Utah County Birders Newsletter
February 2011

    February Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Birding Goals
    Bird of the Month
Field Trip Report
    New Officers
Backyard Bird of the Month
    January Hotline Highlights


Thursday, February 10th, 2011

This month we will be having a beginning birding class. It will cover the basics like binoculars, birding areas, resources for birders, etc. Invite your friends & family or anybody else who wants to know more about this great hobby!

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


February 5th (Sat): Farmington Bay - Leader: Bryan Shirley -  Hopefully we will find some of the rare gulls that have been around the area, plus there should be lots of Bald Eagles as well.  We will meet at the Orem Center St. Park & Ride (just East of I-15) at 8 AM. If you live north of there and want to meet up with us on the way give Bryan a call - 801-722-9346. Not sure when we'll be back, but probably sometime in the late afternoon - early evening depending on the birding.

February 15th (Tue): Listening for Saw-whet Owls in South Fork, Provo Canyon - Leader: Eric Huish - We will leave the Orem 8th North Park-and-Ride at the mouth of Provo Canyon at 7:00 pm. South Fork Road is a narrow mountain road with limited parking, so for safety reasons we are limiting this trip to 3 cars (12 people). Please contact Eric if you would like to attend. 801-360-8777 or poorwill_@hotmail.com . If this trip fills we will schedule a second trip.

February 26th (Sat): Delta Snow Goose Festival. Leader: Lu Giddings -See http://www.deltagoosefestival.info/.  Will also visit Clear Lake Waterfowl Management Area if time, weather, and road conditions permit. Leave Payson Wal Mart at 7 am. Trip will run from 7 am - 12 pm.  Please plan on carpooling with others.

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 yearís field trips, please contact Keeli Marvel at - keeli.marvel@gmail.com

Birding Goals

by Bryan Shirley, UCB President


I know that it is a month late to be talking about goals, but if you havenít set your birding goals for 2011 it isnít too late.  I try to set some goals for my birding every year for the same reasons that others set goals in business, finances, family, etc.  If you donít have a goal you are working toward, it is too easy to let the year go by and not accomplish anything.  I always set a goal for some lofty new number of lifers and things like that, but primarily I set birding goals to help me have fun.  Having goals helps me to stay excited about birding and I end up spending a lot more time in the field.


A couple of weeks ago I was looking through birding records on the utahbirds website.  The January big month record for Utah County is 105.  Even though it was already January 12th, I thought that 105 species would be a piece of cake.  I should have tried Juab County.  The January record there is only 36, which apparently was in one day since 36 is the big day record for January also.  Anyway, there are only a couple of days left in January and here I sit with just under 80 species for the county.  I am starting to frame my basement this weekend so I think I am I am going to have to concede defeat on this one.  Who would have thought that it would take me 15 trips to Wal-Mart to find those dang Grackles and that the Cooperís Hawk that ate my House Finches all through December would disappear?  It doesnít really matter to me that I didnít set a new record  Ė I know that I got out birding a lot more than if I hadnít tried and had a lot of fun too.  I have a good plan of attack for January next year tooÖ


I decided to write about birding goals because at our club dinner last month I overheard the comment by someone that they wished we were having a contest this year too because they are so much fun.  I agree that they are fun, but we only do one every other year so that we can focus on our own goals and what we want to accomplish.  There are thousands of possibilities of fun goals or contests you could come up with.   Here are just a few ideas:


1.      Work on life lists.  Could be a county goal, a state goal, ABA, etc.  All of us listers have a few birds that we could target Ė or chase hotline birds. 

2.      Put all your sightings on E-bird.  This is one of my goals for this year.  It is a great resource and the more data we put in the better resource it will become. 

3.      Keep a photograph life list.  For those that take pictures out there this is a fun one.  Start trying to photograph as many species as you can.  This is another of my goals this year since I have better pictures of the birds of Costa Rica than the birds of Utah!

4.      Enter a bird photo in a contest.  Even if you donít win, just being involved is fun.

5.      Take a birding trip you have always wanted to take Ė it might be the South Pole or it might be St. George, but make the plans and do it this year.

6.      Pick a bird and learn everything there is about that bird.  You could become a specialist on Hammondís Flycatcher, for example.  Learn the call, the habitat, what the nest looks like, where you can see it near your house, etc.   Then you could write a report about it for the newsletter and impress us all with your knowledge!

7.      Lots of counties donít have big day or big month records.  Pick some new areas to bird and set a new record!


Of course these are just a few ideas.  Think about it and come up with your own.  In case you are wondering the February Utah County record is 103, or Juab County is 0.  Anyway, have fun!


Bird of the Month

Photo by Kent Keller

Belted Kingfisher
Megaceryle alcyon
by Oliver Hansen

From the Beaver Dam Wash to the slopes of the Uinta Mountains the belted kingfisher can be found along most rivers and streams in all of Utahís 29 counties. A birding trip to a riparian area would not be complete without a fly-over kingfisher announcing its presence. The belted kingfisher is the most wide-spread of North Americaís Kingfisher species. Its summer range extends far into Northern Canada and its winter range reaches to the tips of South America. In Utah, we fit right in the middle and get to enjoy them all year long. I have seen Kingfishers in and around Provo for the last few winters, including 2 sightings this January. First on the UCB fieldtrip up Provo Canyon and also on the stream that runs through the Kuhni wetlands. I have enjoyed watching Kingfishers every summer at my grandparentís house on Hobble Creek in Springville.

According to the Cornell lab of Ornithology Website, Belted Kingfishers have a clutch of 5-8 white eggs. They measure 11-13 inches, weigh 5-6 oz. and eat mostly small fish, invertebrates, and even the occasional vertebrate. Females can be distinguished from males from the rusty/buffy stripe on the belly. This stripe is absent on males, making Kingbirds one of the few bird species to have more brightly colored females. Though solitary during the winter, Belted Kingfishers pair up during the spring and dig a horizontal nesting hole in the side of soft sandy river banks. During the breeding season Kingfishers are very territorial and will defend a stretch of stream up to a kilometer long. The young are cared for by both parents but more so by the male.

If you would like to write an article for the Bird of the Month, please contact Oliver Hansen -- 801-378-4771 - byucactus@gmail.com .

Click here for past 'Birds of the Month'.

Field Trip Report
South Fork, Provo Canyon - 22 Jan 2011
by Bryan Shirley

South Fork, Provo Canyon - 22 Jan 2011 - Photo by Oliver Hansen

Canyon Glen Park, Provo Canyon - 22 Jan 2011 - Photo by Oliver Hansen

With most of the snow melting off the foothills we didn't try any of the regular spots for Rosy Finches as planned, but went to look for the Pygmy Owl (Owls?) in Provo's South Fork.  It was slow birding and cold.  No Owls either.  We did see several dippers and a nice Golden Eagle.  There was a pretty good crowd of us and always fun to get out, even if the birding is slow. 
Here is the complete list...
Location: Vivian Park
American Dipper 1

Location: South Fork Canyon
Number of species: 9

Wild Turkey 4
Golden Eagle 1
Belted Kingfisher 2
Steller's Jay 5
Black-billed Magpie 2
Common Raven 1
Black-capped Chickadee 3
American Dipper 2
Song Sparrow 1 Heard Only

Location: Canyon Glen Park and Parkway
Number of species: 5

Western Scrub-Jay 2 Heard Only
Black-capped Chickadee 2
American Dipper 3
Townsend's Solitaire 2
Song Sparrow 1

New Officers

Bryan Shirley is the President.
Keeli Marvel is the Field Trip Coordinator.
Oliver Hansen will be in charge of asking people to write Bird of the Month articles for the newsletter.

Thanks to Ned Hill, Lu Giddings and Junece Markham for their service.

Backyard Bird of the Month

January 2011

Steve Carr - Holladay
White-crowned Sparrow
- I don't get them very often in my yard, so it is a treat when one drops by.

Milt Moody - Provo
My backyard bird of the month is a Sharp-shinned Hawk -- my choices were limited .

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Western Screech-Owl
- Sunning at the entrance to the nest box several days this month.

Yvonne Carter - Highland
Nothing new yet.  The Spotted Towhee is staying around with Scrub Jays, Juncos, Lesser and American Goldfinches, House Finches, and Black-capped ChickadeesMagpies, a few Robins, and Northern Flickers flying around the yard.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Downy Woodpecker

Carol Nelson - Provo
I added two new yard birds to my list this January.  A single male Wood Duck was my first surprise; a female Hooded Merganser was the second.  I kept looking for a male Merganser, but none showed.  Females do count though.  A couple of days later two male Wood Ducks were floating around nipping at the Mallards.  Oh, and did I mention a Red Fox   I do love January when the snow keeps the golfers off the course and invites the wildlife in.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
Yellow-rumped Warbler

Send your backyard bird of the month to Cheryl Peterson (375-1914 or cherylpeterson@gmail.com) by the end of each month.