Utah County Birders Newsletter
March 2002


Wednesday, March 27th.

Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.

Brian Shirley will present:
Birding in New Zealand

Brian recently spent a few weeks in New Zealand taking notes and slides
so he could show us UCBrs what a great time he had.


Sage Grouse Strut
Saturday, March 30th
4:30 A.M. (Tentatively)
Home by 12ish
Meet at the Provo Temple Street Parking Area
Details at the Meeting on the 27th

April Short Trip
Saturday, April 6
Valley Birding
6:30 - 9:30 A.M.
Details at Meeting

Antilope Island and Farmington Bay
Saturday, April 20
Meet at the Temple at 6:30 am,
Home by Mid Afternoon.
Details at Meeting

Academy Awards of Birds
by Dennis Shirley

When somebody becomes aware that you and I are birders, one of the first questions they often ask is "what is your favorite bird?" If you're like me, you struggle with an answer. I think it's kind of like being asked which of your children is your favorite. They're all special! Each one is different, and each one adds to the joy of this life. Think back to your years of observing birds. Do you have one particular occasion when you saw one bird that you think is your number one bird? I doubt it. You may have a favorite bird of a day, a trip, a location, but to decide on one bird in a lifetime is tough. What do you base your decision on? If it's sheer beauty, color would probably be the number one criteria. If I think about colorful birds I've seen, then here in Utah the blues of the mountain blue bird, lazuli bunting, and blue grosbeak come to mind. In Southern Utah, red means vermillion flycatcher and summer tanager. Other colorful home state birds might be Bullock's, Hooded, and Scott's Orioles. When I go to other states, it's hard to beat the painted bunting in Texas; Blackburnian Warbler in Kentucky; or red-faced warbler in Arizona. Worldwide, humid Japan and Costa Rica have many tropical birds which must be considered. Foremost would be the resplendent quetzal of Costa Rica which is considered by many to be the most "beautiful" bird in the world. It certainly has to rank up there high.
   However, color is only a part of what might make a bird receive your vote. Think of the many birds that don't have striking colors but have other attractive traits. I've asked several people what their favorite bird is. Their responses vary based on many criteria, and usually there isn't a clear-cut answer. One birder said that she liked the "ordinary old chickadee" because it seems like such a cheerful bird, always singing and calling and flitting around seemingly with no time to waste. It always raises her spirits.
   Another person said, as a group, his favorite birds were the hawks or birds of prey because they seem so alert, strong, and powerful, and add a sense of excitement when observed.
   I know another person whose favorite group has always been the owls. Why?... it would be to do with their mystique, night-time activity, and almost human-like stare.
   Plain, ordinary-colored, rather drab birds can also be favorites due to their mannerisms. Think of the dipper as an example. Its sooty gray overall rock-like color doesn't reflect the reason it might be a favorite bird. However, when you observe its habits of bobbing around on rocks in white-water streams, submerging itself and walking along the bottom of a stream looking for bugs, it easily could be added to your list of "best birds."
   Birds with names like woodcreepers, flowerpiercers, foliage-gleaners, and treehunters all elicit visions of rather drab and oftentimes plain-colored birds, but their interesting behaviors, "jizz," and ecological niches may tip the scales in their favor when it comes to being favorites.
   So what makes an award winning bird? It's more than just its outward appearance. It's both its leading and supporting roles in nature which bring votes. It may be judged for its music or how it directs its affairs. But your "best picture" award goes to a bird that elicits a mixture of memories.

Robin's View

Essential Birding Gear
by Robin Tuck

I know itís not possible to have everything with you that you may need while birding, but I try.
   A quick walk down the dirt road in the Provo Wetland adjoining Kuhniís at the end of February proved I was not adequately prepared. At the lake, where the road takes a dip, a flood was crossing from the south side to the north. I had planned ahead and worn my Sorels, which were good to a 4 inch water depth. Several spots were six inches deep, but I made it across relatively dry, only to be stopped several hundred feet further where the water crossing the road was over a foot deep.
   Discouraged at not having reached my destination, I headed back toward home, determined to become prepared for higher water. There was a Sportsman Warehouse on the way home, so I went in and examined all the waders. After a long discouraging time, I looked higher up the shelf and found the answer I sought, irrigation boots. There they were, black rubber irrigation boots, and they were only ten bucks. Well, they sold themselves and I left the store happy.
  At home, I told Julia about my great purchase and she immediately wanted some as well. At the next opportunity, Julia and I bought her a pair of the nifty irrigation boots, and we headed back out to Kuhniís to try them out.
  We trudged out the trail and boldly took our first step into the murk, wondering if the boots were high enough. Walla, it worked and we got across the stream dry. Now seasoned veterans, we tromped in every puddle we could find. While birds were our primary goal, we enjoyed the new-found freedom the boots gave us. We did happen to find a flock of American White Pelicans down around the bend in a hidden pond, so we achieved our goal.
  On the way out while wading in some green algae , Julie told me, ďWell, I guess you have a weird wife.Ē Well, I donít, just an adventurous one. Now we have added black rubber irrigation boots to our list of essential birding equipment.

Copyright 2002 Robin Tuck, UtahNature.com

Field Trip Report
Gunnison Bend - March 2, 2002
by Reed Stone

Utah County Birders went to Gunnison Bend Reservoir where Lee Shirley lead us to a farm where there were hundreds of Snow and many Ross geese feeding around the farm buildings like domestics. Fantastic looks. Thanks Lee. Other good sightings were numerous Common Mergansers, Bald Eagle, Great Tailed Grackle, Cinnamon Teal and others. On the way to Clear Lake--several Golden Eagles and two Sage Thrashers. On the lake, one pair of Buffleheads. Also a Rough-legged hawk, cruising the sky. Back to Gunnison Bend where we had lunch and visited the display where there were now thousands of Snow Geese on the water and more coming.  Returning through Elberta-Goshen area, two Ferruginous Hawks and five Bald Eagles. On to Warm Springs loop we saw numerous Cedar Waxwings Many other species were seen along the way. Eric listed 38. And as usual great company.