Utah County Birders Newsletter
June 2004


Wednesday, June 16th.

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

The guest speaker will be Janet Lee. She is doing survey work for the DWR on several species. She will show and discuss Black Swifts, Owls, Curlews and others regarding habitat and identification techniques.


Saturday, June 19th.
A Utah County Big Day.

Meet at the Payson Commuter Lot - Exit 254 on the North side of I-15 (NOT the McD's lot on the south) at 6AM.. We will be owling in Payson Canyon that same night, so if you don't want to come all day you could just come owling. We'll regroup at the same commuter lot at 5 PM and then head up the canyon to bird there until dark, then owling.

Upcoming Bird Walks To Be Announced.

Reed’s Ramblings
by Reed Stone

I was about to leave this gardening thing, however, I continue to be drawn back with a parade of events. Most of my plants are up. The peas are blooming, some pods are beginning to form. Carrots and spinach are doing fine. I have had to replant some cantaloupe and cucumbers. And I am experimenting with some yams.

Well, so goes the gardening. Meanwhile some interesting things have been happening in the avian world. The robins have fledged and left the nest. Fledgling house finches are everywhere. I have cleared the starlings out of the "owl" box, the starlings do not respect that designation. On about the 7th of May the black headed grosbeaks first appeared at my grosbeak feeder. I was late getting my humming bird feeder up but I was not worried because the honeysuckle was covered with beautiful red-orange blooms and the hummers were really enjoying them. Within minutes of hanging my feeder up they were using it also. Now they shuttle back and forth from one to the other.

As to the California quail that had been coming in to feed together, I noticed only one was coming in. Right away I became concerned that maybe one of the many free-roaming cats in the neighborhood had made a feast of one. It was soon after that I noticed they were alternately coming to feed, first the female and then the male. This behavior went on for a few days. Then for a day or two I did not see them at all. To my surprise one morning, the female came in with a brood, ten little chicks each about the size of a walnut with the male following at a comfortable distance, watching, earnestly protecting his little covey. It was particularly interesting to watch the mother teach the chicks how to feed. She would peck at something and the little "swarm" would follow her lead. Wherever she would peck they would peck also. If something spooked them they would all scurry for cover and return only at the direction of the mother.

The Quail did not show the next day, at least I did not see them. On the second day the adults arrived without the chicks, not even one chick! I immediately laid the blame on the host of free-roaming cats and/or possibly snakes, skunks, racoons, mink and even the ever hungry Accipiters that frequent the area.. I could imagine one or two missing in that much time but not every one of them? I still have no answer. The adults still come two or three times a day––without the chicks. I do hope they make another attempt.

The downies regularly visit the suet feeder. They alternately feed, indicating to me that they were incubating some eggs, each taking their turn. After several days I noticed the male (after feeding himself) would stuff his beak with as much suet as he could handle and fly away. Never the female. Maybe I have struck upon a behavior, maybe not? Any way they must have some chicks in their nest.

Back to the garden. I have installed a special drip system for watering the plants with an opening for each of the larger plants, a foot apart for the smaller ones like carrots. During my break times I would watch the grosbeaks come to my "grosbeak feeder" specifically designed for birds heavier than sparrows and finches. Most of the time this discriminating feeder system works very well. However, every once in a while, the slide that exposes the feed gets stuck with a piece of hull and does not open.. I watched one as it hopped off and on again, and again, until the slide would free up giving access to the feed . At one point I noticed its effort, hopping on and off the perch with no success. Finally, in frustration, it flew up to a branch about two feet above the feeder perch and dropped down hard on it, dislodging the hull and opening the access to the black-oil sunflower seeds. It then continued feeding. Any one who does not find birds interesting just has not taken the time to observe their behaviors. Okay, now back to the weeding.

by Bonnie Williams

I have seen a couple of interesting things in the last couple of weeks. I was out for my morning bike ride when Hal Black stopped to say hello. He told me about a killdeer that had a nest in the middle of a railroad track. Alona and I went down to check it out. The killdeer didn’t like us looking one bit. One baby was trying to get out from under her and she kept pushing it back. A noisy place to sleep, I hope they all got away before a train came along.

A few days later when I was on my bike ride I heard a killdeer making all kinds of noise. I looked over in the sheep pasture and there was a sheep with his head bent down. A killdeer had its beak right in the sheep’s nose and was she ever telling that sheep a thing or two. Where is your camera when you need it? With all the things that are wrong in the world today our feathered friends can give us a lot of enjoyment.