Utah County Birders Newsletter
August 2008

    August Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
Merrill's Musings
    Bird of the Month
    Field Trip Report
- 4000 West - Lincoln Beach
    Field Trip Report
- Diamond Fork Canyon
Backyard Bird of the Month
July Hotline Highlights


Thursday, August 14th.   6:00 p.m. (Note we are meeting on Thursday not Wednesday)

Annual Summer Social - Potluck - This year's Summer Social will be held at Junece Markham's place at Wildwood, up Provo Canyon.  Please bring a potluck dish (main dish, salad, fruits and veggies, deserts, etc.) and bring your own plates, utensils and cups.  To get there drive approximately 7 miles up Provo Canyon and turn left at the Sundance turn off.  Then almost immediately turn left again.  There is a row of mailboxes and a gate.  The gate will be open.  Junece is house #32.  Car pooling is suggested because of limited parking.  Drop off food and passengers at the house and then park in the parking area down the road and walk up to the house.  We will meet at 6:00 P.M.  See you there.


August 23 (Sat): Antelope Island - 7:00 a.m. Led by Lu Giddings - We'll go in search of migrating shorebirds and whatever else the winds have blown in. We will leave at 7:00 a.m. from the East Bay Samís Club parking lot, 1313 S. University Ave., Provo.

Late August or in September:  River Lane migrants - Tuula Rose will keep an eye on River Lane for us and will organize an impromptu trip when the birds show up. Watch the ucbnet and Utah Birds website for details.

September 6 (Sat): Skyline Drive - 7:00 a.m.; further details to be announced.

September 12-14 (Fri - Sun): UOS Fall Conference -  This year will be held at Weber State University in Ogden. Click here for Details.

Late September:  Utah Valley raptor watch - Eric Huish will be organizing an impromptu trip (when the weather looks right) to do some hawk watching up on Squaw Peak Road.  Watch the ucbnet and Utah Birds website for details.

October 4-5 (Sat-Sun): Washington county - Led by Lu Giddings - potential stops include Grafton, Springdale, Rockville, and other areas, depending on activity. Further details to be announced.

October 12 (Sun): The Big Sit - Provo Airport Dike - led by Eric Huish - details TBA.

November 15 (Sat): Loon Loop - Led by Lu Giddings - 7:00 a.m., meet at Sam's Club parking lot, 1313 S. University Ave., Provo: we plan to visit various reservoirs and lakes in search of loons and winter waterfowl, depending on bird activity. Last year's stops included Deer Creek and Jordanelle reservoirs, East canyon reservoir, and the Antelope Island Causeway.

December 20 (Sat): Provo CBC, details TBA

We are actively recruiting people to lead local half-day field trips, any time, any place. Lead two trips and you fill a category for the 2008 Utah County Birders Challenge.  If you would like to lead a field trip or if you have any ideas for this yearís field trips, please contact Lu Giddings at - seldom74@xmission.com.

American Three-toed Woodpecker - photo by Paul Higgins

Merrill's Musings
By Merrill Webb

Bird Survey

Buck Hollow bird survey, Uinta National Forest. Early morning, July 9, 2008. To get to point one of the bird survey route was only 1.8 miles from the Lake Creek Road on the Heber Ranger District. But it took more than 10 minutes to access it--typical forest service road. Rutted and full of pot holes. I was looking forward to this particular survey a little more than some of the others I do on the forest. Had found some "good" birds on the previous counts along this two mile stretch of road. I remembered the first time: 1994. Point 10 (the last survey point): Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak and Three-toed Woodpecker. The Woodpecker had been working a downed spruce. First time I had ever seen a woodpecker of this particular species working horizontally on a large tree trunk that had fallen. Hadn't seen very many 3-toed before that. But I have seen at least two Three-toed on every successive Buck Hollow count since then. Only transect that had been so consistently productive for a bird the Uinta considered a management indicator species (MIS) as well as a sensitive species. Haven't seen a Gray Jay since, though.

Arrived at point one. Clearing in the aspen forest. While taking temperature and recording GPS coordinates I could hear birds calling from all directions, and many different ones, too. Coordinates recorded, time to start the timer: ten minutes. Writing them down as quickly as possible so as not to miss any: HOWR, ...DEJU, ...BRSP, ...(here? Wait a minute....where's the sagebrush?) Looking across the road I see a small patch of sagebrush...okay, Brewer's Sparrow is possible. WAVI,...(of course, ...they're always here in the aspen forest), PISI, ...(fly over), MOCH, ...(distant, but chickadee call unmistakable), ...HETH, ....MODO, ....AMRO (ubiquitous), ...CORA, ...WWPE (in the woods where I'm headed next), ...RBNU (nice, always like to hear the nuthatch), ....BHCO (dang, bad news for some bird, or birds), ...MOBL (flying across the road, but not calling), RSFL, ....WCSP, ....LISP, ...TRES, ...(flying overhead), RNSA,.. (hmmm, that makes two woodpeckers here), ...YRWA, ...suddenly a loud 'peek' call followed by a half-second rattle call. And an answer from a tree nearby--HAWO (two of them--nice, ....three woodpecker species to start off with). DUFL was the last one to make its's presence known before the ten minutes were up. Amazing! Twenty-one different species to start the count with. Hopefully a harbinger of good things yet to see.

Point two. I added two more new ones: RCKI and another sparrow, CHSP. Third stop, added two more new ones: WETA and two BRCR's, the first time I had heard creepers this year. Fourth stop, added a RECR. (Good, didn't want to miss that one even though it was a fly over, and I could barely see the red color). At stop #5, no new ones, but did chase down and add another Hairy. Point #6, no new ones, but added another crossbill and another Hairy. Point #7, a good one (another woodpecker), and first time on this count: a Williamson's Sapsucker...'nice find, Webb', I thought. Next stop would prove to be even better: two TTWO's (that made five woodpeckers, so far),...and...two White-winged Crossbills calling way up in a dead snag. So rare that the code for this species isn't even on my list of bird names. The first time on any of my 48 two mile routes. And, I had seen two the day before on my twenty-five mile BBS route along the Duchesne Ridge. Pretty amazing. Nothing new at point #9. Point 10, added one more new species for the day: Gray Jay. After totaling them all up I ended with 31 species compared with the 32 I had seen two years previous. Most numerous was the American Robin (19) followed by the Yellow-rumped Warbler (13) and Dark-eyed Junco (10). Five woodpeckers in one day was pretty good, too.

And so ended another day in the forest. All alone with nobody to share the excitement with. Hence, this report.

UCB President, Merrill Web


Black-and-white Warbler - photo by Paul Higgins

Bird of the Month

Black-and-white Warbler

Mniotilta varia

by Cheryl Peterson

It was very difficult to decide which bird to choose for bird of the month. Since it is migration time, I thought it would be fun to highlight a bird that we only get to see as it passes through Utah on its way to either its breeding or wintering grounds. I changed my mind several times, then finally settled on the Black and White Warbler.

The Black and White Warbler is a common bird and breeds in Canada and the eastern United States. It winters from the southern United States to northern South America. It is a rare migrant in Utah.

This warbler is easy to identify because of its black and white plumage. It is about 5 inches long, has a long thin black bill and black legs. It has a long hind toe and claw on each foot to help it move easily along branches. The male has a black crown, cheek and throat (throat white in fall and winter) and white flanks with black streaks. The female has a white throat, grayish cheeks and buffy flanks with black streaks. The juveniles look similar to the female.

The Black and White Warbler forages for insects while creeping along the trunks and branches of trees, much like a nuthatch. Its old name is Black and White Creeper. It eats caterpillars, adult insects and spiders. In the winter, it will eat dormant insects and fruit.

I was surprised to learn that it nests on the ground with the nest being built close to the trunk of a tree or bush, or next to a log. The female usually lays 5 eggs and incubates them without the help of the male. Incubation lasts about 10 or 12 days and the young leave the nest 8 to 12 days after hatching. At that point, they are still unable to fly.

Cornell describes the song as a series of very high, two-syllable phrases, resembling the sound of a squeaky wheel; "wee-see-wee-see-wee-see." Others have described it as the sound a cloth makes when you repeatedly wipe it across a window pane. The call note is a sharp chip.

I have seen Black and White Warblers on River Lane (Utah County) in the fall and at Garr Ranch in both spring and fall. I will be watching to see where they are reported this fall.

My sources for information were Warblers (Peterson Field Guide), Utah Department of Wildlife Resources, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Whatbird.com.


Field Trip Report

UCB at 4000 West - July 10, 2008 -  photo by Lynn Garner

4000 West - Lincoln Beach  - 10 July 2008

by Eric Huish

Several carloads of birders met at the Sam's club parking lot for an evening field trip to Utah Lake led by Merrill Webb. Our main stop was the viewing tower on 4000 West, Lakeshore, where there were nesting osprey and many birds out in the marshes. We stood on the viewing tower and scoped out Gadwall, Cinnamon Teal, White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Marbled Godwit, Wilson's Snipe, Wilson's Phalarope, Franklin's Gull and more. Other birds along 4000 West included: Eastern Kingbird, Song Sparrows and singing Common Yellowthroats (heard only).

We then headed to Lincoln Beach where we were able to get good views of a few Snowy Plovers and a Spotted Sandpiper. With the sun low on the horizon and distant wildfires clouding the sky, the light was spectacular. A Great Blue Heron flying out over the lake, Caspian Terns, flock after flock of White-faced Ibis and a Black-crowned Night-Heron seemed to glow against the sky as they passed over. Evening is a great time to bird.

Here's a list of the birds we saw, or heard (Compiled by Merrill Webb): Canada Goose, Gadwall, Mallard, Cinnamon Teal, Ring-necked Pheasant, Am. White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, Sandhill Crane, Snowy Plover, Killdeer, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Spotted Sandpiper, Marbled Godwit, Wilson's Snipe, Wilson's Phalarope, Franklin's Gull, California Gull, Caspian Tern, Mourning Dove, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Tree Swallow, N. Rough-winged Swallow, Bank Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Starling, Common Yellowthroat, Song Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Bullock's Oriole. A total of 38 species.


Field Trip Report

Birding in Diamond  Fork Canyon - July 19, 2008 - photo by Eric Huish

Diamond Fork Canyon - 19 July 2008
by Merrill Webb

The week-end fieldtrip for July was led by Merrill Webb to Diamond Fork, a canyon and stream located about eleven miles east of the city of Spanish Fork in Utah County. Twenty-two birders arrived in the canyon about 7:30 AM and spent the next four hours stopping along the road at various pull-outs looking for resident birds. Some time was also spent at Diamond Campground although it wasn't as productive in terms of bird species, probably due to the lateness of the morning and the presence of many people occupying the various campsites. A trip list (consisting of birds observed at the parking lot in Provo, and along the highway to Diamond Fork as well) of approximately 50 species resulted from our surveying the riparian and hillside habitats even though not every person saw all species. Favorite birds included good looks at a Common Nighthawk perched horizontally on a tree limb, an adult Golden Eagle perched in a tree across the stream, a handsome male Black-headed Grosbeak within good viewing distance and a cooperative Willow Flycatcher. But the best bird occurred as everyone was preparing to leave the canyon. We had attempted to find the Black Phoebe that had been seen a couple of weeks earlier, with only four people getting good looks at one for just a brief moment as we entered the campground. This one did not cooperate, however, so after waiting for about twenty minutes we continued on to other areas with the plan to try again on the way back down the canyon after lunch. Fortunately, the phoebe was there for all to see, plus it was joined by a second; so, possibly a mated pair. This would be a new Utah State record for a successful nesting this far north. Somebody needs to check back in a couple of days to see if there are any juvenile birds flying around.

Participants included Yvonne and Bart Carter, Bob and Marilyn Parsons, Steve and Cindy Summerfeld, Eric Huish, Tuula Rose, Lara Goldie, Ned Bixler, Kathy Knaus, Leila Ogden, Carol Nelson, Alona Huffaker, Junese Markham, Flora Duncan, and daughter Esther; Bobbie Davis, Jason Lane, Paul Lombardi and Stephen Carlile.

Bird list (in addition to those already mentioned above): Mallard, Northern Harrier, Swainson's (I-15) and Red-tailed Hawks, American Kestrel, American Coot, Mourning Dove, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Belted Kingfisher, Red-naped Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Western Wood-Pewee (heard) Western Kingbird, Western Scrub-Jay, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Tree, Violet-green, Rough-winged, Cliff and Barn Swallows; Black-capped Chickadee, Rock and House Wrens; Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, Gray Catbird, Starling, Cedar Waxwing, Yellow Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Chipping, Lark, and Song Sparrows; Fox Sparrow (heard), Lazuli Bunting, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Brewer's Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle (Provo), Brown-headed Cowbird, Bullock's Oriole, House Finch, Lesser, and American Goldfinchs.

Thanks to all who participated.


Backyard Bird of the Month
July 2008

Steve Carr - Holladay
Black-capped Chickadee - Several parents showing all the chicks how to use the various feeders.

Yvonne Carter - Highland
I think the Northern Flickers might be back.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Rufous Hummingbird - a bright orange male.

Milt Moody - Provo
Black-headed Grosbeak and young.

LeIla Ogden - Orem
The things sitting at my feeders are CATS not birds. Can't get rid of them.

Reed Stone - Provo
Black-headed Grosbeaks - several wait their turn to feed at my discriminating black oil sunflower seed feeder.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Rufous Hummingbird - this is a little bully bird for it drives off the other hummingbirds.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Western Scrub-Jay - I never get tried of seeing them.

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.