Utah County Birders Newsletter
January 2005


Wednesday, January 19th.

The Birds of Southern California presented by Aaron Smith.

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

Note: After this month meetings will be held on the second Wednesday of each month.


January 15th (Sat): Local Cemeteries Tour - 8:00 am - Noon/1:00 pm. Meet at Provo Temple.

January 21st (Fri): Salem Pond, Spring Lake - Meet at 8:00 AM at the Sam’s Club East Bay (Provo) parking lot.

January 22nd (Sat): Salt Lake Cemetery, City Creek Canyon, Alta - 7:00 am -Mid afternoon. Meet at Orem Center Street Park & Ride.

February 12th (Sat): Farmington Bay, Antelope Island Causeway, (maybe Bountiful Landfill) - 7:00 am - Mid afternoon. Meet at Orem Center Street Park & Ride.

February 26th (Sat): Heber, Francis, Kamas - 7:00 am - 1:00/2:00 pm. Meet at Orem 800 North Park & Ride at the mouth of Provo Canyon.

March 12th (Sat): Destination to be announced.

March 19th - 26th (Sat - Sat): - Southern California Birding Trip - Bird San Diego, Santa Cruz Island, Salton Sea, etc.
See the Yellow-Billed Magpie, Island Scrub Jay, California Gnatcatcher and more! For information come to January’s meeting or call Aaron Smith at (801) 373-5153.

March 26th (Sat): Utah Lake Front Tour - (Am. Fork Boat Harbor, Timpanogos Treatment Plant, Lindon Boat Harbor, Powell Slough, Provo Boat Harbor) - 7:00 am - Noon. Meet at Orem Center Street Park & Ride.

Alton’s Feather Talk -- January 2005
By Alton Thygerson

Utah County Birders (UCB) is among Utah’s 10 birding organizations listed at http://www.utahbirds.org. It’s also included in the several thousand birding organizations in the United States. Most birding organizations consist of birders who get together occasionally for field trips and social events. The focus is upon enjoyment.

Every birding organization has a variety of needs. Someone to organize the field trips, set up the programs, and fill in the offices of president, treasurer, editor of the newsletter, and on and on.

If you really want to feel loved and needed, show up at a meeting and ask: “Is there anything I can do to help?”

The U.S. News and World Report, January 3, 2005 issue featured “50 Ways to Fix Your Life.” The article focuses upon self-improvement for the new year. The article says that self-help is not just a way of life—it’s practically a personal obsession. There are 7,500 books on the topic. Making a concerted effort to improve your lifestyle can have lasting benefits. The article devotes one to two pages for each of the 50 ways of changing. Most of the ways are the ones we have all heard over the years such as learn to meditate, read more books, fix your finances, make an emergency plan, and exercise. However, the article’s recommendation which may surprise readers is to BECOME A BIRDER. We all knew that birding helps us, now from a reputable source, we have support for our obsession.

Birding can impact one’s lifestyle. I have been fortunate of seeing parts of this beautiful world as few have—the remote spots where birds are found and where nature nourishes them. Birding is not merely a walk in the woods, but a quest with a definite objective—to locate and identify birds. My wife jokingly says that she’s seen the best (mountains, lakes, forests, oceans, deserts) and the worst (sewage treatment ponds and landfills) while patiently accompanying me in my pursuit of finding birds.

Christmas and birthday gifts often include birding paraphernalia (e.g., books, optics, field guides, CDs). Of course, I’m the one selecting and buying the gifts for myself in the name of my wife or family and they are the surprised ones when the packages are opened.

Trips to visit the three of my five sons living outside of Utah include birding as an appendix. Trips elsewhere have largely become birding trips with an organized group led by a guide.

When you share a hobby and time together for a common cause, you get to know people well. Some of the finest people I know include UCB members and other birders—all from close associations while on field trips.

You can go birding on your own, and you should. However, going with others is cost-effective—car pooling, sharing a scope, knowing where to go, more eyes and ears provide a greater likelihood for more birds, and help with identification. The UCB has some of the best birders in Utah if not the country, and you can learn a lot by going out with them.

The UCB provides birding opportunities for birders of all abilities. We would like you to believe that if you miss a monthly meeting or field trip that you’ll regret it. We will continue with our traditional activities: participating in the Christmas Count, having an annual pot-luck dinner, having a monthly meeting and field trips, and providing a birding “challenge” every two years.

Some may say that they don’t have time to do everything the UCB offers. Nevertheless, the opportunities will be there from which you may choose. To enjoy these birding opportunities, pull out your new 2005 calendar and mark in the UCB activities. These will be announced through the newsletter and at our meetings.

The January meeting features Aaron Smith presenting on one of the best birding hot spots in the United States – Southern California. This presentation should produce enthusiasm for a trip to California planned for March. Lifers for those going are promised and may even be guaranteed.

For 2005 the UCB changes its leadership. On behalf of all UCB members we express thanks to those who have served us for the past two years and especially Reed Stone as President. Reed is a very good birder filled with the two essential ingredients that successful birders have: a healthy dose of enthusiasm and a natural curiosity about the world. He willingly shares his expertise with others. His natural cheerfulness and positive attitude is contagious. Reed will still advise us from the Past-President’s position. Again, thanks Reed for your leadership.

As your new president, I look forward to maintaining old friendships and developing new ones. Your support is kindly appreciated. Suggestions are always appreciated.

2004 Provo Christmas Bird Count Results
Compiled by Merrill Webb

Ninety-five species were seen by 41 field observers, two owling parties and four feeder watchers on the Provo CBC, December 18, 2004. This compares with 93 species on last year’s Provo count. Official temperatures for the day were 38 for a high and 21 for a low. For the first time no new species were observed on our count although Sandhill Crane, American Avocet, and Wild Turkey with high numbers of 82, 156 and 14 respectively, made their second appearance in 33 years.

Utah Lake had frozen solid eight to nine days before the count date, but then when the temperatures warmed up to above freezing a couple of days prior to the 18th the ice broke up, open water occurred far out on the lake and waterfowl were numerous, scattered and difficult to I.D. Even so, observers were able to count 1696 Canada Geese, 3731 Mallards, 1909 Pintails, and 561 Green-winged Teal plus approximately 5,000 ducks that were too far out to correctly identify. Altogether there were 13 species of waterfowl accounted for, most of them dabbling ducks. The diving duck species and numbers were way down due mostly to the inactivity of Geneva Steel and the resultant drying up of deep cooling ponds west of the plant.

As usual Starlings dominated the count with observers estimating their number at 9462. Rock Pigeons were higher than usual with an estimated 1131 followed by Ring-billed Gulls with 879 plus another estimated 200 gulls that were too far out on the ice to correctly differentiate into species.

There were 10 species of diurnal raptors counted with the American Kestrel topping out at 70, Red-tailed Hawk with 43, Northern Harrier, 41 and Bald Eagle, 38. Corvid species were well represented on the count with the American Crow at 841, Black-billed Magpie 520, and Western Scrub Jay at 113. Even Steller’s Jay numbers were higher than usual at 76.

Other species that may be of interest to the reader were: Wood Duck (6), Chukar (7), Greater yellowlegs (10), No. Saw-whet Owl (1), Eurasian Collared-Dove (28), Yellow-headed Blackbird (4), Brown-headed Cowbird (11), Red Crossbill (16) and Evening Grosbeak (3).

It was a fairly pleasant day to be out without any rain, snow or wind to dampen the enthusiasm of the observers. Many thanks to those who assisted.

Please mark Saturday, December 17 on your calendars for this year’s Provo CBC.

Random Observations
By Tuula Rose

Long before I was a birder, when the children were small, we used to take them to Canyon Glenn Park in Provo Canyon. While the girls were swinging and the boys running along the river throwing rocks in the water I would find a comfortable boulder by the water to sit and watch the stream flow by and listen to the sounds in the park.

On one of those outings I remember observing a couple of young men with fishing poles trying their best to catch a fish, with no luck. Then I noticed a little brown bird hopping from rock to rock. Suddenly it plunged head first right into the stream and emerged a moment later with a tiny silvery fish in its beak. I thought: “Aren’t you a clever little bird, putting those fishermen to shame.” I did not know the name of that bird then, but I have watched the dipper many times since in its element.

One very cold early morning last winter I was watching the house finches come to feed outside my kitchen window. The first rays of the sun were coming over the mountains behind the birds leaving them in dark silhouettes. Straining to see details, I noticed one little finch on a branch emitting tiny puffs of frozen breath from its nostrils. The temperature and the light were just right to illuminate it for my disbelieving eyes. I’ve heard about dog breath, but how many of you have seen bird breath?

Just a couple days ago I got off work early and decided to check the Provo boat harbor for anything good or unusual. I soon had to give up on good and unusual to substitute for any bird at all, only to be disappointed. So I headed home grumbling about the winter doldrums starting early this year, when I had to slam on my brakes to avoid hitting a bird slowly and deliberately crossing Center Street. Turned out to be a lucky chukar! Five minutes later on 5th West in Provo, approaching a stop light, I had to slow down and swerve again in front of a flapping mass of wings and feathers in the middle of the center lane. This time a lucky merlin had just caught a not so lucky house sparrow who was fiercely resisting. The merlin lifted off the road with the sparrow in its talons, both flapping their wings in unison. What a sight! How many of you have seen a sparrow flying upside down?

These are just random observations that stay in my memory. I know you all have similar things that are certainly worth sharing, so I’m challenging you to write them down and send them to Eric to put in our newsletter for all of us to enjoy.

Happy New Year!

Tuula has a good idea. We would like to try to have a monthly ‘Random Observations’ column in the newsletter. If you have a random observation you would like to share please send it to newsletter@utahbirds.org or 850 E 100 N Pleasant Grove UT 84062.

Backyard Bird of the Month
December 2004

KC Childs - Orem Utah
Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Lois Clark - Provo
Yellow-rumped Warbler - Comes in every day.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Mountain Chickadee - Caching peanut butter in aspen buds.

Milton Moody - Provo
Pine Siskin - Had to shoo it away to fill the bag.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
Brown Creeper - 3 at the same time.

Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
Red Tail Hawk - In the neighbors trees.

Tuula Rose - Provo
Merlin - New for my yard.

Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
Steller's Jay - They own the place!

Reed Stone - Provo
Brown Creeper - Crawling up the trees like mice.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Hairy Woodpecker - New bird for yard.

Backyard Bird of the Month is a new monthly column. We would like you to share you favorite backyard bird each month. Please send your favorite bird at the end of the month to newsletter@utahbirds.org or call 360-8777. If you would like a reminder at the end of the month e-mail the above address and I’ll add you to the list.

New Officers

For those of you who weren’t at our December meeting, the UCB has new officers. As you know from Alton’s article on page one, Alton Thygerson is our new President and Reed Stone becomes the Past President. We would like to express thanks to Reed for his excellent leadership as our president. Not only did Reed act as president, he also set up the programs for our meetings. Both these jobs take a lot of work and are integral to the smooth functioning of our organization. Thanks again Reed!

The rest of the officers are as follows: Sylvia Cundick will remain as our Secretary/Treasurer, Tuula Rose is our new Field Trip Coordinator, KC Childs is still in charge of Local Field Trips, Ned Hill remains as Big Trip Planner, Dennis Shirley will find Programs for our meetings, Larry Draper is in charge of Publicity, Bonnie Williams will run the Phone Hotline, Weldon Whipple remains our Web Host, Milton Moody remains our Web Master, Eric Huish remains as Newsletter Editor and in a new office Kay Stone will oversee the Bird of the Month presentations at our meetings. We would like to thank the past officers for jobs well done and thank the new officers for accepting their new roles in our organization.

Phone Hotline

If you see a good bird others would be interested in seeing call Bonnie Williams at 489-5762 to start the phone-tree. If you were not at the December meeting and would like to be called for a good bird, call me to add your name to the phone-tree list. I will be calling to let you know who you are to call.
- Bonnie Williams