Utah County Birders Newsletter
April 2012

    April Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    President's Message
    Bird of the Month
    Field Trip Report
- Powder Mountain, Pineview Res.
    Field Trip Report
- Juab Co.
    Field Trip Report
- Sanpete Co.
Backyard Bird of the Month
    March Hotline Highlights


Thursday, April 12th, 2012

“Birding in a Bottle”

Come join us for an evening of fun and relaxation. We won't tell you what we are doing, but it will be fun. Don't miss this meeting!

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


Beginning birders are welcome.

UCB April Big Month!   We will have 13 half day field trips (both week days and Saturdays). The schedule is listed below, along with dates, tentative locations, times and meeting places. These could change based on weather, current rarities, and participants. A day trip leader will be in charge each day.
This is the third year we've picked a "Big Month" to do as a club. Last year we did March and saw 112 species on our 11 trips and had an average of 13 birders on each trip. This year, April, should get us more, with the early summer birds coming in by the end of the month. The current record for April Utah County is 142. So lets come out and have a good time.
Dennis Shirley

April 3rd (tues) 8:00am-12:00pm - 
Benjamin Slough, Lincoln Point, West Mountain. Meet at Payson Walmart.

April 5th (thurs) 8:00am-12:00pm - 
West Provo, Utah Lake S. P., Provo Airport. Meet at Provo So. University Avenue Sam's Club.

April 7th (sat.) 8:00am-12:00pm - 
Goshen, Elberta, Mosida. Meet at Payson Walmart.

April 10th (tues) 8:00am-12:00pm - 
West A. F., Saratoga Springs, Jordan River. Meet at Lehi MacDonalds.

April 12th (thurs) 8:00am-12:00pm - 
Provo Canyon, Squaw Peak, South Fork. Meet at Canyon Glen Park in Provo Canyon.

April 14th (sat) 7:00am-12:00pm - 
Diamond Fork, Spanish Fork Canyon. Meet at mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon Chevron.

April 17th (tues) 7:00am-12:00pm - 
Dividend, Eureka, South Cedar Valley. Meet at Payson Walmart.

April 19th (thurs) 7:00am-12:00pm - 
Santaquin Canyon, Payson Canyon. Meet at Payson Walmart.

April 21st (sat) 7:00am-12:00pm - 
Cedar Fort, Fairfield, Five-Mile Pass. Meet at Lehi MacDonalds.

April 24th (tues) 7:00am-12:00pm - 
American Fork Canyon, NE County. Meet at mouth of AF Canyon.

April 26th (thurs) 7:00pm-11:00pm - 
Payson areas. Owling!! Meet at Payson Walmart.

April 28th (sat) 7:00am-12:00pm - 
Sheep Creek, upper Spanish Fork Canyon. Meet at mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon Chevron.

April 30th (mon) 7:00am-12:00pm - 
Mop Up!!! Will go after those missed species. Meet at Payson Walmart.

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. 

President's Message

by Bryan Shirley, UCB President


Bird Families

Before I get into the real subject here, how is everyone’s UCB Birding Challenge going? Last month I decided to get ambitious and set a long-term goal of 100 species in every county. I thought it wouldn’t be too hard, but then I went to Emery County. Granted I did have to cut my camping trip short thanks to my 2 yr old throwing up her smores all over me and the tent, but I can report that I currently have 4 species on my Emery County list… Hope your goals are going better than mine!

In May, 2000 I made my first trip out of the country to go birding. The destination was Costa Rica. I got my field guide and started trying to learn the hundreds of birds I had never heard of. It took me about 1 minute to realize there was no way I was going to be able to learn all the birds. I couldn’t even pronounce a pretty good chunk of them, let alone ID them. Of course I could recognize a lot of the groups of birds because we have them here too, but I had no idea what the difference between a Tinamou and an Jacamar were. So I started focusing on at least being able to recognize what family the bird was. At least then I’d be able to figure out where in the field guide to start looking for it. That was when I really started to get interested in the classification system of our birds. It is a fascinating and exciting subject – one of my favorites.

Here is a little bit that I have learned:

There are 212 families in the world. Some of them, like waterfowl or thrushes are found in most of the world. Others are only found in small areas. A good example is the Hawaiian Honeycreepers – a family of birds found only in the Hawaiian Islands. Another interesting thing about Bird Families is when most of a family is in a particular area, but then there are a few strays. A good example of this is the wrens. Did you know that there are 75+ species of wrens in the world and all but one of them is found in North and South America? We have 7 species just in Utah, but the Eurasian Wren (a recent split from the Winter Wren) is the only wren found from Japan to England. Kingfishers are the opposite – there are only 3 in North America and 3 more in South America, but 90 more species outside of the Americas.

In ABA we have about 80 families, but that includes some that are only here occasionally like a stray Bananaquit in Florida or a Jacana on some golf course in Arizona. If I counted right in Utah we have about 59 families, again counting the rare ones like the Frigatebirds. That means that there are about 20 families that we can’t see in Utah (at least haven’t been seen yet). Most of the families we don’t get in Utah are found around the periphery of North America. A few of the families are seabirds (Tropicbirds, Boobies, Storm-Petrels, etc), a couple that barely make it into Arizona (Olive Warbler, Trogons), and a few more that barely make it to Alaska (Old World Warblers,) Texas (Chachalaca) and Florida (Limpkin).

Here in Utah I think that most birders have seen most of the bird families, whether we are all aware of it or not. There are a couple of families that you may have to make a special trip for though. One is the Verdin – the sole member of the Penduline-Tit family in the Americas. One of the characteristics of the family is the ball-shaped nests that they make. If you haven’t seen one keep an eye out next time you are in Washington County – the only place in Utah you can see it.

Another fun thing about bird families is learning how families relate to each other. If you are a beginner this will help a lot in finding birds in the field guides. Have you ever wondered why the ducks are at the beginning instead of the sparrows? Did you know that swifts are related to hummingbirds? What about pelicans and cormorants? On the other hand, why are Hawks & Eagles in the same family, but Falcons aren’t? Why aren’t California Quail and Chukars in the same family (it isn’t the top-notch!)?

We could go on all day, but it is time to wrap this article up. If you want to read about bird families some of the field guides give a bit of info, but I recommend the Sibley Guide to Bird Life and Behavior. It goes through all the families of North America in good detail. If you are still trying to think up an ambitious goal for the birding challenge this year how about trying to see 1 of all the regular bird families in Utah? I guarantee it would be an easier goal than trying to find 100 species in Emery County!


Bird of the Month

Photo by Milt Moody

White-tailed Ptarmigan (Lagopus leucurus)
by Ned Bixler

Ever have that bird species, that no matter how hard you look for it, you seem never able to find it? My elusive bird is the white-tailed ptarmigan !! After trying, I have yet to see this species.

This species was introduced into the Uinta Mountains in 1976. It is an alpine species, a permanent resident of the high mountains above the timberline, and is associated with willowy drainages. In Utah, this bird is a game bird. The hunt season is in August to October. The bag limit is 4. The possession limit is 12 . A free permit is required in addition to a hunting license.

The white-tailed ptarmigan is also known as the snow quail. It is the smallest of the ptarmigan. The
length is approximately 12-15 inches, and weight is approximately 12-15 ounces. Identification of ptarmigan in plumages other that adult male breeding can be very difficult. The tundra environment of ptarmigan undergoes a dramatic change in color as it cycles between seasons. In the winter, it is a stark world, with scarcely a rock or shrub to break the monotony of white. The plumage that best matches such a background is snowy white, with unpatterned feathers. In the summer, the snow retreats, revealing a dark and highly patterned landscape of tundra and rock. To blend with this background, birds need highly patterned dark brown feathers. The white plumage that blended so well with the winter environment is extremely conspicuous against the dark summer back-ground. Conversely, a dark and mottled plumage that blends with a summer landscape makes a bird stand out against winter snow. Blending with the background is critical to the survival of ptarmigan, and so they have two complete molts per year.

Feeding: eats the catkins of alders, and the buds, flowers, and twigs of alpine willows.

Nesting: nest is lined with grasses, lichens, and feathers, placed in depression of alpine turf.

Eggs: 4-16, buff with darker marks.

The male attracts female with song-flight display and calls from 15-50 acre breeding territory. Pair bonds last until chicks are hatched. Female defends the nest.

Since, I maybe the only one in the Utah County Birders club not to have this bird on my list, I am open for suggestions. I believe, the club once used dogs to help find this species. This year, being a club challenge year, maybe this would make a good field trip.

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
Powder Mountain, Pineview Reservoir, and Beus Pond - 10 March 2012

by Keeli Marvel


Thirteen birders met for a UCB field trip yesterday to Powder Mountain, Pineview Reservoir, and Beus Pond.

We stopped on the way up to Powder Mountain at Pineview Reservoir and pulled off of the road at the northeast end. Highlights at this location were four Tundra Swans, Common and Hooded Mergansers, American Wigeon, Gadwall, Ruddy Ducks, a Belted Kingfisher fishing, and a partridge in a pear tree... (oh, wait, scratch that last one) all in the water at the east end of the reservoir.

In the area around the Powder Mountain Ridge feeder we got to see Gray-crowned Rosy Finches, Mountain Bluebirds, Mountain Chickadee, Hairy Woodpecker, Townsend's Solitaire, Cassin's Finches and a Steller's Jay. There weren't as many rosy finches at the feeder as have been reported in previous weeks and we were unable to confirm the presence of any Black Rosy Finches.

At Beus Pond Park, the Mandarin Ducks and Wood Ducks continued in all their splendor. We also got great looks at a Downy Woodpecker, another Belted Kingfisher, Lesser and American Goldfinches, a Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a few other common species. It was a beautiful day for birding!



Field Trip Report
Juab County - 24 March 2012

by Eric Huish


Saturday morning Bryan Shirley led 20 birders on a field trip to Juab County. We met in Payson at 7:00. Our goal was to see 48 species in Juab County for our UCB 2012 birding challange - http://www.utahbirds.org/ucb/BirdingChallenge2012.pdf 

We ended the field trip at 11:30 am with a total of 54 species in Juab Co.

Highlights -
- a Lincoln's Sparrow, a Say's Phoebe, a couple of flocks of Cedar Waxwings and a pair of Coyotes at Burraston Ponds.
- a pair of Great Horned Owls and another Say's Phoebe north of Mona.
- Red-breasted Mergansers at the south end of Mona Reservoir.
- a Horned Grebe near the dam at Mona Reservoir.

Full lists below

Directions to -
Burraston Ponds - http://www.utahbirds.org/counties/juab/BurrastonPonds.htm
Mona Reservoir - http://www.utahbirds.org/counties/juab/MonaReservoir.htm

Burraston Ponds, Juab, US-UT
Mar 24, 2012 7:29 AM - 8:39 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.7 mile(s)
Comments: UCB Field Trip led by Bryan Shirley. We birded along Burriston road on our way to the ponds and we walked around the center pond of the main ponds. In addition to the birds we also spotted a couple of distant coyotes.
24 species (+1 other taxa)

Canada Goose 3
Gadwall 2
American Wigeon 18
Mallard 2
Cinnamon Teal 2
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Northern Harrier 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Coot 2
Sandhill Crane 1 Heard only
Larus sp. 100 Lots of gulls flying over.
Say's Phoebe 1
Common Raven 2
American Robin 10
European Starling 4
Cedar Waxwing 45
Song Sparrow 2
Lincoln's Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 4
Red-winged Blackbird 30
Western Meadowlark 10
Yellow-headed Blackbird 1
Brewer's Blackbird 27
House Sparrow 4


Mona Valley, Juab, US-UT
Mar 24, 2012 8:40 AM - 9:16 AM
Protocol: Traveling
2.6 mile(s)
Comments: UCB Field Trip led by Bryan Shirley. This list includes birds seen while driving through the town of Mona and birds along Main Street (The Mona Rd) north of town. See the 'Mona Reservoir' list for birds seen around the reservoir and along the road west of the reservoir.
12 species

Red-tailed Hawk 1
American Kestrel 1
Killdeer 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove 6
Great Horned Owl 2
Say's Phoebe 1
Black-billed Magpie 1 Heard Only
Common Raven 2
American Robin 2
European Starling 10
Western Meadowlark 3
House Sparrow 10


Mona Reservoir, Juab, US-UT
Mar 24, 2012 9:20 AM - 10:55 AM
Protocol: Traveling
5.0 mile(s)
Comments: UCB Field Trip led by Bryan Shirley. We made a stop at the south end of the reservoir. The lake was high and there was water on both sides of the road at the south end. We then birded along the road west of the reservoir, then checked the reservoir again from the overlook near the dam.
37 species (+3 other taxa)

Canada Goose 4
Gadwall 15
American Wigeon 40
Mallard 4
Cinnamon Teal 3
Northern Shoveler 1
Northern Pintail 4
Green-winged Teal 5
dabbling duck sp. 30
Redhead 5
Lesser Scaup 5
Bufflehead 1
Common Merganser 20
Red-breasted Merganser 5
Ruddy Duck 10
Horned Grebe 1 Winter plumage. Near the dam.
Western Grebe 1
Clark's Grebe 6
Western/Clark's Grebe 15
Double-crested Cormorant 1
Great Blue Heron 1
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Red-tailed Hawk 3
Rough-legged Hawk 2 Along the road west of the reservoir.
American Coot 20
Sandhill Crane 1 Heard Only
Killdeer 2
Greater Yellowlegs 1 in the flooded fields at the south end of the reservoir.
Ring-billed Gull 20
California Gull 18
Larus sp. 30 fly by
Eurasian Collared-Dove 1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 1
Common Raven 1
Horned Lark 4 Along the road west of the reservoir.
European Starling 5
White-crowned Sparrow 4
Red-winged Blackbird 4
Western Meadowlark 8
Yellow-headed Blackbird 1
House Sparrow 10


Goshen Canyon (Juab Co.), Juab, US-UT
Mar 24, 2012 10:56 AM - 11:30 AM
Protocol: Traveling
1.5 mile(s)
Comments: UCB Field Trip led by Bryan Shirley.
5 species (+1 other taxa)

California Quail 1
Larus sp. 30 Fly over
Rock Pigeon 2
Canyon Wren 2 One very close bird down next to the road. We only heard the other one.
European Starling 1
Spotted Towhee 1
Song Sparrow 4



Field Trip Report
Sanpete County - 31 March 2012

by Oliver Hansen

4 Utah County Birders took advantage of the beautiful weather, landscapes, and birds or Sanpete county. I'll just mention a few highlights from each location and then give a complete list at the end. We traveled south and east into the county from Nephi. We began the Sanpete count at Log canyon. The road is dry for a few miles and we actually got up the canyon a little bit. Enough to get a few mountain species. We walked around the Fountain green fish hatchery, drove up Maple Canyon for a few miles, visited Wales and Wales reservoir. We then found a new hotspot called "Chester Ponds" (I'll submit a pic and directions later,) stopped by Palisade state park, Gunnison reservoir, & 9mile reservoir. We finished the day around 4:00 at Bartholomew lane, and Fayette River-bottoms. It was quite the adventure and we surpassed our goal of 36 species. I think we hit about 52 if i count right. If you are anywhere near Fayette in the next few weeks, make sure to take a few minutes to drive down to the river basin and do some birding. Amazing habitat. So many birds.

Thanks to Deloy, Ester, and Flora for a great day.

Log Canyon (dirt road leading to the canyon) - Long-billed Curlew
Fayette - Golden Eagle being chased by a falcon
Wales Reservoir - Common Merganser
Chester Ponds (new hotspot we found) - 12 (probably more) Cranes
Palisade reservoir - Red-breasted Merganser
Fayette River bottoms - around 200 pelicans doing aerial maneuvers, Blue-winged Teal, swallows, Turkey Vultures

-Oliver Hansen

Full species lists:

Log Canyon -- Lower, Sanpete, US-UT
11 species

Long-billed Curlew 1
Northern Flicker 1
Black-billed Magpie 2
Horned Lark 15
Black-capped Chickadee 3
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2
Mountain Bluebird 2
European Starling 4
Spotted Towhee 2
Western Meadowlark 10
Brewer's Blackbird 1

Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery, Sanpete, US-UT
7 species (+1 other taxa)

Golden Eagle 1
American Kestrel 1
diurnal raptor sp. 1
Killdeer 2
Black-billed Magpie 3
European Starling 10
Spotted Towhee 1
Western Meadowlark 2

Fountain Green, Ut, Sanpete, US-UT
9 species

Canada Goose 10
Gadwall 2
Mallard 4
Redhead 2
Killdeer 1
American Robin 3
European Starling 30
Western Meadowlark 1
House Sparrow 10

Maple Canyon (Sanpete Co.), Sanpete, US-UT
10 species

Red-tailed Hawk 2
Eurasian Collared-Dove 10
Mourning Dove 1
Say's Phoebe 1
Common Raven 2
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Mountain Bluebird 1
European Starling 40
House Sparrow 10

Wales Reservoir, Sanpete, US-UT
19 species

Canada Goose 30
Gadwall 10
Mallard 10
Redhead 10
Ring-necked Duck 10
Bufflehead 10
Common Goldeneye 4
Common Merganser 1
Ring-necked Pheasant 1
Pied-billed Grebe 1
Eared Grebe 5
American Coot 100
Killdeer 3
Ring-billed Gull 8
Eurasian Collared-Dove 2
Northern Flicker 1
Common Raven 2
Horned Lark 4
Western Meadowlark 3

Chester Ponds, Sanpete, US-UT
11 species

Mallard 10
Ring-necked Duck 4
Ring-necked Pheasant 1
Sandhill Crane 12
Northern Flicker 1
Common Raven 14
Horned Lark 4
American Robin 5
Red-winged Blackbird 20
Western Meadowlark 5
House Sparrow 5

Palisade SP , Sanpete, US-UT
9 species

Canada Goose 1
American Wigeon 1
Mallard 6
Cinnamon Teal 1
Green-winged Teal 6
Bufflehead 1
Red-breasted Merganser 1
American Coot 200
Western Meadowlark 1

Ninemile Reservoir , Sanpete, US-UT
8 species

Canada Goose 6
Mallard 4
Northern Shoveler 10
Bufflehead 6
Eared Grebe 5
American Coot 400
Killdeer 2
American Avocet 4

Fayette River Bottoms - Bartholomew Ln, Sanpete, US-UT
15 species

Canada Goose 10
Northern Shoveler 25
Northern Pintail 2
Redhead 2
American White Pelican 160 At least this many. Could have easily been over 200. They were flying in from the south. They did all sorts of aerial formations and landed in the water in huge groups.
Great Blue Heron 3
Black-crowned Night-Heron 1
Turkey Vulture 2
Northern Harrier 1
American Coot 50
Sandhill Crane 1
Common Raven 5
European Starling 20
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Western Meadowlark 1

Fayette River Bottoms , Sanpete, US-UT
20 species

Canada Goose 20
Gadwall 30
American Wigeon 10
Mallard 30
Blue-winged Teal 1
Cinnamon Teal 40
Northern Pintail 25
Green-winged Teal 40
Double-crested Cormorant 3
American White Pelican 60 These could be part of the same group we saw a little earlier.
Great Blue Heron 6
Northern Harrier 2
American Coot 50
Black-necked Stilt 10
American Avocet 50
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 5
Tree Swallow 25
Marsh Wren 4
Red-winged Blackbird 10
House Sparrow 5

Backyard Bird of the Month

March 2012

Dennis Shirley – Elk Ridge
Canada Goose, flock of 12 flying over.

Harold Clayson - Salem
Downy Woodpecker

Milt Moody – Provo
A male Downy Woodpecker flew in and checked out my trees.

Steve Carr - Holladay
Great Horned Owl - First one in 42 years at my suburban home.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Red-tailed Hawk - This hawk came swooping in over the backyard and is the first time I’ve ever seen this specie in my yard or I should say, over my yard.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Cassin's Finch - a bright red male.

Yvonne Carter – Highland
Feeders are super busy with colorful male House Finches, American Goldfinches, Juncos and Scrub Jays competing for the seeds.

Glenn Barlow – Fruit Heights
4 Turkey Vultures in the trees behind my house. These are the first I have seen this year, so they must be arriving in the area. I had one previously fly over my yard, but this is the first time I have seen them perched so close.

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

2012 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.