of bird species seem to be up from last winter. On Monday, I was in Mill D North (Big Cottonwood Canyon - Salt Lake Co.) and had a flock of 50 PINE SISKIN, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES, HAIRY WOODPECKER, several PINE GROSBEAKS in the aspens and 3 flyover White-winged Crossbills (betweeen Tom's Hill and Reynold's Peak). Three RUFFED GROUSE that were buried in the snow flushed from ~5 ft me the usual near heart attack.   -  Yesterday I went up Grizzly Gulch (near Alta in Little Cottonwood Canyon - Salt Lake Co.) to Twin Lakes Pass and I came across a flock of ~50 crossbills that allowed me to get within 10-20 feet of them as they frantically fed. There were approximately 3 RED CROSSBILLS for every White-winged Crossbill in the flock.

Stephen T Carlile (1 Jan 2009) -  ...but did visit Parkway Business Park located at Parkway Blvd. (2650 S.)/Bangerter Highway. Also visited Decker Lake. Saw 29 species, with the highlight being five Cackling Geese along the Parkway canal and two at Decker Lake. All very close and lengthy observations, with great comparisons to the Canada Geese. Though I have not had any real experience with Cackling subspecies, I will take a crack at it.  One at Parkway was very small and dark, with a creamy (not white) cheek patch; B. h. minima, "Cackling"?.  One of the others had the "white neck ring" mentioned in the guides common to B. h. leucopariea, "Aleutian", sometimes present the other subspecies; B. h. hutchinsii, "Richardson's".  The "white neck ring" bird was about two thirds the size of the Canada Geese.  The others were Cackling, but who knows where they fit or if I am right about the others.


Glenda Cotter (2 Feb 2008) - I also saw and photographed Shelly Spencer's Rusty Blackbird in Francis on Saturday [1/31] , though it's a very distant and not terribly helpful photo. And like Gary Nunn I concluded I was seeing a lone and slightly oddly-plumaged Brewer's Blackbird, though Rusty Blackbird got a fair amount of consideration before I dismissed it. Cool to see such excellent documentation! Thanks, Shelly.

Gary Nunn - La Jolla CA - (27 Jan 2009)  - Just in Salt Lake City for a couple of days and thought I would take a look along Lower River Road near Francis for grosbeaks and waxwings, wow what a great place for some of my favorite birds.   Immediately after turning south off Rt. 32 on Lower River Road chanced on Northern Shrike sitting out in the first large meadow on the right atop dead tree! Views further back to the trees lining the river revealed several Bald Eagles (2 adult and an immature). About 1.2 miles going south down Lower River Road encountered spectacular 200+ group Evening Grosbeak taking chokecherry bushes to pieces, at close quarters the crackling sound of kernels being worked over was astonishing! More grosbeaks arrived, I would say 300-400 total working two main areas of heavy crop cherry along the road. Wish I had a camera, tightly packed grosbeaks in the snow encrusted bushes with sun coming on to them was a fantastic sight... Numerous small groups of Cedar Waxwing (60-80 total) also feeding on chokecherry and perched around in leafless aspens. After about an hour I heard the unmistakable calling of Bohemian Waxwing! Last time I heard those was 20 years ago in England! Located a single bird atop aspen tree, dark undertail coverts, white wing markings, lower pitched and richer "preet" rolling trill was easy to pick out among shrill Cedar Waxwings. Two more called back from trees nearby and eventually the three birds gave me a flyover together. ...Many thanks to Tom Fletcher for original posting and responding to my enquiry.

Tom Fletcher (25 Jan 2009) - I braved the snow this morning to go look for the Evening Grosbeaks near Francis. There was an amazing flock of 300+ Evening Grosbeaks on the Lower River Rd. Amongst them, I counted 20 Bohemian Waxwings (but there were probably more). The Bohemians seemed to outnumber the Cedars in the flock.


Bryan Shirley (29 Jan 2009) - Today there was a Turkey Vulture in Spring Lake along the hwy perched in a dead snag. He actually seemed to be enjoying himself - just sitting with wings spread trying to soak up
some rays. I was very surprised to see him, but not sure if there are other winter records for central utah.

Ned Bixler (7 Jan 2009) - Today on the Provo River Trail, I found a Winter Wren. It was near Canyon Glen Park.


Rick Fridell (29 Jan 2009) - I've had a couple inquiries from folks coming for the St. George Winter Bird Festival on finding Anna's Hummingbird, so I thought I'd post for any others who might be interested. Currently there is a male Anna's Hummingbird in the vicinity of the Red Cliffs Recreation Area Campground (accessed via Harrisburg). Despite the cold (I know Salt Lakers, it's relative!), the hummingbird is rather active and moves around the area. It's often observed zipping around, or perched and singing south of the loop road or along the first 50 meters or so of the trail up canyon.

Rick Fridell (25 Jan 2009) - There is currently a very large flock of (mostly) Canada Geese using the Springs Estate Park, in St. George, Washington Co. Among the several hundred geese are usually 3-4 Snow Geese, a Ross' Goose, and 5 or 6 Cackling Geese. The geese move around rather frequently, using the Virgin River and the Washington Fields, but there usually spend much of their time at the pond. This is an great opportunity to study the differences between the 'white-cheeked geese' and their subspecies. ... I believe there are both hutchinsii (Richardson's Goose) and taverni (Taverner's Goose) Cackling Geese present, but would certainly like to hear the opinions of others. Other noteworthy waterfowl around the county include five Wood Ducks at Tonaquint Park (that are becoming more tame by the day), a family group of Tundra Swans at Ivins Reservoir, and the remaining Tundra and Trumpeter Swans at Sand Hollow State Park. Let me know if I can provide any additional details for those planning on attending the Winter Bird Festival this weekend.

Rick Fridell (25 Jan 2009) - I wanted to let everyone know the juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk, first observed December 15th by Paul Hicks of Washington State, is still around. The hawk frequents the fields across the Santa Clara River from Tonaquint Park in St. George (Washington Co.). It occasionally perches one of the few trees remaining along the river, or more commonly on an irrigation wheel in one of the fields.

Rick Fridell (17 Jan 2009) - The flock of swans are remaining at Sand Hollow State Park (Washington Co.). The group includes three Trumpeter Swans and seven Tundra Swans. There is one adult Trumpeter Swan and two juveniles. You can differentiate them from a long distance as the juvenile Trumpeter Swans are much darker than the juvenile Tundra Swans present (and a bit larger). ...Unfortunately the first-winter Glaucous-winged Gull that was present since early December has died and its body is laying on one of the sandstone outcrops off the main parking lot.

Rick Fridell (3 Jan 2009) - ...impressed with the gull activity at Stratton Pond (Ring-bills and a first-year Herring), I decided to also visit Quail Creek and Sand Hollow State Parks. It's very cold and windy, so the lakes are choppy and I didn't spend any time scanning for ducks and loons. I was amazed however, to find SIX species of gulls at Sand Hollow State Park. I've gone some years in Washington County with only five species! The most impressive was my first Washington County Lesser Black-backed Gull, a third-winter bird perched on the emergent sandstone outcroppings below the main parking lot. It was with the continuing first-winter Glaucous-winged Gull and a large flock of Ring-billed Gulls. Also present among the hundreds of Ring-billed Gulls were a handful of adult California Gulls, 6 Bonaparte's Gulls, and a third-year Herring Gull. I managed to get some long distance photos of the Lesser Black-backed Gull for documentation. Also, on the backside of the reservoir there was an adult Trumpeter Swan with a flock of 15 Tundra Swans.


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