Utah County Birders Newsletter
December 2004


Wednesday, December 15th.

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

"Come Out, Come Out, Where Ever You Are: Another Look At The Abundances Of Seven Seldom-Seen Utah Birds" presented by Lu Giddings.


There are no scheduled field trips this month.

Participate in as many Christmas Bird Counts as you can.


The Provo CBC will be held on Saturday, December 18th.  If you would like to participate contact Merrill Webb at 224-6113.

Reedís Ramblings
by Reed Stone

Bird nests and nesting is a most complicated and interesting part of the life of our avian society. Just take a moment and contemplate the variety, shape, size, location and structure of nests in general. Some are just a scrape in the ground. Some are pendulous, carefully engineered, and secured high on the extreme tip of a tiny branch, some in holes in trees or burrows in the ground. Some are massive, and over the years may weigh thousands of pounds. Some are made of saliva, others mud, some of sticks or fine material like bark, grasses, hair, feathers and most are made from some combination of those materials. This is not intended to be a highly scientific presentation. It is simply what any observant birder notices. Also there are always exceptions.

Wherever birds build nests there is an element of defense. Some nests are concealed from view by placing them in rock crevices. Some are under ground, in a burrow or tunnel. Others are hidden in vegetation. Some nests are located in inaccessible locations. The Grebe builds its nest on the water anchored to the reeds. Still others build high on the face of a cliff, or in the tops of very large trees.

Letís consider some of those that nest on the ground such as the family of Galliformes which includes PHEASANTS, QUAIL, PTARMIGANS, GROUSE and others. Some Passeriformes, that include sparrows and warblers, nest in several different locations. Some in trees, some in bushes, some on the ground and still other locations.

Let us consider some of those that nest in earthen chambers or burrows. The BURROWING OWL is one of our local residents that nest in the den or burrow of rodents. The BELTED KINGFISHER nests deep in a tunnel at the bank of a pond or other body of water. The BANK AND ROUGH WINGED SWALLOWS also nest in tunnels on vertical surfaces.

These locations place the nests out of sight and reach of many predators. Those below ground are safe from gulls, magpies and some burrowing animals. They are vulnerable to weasel, snakes and other flesh or egg eating animals. Swallows and King Fishers enjoy the protection of water against a vertical bank. This type of location leaves the occupants little or no possibility of escape from an intruder. WOODPECKERS, WOOD DUCKS and others that nest in cavities of trees or boxes enjoy the same protection and hazards.

There is another general group of birds that nest in bushes and small trees. In general they hide or camouflage their nests to keep them hidden from predatory eyes. These foul are careful about being seen building their nests so they donít expose the location. The BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE does not seem to be too concerned about concealment of their nest. It is big and bulky. Its security is usually in a thorny, heavy or dense growth, not easily accessible. It builds a dome over the top for protection with entrance and exit.

Some birds build floating nests. GREBES and LOONS are among others that fall into this category. These locations are away from many of the land animals including people. When they leave their nests, voluntarily, they cover the eggs to protect them from the elements and from egg eating birds.

The last group are those that donít go much for concealment. They go for inaccessibility. . They build high on the face of a cliff, or in the tops of very tall trees or buildings. These birds include various HAWKS, EAGLES, SWIFTS, HERONS and of course others.