Utah County Birders Newsletter
Upcoming Field Trips
Utah Habitats - by Robin Tuck
Field Trip Report
- Antelope Island - Jan. 14, 2006
Backyard Bird of the
Wednesday, February 8th.
Tim Avery - Bird Photography and Identification
- Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.
Wednesday, March 8th.
Merrill Webb - Influence of St. George Area Golf
Courses on wintering waterfowl
Wednesday, April 12th.
Field Guide and Bird Guide Reviews
Saturday, February 11th.
We'll look for winter birds in Utah County, starting at the
Provo and Springville cemeteries, and
continuing south to Salem and Spring Lake -
Meet at Sam's Club parking lot in East Bay in Provo at 9:00 am. Back
by noon - 1pm. Target birds: golden-crowned kinglet, winter ducks,
trumpeter/tundra swan, Lewis's woodpecker.
Saturday, March 4th.
Leena Rogers is going to be our leader on a trip to the
Delta Snow Goose Festival - Meet at Sam's Club parking lot in East
Bay in Provo at 8:00 am. Back by mid- to late afternoon.
By Alton Thygerson
Presidents and Birds
This month we celebrate two U.S. Presidents’ birthdays—George Washington and
Abraham Lincoln. You may ask what do they have to do with birds? I’m not sure
about these two, but probably any other U.S. President looking at a bird was
looking down the barrel of a 12-gauge shotgun.
Thinking about U.S. Presidents started me searching for bird-related president
stories. Few could be located, but these few may surprise you.
“He Rescues the Birds” by Noah Brooks
Once, while riding through the country with some other lawyers, Abraham Lincoln
was missed from the party, and was seen loitering near a thicket of wild plum
trees where the men had stopped a short time before to water their horses.
"Where is Lincoln?'' asked one of the lawyers.
"When I saw him last,'' answered another, "he had caught two young birds that
the wind had blown out of their nest, and was hunting for the nest to put them
As Lincoln joined them, the lawyers rallied him on his tender-heartedness, and
"I could not have slept unless I had restored those little birds to their
Jimmy Carter – adapted from a Birders’ Digest article
Though he wasn’t born in February and doesn’t have a holiday declared in his
name, Jimmy Carter, who is best known as the 39th President of the United
States, has added bird watching to his list of passions. Former President Carter
and First Lady Rosalyn Carter first got the birding bug while climbing Mount
Kilimanjaro in 1988. Since then, the Carters have birded in 35 different
nations, usually with the help of a crack local guide
On one of Bryan Shirley’s Texas bird tours to the Santa Ana National Wildlife
Refuge, we missed seeing the Carters by a few days. On their Texas trip the
Carters managed to record 41 bird species they'd never seen before, including
Aplomado Falcon, Elf Owl, Tropical Kingbird, Chihuahuan Raven, Black-bellied
Whistling Duck, and Green Kingfisher.
Mrs. Laura Bush, the President’s wife
Failing to find other accounts of Presidents connected with birds, I had heard
about Laura Bush, President George W. Bush’s wife. I recall that the first
Christmas tree in the White House was decorated with bird ornaments, that she
was an avid birder, and had birded in Belize. Our new UCB secretary/treasuer,
Carol Jean Nelson, knowing that Mrs. Bush would be in Utah during the 2002
Olympics invited her to a UCB meeting.
In an address to the Seoul, Korea Girl Scouts on February 20, 2002 Laura Bush
gives this account of some of her birding experiences:
“I remember that all the girls earned bird badges. For the girls in the troop,
this just meant that we had completed our basic study of birds and bird
watching, but for my mother, it led to what would become a lifelong hobby.”
“Bird watching became a big part of whatever we did as a family. We often drove
out to the home of a woman we knew who kept her yard in its wild, natural state
- just to attract birds.”
“I remember driving to see my grandparents when I was in high school, trying to
sleep in the back of the car, when suddenly my mother would gasp, pull out her
binoculars and announce, "There's a Hawk!" or "Did you see that Painted
Bunting!' Being a teen-ager, I didn't want to be bothered, of course. But
eventually, I did develop an interest in bird watching and the outdoors.”
“In fact, through bird watching I learned a little bit about "community" - about
being a part of something bigger than my close group of family and friends.”
“One year, my mother identified a bird called a Varied Thrush in our own back
yard. This was a rare bird for that part of Texas.”
“During the bird's stay in our garden, a lot of bird watchers in our town would
come over on their lunch hours, sit at the counter in our kitchen and patiently
wait for the bird to show up. As they waited, they got to know each other better
through their common interest.”
“A lot of times the bird would never come, but when it did, everyone would jump
up and hug each other -- they were so thrilled that they had spotted this rare
bird. And my Dad would watch it all and say to me, ‘You know, bird watchers are
really good people.’"
Laura Bush keeps a birding journal. At the Bush ranch near Crawford, Texas,
several hundred acres of hardwoods have been preserved that are home to the rare
These stories bear out that these famous people share the same passion for birds
and birding that we do.
by Robin Tuck
For being a desert, Utah has a lot of different habitats, in bands, patches and
swaths all over the state, some lurking where you might not expect.
This year, the Birding Challenge included a challenge to locate 6 bird species
in 6 different habitats. If you want more information about the Utah habitats
and the bird species that live in them so you can accomplish this, read on.
In all, 24 different habitat types of interest to birders have been defined by
Dr. Jimmie Parrish in the Utah Division of Wildlife's Partners in Flight Avian
Conservation Strategy, v 2.0 (April 2002).
Since birds tend to be habitat specific, knowing where to find, and how to
recognize the different habitats can be an important tool in finding some of the
more uncommon bird species.
As part of the Utah Breeding Bird Atlas project, I have gathered Utah habitat
information and placed it on my web site. Recently, I created a web page that
allows anyone with Internet access to determine what habitats are known to exist
at any desired place in Utah, and print topographic and habitat maps for
reference by pointing and clicking on a Utah State Map. While this web page is
currently somewhat crude and inconvenient to use, it is developed to the point
that ordinary people can find useful information from it.
Begin by going to my web page,
www.utahnature.com. There at the top of the list of features is a clickable
link to 'Display Maps of Utah Habitat.' Click this title to enter the Display
Habitat Map page.
The web page displays the 'All Habitats' habitat map of Utah and a legend
identifying all the recognized habitat types. If you would like to use a map
displaying a specific habitat, select the radio button corresponding to the
habitat and press the 'Show Habitat' button. When you move the cursor over the
map, you will see the Horizontal and Vertical tracking numbers change,
indicating where the cursor is over the map. If you click your mouse on the map,
the cursor position is converted to a latitude and longitude value approximating
the cursor location. After the latitude and longitude values are displayed, if
you click the button 'Get Habitat Map', a topographic and habitat map at that
spot will be displayed on the right side of the web page.
The topographic map shows a 12 mile square to help you determine exactly what
spot was selected while the habitat map displays a 3 mile square showing the
habitat detail. The colors on the habitat map correspond to the habitats in the
When the topographic and habitat maps are displayed, several additional controls
are displayed as well. One of these is the 'Nudge' select box that allows the
displayed maps to be shifted a small or large distance to some desired spot. The
Nudge is needed because the latitude and longitude calculation is approximate
and it is difficult to select just the right spot from the Utah map.
When the maps are displayed and adjusted to suit your desires, pressing the
button 'Display More Information' will display the same two maps again along
with a list of the habitats at or near the selected point which includes a list
of the bird species that are known to nest at that spot. This page may be
printed as desired.
Since this is very much a work in progress, if you have any suggestions for
improvement, please let me know.
Using this tool, you might notice some anomalous habitats on the maps. As you
might expect, no cliffs show up. This is because Dr. Parrish didn't have any
accurate cliff data because cliffs are vertical and often do not take up much
actual distance on the ground. However, looking at a topographic map and finding
places where the topographic lines bunch up tells us where cliffs are.
An additional problem with the maps are places where the habitat data is
completely missing, and shows up as white areas. In most cases, these are alpine
barrens but here an there you may find some errors in the data.
There are other things that can make the habitat information less correct. This
data was gathered 20 years ago, in the early 1980's using satellite imagery.
Since that time, fires have raged throughout the state and the population has
almost doubled. Roads have been built and in several places literally mountains
of fill dirt have been removed. Additionally, the images used to determine the
habitats were good only down to areas about 25 acres in size, so small patches
of habitat are not recorded.
In spite of these problems, the habitat maps are quite useful and will be a good
assistance in seeking out specialty places to bird.
Field Trip Report
Antelope Island - January 14th, 2006
by Junece Markham
We got great looks at a Rock Wren at
the Antelope Island Visitor Center - 14 January 2006
photo by Eric Huish
Three car-loads of Utah county birders followed each other to Antelope Island
S.P. We met two Salt Lake cars on the Island who joined the birder's parade. The
birds were few and far between so any bird was exciting to see. I checked 33
species on my Davis County check-list that Milt pass out to the group.
Some of the more memorable birds were a pair of Great Horned Owls in a tree at
Garr Ranch, also a Barn Owl in a box at the Buffalo Corral. We stopped twice in
the area that the Burrowing Owl had been seen but were disappointed both times.
Other birds that were good to see was a Chuckar, a Rock wren, that Steve
Sommerfeld called out, a Loggerhead Shrike, a Prairie Falcon, and our car saw a
Ring-necked Pheasant that none of us remember seeing on the Island before.
We also stopped at the Kaysville Ponds to add ducks to our species. The most
exciting duck was the Hooded Merganser.
Come Join us it was FUN!
Backyard Bird of the
Steve Carr - Holladay
Sharp-shinned Hawk - Missed his catch, but was beautiful to look at.
KC Childs - Provo
Green-tailed Towhee - sticking around for the new year. Always fun to
Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Western Screech-Owl - sitting at the entrance to the nest box.
Junece Markham - Provo
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - Who thinks he is King flashing his ruby red top
Milt Moody - Provo
Black-capped Chickadee - a pair coming almost every day.
Tuula Rose - Provo
Northern Flicker - a red/yellow-shafted hybrid male with red underwings,
red malar stripes and a red nape crescent. He comes for the peanut butter suet
in the cracks in the bark of my feeder tree.
Mark Stackhouse - Salt Lake City
Ruby-crowned Kinglet - follows the chickadees to the feeders every day -
now showing a little red on top.
Mark Stackhouse - San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
Streak-backed Oriole - a gorgeous male on the clothesline out back.
Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Pine Siskin - First bird of the 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
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.