Utah County Birders Newsletter
January 2006

    January Meeting
    Upcoming Field Trips
    Feather Talk
    Provo Christmas Bird Count Report
    Random Observations
    Backyard Bird of the Month
    December Hotline Highlights


Wednesday, January 11th.

This month's meeting is our winter dinner social. Our program will feature the unveiling of the 2006 UCB Bird Challenge. Meet at the Pizza Factory at 6:30 P.M.  Leena Rogers has reserved a large room at the Pizza Factory [2230 N University Parkway in Provo] from 6:30 -8:30 p.m. We have the room all to ourselves for that whole time. Our menu is the Pasta Bar. The cost is $8.50/person. We can also order additional items off the menu.


Saturday, January 14th  

Antelope Island Causeway and Garr Ranch - Meet at Orem Center Street Park and Ride at 8:30 am. Back by mid-afternoon. Target birds: Long-tailed duck, black scoter, burrowing owl, sora and rail.

Feather Talk
By Alton Thygerson

New Year’s Resolutions

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I often try to make a resolution on some important thing—like exercise more consistently or to accomplish something that seems worthy. Sometimes I make the resolution as the year begins and sometimes as the year goes along. But usually, it’s really easy once a new year really gets going, at least for me, to just forget the whole thing—sometimes deliberately, I must admit.

But then another new year comes, and I try again. So this year, 2006, I’d like to challenge you to do what I’m going to try to do, which is to use the Utah County Birders’ Challenge as a way of enhancing the hobby we share. Make the UCB Birders’ Challenge one of your New Year’s resolutions.

The idea of a Birding Challenge every two years was Robin Tuck’s. The UCB Birding Challenge in 1996 was the one which really “hooked” me onto birding though birding had been been simmering on the “back burner” for decades. In 1996 I remember getting a few birds over the goal of required 200 species seen in Utah.

Our January program features the criteria for the 2006 Utah County Birders’ Challenge. For this meeting (January 11th; Wednesday) we have changed the location to the Pizza Factory in Provo and the starting time to 6:30 PM. You’ll need to bring $8.50 for the meal. The cost of the socializing and camaraderie is free.

Leena Rogers and her crew have developed a set of criteria which is attainable by all. They will introduce the 2006 Birding Challenge and provide clarification and more information as to the kinds of things that you need to know about this year’s Challenge.

New Year’s resolutions either inspire or intimidate. In 2006 I have good intentions of exercising more consistently and cleaning up my office. I’m also choosing to focus on our great hobby by completing the Challenge’s criteria. After all, what could inspire a person more than spending more time outside with the birds?

So, here’s the deal. Please join me in completing the UCB 2006 Birding Challenge. Please note that I said complete, not compete. This is a noncompetitive Challenge although it’s often referred to as a Contest. The Birding Challenge is self-scored. and you are not competing against anyone. All you have to do is meet the Challenge’s criteria.

You will not only have the satisfaction of meeting the Challenge’s criteria, but as many found out from previous years—there are rewards. For example, dozens of birders have on their car a license plate holder saying: “I’d Rather Be Birding.” The reward for those completing the 2006 Challenge is yet to be determined, but rest assured, it will be of value just as the license plate holders were last year.

Again, consider making the UCB Birding Challenge as one of your New Year’s Resolutions. While many resolutions crumble, you can meet the criteria by attending the majority (that’s 50%) of UCB meetings and field trips. For those unable to participate fully with the UCB activities, it can be met by individual efforts.


Special Announcement:

Sylvia Cundick, our dedicated secretary/treasurer, asked to be relieved of that responsibility. Sylvia exemplified dependability during for her long service through several UCB presidents. We are grateful for her willingness to have served so long.

I am pleased to announce that the new secretary/treasurer is Carol Jean Nelson. She, without hesitation, consented to serve. She brings a lot to this position. We are fortunate to have her as an officer.

Provo Christmas Bird Count Results for 2005
17th, 2005

by Merrill Webb (Compiler)

Provo CBC Compilation/Potluck/Party - 17 December 2005
photos by Eric Huish

The 34th consecutive Provo CBC was on December 17 with six feeder watchers and 37 observers in nineteen different parties  looking for birds in the central Utah locales of Provo, Orem and parts of Springville and Lindon.  Eventhough the temperature was quite cold (Utah Lake and Provo Bay were frozen solid), the weather cooperated by being dry and windless.
Participants were able to tally 101 species (contrary to the 100 species previously reported by an overly enthusiastic participant who neglected to consider the possible results of the six feeder watchers whose results weren't phoned in and added with the original totals until later in the evening after the compilation was completed).

Starlings dominated the numbers with a total of 10,286 compared with 9462 reported last year.  Seventeen species of waterfowl were tallied with the highest being 3409 Mallards. Last year's total for Mallards was slightly higher at 3731.  Eleven species of raptors were counted with a high count for American Kestrels of 81. Five species of owls were observed with two Northern Pygmy Owls and one Saw-whet Owl seen up in Rock Canyon by two intrepid birders who spent over six hours tromping in the snow.  Two owling parties were able to account for two other species, Gt. Horned Owl and four Western Screech Owls. Two Barn Owls were observed in silos in west Orem during the day.  House Sparrows, as might be expected, were the second highest in terms of numbers with 1300 being reported.  This compares with 1749  reported for last year.  Other species with high numbers were: 1073 Rock Pigeons, 875 House Finches, 563 White-crowned Sparrows, 534 Red-winged Blackbirds and 482 Black-billed Magpies.  One of the biggest decreases was in the number of American Crows which dropped from 841 last year to 119 this year.  A Mew Gull was seen for the first time on the count, and Least Sandpipers for only the second time.  Cinnamon Teal and White-throated Sparrow were other unusual species that were found this year. 

It might be of interest to readers to look at the results over the last five years.  For the year 2000, 58 observers tallied 108 species; for 2001, 43 observers tallied 101 species; in 2003,47 observers counted 93 species; in 2003 41 observers counted 93 species; last year 41 observers counted 95 species and this year, as already mentioned 37 observers tallied 101 species.

I would like to thank all those who participated. There were some new faces this year, and some of you who have participated in the past were missed. Even so, we were still able to cover all of the areas within the count circle.  One hundred forty-nine hours were expended by the 37 field observers who paid $5.00 each for the privilege.  Thanks again.

Merrill Webb

Random Observations

One morning while getting ready to leave for work I looked out my kitchen window at the feeders to observe the goldfinches and the house sparrows when I heard the little squeaks of a downy woodpecker. She was busy pecking at the suet I had smeared into the cracks in the bark of my feeder tree.

Suddenly all the finches and sparrows flew off to hide in the hedge along the fence, but the downy froze and clung motionless on the house side of the trunk. I checked the big tree on the other side of the feeder tree to see the resident sharpie take his regular post high in the big tree. Lucky for the downy, she was out of a clear shot for the sharpie and I thought she would take her chance when the sharpie turned his back to the feeder tree. But the downy did not move a muscle, shift her grip on the bark, turn her head even slightly or blink an eye (maybe she sneaked a half of a blink but I did not see it).

Five minutes went by and I had to turn away to make breakfast. Ten minutes later I checked the scene and noticed that the sharpie had moved to a new vantage point but the downy was still a statue. Now I was interested to find out how long a woodpecker would cling to wood, or would she flee if she could? (Is this how the tongue twister went?) At 25 minutes from the opening of the scene nothing had changed. At 30 minutes, still clinging. Same at 35 minutes. The sharpie had shifted positions three times, but the downy was still faithful to her method of avoiding detection. Finally I had to leave for work at 45 minutes, and took a last look out the window. The downy was busy eating suet again in the same spot, the goldfinches had returned and the sharpie had left, the obvious looser in the waiting game.

Let this be a lesson to us on the power of patience and perseverance and sticking to the proven method of madness in this game of life and death that we all are involved in.

  ~ Tuula Rose


We would like to hear your random observations. If you have an observation to share send it to newsletter@utahbirds.org .

Backyard Bird of the Month
December 2005

Steve Carr - Holladay
All 3 Carduelins - 8-10 individuals of each species.

KC Childs - Provo
Green-tailed Towhee - first winter sighting.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Black-billed Magpies - Bullying and stealing the Sharp-shined Hawks meal.

Milt Moody - Provo
Sharp-shinned Hawk - I wondered where are my regulars went.

LeIla Ogden - Provo
American Goldfinch - Its about all I have in my yard.

Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
American Kestrel - On my TV antenna watching my feeders.

Tuula Rose - Provo
Mourning Dove - one still hanging around.

Mark Stackhouse - San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
Collared Forest-Falcon - I hear it every afternoon across the estuary, finally saw it sitting on a palm frond.

Reed Stone - Provo
Cedar Waxwings - A flock of feathered "rockets" feeding on fruit of a Mountain Ash.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Black-billed Magpie - The only one I've had this year.

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.