Utah County Birders Newsletter
September 2005

    September Meeting
    Upcoming Field Trips
    Feather Talk
    Field Trip Report - Strawberry Valley - 6 August 2005
    Field Trip Report - River Lane - 27 August 2005
    Backyard Bird of the Month
    August Hotline Highlights


Wednesday, September 14th.

Dennis Shirley, assisted by Alton Thygerson, will lead a discussion on the Identification of Fall Warblers. A DVD will be included in the presentation - Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.

Upcoming UCB Meetings:

October 12th (Wed):  Birding Book Reviews - We will have a panel of club members review a birding book each.  (e.g. Birding on Barrowed Time, Kingbird Highway, etc.)  Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.

November 9th (Wed): Winter Gull Identification - Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.

December 14th (Wed): Christmas Bird Count Preparation - Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.


September 10th (Sat): Warbler Bird Walk at the Provo River Parkway - Meet at 8:00 am at the parking lot closest to the boat harbor. Use 620 N from Geneva Road, Center St. is closed due to bridge repair.

September 24th (Sat): Meet at 8:00 am at the Rock Canyon Trailhead Park at the mouth of Rock Canyon. We'll divide into teams by the carload to have a contest for most species in half a day. Back by noon for a picnic at the pavilion. Bring some food.

October 9th (Sun): The Big Sit! - The Big Sit is like a Big Day in that the object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The difference lies in the area limitation (inside a 17-foot circle) from which you can observe. Hundreds of teams from around the world will be sitting on Oct. 9th.  We will sit at the Provo Airport Dike (exact location not yet chosen). We sat at the airport dike last year and counted 45 species, in 2003 we counted 53. Everyone is invited to join for the whole day or any part of it. Our goal is to beat 53 species.

October 22nd (Sat): Time and Destination to be announced.

 • Don't forget the 2005 Utah Ornithological Society Fall Conference  -  Logan: 16-18 of September 2005 - There are some great field trips planed!  Click here for Details.

Feather Talk
By Alton Thygerson

There’s More to Birding than Watching Birds

When you are outdoors and see someone peering up into a tree with binoculars, your first impression is that you have met another birder. And, from past experience, this is most often true.

Perhaps there are other clues used to indicate that we may have met one of our own kind. Clues such as an open field guide resting on the hood of a car, the person being in an area where the bird hotline said a rare migrant was seen, and constant head movements from looking at any movement in the bushes. All could be used to detect the person as a birder.

But there are some out there who are not there for the mere “thrill of the hunt.” My wife is an example. While she often accompanies me even while on a professional bird tour, she will carry binoculars and use them, even though she does not classify herself as a birder. She keeps no lists; instead, she will read or knit as I search for birds. Nevertheless, on many trips she has located a bird I failed to see. She seems to enjoy being on birding trips because she keeps going out with me.

So I asked her why she goes on field trips. She claims there are secondary benefits for birding other than bird identification and listing.

This started me thinking about the other advantages to the avocation we enjoy, and I came up with a list (I’m sure others could add to it).

Physical Benefits

Except during the winter, my wife and I walk at least once a week, the Provo River Trail either on the trails east or north of the Utah Lake State Park or in Provo Canyon. We make sure that we get in 40 to 60 minutes of walking. The benefits even from this small amount of exercise can help control weight and enhance the cardiorespiratory system. In other words, it’s physically healthy. Reed Stone, former UCB President, often rides his bicycle along the Provo River Trail for exercise and has told me that he birds along the way. I include hiking up Rock Canyon in the summer and snowshoeing in the winter for a more vigorous and healthier activity.

Social Benefits

Birding is one of the fastest growing recreation and leisure time activities. For those able to travel, birding tours are available to all parts of the world. For those less able, great birding spots are near most homes and others accessible by car. Such trips whether to another country or within the county acquaints you with new friends.

Birding encourages verbal communication. Birding can be a great conversation piece whether it’s about the bird just seen, tripods, or the mosquitoes threatening to sting. An example of the camaraderie among birders was displayed in August when the UCB held its annual pot-luck dinner in my backyard.

I have seen complete strangers come together for a common cause (birding) and easily fitting in and feeling comfortable with the group because of the mutually shared activity. On a recent UCB field trip to the Strawberry Reservoir area, one of my neighbor’s lined up her friend visiting from North Carolina to go on the trip. The visitor enjoyed it so much that she would like to go again when visiting Utah in the future.

Without any introduction and thanks to the American Birding Association’s A Birder’s Resource Guide, you can contact a birder in most parts of the country or world and find a person who can inform you about local birds and locations. I recently did this while attending a professional conference in Aspen, Colorado. While the area is not the birdiest place, the person I contacted told me about the “gold mine” in his back yard during the winter. He has hundreds of Rosy-Finches, all three species, come into his feeders right after storms. Yes, even the rarer Brown-Capped Rosy-Finch (found only in the Colorado and northern New Mexico mountains).

You feel comfortable with other birders that even when you overtly misidentify a bird, your error is quickly overlooked and if corrected is done in a polite manner. While birding provides a common interest and a focus for conversation, it can even be a forum for competition. While most birders may not admit it, it can be challenging to be the first to spot a sought after specie or identify the most birds.

Cognitive Benefits

Birding can stimulate the long- and short-term memory, especially when the person relives what they have seen through conversation. Keeping lists, matching birds to a field guide, and spending leisure hours reviewing identification marks can help keep people on their “mental” toes.

Birding provides opportunities to visit places you either have only seen in a magazine or heard about. For example, I would never have thought of going to the Dry Tortugas as a part of a vacation, but because of birding and the place being known as a magnet for birds, I went.

Emotional Benefits

Just as keeping a pet dog or cat can be beneficial, so can watching birds. Moreover, the locations themselves where birds can be found can be relaxing. Scenic vistas such as forests, rivers, lakes, mountains, and clouds benefit the psyche.

Solitary birding can be rewarding by allowing a person to get away from the “hustle and bustle.” It can provide a surrounding conducive for meditating and contemplating the various issues common to living.

Believe me, while birding is a fascinating, ever-changing activity, it provides benefits far beyond merely looking through binoculars. My non-birding wife was right on when I asked her why she goes out birding—there’s more to the hobby than watching birds.


Field Trip Report
Strawberry Valley - 6 August 2005

by KC Childs

Utah County Birders scanning Strawberry Reservoir - 6 August 2005 
photo by Eric Huish

On August 6th several Utah County birders headed out for a fun filled day of birding to Strawberry Valley and Reservoir. The field trip was led by our own Merrill Webb who knows the area very well and was able to show us around to many areas and let us know about the bird species we would see in the area. At our first stop at the Strawberry visitor center we were treated to several birds, from a singing Willow Flycatcher and several other riparian birds along the Strawberry River. We stopped at several areas along the lake and saw several kinds of Grebes such as Western and Eared and birds in the sage like Vesper Sparrow and Mountain Bluebirds shining very powerful in color. Also in the fields near the lake were magnificent Sandhill Cranes. We then headed up a beautiful forested canyon. Up this canyon we were able to see several species of woodpeckers. There were Hairy, Downey, Red-naped, Northern Flicker and several in the group got to see a Three-toed Woodpecker that was high in a Douglas Fir. Also up this canyon we were able to get within feet of a gorgeous Ruffed Grouse. One of the big surprises was a Virginia's Warbler that was nowhere near his local habitat. On the way home Reed's car received a flat tire, but a bunch of helping hands fixed it quick. A good time was had by all and over 50 species were enjoyed throughout the group. Hope to see you at a future field trip.


Field Trip Report
River Lane - 27 August 2005

by Tuula Rose

Eric set this one up and when I asked who is going to be the leader, he said I should since I am the Princess of River Lane! I admit I love looking for warblers, but neither past fame nor royal titles helped this time. A lot of birders showed up, even from Salt Lake, but warblers were missing. The best of River Lane was at the end on Sandy Beach where a small flock of least sandpipers and killdeer was chased away by a peregrine falcon. No, he did not catch any more birds than we did.

Some of us decided to go check the mudflats at the airport dike, where we found more western sandpipers than we cared to look through. A few semipalmated sandpipers were spotted by the most diligent. A solitary sandpiper and a greater yellowlegs provided good comparison points side by side.

Maybe it was too early for migrants. We will try again September 10th.


Backyard Bird of the Month
August 2005

Steve Carr - Holladay
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Never before in August.

KC Childs - Orem
Bullock's Oriole.

Wade Covert - Provo
Mourning Doves - love to sit on my "table rock" in the shade.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Virginia’s Warbler.

Milt Moody - Provo
California Quail - two adults and 10 puffballs.

LeIla Ogden - Provo
Rufous Hummingbirds - Doing their usual nectar guarding and fighting. They add a lot of interest to my front porch. Neighbor kids love them.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
Black-headed Grosbeak - male & female, 1st for yard.

Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
Olive Sided Flycatcher - 2 at the same time.

Tuula Rose - Provo
Western Scrub Jay - FINALLY two of them showed up after three years, and I'm not far from the foothills. Number 66 for my yard.

Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
220 Black-billed Magpies.

Mark Stackhouse - Salt Lake City
White-breasted Nuthatch - playing around near my son's tree-house.

Mark Stackhouse - San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
Blue-footed Booby - flying up the river (Estero del Pozo) - a new yard bird.

Reed Stone - Provo
Cedar Waxwings catching insects over my deck on Provo River.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Mom and Pop California Quail with 8 chicks, but sadly a week later with only 5.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Lazuli Bunting - Enjoyed seeing it again before winter.

We would like you to share your 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.