Utah County Birders Newsletter
March 2011

    March Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    The Ever Changing World of Utah Birds
Field Trip Report - Farmington Bay
Field Trip Report - Saw-whet in South Fork
Backyard Bird of the Month
    February Hotline Highlights


Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Darren Shirley  "The Birding Tourist - Birding adventures in a non birding family in Europe 2007-2010."

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


Utah County Big Month

A Utah County Big Month in March will be just what we need to get over winter cabin fever.. These trips may change based on weather and what's around. Let's get everyone involved and have another good time as a club.

March 1 (Tues.) 8:00am- 12:00pm - Lower Provo River, Skipper Bay, Utah Lake State Park. Meet at Provo River bridge just before entering Utah Lake State Park. Target birds - Snow Geese, Wood Duck, Northern Shrike.

March 5 (Sat.) 8:00am - 12:00pm - Benjamin Slough, Lincoln Point, West Mt. Meet at Payson Walmart. Bald Eagle, Sandhill Crane, Chukar

March 9 (Wed.) 8:00am - 12:00pm - Daimond Fork Canyon. Meet at the Little Acorn, mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon. No. Pygmy Owl, Golden Eagle

March 11 (Fri.) 8:00am-12:00pm - Provo Canyon, Sundance. Meet at Provo River Walkway Trail behind Chevron Station, mouth of Provo Canyon. Dipper, Cassin's Finch.

March 12 (Sat.) 8:00am-12:00pm - Santaquin foothills. Meet at Payson Walmart. Wild Turkey, Barn Owl, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawk.

March 15 (Tues.) 8:00am-12:00pm - Goshen, Goshen Canyon. Meet Payson Walmart. Pinyon Jay, Rock Wren, Great Horned Owl

March 19 (Sat.) 8:00am-12:00pm - Tintic Mts. Meet at Payson Walmart. Juniper Titmouse, Long-eared Owl, Bushtit

March 22 (Tues.) 8:00am - 12:00pm - Mosida, Chimney Rock Pass. Meet at Payson Walmart. Ferrugious Hawk, Prarie Falcon, Sage Sparrow.

March 26 (Sat.) 8:00am-12:00pm - American Fork Canyon. Meet at parking lot mouth of canyon. Golden-crowned Kinglet, Clark's Nutcracker, Steller's Jay

March 31 (Thu) 8:00am-12:00pm - Mop Up! Go after those species we've missed during month. Possible Owl prowl in evening for screech and saw-whet owls.

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 Keeli Marvel at - keeli.marvel@gmail.com

The Ever Changing World of Utah Birds

by Bryan Shirley, UCB President

Not too long ago somebody posted on birdtalk about an old Utah bird book that he/she had found.  That got me thinking about how the bird life in Utah may have changed over the years.   I pulled out the oldest bird book I have – Great Basin Naturalist Memoirs - Birds of Utah published in 1976 by BYU.  I know that to a few members of our club 1976 isn’t that long ago, but that is a long time ago to some of us!

Birds Of Utah starts out by giving some of the historical information written by early explorers and settlers.   Utah Lake and the Great Salt Lake were both said to hold “millions” of ducks.  One hunter reported killing 125-150 a day at Skipper’s Bay, but he quit in 1898 because there weren’t as many ducks as there used to be.  About that same time there was a bounty placed on herons, pelicans, cormorants, and other fish eating birds.  Somewhere west of Utah Lake there was a colony of waterbirds that was estimated to be 3-4miles long and a mile wide with birds roosting in the junipers – approximately 100,000 birds.  A few hunters killed 1,290 birds in one night, mostly with sticks.  They were paid $129 for their work.  Apparently the Fish and Game even furnished ammo to hunters to kill pelicans and other fish-eating birds until the 1930s! Needless to say the colony and others around the lake didn’t last.

After the historical information the book goes through every species in the state and talks about the distribution and abundance.  A lot has changed in the 35 years since it was written.  Some species, like the osprey and peregrine, are doing better today.  Most aren’t.  Here are some of the ones I thought were interesting:

Common Loon – used to be a very common migrant on Utah Lake.

Bobwhite – released in about 1871 and did well for a while, but declined due to hunting pressure.

Franklin’s Gull – Apparently originally was on the plains, but moved west into Utah, possibly about 1904.  First recorded breeding at Bear River in 1916.

Veery – Abundant breeder along the Provo River in the 1860’s.  In the 1970s apparently still around, but not very common.

Bobolink – Common breeder in SL and UT valley, but declining in the last 10 years (remember this was written in 1976).

Mountain Bluebird – Used to be common in the valleys as well as the mountains.

Summer Tanager – Not recorded in Utah until 1962.  Then they expanded their range 20 miles up the beaver Dam Slope.

Brown Thrasher – occasionally may have bred in the state.  Still was rare, but apparently a lot more common than now.

Peregrine Falcon – Very rare and in “grave danger” of extermination.

European Starling – Arrived in Utah as a wintering species in the 1930’s (first collected in Feb 1939 by the U of U).  First nesting record was 1949.  Anybody here remember that joyous occasion??!

 This article isn’t supposed to be about habitat loss or conservation issues, but just about the historical changes to our areas.  It does make you wonder what other changes we’ll see in the future though.  Somebody just starting birding today wouldn’t even know that Eurasian Collared-Doves arrived in Utah just a few years ago.  Maybe someday there will be a 100,000 herons roosting by Goshen.  Will Bobolink in Utah make it, or will they be like the Veery and become a thing of the past?  What will be the next species to move in and stay?  It will be interesting to see what the 2050 edition of Utah Birds has to say.


Bird of the Month

No article this month.

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
Farmington Bay - 5 February 2011
by Eric Huish

Bald Eagle, Farmington Bay  - 5 Feb 2011
 Photo by Jeff Cooper

Glaucous Gull, Farmington Bay - 5 Feb 2011
Photo by Jeff Cooper

This UCB Field Trip, led by Bryan Shirley, had a great turn out with many carloads of birders enjoying a great day of Birding at Farmington Bay. Highlights were close views of many Bald Eagles and some rare gulls. Western, Glaucous and Lesser Black-backed Gulls were lifers for many in the group.

Here is our list of birds - Number of species: 31

Canada Goose 18
Tundra Swan 26
Mallard 1
Northern Shoveler 500
Northern Pintail 10
Redhead 3
Common Merganser 3
duck sp. 40
Pied-billed Grebe 4
Great Blue Heron 3
Bald Eagle 100
Northern Harrier 4
American Kestrel 3
American Coot 1
Greater Yellowlegs 7
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
dowitcher sp. 1
Ring-billed Gull 300
Western Gull 1
California Gull 50
Herring Gull 300
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Glaucous Gull 1
gull sp. 1000
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Common Raven 3
Marsh Wren 1
European Starling 12
Song Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 30
Red-winged Blackbird 33
Western Meadowlark 1
House Sparrow 5

Field Trip Report
Singing Saw-whet Owl in South Fork - 15 February 2011
by Eric Huish

On Feb 15th, a Tuesday night, 12 birders met for a UCB Field Trip up South Fork Canyon. Our target bird was a Northern Saw-whet Owl. The moon was bright, the night was calm and it was relatively warm for mid February. At our first stop, as soon as we got out of the cars, we could hear Great Horned Owls calling from up on the hillside and a Saw-whet Owl calling down the road. We walked down the road following the Saw-whet's song. When we got close we played a call for a moment to get it to come out of the brush. Everyone got great views of the bird perched on a branch, then perched on a higher branch, then flying through the woods. We got to listen to it very closely for several minutes before we saw it.

We made a few more stops in the canyon, including where the Pygmy-Owl was seen a few times last month, but didn't hear any more owls (maybe a possible distant Saw-whet at one point). On our way down the canyon we stopped again at our first stop, it was quiet there too. The owls must have finished singing and gone hunting.

Trip Participants - Eric Huish, Junece Markham, Eric Peterson, Douglas Mead, Eric Chase (and friend), Kyle Palizzi, Milton Moody, Tuula Rose, Leena Rodgers, Danny Nelson (and wife).

Backyard Bird of the Month

February 2011

Reed Stone - Provo
Female Red-Breasted Merganser #132 on my yard list.  Keep counting.

Carol Nelson - Provo
Last months Wood Ducks and female Hooded Merganser have been on the pond off and on for some weeks.  Also, a Great-Blue Heron and a little Brown Creeper made their appearances for a couple of days.  February was a great month for birds!

Milt Moody - Provo
After being away for a while, a Spotted Towhee returned to my yard -- a welcomed sight!

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Northern Shrike
- sitting at the very top of a tall tree.

Steve Carr - Holladay
Northern Flicker
- 3 of them at the suet, peanuts, and peanut butter.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Western Scrub Jays 
Up to four come in for a peanut lunch.

Yvonne Carter - Highland
We have a resident Northern Flicker along with a Hairy Woodpecker, Juncos of course, Chickadees, Eurasian Collared-Doves, and others.

Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
Am watching 5 Eurasian Collared-Doves at my cracked corn feeder as I'm typing this.

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

2011 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 web page and we will send you a copy of the newsletter.