Utah County Birders Newsletter
May 2011

    May Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    President's Message
    Bird of the Month
Field Trip Report - South Fork, Ruffed Grouse
Field Trip Report - Sage Grouse Lek
Field Trip Report - Provo Airport Dike
Backyard Bird of the Month
    April Hotline Highlights


Thursday, May 12th, 2011

Eric Peterson will report on a Trip to Kenya to a rhino preserve called Lewa. They mainly work on the conservation of black and white rhinos but the park is home to all the species found in Kenya from elephant to ostrich. He visited a Masai village and lodge run by the Masai people. He participated in the knockdown and ear notching of rhinos.

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


Beginning birders and nonmembers are welcome.

May 7th (Sat):  8:00am-noon - Swede Lane, River Lane, and Benjamin Slough. Meet at 8:00 a.m. at the Sam's Club in East Bay, Provo. We may also visit Lincoln Beach/Point if time allows.

May 12th-16th (Thu-Mon):  Great Salt Lake Bird Festival - More info at  www.greatsaltlakebirdfest.com.

May 21st (Sat):  7:00am-1:00pm- Led by Keeli Marvel - Ophir Canyon and Rush Valley. Weíll begin by visiting Ophir and the south end of the Oquirrh mountains, and then loop south through Rush Valley with stops at the Fitzgerald WMA and Clover Springs. We will meet at the park and ride off the American Fork Main Street exit of I-15. (Exit 278-the northwest corner of I-15and Pioneer Crossing next to the Value Motel). Bring a lunch/snacks and something to drink.

May 24th (Tue):  5:30pm-dark - Eric Huish will lead a field trip around the Provo Airport Dike. Meet at 5:30pm at the Provo River Parkway parking lot just outside the Utah Lake State Park entrance. Directions - Drive West on Provo Center Street, right after you cross the Provo River (before Utah Lake State Park) turn right then immediately turn right again into the parking lot.

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

President's Message

by Bryan Shirley, UCB President

May Birding

This is going to be a short article Ė who has time to work on the computer during migration?!! It is the first of May and migration is in full swing. Shore- birds are here now in good numbers and passerine migrants are just showing up. Within the next couple of weeks they will be all over. Everyday is different so if you have a big imagination like I do there is no end to the daydreaming about what rare warbler could be lurking in the next tree, even if there was nothing there yesterday!

Even if there isnít a rarity, everyday there is sure to be a new discovery of a bird that you havenít seen since last fall. In another month we will have seen so many Western Kingbirds that we wonít even bother to raise our binos at them, but a couple days ago when I saw 12 of them on a fence near Lincoln Beach it was the highlight of my dayís birding. Today while jogging near the Spanish Fork River bottoms I heard my first Chipping Sparrow & Lazuli Buntings. It made me forget how tired my legs were, at least for a minute.

Besides the migrants coming home, we also get to enjoy the ďlocalsĒ that are already in the middle of nesting. Yesterday I saw my first Killdeer chicks of the year (I actually thought they were Semipalmated Plovers at first) and there is a new family of Canada Geese that hatched about a week ago. My 10 year old neighbor just came to tell me there is a Robin nesting in his tree again this year.

Everywhere we look there is something new and exciting going on. This is the best time or the year to be birding so get out there and enjoy it!


Bird of the Month

 Photo by Paul Higgins

Carpodacus cassinii
by Pat Jividen

The reason I chose the Cassinís Finch to write about is, because at my cabin in Tabiona, Utah, I have them all year long.

The male is the easiest to identify by its red cap and, in breeding season, it is really bright red. The breast and throat are a pale pink and the steaks on its side are easy to see. What makes it easier to identify from House Finch or Purple Finch is the notched tail. Females have a white ear patch, white eyebrow, although it is not too distinct and, also, a white mark behind the bill. Immature birds look about the same as females.

I keep trying to turn some of my Cassinís Finches into Purple Finches but haven't had any luck. After a closer look, they always turn out to be the Cassinís. I have been told that, once you see a Purple Finch, there's never any way to misidentify them.

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 - 9 April 2011
by Eric Huish
Two inches of fresh snow stuck to the ground and trees, wet snowflakes were falling from the sky, 7 Utah County Birders stood on the side of the road overlooking beaver ponds in South Fork Canyon. We listened to the babbling brook, singing Robins, a Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrows and Fox Sparrows. We patiently waited over 30 minutes before we heard what we had come for, Thump...thump...thump..ump..ump..mp..r-rrrrr, a drumming Ruffed Grouse. The grouse was on the other side of the beaver ponds so we couldn't see it through all of the willows and brush but we got to listen to it drumming several times. Before the grouse started drumming Jeff Cooper spotted one of the singing Fox Sparrows and we were all able to get a close look. This area is just downstream from South Fork Park, about 1.4 miles up South Fork Road after leaving Provo Canyon.

Up a little higher we saw a lone, ratty, sickly looking Black Rosy-Finch feeding on the side of the road. Unfortunately a truck passed us and scared it away before everyone got a good look at it.

We hiked a loop at Big Springs Park, up the trail then down the old road back to the parking area. Other than a few birds around the parking lot we saw a total of 2 Robins on our hike. Last week I saw 4 Evening Grosbeaks in the canyon but we couldn't find them today.

The bird list wasn't huge and the weather wasn't perfect but the mountains are beautiful when everything is white with fresh snow. It was a very enjoyable outing.

Thanks to those who braved the weather.

Full List below - We spent 3 hours in South Fork Canyon, 6:45-9:45 am.

Location: South Fork Provo Canyon
Observation date: 4/9/11
Number of species: 17

Mallard 2
Ruffed Grouse 1 Drumming. Heard Only. It was on the far side of the beaver ponds just downstream from South Fork Park.
Wild Turkey 1 Heard Only
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Northern Flicker 4
Steller's Jay 15
Black-billed Magpie 2
Black-capped Chickadee 1 Heard Only
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Townsend's Solitaire 1
American Robin 60
European Starling 2
Spotted Towhee 3
Fox Sparrow (Slate-colored) 2
Song Sparrow 2
Dark-eyed Junco 20
Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon) 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Pink-sided) 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed) 25
sparrow sp. 1 Stripy sparrow with a missing tail. Song Sparrow?
Black Rosy-Finch 1 A sickly looking bird feeding on the side of the road. Flew off when a truck drove past.


Field Trip Report
Henefer Sage Grouse Lek - 23 April 2011

Keeli Marvel

Three Utah County Birders met in the wee hours of the morning Saturday, April 23rd for a field trip to the Henefer Greater Sage-grouse Lek. When we arrived at the lek, the grouse were already in full swing, and we were only the second vehicle to arrive at the lek. That number later grew to around 10 vehicles or so. After spending about an hour watching the grouse, we were treated to the sight of a PEREGRINE FALCON chasing a smaller bird (possibly a robin)
directly over the parking area. This didn't seem to bother the grouse at all.
After visiting the lek, we wandered on down to East Canyon Reservoir. Highlights were a VESPER SPARROW on the fence perched on the fence about halfway between the lek and the reservoir, COMMON LOONS, COMMON MERGANSERS, and WESTERN GREBES on the reservoir, a SPOTTED TOWHEE across from the entrance to the RV park and a FOX SPARROW in the brushy marshy area on the east side of the road past the resort. At 8:45 on our way back past the lek, a few dedicated grouse were still strutting away.
We stopped at a couple of places along the way back. Highlights included CASPIAN TERNS at Echo Reservoir, nesting OSPREY at both Echo and Deer Creek reservoirs, and a COOPERS HAWK, 2 WILLETS, and several MARBLED GODWIT at the overlook/trailhead at the north end of Deer Creek. A complete trip list is below.
Canada Goose 12
Gadwall 5
American Wigeon 20
Mallard 28
Cinnamon Teal 4
Northern Shoveler 10
Common Merganser 19
Greater Sage-Grouse 43
Common Loon 27
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Western Grebe 12
Double-crested Cormorant 2
American White Pelican 2
White-faced Ibis 4
Turkey Vulture 8
Osprey 8
Cooper's Hawk 1
Swainson's Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 8
American Kestrel 5
Peregrine Falcon 1
American Coot 250
Sandhill Crane 9
Willet 2
Marbled Godwit 4
Ring-billed Gull 2
gull sp. 11
Caspian Tern 4
Rock Pigeon 2
Northern Flicker 3
Black-billed Magpie 21
Common Raven 2
Barn Swallow 10
swallow sp. 10
Black-capped Chickadee 1
American Robin 54
European Starling 23
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Vesper Sparrow 2
Fox Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 5
Red-winged Blackbird 34
Western Meadowlark 5
Yellow-headed Blackbird 2
House Finch 1



Field Trip Report
Provo Airport Dike - 30 April 2011
by Eric Huish

 Photo by KC Childs

15 Birders met at 8:00 to bird the Provo Airport Dike and nearby areas.  Trip highlights are listed below.
We saw Wilson's Snipe, 2 Solitary Sandpipers and a couple of Savannah Sparrows in the fields along Harbor Road (Lower Provo River Parkway area).
There were 6 Solitary Sandpipers at the Pond on the North end of Lakeview Drive.  Also at the pond a Forester's Tern and Spotted Sandpiper were year firsts for most of us.
On the Provo Airport Dike in the Flooded Field on the South extension we saw a Western Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope and a Marbled Godwit.  Between the South extension and the Southwest corner we saw a Clay-colored Sparrow (unfortunately not seen well by everyone) and a Rock Wren.  On the West side of the loop, by the control tower, a Sage Thrasher gave everyone great views.  In the woods along the river at the North end of the Dike Loop we saw 2 Townsend's Solitaires and a Yellow Warbler was a year first for everyone in the group.  
We saw a total of 77 species for the trip.
Full lists below -
Location: Lower Provo River Parkway - Utah Co. UT
Number of species: 12
Mallard 2
Cinnamon Teal 8
California Quail 2
White-faced Ibis 45
Swainson's Hawk 1
Killdeer 2
Black-necked Stilt 2
American Avocet 4
Solitary Sandpiper 2
Wilson's Snipe 1
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 40
American Robin 3
Yellow-headed Blackbird 2
Location: Lakeview Drive Pond - Provo
Number of species: 14
Mallard 3
Great Blue Heron 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
American Kestrel 1 Caught a mouse.
Black-necked Stilt 2
American Avocet 1
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Solitary Sandpiper 6
Forster's Tern 1
Rock Pigeon 30
Black-billed Magpie 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1 Heard Only
Yellow-headed Blackbird 1
Brewer's Blackbird 20
Location: Provo Airport Dike - Utah Co. UT
Number of species: 73
Canada Goose 10
Gadwall 1
American Wigeon 2
Mallard 10
Cinnamon Teal 10
Redhead 2
Ring-necked Duck 2
Ring-necked Pheasant 3
Pied-billed Grebe 3
Western Grebe 2
Clark's Grebe 4
Western/Clark's Grebe 25
Double-crested Cormorant 7
American White Pelican 15
Great Blue Heron 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
White-faced Ibis 40
Turkey Vulture 2
Osprey 2
Northern Harrier 1
Swainson's Hawk 1
American Kestrel 6
Virginia Rail 2 Heard Only
American Coot 15
Sandhill Crane 2
Killdeer 2
Spotted Sandpiper 1 In moat near East Corner.
Marbled Godwit 1 Flying around over flooded field on South Extension.
Western Sandpiper 1 In flooded field on South Extension.
Long-billed Dowitcher 2 In flooded field on South Extension.
Wilson's Phalarope 1 In flooded field on South Extension.
Franklin's Gull 30
Larus sp. 1 Fly Over
Caspian Tern 4
Forster's Tern 1
Rock Pigeon 2
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1
Mourning Dove 8
Belted Kingfisher 1
Downy Woodpecker 2
Say's Phoebe 1 South Extension.
Western Kingbird 6
Loggerhead Shrike 1 South Extension.
Black-billed Magpie 2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 35
Tree Swallow 10
Violet-green Swallow 1
Bank Swallow 1
Barn Swallow 10
swallow sp. 100
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Rock Wren 1 In rocks between South extension and Southwest Corner.
Marsh Wren 25
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Townsend's Solitaire 1 Along river at the North end of the dike loop.
Hermit Thrush 1 At Southwest corner.
American Robin 5
Sage Thrasher 1 Along the road near the control tower on the West Side.
European Starling 30
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow Warbler 1 Along river at the North end of the dike loop.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 10
Green-tailed Towhee 2
Chipping Sparrow 5
Clay-colored Sparrow 1 Between the South extension and the Southwest Corner.
Brewer's Sparrow 2
Savannah Sparrow 1 Heard Only
Song Sparrow 4
Lincoln's Sparrow 2
White-crowned Sparrow 20
Red-winged Blackbird 15
Western Meadowlark 3
Yellow-headed Blackbird 15
Brown-headed Cowbird 1
House Finch 3
House Sparrow 1


Backyard Bird of the Month
April 2011

Flora Duncan - Orem
Chipping Sparrow

Milt Moody - Provo
I had both Broad-tailed and Black-chinned Hummingbirds come to my feeder this last week (April).

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Large numbers of Cassin's Finches all month long and a very brief appearance of a single male Evening Grosbeak.

Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
Cassin's Finches - First time I've seen them in the yard!

Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
Green-tailed Towhee - along with FOY Chipping Sparrow and Western Kingbird on April 28, 2011.

Harold Clayson - Salem
While standing in my backyard watching the cable guy reconnect the line that had been dropped during our snow storms, I saw a White-faced Ibis fly directly overhead.

Alona Huffaker - Springville
Lazuli Buntings

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
Lincoln Sparrow


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.