Utah County Birders Newsletter
April 2011

    April Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Short-tailed Albatross Survives Tsunami
    Bird of the Month
Field Trip Report - American Fork Canyon
Field Trip Report - March Big Month
Backyard Bird of the Month
    March Hotline Highlights


Thursday, April 14th, 2011

Wayne H. Whaley, Ph.D.  (Professor of Zoology)  will be discussing his current work with American Crows in Utah County. It should be a very interesting and informative meeting.

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


April 9 (Sat) 6:30am-11:00am - South Fork, Provo Canyon. Eric Huish will lead a trip up South Fork to listen for drumming Ruffed Grouse. Meet at the parking lot at the mouth of Provo Canyon at 6:30am.
April 23 (Sat)  4:45am - 10:00am - Henefer/Echo Sage Grouse Lek.  Keeli Marvel will lead a trip to see a Greater Sage Grouse lek. This is a must see, if you've never been to lek before! Meet at the parking lot at the mouth of Provo Canyon at 4:45am. We may stop to bird a couple of places along the way back if the group wants to.
April 30 (Sat)  8:00am-12:00pm  - Provo airport dike, Lower Provo River & Utah Lake State Park.  Eric Huish will lead a field trip to look for spring migrants.

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

Short-tailed Albatross Survives Tsunami

by Bryan Shirley, UCB President

It has only been about 2 weeks since the island of Japan was rocked by a huge earthquake followed by a massive Tsunami.  I am sure that everyone is well aware of the damage and loss of life in Japan, but there is one news story that you may have missed.

Some of you may have seen or heard this news already, but I have been following this story for a couple of months now and think it is worth writing about here.  In January a Short-tailed Albatross hatched on a small island which is part of Midway National Wildlife Refuge.  This is a big deal for several reasons.  First of all, Short-tailed Albatross are one of the rarest seabirds.  They were thought to be extinct for quite a while, but 10 pair or so were located in the 1950’s.  Thanks to the work of conservation groups and the government of Japan protecting the islands the where the birds nest, those 10 pair have slowly increased to over 2000 birds today.  Until this one chick was born on Midway, all 2000 albatross have nested on one island called Torishima (which means bird island in Japanese).   Since Torishima is a very active volcanic island, there has been a lot of work done trying to get a colony started on another island.  That is a long answer for why it was so exciting to finally have a chick born on Midway.

Fast forward about 3 months to the tsunami.  Luckily the staff at Midway was given notice that a tsunami was headed their way and could make some preparations.  The tsunami washed over most of one of the lower islands.  “10’s of Thousands” of chicks were buried in debris, washed out to sea, or drowned in their burrows, but somehow the Short-tailed Albatross chick survived and is doing well.

Most of this is from a blog by a wildlife biologist on Midway.  There are lots of good photos of the albatross and other birds, as well as a more detailed report about the tsunami and the staff’s work trying to save as many birds as they can.  Definitely worth checking out it when you have a minute. http://peteatmidway.blogspot.com/

To everybody in Japan and the birds affected by this tragedy as well –

 がんばってください!(hang in there!)


Bird of the Month

 Photo by Jeff Cooper

Evening Grosbeak
(Coccothraustes vespertinus)
Family: Fringillidae (Finch)
Submitted by Jeff Cooper

 One Saturday morning late in January I decided to venture into Provo Canyon to look for a couple of life birds that had been reported earlier in the week. Part of my trip included a drive up to Aspen Grove. I didn’t see very many birds at all on the drive up to Aspen Grove. The snow was very deep and without the proper gear I realized I couldn’t venture beyond the parking lot. Feeling a little let down, I decided to drive back down to Provo Canyon. As I made one hairpin turn and looked toward making another some movement in the trees ahead caught my attention. I slowed down for a look and realized I was looking at an unexpected life bird. Based on photos I had seen in my guides I realized immediately I was looking at a small flock of evening Grosbeaks--a male Evening Grosbeak is almost unmistakable. I was able to pull off the road in a safe spot and observe and photograph these beautiful birds for about 10-15 minutes as they alternated between perching in the nearby trees and landing on the ground to forage in an area where an underground spring had prevented a buildup of snow.

 According to iBird, the adult male Evening Grosbeak is large and stocky with a bright yellow back, rump, and under parts. The head is brown with a heavy, pale bill and bright yellow eyebrows that extend onto the forehead. The wings are dark with bold white secondary patches. The tail is dark. Adult and juvenile females are similar but grayer and with white-tipped tails. Their secondary wing patches are gray and the base of inner primaries is white. Juvenile males resemble females but with white secondaries. These grosbeaks range from British Columbia to Nova Scotia and down to northern New England. In the west they range along the Rocky Mountains and westward down into parts of Mexico. They nest in coniferous forests and visit deciduous woodlands and feeders in suburban areas in winter.

 iBird reports the following interesting facts for Evening Grosbeak:

·        They devour surprising quantities of salt

·        Have been observed eating 96 sunflower seeds in five minutes

·        A group of grosbeaks is collectively known as a “gross” of grosbeaks


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
Rosy Finches and American Fork Canyon - 26 March 2011
by Eric Huish and Keeli Marvel

Rosy-Finches  - 26 Mar 2011
 Photo by Jeff Cooper

Rosy-Finches - 26 Mar 2011
Photo by Eric Peterson

On March 26th, 17 Birders met at the mouth of American Fork Canyon for field trip #9 in the 'Utah County March Big Month' series.   A few birders were at the meeting place 30 minutes early and from the parking area we saw what looked like a flock of Rosy-Finches flying around the cliffs on the South rim of the canyon then flying out of sight to the South.  After everyone arrived, instead of heading up the canyon we drove along the foothills south of the canyon toward Cedar Hills to chase the finches.  We found the flock of 150 Rosy-Finches feeding in a sandy cut in the foothills about 1/2 mile south of A.F. Canyon.  There were about 140 Gray-crowned and 10 Black Rosy-Finches.   We got very close long looks at the flock as it fed on the open ground. Several times the flock flew around in circles just to land right back in front of us.  At one point the flock was practically at the feet of Jeff Cooper and Eric Peterson who had snuck in a little closer to get photos .  On our way back up the canyon the last car in our group saw a Golden Eagle feeding on a carcass near the road.  The rest of us missed it.

From the Timp Cave Parking area Jared spotted and pointed out a Mountain Goat in the cliffs on the North side of the canyon.  Also in this area were a couple of American Dippers, a Red-breasted Nuthatch and a Townsend's Solitaire. At Mutual Dell the group found a couple of Steller's Jays, four Mountain Chickadees and two Red-breasted Nuthatches.

From there the group proceeded to the Martin Picnic area (below Tibble Fork Reservoir) where we saw Golden-crowned Kinglets, a Brown Creeper, a Golden Eagle being dive bombed by some falcons and a pair of Dippers building a nest under an overhanging clump of roots down by the river.  The field trip ended up at Tibble Fork, which was pretty slow bird-wise, although the National Park Service was hosting a backyard birding hour that the group stopped by to check out for a few minutes.

Thanks for everyone who led/participated in our Utah County big month field trips this month, and especially to Dennis Shirley for organizing them!

Field Trip Report
UCB March Big Month‏
by Dennis Shirley

The UCB Big Month of March 2011 is over. A dozen die-hard birders met on thursday the 31st and birded almost from sunup to sundown. To those who endured to the end we picked up several new month birds, including: Swainson's Hawk(1), Long-billed Curlew(20), and Burrowing Owl(8). The Burrowing Owls just arrived and were scattered along the east side of the Elberta/Saratoga Springs/west side of Utah Lake highway between mile posts 12-14. Other birds which were new for several members of the party included: Wilson's Snipe, Virginia Rail, Osprey, Chukar(H only), Greater Yellowlegs, Franklin's Gull, Rock Wren, and Lincoln's Sparrow. A total of 70 species were seen, and the list follows.

No one attended all 11 March field trips, but if you had your list for the month would be 112 birds. Add in a few of your own found birds and the list becomes impressive for the "slow" month of March. Make sure you let Milt know your numbers so he can update the county march records. Once again doing a Club Big Month is always fun. We'll do another one or two in the furture, but not too soon!

Just for the records 144 birders attended the 11 field trips, ticking a total of 349 birds, and 112 bird species. Species seen included: 22 waterfowl, 10 sparrows, 14 birds of prey, and 7 owls. Most popular birds probably were the owls, which included the Northern Pygmy, Saw-Whet, Western Screech, and last but not least, Burrowing.


Backyard Bird of the Month

March 2011

Harold Clayson - Salem
Cassin's Finch A flock of 20 commandeered a lone feeder of shelled sunflower seeds Monday, emptied it in ten minutes, and left.

Reed Stone - Provo
Wood Ducks looking for a nesting cavity in my back yard trees.

Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
First Cassin's Finch arrived at my feeders on March 16,2011. Since then numbers have increased to around 16.

Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Cassin's Finch

Steve Carr - Holladay
4 Audubon's Warblers and 2 Myrtle Warblers - sharing the peanut butter with the Downy Woodpeckers.

Alton Thygerson – Provo
Western Scrub Jay coming to backdoor for peanuts.

Milt Moody - Provo
A Cooper's Hawk that sat on the fence for about 15 minutes.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Cassin's Finches - My first Cassin's this year showed up mid March.

Yvonne Carter - Highland
Just have had the usual house finches, doves, both varieties of juncos, black-capped chickadees, and a few western scrub jays.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
The finches have loved my platform feeder - Cassin's Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin and House Finch.

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.