Utah County Birders Newsletter
Upcoming Field Trips
Field Trip Report - Lower Provo River Parkway and Provo Airport Dike - 10
Backyard Bird of the
Wednesday, October 12th.
- We will have a panel of club members review a birding book each.
So far the list includes -
Kingbird Highway - Tom Williams
Birding on Borrowed Time - Ned Hill
The Big Year - Alona Huffaker
The Feather Quest - Margaret Sanchez
To See Every Bird - Tom Williams
Red-tails in Love - Bonnie Williams
Spix's Macaw - Tuula Rose
Birders: Tales of a Tribe - Eric Huish
The Complete Birder - Glenn Barlow
Birds of Prey in the American West - LeIla Ogden
Brushed by Feathers - Alton Thygerson
Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.
Upcoming UCB Meetings:
November 9th (Wed):
Sparrow Identification -
Milton Moody & Merrill Webb have a
power point presentation they put together for the UOS Conference - 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.
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 on the East side of
the Provo Airport Dike where the moat makes the first bend (Southeast corner, where the mud flats
are this year). We sat at the airport dike last year, 2004, and counted 45 species, in
2003 we counted 53. Everyone is invited to join for the whole day or any part of
it, come and leave when you want. We will start at 6:00 A.M. and end after dark
(We may take a break mid afternoon ~2-5pm). Our goal
is to beat our 2003 high count of 53 species.
October 22nd (Sat): East Canyon Reservoir and Morgan
Co. area - Meet at 8:00 A.M. at the 800 North park and ride at the
mouth of Provo Canyon (on the North side of 8th North between the gas station
and the mouth of the canyon.)
By Alton Thygerson
“Second Opinions About Rare Birds”
Jack, a 50-year-old office worker, discovered a small lump on the side of his
neck. He scheduled a visit with his primary care doctor, who examined the lump
and ordered tests. When the tests results were in, Jack’s doctor explained that
though benign, the lump was what he called “pre-cancerous.” His treatment
options were to closely monitor it but do nothing else now, or to surgically
remove the lump.
Explaining the pros and cons of each option, the doctor stated that in his
opinion the best option was to remove the lump via surgery. After asking his
doctor a number of questions, which he answered in depth, Jack said he would
like to take a few days to think about what to do. His doctor agreed and
suggested that he consider getting a second opinion. In Jack’s case, the second
opinion confirmed the diagnosis and recommendations of his primary care
What does medical diagnosing and getting a second opinion about a medical
condition have to do with birding? Diagnosing a medical condition is similar to
identifying a bird. Moreover, in some cases a second opinion about a bird’s
identification is wise just as a second opinion is when dealing with your
Those reading the bird hotline e-mails about chasing rarities in Utah during
mid-September know about the dialog which took place about the identification of
a jaeger. Was it a Long-tailed or a Parasitic? Even with the bird in the hand
(after it had died) and excellent photos, it took awhile before a definitive ID
was given, and even then it didn’t sound too positive as to which jaeger it was,
and perhaps as this is being written, “the jury” is still out.
Let’s say you’re out birding in a riparian area somewhere, and you happen to
notice an interesting bird. It’s not easily recognizable, and you think it
might be something rare. Now what? First, do what you came to do: Watch the
bird. Stay with it, observing as much as you possibly can about its appearance,
field marks, and behavior. Take notes. Note the time of day, but most
important, exactly where the bird was. If other birders are in the area, point
it out to them because one of them might be able to identify it. Photos also
helps for later study and confirmation.
There is the story of three educated ornithologists on a field trip. A hawk
was seen in the distance for which they couldn’t make a definite
identification. One said to the others, “well, we haven’t seen a Rough-legged
Hawk, and that must be it.” And, that’s how it was recorded. Obviously, that’s
not how it is done. Moreover, if the word gets out, the individual’s
credibility will be at stake. We all experience misidentifications, that’s part
of birding. But, if you don’t know, don’t attach a name to the bird just to
fill up your list.
Caution is urged when a someone suddenly starts reporting things that have
never been seen in the area. Either little birding has taken place in the area
to identify what birds might be there, or the person doesn’t know what they are
reporting, or the person is very good and IDs birds that other birders have
passed off as LBJs or as unidentifiable.
While with Mark Stackhouse on a Deseret Ranch trip, the rest of the party
birded the ranch house ponds while Mark prepared lunch. I spotted a bird I had
never seen before flitting around the edges of the pond and called Bob
Huntington over for his opinion as to what it was. We were both stymied, so
while I kept track of the bird, Bob rushed to the ranch house for Mark who
immediately identified it as a Black-throated Blue Warbler—a lifer for Bob and I
and a first in Utah for Mark. The Black-throated Blue Warbler is so well
marked that almost anyone using a field guide can come up with its name.
Nevertheless. when in doubt, it’s nice to have a second opinion.
I want rarities reported—I need them for my state list. However, when a
chase is on for a Code 4 or Code 5 bird, the chase can become costly both in
time and actual expenses.
I have had both experiences with the ends of the success continuum—one
driving round trip in one day to St. George for a Herrmann’s Gull without seeing
it and one driving round trip in a day to Sun Valley, Idaho for a Northern Hawk
Owl which was rewarded with a prolonged look.
There will always be challenges in identifying birds and frankly, that’s the
way it should be. Besides, most of us won’t get any rarities unless we chase
those reported on the hotline. It’s a gamble that the bird won’t be there or
that the bird was misidentified by whoever reported it.
What should you do if the bird you see really does turn out to be a rarity?
Phone or e-mail your report, with all the details, to the bird hotline so others
can pursue it and report it to the Utah Bird Record Committee. This group of
experienced birders decides, on the basis of past sightings and the evidence
provided, whether the bird is a record for the state and if what you saw is
actually what you believe it to be.
The Utah Bird Records Committee Official Website is very informative and is
maintained by our own Milt Moody. Go to
www.utahbirds.org/RecCom/index.html for links to such topics as:
• Records Committee Photos (before 2000)
• Rare Bird Finder (table & maps of Utah’s rare birds)
• Records Under Review
• Comprehensive List of Rare Bird Sightings
• Archives (sight records, lists & reports)
Field Trip Report
Lower Provo River Parkway and Provo Airport Dike - 10
by Milt Moody
Utah County Birders on the Lower Provo
- 10 September 2005
photo by Eric Huish
At least 14 birders of every stripe (beginners to veterans) gathered to see
what birds would show up on a beautiful pre-fall Saturday morning in September.
The group, led by Tuula Rose, decided to start at the mudflats along the airport
dike and give the smaller birds of the tree- and bush-lined Provo River a chance
to wake up.
Upon arrival at the mudflats on the southeast side of the dike, the scopes
were brought out and trained on the numerous peeps, gulls, ducks, pelicans and
other birds in the mudflat area, while others scanned the "mote" with their
binoculars for flying, floating and perching birds.
Species seen on the mudflats were: Mallard, American White Pelican, Great
Blue Heron, White-faced Ibis, Killdeer, American Avocet, Lesser Yellowlegs,
Western Sandpiper, Wilson’s Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, Ring-billed Gull, and
Caspian Tern, while in the trees and around the mote were: Forster’s
Tern, Mourning Dove, Black-billed Magpie, Marsh Wren, European Starling, House
Finch, Black-crowned Night-Heron, American Kestrel, and a female
Ring-necked Pheasant planted on the chain-link fence. As the group picked up
and left for the parkway, Kay Stone and company while turning around, spotted a
Sage Thrasher running on the dirt road.
After parking in the "oxbow" parking lot along the Provo River, the group
made their way down stream looking for signs of a Barn Owl that had been seen in
the area. Along the trail there were warblers, vireos, and flycatchers flitting
in the foliage along the river. Suddenly a shout of "Barn Owl" sent eyes
to the tree tops to see glimpses of the owl flying along the tree line then
U-turning to come back along the river. Bingo! Other species seen along the
trail and in the fields were: California Quail, Cattle Egret, American
Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Empidonax Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Black-billed
Magpie, Swallows, Black-capped Chickadee, House Wren, Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Wilson’s
Warbler, Western Tanager, and Green-tailed Towhee.
Besides seeing 38 species of birds plus some unidentified peeps, gulls,
swallows and waterfowl, the group enjoyed a beautiful morning, close to nature,
in good company. Can’t beat that!
Backyard Bird of the
KC Childs - Orem
Steve Carr - Holladay
Rufous Hummingbird - At the feeder on the way south.
Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Green-tailed Towhee - Scratching away under the bushes.
Tuula Rose - Provo
Ring-necked Pheasant - Female hiding in the untamed jungle of summer long
neglect. Also found a single egg in the flower bed.
Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
Three Sandhill Cranes - Heard them, then saw them flying over the stubble
fields below the house.
Alton Thygerson - Provo
2 Mourning Doves arrive each evening for a snack at a feeder
Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Mountain Chickadee - Showed up the day before fall.
We would like you to share your 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.