Utah County Birders Newsletter
September 2010

    September Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Ned's Notes
    Bird of the Month
    Utah Checklist Changes

    Backyard Bird of the Month
    August Hotline Highlights


Thursday, September 9, 2010

This month's meeting will be "A Birding Safari in Kenya" given by Ned Hill. Ned always gives great presentations, so hope to see you there.

Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.


September 18, 2010: River Lane and Lincoln Beach. 7:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. Leave Springville Walmart at 7:30 a.m.

October 10 (Sun), 2010: The Big Sit, Provo Airport Dike - This will be our 9th year participating in the annual Big Sit! - We will sit in one spot out on the Provo Airport Dike all day and watch birds. We will be sitting on the southeast corner, on the dike just past the pump house, where you first see the lake when driving the dike clockwise. This is the southeast corner east of the new extension, not on the extension. Our record is 58 species. Last year we were able to hear or see 54 species. Come out and sit as little or as long as you like. We will start at 6 a.m. come anytime you like but there may or may not be anyone out there between Noon and 5:00 pm, we take a break during the slow time of the day. You can call us at 801-360-8777.

October 16, 2010: San Pete county. 7:00 a.m. - 12 p.m. Meet at Springville Walmart. We’ll drive south from Springville to Nephi and then through Nephi Canyon to Fountain Green. We’ll spend the morning working our way through various stops in San Pete Valley. This will hopefully be a good opportunity to add to your San Pete county list.

November 13, 2010: Antelope Island and Garr Ranch. 7:00 a.m. - 12 p.m. Meet at Sam’s Club parking lot, 1313 S. University Ave., Provo.

December 2010: Provo CBC. 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 - seldom74@xmission.com.

Ned’s Notes

By Ned Hill – President, Utah County Birders

“Birding In Ecuador—Part 8: From Wild Sumaco to the Amazon Basin”

Note: This is the eighth installment of the report of a birding adventure Ned Hill and three others took with guide Rudy Gelis to northern Ecuador, November 2008, where they saw 500 species. This is only a sampling of the species and places the group experienced.

We arose early (is there any other time to arise when birding?!) and enjoyed a great breakfast on our final day of the Sumaco Lodge. The lower reaches of the Sumaco Volcano was beautifully shrouded in clouds. The clouds were a harbinger of stormy weather to come. We packed up and left this comfortable lodge ready for our day’s drive down to the Amazon Basin. But before leaving Sumaco, we stopped several times and hiked into the rainforest to try for a few species we had missed the day before.

The first time we got out of our vehicle, we saw six Military Macaws flying over! It was unusual enough to see eight such rare birds yesterday, and phenomenal to see more of them today. In the fruiting trees we found many of the same tanagers and flycatchers we spotted yesterday but Rudy also spotted a Coppery-chested Jacamar land in a tree for us all to see. Then he helped us find a colorful Chestnut-eared Aracari, one of my favorite families of birds. On one of our brief hikes, we heard the energetic, clear calls of the elusive Rufous-breasted Wood-Quail. They had to be just a few dozen feet away from us in the undergrowth but we were never able to draw them into view. We did, however, find another elusive skulker, a Funariid, the Dark-breasted Spinetail. High in the trees we also saw several Black-tailed Tityra. We could see why this place is gaining a justifiable reputation for being one of the “birdiest” places in Ecuador. A full week here would not have done it justice.

The highway down from the Andean foothills is a two-lane, relatively smooth road with many twists and turns until it reached the lower elevations. We gradually left the high mountains behind us and found the temperature and humidity rising with every meter drop in elevation. Foothill shrubs and trees began to give way to lush green fields and farmland interspersed with stands of broadleaf trees and palms. We stopped several times along the way to sample the bird life and found many species that were absent just a few thousand feet elevation up the slopes: several Greater Yellow-headed Vultures soared overhead and dipped low enough to see the yellow heads. A Swallow-tailed Kite made an appearance and once we pulled over to see the spectacular Masked Crimson Tanager. In a stand of short Moriche Palm trees we found the beautiful black and orange Moriche Oriole and saw two familiar U.S. species: Eastern and Western Wood-Pewees. Some of these individuals do not migrate up to North America. As we approached the Coca we found a flooded field where we saw a striking Red-breasted Blackbird and a Wattled Jacana. Red-capped Cardinal, and Yellow-rumped Cacique were also common at these lower elevations.

Coca is the gateway to the very wide Rio Napo, one of the larger tributaries to the Amazon. It’s an oil town where the Amazon oil field workers come to get supplies and entertainment. The streets were crowded with trucks, rusting cars and lots of people. We stopped at a hotel to have some lunch, stretch our legs and await our river transport down to our destination. We kept a sharp eye on our belongings as some rather suspicious characters were milling about. Rudy picked up some batteries and flashlights we’ll need in the rainforest. After a brief wait, we walked down to the dock and found our boat: a 30 ft open boat with a roof over it and an outboard motor. We sat 2-3 to a bench and were accompanied by other people heading down river—including tourists and some of the local people were in Coca to pick up supplies. There are essentially no roads where we are going—everything must be brought in and out via this busy river “highway”.

The trip started out pleasantly enough. Along the banks were the familiar Great and Cattle Egrets, the cream-colored Capped Heron, and a number of Yellow-billed Terns. We also spotted several raptors: the aptly named Tiny Hawk, several Roadside Hawks (or was this the “Riverside” Hawk?), and Black Caracara. We began to see and hear quite number of colorful Great Kiskadees in the trees along the banks—a very familiar species to those who have traveled to Southern Texas. White-winged and White-banded Swallows darted over the river and once a rather unusual Amazon Umbrellabird flew over us.

Although the temperature was probably in the high 80’s, once the boat started up, the river acted like a “swamp cooler” and cooled us down nicely. I had washed some socks at the Sumaco Lodge and they were not dry. So I hung them from a rope by the roof of the boat. About an hour downriver we saw a huge black cumulonimbus cloud in front of us with heave streaking underneath it. Uh-oh! Soon we were being deluged with heavy, driving rain. So much for my wet socks. At least we had a roof over us—at least we did until the driver steered us over to the bank and we were told to transfer from our boat a smaller one with no roof. The new, roofless boat was essential to navigate the shallow tributary that connected the Napo with Sani Lodge. In spite of our raingear, every one of us got soaked to the bone and my small camera was fogged up for several days. Four hours after leaving Coca, our boat nosed up to the steep bank where we clambered out of the boat and up the muddy steps to the trail into the lodge. We were very, very happy to be out of the rain.

Our hosts gave us cool drink of fruit juice and the staff hauled our luggage up to meet us. Rich and I were assigned a large second story lodge room with two mosquito-netted beds and a bathroom with running water. The lodge was entire made of native wood with screens on all the openings. There are no locks on doors here in the rainforest. We found that there was no hot water in the bathroom but in this climate that was not too much of a problem. We sorted out the contents of our luggage and utilized every hanger, nail, rope and chair to spread our wet clothes out to dry. However, my hopes were not high as the humidity in the rainforest was—well, why do you think they call it a rainforest?

The rain started to lift. We found Robert and Daniel. They had been assigned a small cabin separated from the main lodge. As they unpacked, Robert discovered a very large, hairy tarantula resting up in the
thatch of his ceiling, right above their beds. He reported this to Rudy who came to inspect. “It’s not a
poisonous one; don’t worry about it!” Sleep well Robert and Daniel!

Next— Sani Lodge—the Richness of the Amazon Basin.


Bird of the Month

No article this month.

If you would like to write an article for the Bird of the Month, please contact Junece Markham -- 373-2487.

Writing an article for the newsletter is part of the 2010 Birding Challenge -  http://www.utahbirds.org/ucb/specialreports/2010BirdingChallenge.pdf

Click here for past 'Birds of the Month'.


Utah Checklist - Changes we can live with?
by Milt Moody

The American Ornithologist’s Union (AOU), is messing with our bird names again! You’d think that once you’d learned the names, it would be smooth sailing, ah birding, from here, but that turns out to be wishful thinking-- how can you argue with DNA evidence.

Two common names have been changed to reflect a split in species. Our Whip-poor-will (at least the one that has been documented) is now the Mexican Whip-poor-will with the species name changing from vociferus (meaning it talks a lot and maybe fairly loudly) to arizonae (maybe so the border patrol will cut it some slack if they see the new common name). Then there’s the Winter Wren, which will be the name of the one found mainly in the east, but the one mainly found in Utah (and on the west coast) will be the Pacific Wren, with the species name changing to pacificus (yes, sometimes they make it simple and easy). Now if you see a Winter Wren (the eastern species) in Utah it will be a new Utah Lifer – that’s the good part of this whole thing I guess.

There have been some changes in the taxonomic order which reflects relationships I am told. There are three order changes that I think are pretty interesting. The Longspurs and Snow Bunting have been taken from the sparrow family and put in their own new family, Calcariidae and placed in front of the warblers – looks like they think this group is more primitive than had been previously supposed (the taxonomic order goes from the birds deemed most primitive to the more advanced). The Tanagers, on the other hand, have shifted from the front of the sparrow group to just behind them and placed in the family comprised of cardinals and most of the grosbeaks and buntings – a promotion of sorts. Now this third change, took me completely by surprise The Rufous-crowned Sparrow, was shifted up and put right in the middle of the towhees – maybe it should have been a towhee all along–DNA doesn’t lie.

There are several new genus names– actually more than would be appropriate to list here, maybe. One set of changes that I though was interesting was putting a bunch of the Vermivora (worm-eating) warblers in a new genus called Oreothlypis – an oreo-cookie-eating finch? ah, probably not (Latin and Greek can be confusing). The huge genus of gulls, Larus, was too simple and the names were not long enough for some of the more unique gulls, it seems. They created three new (and pretty long) genus name for some Utah Gulls: Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus), Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus), and Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus).

Good thing we can get away with ignoring the scientific names pretty much. We just have two new names to adjust to this time around: Mexican Whip-poor-will and Pacific Wren and we’ll probably be lucky to see either one of these in Utah.

Backyard Bird of the Month

June 2010


Milt Moody - Provo

A female Calliope Hummingbird visited my feeders several times.


Bonnie Williams - Mapleton

Lazuli Bunting


Steve Carr - Holladay

Cooper's Hawk - Couple of days perched on the fence.


Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Gray Catbird - Yard lifer #98!


Cheryl Peterson  - Provo

Rufous Hummingbird

Report your favorite backyard bird each month to Cheryl Peterson at 801-375-1914 or CherylPeterson@gmail.com

2010 Dues

Thanks to all who have supported us in the past. If you are interested in officially joining us this year, make out a check to Utah County Birders for $15.00 and mail it to:

Carol Nelson
2831 Marrcrest West
Provo, Utah 84604

You will be helping to support the Utahbirds.org web page and we will send you a copy of the newsletter.