Utah County Birders Newsletter
Thursday, May 14th.
“Birding by Ear: How
Recognizing Bird Sounds Can Enrich Your Birding Experience”
Ned Hill will demonstrate how to improve your birding by learning to listen to bird sounds. Through many resources available on CD’s, tapes, and the Internet, one can learn to recognize birds by their calls and songs. Some birds (such as flycatchers) can only reliably be identified by sound.
Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.
May 14-18 2009: Great Salt Lake Bird Festival
- make your own arrangements. Registration begins March 4th. Register
early to get the field trips you want!!!!! See website also:
June 2009: TBA
July 2009: Pineview Reservoir, Snowbasin, and Powder Mountain. Details TBA
We are actively recruiting people to lead local half-day field
trips, any time, any place. If you would like to lead a field trip or if you
have any ideas for this year’s field trips, please contact Lu Giddings at -
By Ned Hill – President, Utah County Birders
“Expect the Unexpected”
One thing that intrigues us all about birds is that they can show up anywhere and everywhere—even in locations where we least expect them. If we watch for them and are prepared, these surprises can spice up any humdrum day. Just this morning, for example, I was driving on I-15 towards Salt Lake. At the Point of the Mountain the traffic slowed to a near standstill because of a multiple-car fender bender. “Oh no”, I thought, “I’m going to be late for an appointment.” Just then my eyes caught something flying south towards me just above the median of the freeway. As the flyer approached, the bright morning sunlight suddenly caught the outrageously colored plumage of a male Ring-necked Pheasant as it hurtled by like a bullet—red, blue, chestnut, golden. Who knows where he was headed with heavy traffic on both sides of him. But that traffic jam became a much more pleasant experience.
A few years ago, I was addressing a group of city managers in a large hotel in downtown Cincinnati. It was a warm summer evening and someone had opened a pair of large windows to create a breeze through the room. As I started to speak, I heard above the traffic outside, a distant nasal “Bzzzt…bzzzt…bzzzt.” An unseen Common Nighthawk was searching for insects above the city. I asked if anyone of 200 or so members of the audience could hear the bird. Initially no one could, but as they strained, they could finally pick it up. This totally unexpected encounter with a Nighthawk became the focal point of my remarks to the group.
After teaching a seminar in San Antonio, Texas, I decided to spend a day birding around the area. A call to the area “hotline” contained a very surprising report: a Blue-footed Booby was seen flying around Lake LBJ. I found where that was on the map and drove there. The directions were sketchy so, by the time I found the location indicated, it was after the sun had set and I would not likely be able to locate the bird. Nevertheless, I saw quite a few cars parked in front of a home located near the lake. As I walked up the driveway, someone said, “Are you here to see the Booby?” “Yes,” I said, “is it still here.” “Oh yes,” the man said. “Sign in here on the register and I’ll take you around back.” There was a large notebook with hundreds of names in it. I signed in and followed the man, evidently the owner of the home, around back where several dozen people were looking out on a diving board that jutted out over the lake. On the end of the diving board with a light shining on it was in immature Blue-footed Booby! It just sat there and looked around at all of us. They reported that it hunts all around the lake during the day and then comes to the diving board to roost in the evening! I don’t think I’ve ever had such an easy time finding a Code 5 bird—if you don’t count the trouble I had finding the house in the first place.
I have made frequent professional trips to New York City. When I have the chance, I like to walk around in Central Park where there are always lots of birders—especially during migration. The park is such a migrant trap. One day, between meetings, I walked through the park and located a Red-tailed Hawk perched in a large tree. It took off and flew up onto a ledge on one of the tall apartment buildings surrounding the park. I noticed a group of people huddled around a scope that was trained on that ledge. They let me take a look and I got to see the nest of the hawk and also see its partner. The people there were some of the very friendly regulars in Central Park and had been studying this pair for several years. Up to that time, it was the first known instance of Red-tails building a nest on a man-made structure. One of the group members even wrote a book about the experience (Red Tails in Love). However, a few months later I was in Dallas, Texas. My host there, knowing my interest in birds, drove me excitedly over to his office. Right next to his desk is a window and on the ledge only a few feet from where he sits was the nest of—you guessed it—a Red-tailed Hawk! That is now the second known time Red-tails have nested on a building.
Yes, birds are as fascinating as they are unpredictable. They turn up in surprising places. If we are always on the lookout, we will frequently be surprised and delighted by our feathered friends.
Field Trip Report
Fish Springs - 25 April 2009
By Lu Giddings
Let’s be honest: today was one of the coldest and wettest trips to Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge I’ve ever made. I will simply say that the weather left something to be desired. But, the worst day at Fish Springs is better by far than a day at work, and especially in April. Even with limited visibility, numerous species were seen in our four hours on the refuge. We then drove back through Delta and checked irrigated fields and Gunnison Bend Reservoir for birds. Highlights include, in no particular order:
- a stilt sandpiper feeding with long-billed dowitchers, greater and lesser yellowlegs, and many other smaller peeps in an irrigated field about five miles north of Delta
- a greater sage-grouse was seen near the road as we drove through the Thomas Range, about 15 miles east of Fish Springs.
- a horned grebe in Mallard Pool at Fish Springs.
- several greater scaup, also in Mallard Pool at Fish Springs.
- while much of the Tour Loop was already closed for breeding season, Avocet Pool was mostly mud flats and provided great, close looks at numerous peeps.
- personal first of season (FOS) birds included cattle egret (Delta), greater and lesser yellowlegs (Delta), western sandpiper (Fish Springs & Delta), least sandpiper (Fish Springs & Delta), long-billed dowitcher (Fish Springs & Delta), Wilson’s and red-necked phalarope (Fish Springs & Delta), Forster’s tern (Fish Springs), northern rough-winged swallow (Delta), cliff swallow (Fish Springs), and barn swallow (Delta).
My thanks to Ned Bixler and Pat Jividen for braving a long drive and unpleasant weather for a great day!
A partial list of species
Canada Goose, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Mallard, Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Canvasback, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Greater Sage-Grouse, Horned Grebe, Eared Grebe, Western Grebe, American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Cattle Egret, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White-faced Ibis, Northern Harrier, Swainson's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, American Coot, Sandhill Crane, Snowy Plover, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Long-billed Curlew, Western Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Stilt Sandpiper, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson's Phalarope, Red-necked Phalarope, Ring-billed Gull, Californian Gull, Forster's Tern, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Mourning Dove, Western Kingbird, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Barn Swallow, American Robin, European Starling, Savannah Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Red-winged Blackbird, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird and House Sparrow .
photo by Cheryl Peterson
Alan and Selena Keller – Orem
We saw a White-Winged Dove in our yard a few times for a couple of weeks. Each visit was brief and it was with some Eurasian-Collared Doves (6).
Milt Moody – Provo
Red Crossbills - had them coming for a couple of weeks
Steve Carr - Holladay
Red Crossbills - First time in almost 40 years in my yard.
Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
California Quail - 3rd year in a row they've been here!!
Merrill Webb – Orem
Saturday, April 25 I had a female Red Crossbill at one of my feeders (a first for me). Two hours later the same day had three male Lazuli Buntings stop by at my feeders.
Kay Stone – Lehi
I had a White-Winged Dove under my feeders April 27.
Eric Huish – Pleasant Grove
Red Crossbill and Tree Swallows – Yard lifers #93 and 94.
Lynn Garner – Provo
Can't decide between the Red Crossbills feasting on my platform feeder and the young Sharp-Shinned Hawk also looking for a meal!
Bonnie Williams – Mapleton
A Rooster Pheasant, 2 Eurasian Collared-Dove and California Quail all having lunch together.
Reed Stone – Provo
Yvonne Carter – Highland
5 Lazuli Buntings and 2 White-crowned Sparrows still hanging around.
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 Cheryl Peterson at 375-1914 (home) or 787-6492 (cell).
The North American Bird Phenology Program
In March, Bernie Sloan passed along the following bit of information.
“Thought some of you might be interested in this Wired article... The North American Bird Phenology Program is asking for volunteers to help transcribe over 90 years worth of paper records of bird migration patterns. The goal is to have a broadly accessible database that can support research activities. As the article notes: "The only complete dataset of bird migration patterns in North America is trapped in a basement — and it's going to take the power of crowdsourcing to free it. " More details at: http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/03/birddata.html “
I followed his link and read the article. I signed up to do transcribing and have enjoyed doing it. I try to do a few cards every day. After you get used to doing them, you can do 5 or 10 cards very quickly. In case some of you missed the email or were too busy at the the time to look into it, here is the link that tells you more about the program and where you can sign up to help. http://www.pwrc.usgs.gov/bpp/
We are accepting
2009 dues for membership in Utah County Birders throughout the 2009 season. If
you would like to be an official member of our group and receive a handheld copy
of the newsletter, do the following:
Make a check out to Utah County Birders for $15.00. Put it in an envelope addressed to:
2831 Marrcrest West
Provo, Utah 84604
Then, drop it in the mail. And as always, thanks for your support and a special thanks to those we never see, but who still show their support by their dues donations!