Utah County Birders Newsletter
January 2007

    January Meeting
    Upcoming Field Trips
    Merrill's Musings
    Provo CBC - Report
    2006 UCB Birding Challenge
    2007 Dues
    Backyard Bird of the Month
    December Hotline Highlights


Wed, January 10th.

Ann Neville - Senior adviser - biological research for Kennecott Utah Copper Corp. She is in charge of the Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve and biologist over the Oquirrh Mountains Kennecott property.

She will talk to us about The Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve and how Kennecott is managing their land on the Oquirrh Mountains.

We will meet a little late to try to avoid the BYU football game traffic. BYU Security has been notified of our meeting. They have told us that if you are stopped by security you need to tell them "YOU ARE WITH THE UTAH COUNTY BIRDERS AND YOU ARE ATTENDING A MEETING IN THE BEAN MUSEUM."

Meet at 7:15 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.


Friday, January 26th - Sunday, January 28th

The St. George Winter Bird Festival. Information about the festival may be found on the Red Cliffs Audubon web page.

This year’s banquet features Reece Stein as our speaker. Reece is an award winning reporter for KUTV’s “Roughin’ it Outdoors.” Reece has covered every corner of Utah and beyond. Come and enjoy hearing about Utah’s birds and the beautiful outdoors!

Friday Evening Special! Free Presentation by Bobby Harrison - Ivory-Billed Woodpeckers - Dixie State College - Dunford Auditorium - 7:00 p.m.

Come to the UCB meeting and watch your e-mail for more information regarding our field trip.

President's Message:

Merrill's Musings
(or, meditations on qualifications)
By Merrill Webb

Recently I had a telephone conversation with a woman who had called inquiring about the date of the Provo Christmas Bird Count (CBC). When I informed her that the count had been held a week earlier, she indicated that she was more than just a novice and would like to be involved as a participant in the next year's CBC. The discussion then turned to my involvement with the count as the compiler, and eventually to my responsibility of serving as the new president of the Utah County Birders. Then she asked two questions that I thought were kind of interrelated. "What qualifications should a person have in order to be a 'birder'?" she asked. And then the second question, "What qualifies you to be the president?"

"Ahh, good questions," I responded, actually having contemplated the second one quite recently myself.

So, how would you answer her?

Here are some possible answers for the first question, a few that I actually shared with my caller.

(1) A birder ought to be more than just a passive bird-watcher, for example, someone who does more than just put some seed in a bird feeder and who thinks the finches and sparrows that come to the feeder are "cute" and fun to watch.

(2) A birder should have some skill in identifying more than just a few different kinds of birds, for example someone who can tell the difference between a Lark Sparrow and a Song Sparrow. My younger brother called me from his home in St. George to share an exciting find while I was looking for birds along the Provo River during the recent Provo CBC. There was a Vermilion Flycatcher in his yard. And it was an immature male. He knew that was what it was because he had looked it up in four different field guides I had suggested he purchase over the years. He still doesn't enjoy trying to identify sparrows (like the ones previously mentioned), but he purchased a new pair of binoculars last week to help him see the birds more clearly. He is on his way to becoming a birder (even though he might not appreciate that appellation just yet).

(3) A birder should be someone who enjoys sharing his hobby with others. I have a student who lives in the same neighborhood as Reed Stone. She informed me that she went birding with both Reed and his brother, Kay, during the holidays and that she saw her first Lewis' Woodpecker. She couldn't tell me the location of where it was, only that it was really a beautiful bird, and that they had been able to get very close to it. This wasn't the first time Reed has shared his love for birds with her, or with other B.Y.U. students who he has helped. And I know there are many others in our organization who have taken B.Y.U. students out to help them meet requirements for certain classes.

(4) A birder is usually one who keeps at least one list of the birds he/she has seen. All you have to do is take a look at the internet site Milton Moody maintains to see the variety of lists people keep.

(5) A birder is one who chases a rare bird at least once a year. A recent example is the Worm-eating Warbler that quite a few from this area (Utah Valley) drove to Ogden to observe. Bonnie Williams told me that she wouldn't have driven up to Ogden alone if she hadn't been invited by others to go with them to see this rare visitor to our state.

(6) A birder is one who enjoys actually studying and learning about the behavior of a bird (or group of birds). If you have an opportunity to go birding with Kris Purdy take advantage of it. She has made an art out of studying the nuances of many different kinds of birds. Kris never seems to be in a hurry to just check off a bird on a list. In fact, I don't think she even keeps a list like many other birders, at least not for listing's sake.

(7) A birder gets enjoyment from observing the beauty of certain kinds of birds. Who hasn't gained an appreciation for birds after viewing the magnificent plumages of a male Wood Duck, or a male Western Tanager for the first time,...or the second time.....or many times thereafter? I remember one of my former zoology students seeing a Great Blue Heron for the first time. After many years of birding it is still her favorite bird.

(8) And finally, at least for this rendering, a birder is one who would rather be out looking for the new bird for the year instead of sitting at home watching a football game on New Year's Day. Robin Tuck and I ventured down to Juab County early on January 1 to see what our first bird for the new year would be, hoping that if we got an early enough start it wouldn't be a Starling or a Magpie. Nope, it wasn't. Found a small flock of American Wigeons on Burraston Ponds south of Mona.

So, are you a birder? If you have taken the time to read this, I suppose you found that you met some, or all of the qualifications. We are a rather common collection of individuals tied together by the common thread we share of a passion for birds. Yet, we are all unique in our approach. We need to share this passion with others. As for the second question she asked? Well, I will try to provide an answer in the next installment of Merrill's musings.

Provo Christmas Bird Count Results for 2006
by Merrill Webb, Provo CBC compiler

Provo CBC Compilation Party - December 16th, 2006
photo by Eric Huish

More than 30 observers went afield on December 16 for Provo's 35th consecutive Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Considering that a nocturnal snowstorm dumped 3-10 inches in various parts of the count circle, the day of the count wasn't all that bad with the temperatures in the high 20's and very little wind. An even 100 species were tallied, just down one from last year's total of 101. Fifteen species of waterfowl were counted, but not in the numbers to which we are accustomed due to the demise of Geneva Steel's settling ponds. Kind of ambivalent feelings about that loss, though. Highest number of waterfowl was Canada Geese with 3200 being reported. Wood Ducks were higher than usual with a total of 20 being observed by two different parties. Ten species of raptors were noted, highest number being American Kestrel with 108, followed by 67 Northern Harriers. Eurasian Collared-Doves came in with a new high (61), and there were a surprising number of Mourning Doves still hanging around (239). An unexpected, and disappointing, surprise was that there were no Great Horned Owls or Western Screech Owls seen or heard by the two groups of birders who went owling before sunrise. However, two Short-eared Owls were observed in the foothills north of Orem, and two Pygmy Owls were spotted in Provo Canyon during the daytime hours. The numbers for American Crows and American Tree Sparrows were the lowest they have been for some time, 123 and one, respectively.

Unusual species not usually seen on our count were: Barrow's Goldeneye (one female on the lower Provo River), Great Egret (one, in the Flowserve area of northwest Springville), White-faced Ibis (one in the west Springville fields area), Northern Mockingbird (one, Swede's Lane area), Fox Sparrow (one at a Provo feeder), Swamp Sparrow (one at the north end of the Skipper Bay trail north of the Utah Lake State Park), and Black Rosy Finch (50 in the foothills north of Orem).

The bird species with the highest number of individuals was Starling, no surprise here, with an estimated 13,473 followed by Canada Geese and then American Robin with 1396.

Thanks to all those who helped with the count this year. There always seems to be unexpected and surprising results. I suppose that is what keeps us going out year after year.

2006 UCB Birding Challenge

Those individuals who finished the 2006 Birding Challenge (All sixes for 2006) should get their numbers in to Milt Moody - miltonmoody@yahoo.com. He’ll be compiling them. All we need are the numbers and the categories that you successfully completed according to the Contest Rules. You can even substitute a challenge category of your own. You just need to describe what you did and that you completed it. If you have any questions call Milt at 801-373-2795 - miltonmoody@yahoo.com.

2007 Dues

The first of the year is here and with it comes this reminder to pay your $15.00 2007 dues. As has been stated before, the web page is no longer free, hence the raise in the amount of the dues. Thanks to those of you who have already sent yours in. Those of you still wanting to do so may make a check to Utah County Birders and send it to the following address:

Carol Nelson
2831 Marrcrest West
Provo, Utah 84604

Thanks for your participation.

Backyard Bird of the Month
December 2006

Steve Carr - Holladay
Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler - 4 individual birds enjoying the peanut butter.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Killdeer - Calling from high above the house in the black of night.

Milt Moody - Provo
Fox Sparrow - From 11 December to the new year.

LeIla Ogden - Orem
Beautiful Cedar Waxwings were in my backyard this morning. A welcome change.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
Spotted Towhee.

Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
Dark-eyed Juncos - Gotta love the bird, gotta hate the winter!!

Tuula Rose - Provo
Sharp-shinned Hawk - has found my feeding flocks and taken up residence. NOT my favorite yard bird.

Mark Stackhouse - San Blas, Nayarit, Mexico
Mottled Owl - calling out in the darkness when I got home from the plaza tonight, flew in to my call to the palm tree out front (new yard bird).

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Spotted Towhee - sometimes two at a time.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Black-capped Chickadee - My Most dependable backyard bird.

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.