Utah County Birders Newsletter
April 2006

    April Meeting
    Upcoming Field Trips
    Feather Talk
    Field Trip Report - Snow Goose Festival – March 4th, 2006
    Field Trip Report - Goshen/Dividend/Utah Lake Field Trip - March 18th, 2006
    Backyard Bird of the Month
    March Hotline Highlights


Wednesday, April 12th.

 Field Guide and Bird Guide Reviews  - Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.


Friday - Sunday, April 7th - 9th.

Utah Ornithological Society (UOS) Trip to San Juan Co. - UCB members meet at Sam's Club parking lot Friday at 7:45 am to join with others coming from the north. For details check our website, or call Tuula at 377-5477.

Saturday, April 15

Flora Duncan is the leader for a walk along the Provo-Jordan River walkway. Meet in the Oxbow parking lot at 8:00 am.

Saturday, April 29

Meet in the parking lot on Orem 800 N at the mouth of Provo Canyon at 7:30 am. We'll go to Vivien Park, South Fork, Deer Creek Reservoir, Charleston and on as time permits.

Saturday, May 13

Robert Brown is going to lead us on a bird walk on BYU campus. Meet at the Botany Pond on 800 N 500 E at 7:30 am.


Feather Talk
By Alton Thygerson


“When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are,
Anything your heart desires will come to you…”

These lyrics come from a song in Disney movie, Pinocchio. And, probably all of us at some point in life wish that life were that easy. And, if not life, then at least our hobby of birding.

Wish Book

What prompted this month’s article was the arrival of the American Birding Association’s The Birder’s Catalog. It caused me reflect on catalogs and some of us may recall that catalogs long ago were also known as “wish books.”  Catalogs from Montgomery Ward and Sears, Roebuck and Company made it possible for farm and small town families to buy many things not available to them in small towns. Many a person spent hours pouring through these catalogs and “wishing.”

I shouldn’t get started on catalogs since it seems that at least a half-a-dozen arrive at my home almost daily. My wife, unlike many women, doesn’t like to shop—that’s saved me a lot of money. That is, however, until I introduced her to a Lands’ End catalog. Because mailing lists are sold to other companies, we get a lot of women’s clothing catalogues. My wife now walks through the catalogues, and either calls or uses the internet for ordering instead of walking through a shopping mall.

Now back to birding and the ABA catalog. Flipping through its pages you will find everything from binoculars to water filters. Needless to say, most birders do not need most of the items in the catalog. I noticed that several books were less expensive through the ABA than ordering on-line through Amazon.com. Moreover, Amazon does not have many of the books cited in the ABA catalog.

The catalog devotes about a third of its pages to regional guides.  Seeing the location guides to various places made me start “wishing” I could visit some of them.

Wish List

Just as the ABA catalog prompted the previous section, an intriguing book entitled America’s 100 Most Wanted Birds by Steven G. Mlodinow and Michael O’Brien prompted this section. For those wanting to see a Hook-billed Kite or a Lucifer Hummingbird, this book tells where to go. This book may be for the serious birders wanting to tack on more species onto their life list in the lower 48 states.

Dennis Shirley, one of Utah’s most avid birders, has a map in which he has placed a pin for every specie from his “wish list” and a most likely location for finding each specie. Last month he removed several pins from the map because he made the effort and was amply rewarded with a Yellow Grosbeak in New Mexico, a Rufous-capped Warbler and a Streak-backed Oriole in Arizona.

Last spring Merrill Webb, another avid birder, and wife made a special birding trip to see the Lesser Prairie Chicken in Kansas, and I know that he and Dennis have made deliberate stops in St. Louis, Missouri which is the only place in the U.S. to capture a look at the Eurasian Tree Sparrow. Regardless of what the above song lyrics say, it takes an effort to make your birding wish list come true.

Few parents have children spread through all four time zones in the United States at the same time, but presently that’s my case. So as my wife and I visit the kids, some time is allocated for dear old dad to take off and search for new birds. I have intentions of locating the Greater and Lesser Prairie Chickens, a Mountain Plover, and a Longspur or two this month while visiting a son in Colorado. If the Yellow Grosbeak is still being seen in Albuerque, I’ll swing down to see it on this same trip.

Having a son in California opens up all kinds of possibilities for new species not yet seen such as a Mountain Quail and a Pacific Ocean pelagic trip would add a lot of birds to my wish list. A trip to Pennsylvania may allow me to see a Henslow’s Sparrow and a side trip into West Virginia could turn up a Swainson’s Warbler.

I can testify that it’s cost-effective to see birds by going on a birding tour with a professional guide or going on birding trips such as last spring’s Utah County Birder’s southern California trip conducted by the Aaron and Arnold Smith. In both cases you get the “biggest bang for the buck.” or in other words, the most birds for your money.

However, sometimes you just have to do bird alone when others are unavailable. I’ve scheduled myself for such a trip to the Big Bend National Park for a 10-mile hike to see the Colima Warbler and for the King Ranch in search for the Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl this spring. Another good “wish list” involves fulfilling the Utah County Birders’ 2006 Challenge. Meeting its requirements can add to a birder’s motivation for getting out into the field. The 1996 UCB Challenge was what hooked me into becoming more involved in birding as a lifelong avocation. And, don’t forget that one of the 2006 Challenge requirements is to attend six of the 12-month UCB meetings—see you there!

Field Trip Report
Snow Goose Festival
– March 4th, 2006
by LeIla Ogden

Some of the Snow Geese and the Barn Owl seen on the Field Trip - 4 March 2006
photos by Milton Moody

Utah County Birders at Lynndyl Pond - 4 March 2006
photo by Milton Moody

Milt Digiscoping - 4 March 06
photo by Margaret T. Sanchez

“Thousands of Snow Geese gather to watch flocks of folks in their winters coats.”

Each February thousands of beautiful white Snow Geese use the fields and waters around Delta as a rest stop on their northern migration.

The geese spend the winter in Imperial Valley in southern California preparing for their trip north. They arrive in mid February and by mid March they are gone. They breed on the Anderson River in May.

Geese lay between 2 and 10 eggs with most nests having 5 or less. Females do almost all of the incubating while the males stand guard. Females rarely leave the nest and will lose up to 25% of their body weight while nesting. The eggs hatch in 19 to 24 days. Snow geese are very successful nesters; still 59% of young geese do not survive to return to the nesting grounds.

The geese that congregate in Delta spend much of the morning and evening in the agricultural fields feeding on young shoots of volunteer grain and weeds. Usually about 10:30 a.m. they fly in huge masses to the water. This is where our group of 11 Utah County Birders, led by Leena, gathered to watch the fly-in. (Along with hundreds of others) The fly-in was a little late so we drove to the fields to get a closer look at both Snow and Ross’s geese. They did finally reward us with a beautiful sight of thousands of geese in the air and settling on the water. Surely worth the trip.

A wonderful surprise was a beautiful Barn Owl sitting in a low branch of a nearby tree pointed out to us by Merrill Webb. Really a highlight.

On the way to and from Delta we saw: ring billed gulls, magpies, rock doves, 4 bald eagles, starlings, robins, mourning doves, ravens, horned larks, red tailed hawks, rough legged hawks, canada geese, red wing blackbirds, meadowlarks, scrub jays, northern flickers, northern harriers, Am. kestrels , white crowned sparrows, killdeers, ruddy ducks, pintails, common merganser, coots, green wing teals, yellow rumped warbler, and juniper titmouse. What a collection of great birds.

The group spent a long time trying to I.D. a nearby hawk. Is it a red tail or is it a Ferruginous hawk? Several scopes were trained on the bird as field marks were discussed. The consensus was finally Ferruginous. Just then the hawk flew and we saw a red tail. Tuula was right all along.

Field Trip Report
Goshen/Dividend/Utah Lake Field Trip
- March 18th, 2006

by Stephanie Peterson

Birding 'Secret Pond' (Green's Pond) in Goshen  - 18 March 2006
photo by Eric Huish

Utah County Birders birding Dividend - 18 March 2006
photo by Eric Huish

Eleven birders met at 8:00 am. at the Sam's Club parking lot. We had a fun and exciting trip through the southern part of Utah County. Participants were Kathy Knaus, Bonnie Williams, Flora Duncan, Ned Bixler, KC Childs, Leila Ogden, Margaret Sanchez, Eric Huish, Milt Moody, Stephanie and Cheryl Peterson.


We then headed to Dividend where we saw a BEWICK'S WREN, BUSHTIT, SPOTTED TOWHEE, RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER, ROCK PIGEON, FLICKER, WESTERN SCRUB JAY, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE. At that point, some of the birders left to go home. As we left Dividend, some heard a JUNIPER TITMOUSE.

At LeBarron's Point, we saw 2 BALD EAGLES, SANDHILL CRANE, and heard a VIRGINIA RAIL.

As we traveled around the lake, we saw a BUFFLEHEAD and a GULL sp. The last bird added to the list was an AMERICAN PELICAN. Then, as my mom and I left the Sam's Club parking lot, we saw some GREAT-TAILED GRACKLES.

Backyard Bird of the Month
March 2006

Steve Carr - Holladay
Myrtle Warbler - My first Utah sighting. Audubon's the month before, now a Myrtle.

Wade Covert - Provo
Dark-eyed Juncos - darting between the bush and beneath the feeders.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Song Sparrow - singing almost all the time.

Milt Moody - Provo
Lincoln’s Sparrow - It's been here for over a week.

LeIla Ogden - Orem
At my cabin above Midway I have had Evening Grosbeaks all winter. They are still there.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
3 new sparrow species for my yard - Brewer's, Lincoln's and Song.

Tuula Rose - Provo
Mountain Chickadee - comes for suet and sunflower seeds with his cousins most every day.

Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
Spotted Towhee - 3 or 4 of them.

Mark Stackhouse - Salt Lake City
Bohemian Waxwing - eating the pyracantha berries.

Mark Stackhouse - San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
Black-throated Magpie-Jay - a new yard bird for me, in the mango tree out back.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Ring-necked Pheasant - 1 rooster and 5 hens.

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.