Utah County Birders Newsletter
Utah County Birders at the Provo Cemetery. January 15, 2005 photo by Eric Huish
On Saturday (January 15th)15 Utah County Birders met at 8:00 am for a field trip to our area cemeteries. Tuula Rose was our leader.
East Lawn Cemetery was our first stop. We saw 14 species at and around East Lawn. Our first sighting was of a Steller’s Jay, then some American Robins and a dozen Cedar Waxwings in a tree near where we parked. Other species at East Lawn were; Northern Flicker, Western Scrub-Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Brown Creeper, Townsend’s Solitaire, European Starling, Spotted Towhee, White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco and House Finch. To add to all the birds we also got to see a cute little cottontail. On our way out, just down the road from the cemetery, we found a flock of Wild Turkey.
Our next stop was Provo City Cemetery where we counted 13 species. Our first bird here was a Red-breasted Nuthatch that was calling from the tall evergreens above where we parked. The best bird at Provo Cemetery was probably the Golden-crowned Kinglet which most everyone was excited to see. Other bird here were; Black-billed Magpie, Black-capped Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Townsend’s Solitaire, American Robin, European Starling, House Finch and Pine Siskin.
At Evergreen Cemetery we only saw 9 species, 3 of which weren’t seen by everyone. The lack of species was made up for by the number of birds and quality of species. Our first birds here were a flock of Evening Grosbeaks feeding in a couple junipers at the edge of the cemetery. At closer inspection the trees were also filled with Mountain Chickadees and Juniper Titmice. As if that wasn’t enough activity a flock of Cedar Waxwings flew into the very same trees. Other birds seen at Evergreen included; Norther Flicker and American Kestrel. Canada Geese and a Great Blue Heron were seen flying in the distance by a couple birders and a Townsend’s Solitaire was also seen by a few of the participants.
Other Trip birds included; Lewis’s Woodpeckers seen at ‘the usual place’, a dark morph Red-tail Hawk near Salem and Mallard, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck Common Goldeneye, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird and House finch at some of the ponds in Salem.
Our trip total was 37 species. Trip participant were; Aaron & Shauna, Alona,
Alton, Bonnie, Carol Jean, Darlene, Eric, Flora, Leena, Matt ((from Toronto),
Melanie, Milt, Reed, and our leader Tuula. We all had a great time and I’m
looking forward to many more great UCB field trips.
Field Trip Report
Heber, Francis, Kamas - January 22, 2005
by Tuula Rose
Utah County Birders, Mirror Lake
Highway - Jan 22, 05
Due to the reality of fog in Provo/Orem and the prospect of encountering pea soup in SL Valley, the Saturday Jan 22nd UCB Field Trip was revised at the last moment (7.09 or so am, common consent) and we headed for Heber-Francis-Kamas via Provo Canyon. Turned out to be the right decision because the fog vanished the minute we got into the canyon and sunshine and warm weather were with us the whole way into the mid-afternoon.
I counted 30 species for the day, the best one being a bonus WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in Francis that wasn't even on our wish list. We went after rosy finches that Lu Giddings reported on Lower River Road, lucked out on those and ended up further down the road in front of a house with feeders, where God-Bless-Him-Eric found the sparrow. A few minutes before we had just seen a flock of 30-40 GREATER SAGE GROUSE fly over the road, over the fields and disappear over the next hill. We didn't even know sage grouse can fly that far.
No Bohemian Wax Wings in Kamas, Oakley or Peioa, so up the Mirror Lake Highway we went. Aaron soon spotted three RED CROSSBILLS right on the road, right in front of his car. Looked like they were picking up grit off the asphalt having to turn their heads sideways to make bill contact with ground. Those specialized beaks don't work as well on a flat surface as they do on pine cones. We had great looks of these beautiful birds.
Besides hoards of snow-mobilers, snowshoers and skiers, we saw TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES and BROWN CREEPERS up by Soapstone Basin.
On the way home, quick stops by Jordanelle Wetlands and Wasatch Mountain Park produced the usuals like DIPPER, RING-NECKED DUCK and BUFFLEHEAD. In Provo Canyon by Deer Creek Reservoir the two cars bringing up the rear of the expedition stopped to check out some ducks and were treated to a great display of soaring GOLDEN and BALD EAGLES, eight in all, sprinkled with a couple of red-tails.
A great trip! Join us for the next one, Feb 12th, 7:00 am Orem Center Street
Park & Ride. We'll go to Farmington Bay, AIC etc.
A while ago a co-worker showed me a book belonging to his father. It was an early field guide to western birds, a 1948 edition of “Birds of the West” by Ernest Sheldon Booth. I borrowed it for a few days and looking through it came to a description on the starling, part of which I thought worth repeating. Here is a direct quote:
“They are not native to America, but were introduced from Europe, much to the dismay of all Americans. They are now common or even abundant in the eastern states, and have penetrated commonly as far west as the Rocky Mountains, and have sent their vanguards even farther west to explore the western states. There are now scattered records of starlings in almost every western state, but we hope that they will find the area unsuitable to their liking, and will return eastward although this is really too much to hope!”
Well, we all know the rest of the story.
~ Tuula Rose
My kitchen window faces east looking into a small side yard where I have most of my feeders. I have thistle socks, hanging black oil sunflower seed feeders and platform feeders both in a tree and on the ground for millet and other small seeds. These bring in a variety of birds in big numbers, especially after a snowfall.
From my bedroom window to the north I can see the back yard with fruit trees, bushes, flower beds and garden area. This fall the cold and snow came early and the fall clean-up of last summers annuals and spent flowers of the perennials didn’t get done (you can read this sentence as a feeble excuse for preferred chasing of fall migrants instead of yard work).
The other day when my side yard feeders were full to capacity with birds, I noticed activity in the back yard. Goldfinches and siskins were the acrobats hanging from dried stems of various flowers that now had seeds in them. I watched a house finch climb up a stem far enough for the whole stem to bend over onto the ground, where he could dine as well as share with the juncos.
The most popular plants seem to be “Bluebeard” bushes (Caryopteris incana), Korean Hyssop (in the mint family), an annual Salvia called “Lady in Red”, also a favorite of hummingbirds, Russian Sage (Perovskia atriplicifolia), Purple Coneflower (Echinacea) and the old-fashioned Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia). Mixed in between all these, though I’m not confessing to them, can be found a fair mix of grasses and nameless weeds with millions of seeds that could feed the masses. After seeing the activity at my natural smorgasbord I didn’t feel quite as bad about leaving a mess in the back yard.
~ Tuula Rose
I have a female Downy Woodpecker that "puppy guards" the woodpecker bar. She will not let the Red-breasted Nuthatch anywhere near the feeder. If she is sitting on the bar (and not eating) and looking up above her, then I know the nuthatch is there.
~ Cheryl Peterson
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 email@example.com.
Backyard Bird of the Month
Steve Carr - Holladay
Brown Creeper - 2 individuals on a cedar tree.
KC Childs - Orem
Townsend Solitaire - a new yard bird number 55.
Wade Covert - Provo
Black-capped Chickadee - amusing avian acrobats
Dana Green - Canyon Lake, Texas
Carolina Wren - they pish up and come close.
Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Bohemian Waxwing - 50+ in neighbors ash tree.
Milt Moody - Provo
Dark-eyed Junco - Slate-colored & Pink-sided.
Leila Ogden - Orem
Black-capped Chickadee - very friendly, allows close proximity.
Cheryl Peterson - Provo
Downy Woodpecker - She keeps us entertained!
Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
House Finch(!) - Partial melanistic female.
Tuula Rose - Provo
Brown Creeper - Likes the suet stuffed in cracks in the bark.
Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
White-throated Sparrow - "tan striped" adult at my backyard feeder.
Mark Stackhouse - San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
Yellow-breasted Chat - eating berries on the sidewalk outside my front door.
Reed Stone - Provo
Mourning Dove - it comes and goes.
Alton Thygerson - Provo
Downy Woodpecker - unpredictable visitor but a welcome sight.
Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Steller’s Jay - because blue is my favorite color.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-8777. If you would like a reminder at the end of the month e-mail the above address.