Utah County Birders Newsletter
July 2012

    July Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    President's Message
    Bird of the Month
    Field Trip Report
- Nebo Loop
    Field Trip Report
- Mirror Lake Hwy
Backyard Bird of the Month
    June Hotline Highlights


In place of our July meeting, we are having a birding expedition to Eastern Utah to search for White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Fri-Sat July 13th-14th - See Field Trips Below.


Beginning birders are welcome.

July 13th - 14th, 2012 (Fir-Sat): Leidy Peak White-tailed Ptarmigan, led by Bryan Shirley
Meet: July 14 at McDonalds in Vernal (see carpool info below)
Meeting Time: 7:00 AM
Hotel: Make your own arrangements at any of the number of hotels in Vernal (Bryan has a reservation at the Springhill Suites). Please be aware that hotels are not easy to find in Vernal these days (lots of oil and gas workers in town) so you will need to make a reservation ASAP. Also there is camping available. If you want to camp and meet somewhere other than McD's just make sure to talk to Bryan so we know you are coming.
Carpool info: RSVP with Bryan and we will make arrangements to meet and carpool to Vernal for those interested.
Bryan's Contact Info: 801-722-9346 or email bt_shirley@hotmail.com

We will be birding the Leidy Peak area (check out more Leidy Peak info on Utahbirds.org). It will require a walk of at least a couple of miles, so be prepared. Bring a lunch. We will be driving home that evening after birding.

July 28, 2012 (Sat):  7am-12pm. Led by Keeli Marvel.  County mop up day for those who would like to add more birds to your county lists for the UCB challenge. Plan on hitting 2 or 3 counties outside Utah County. We will take a poll when we meet and determine which direction the group would like to go, or you can email me with requests. Meet at the American Fork Pioneer Crossing Park and Ride on the West side of I-15 at the American Fork Main St exit.

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


Alaska Birding

Horned Puffin
Kittlitz's Murrelet
Parakeet Auklet

Last week I was in Alaska birding for a week with a client from Japan. We birded around Anchorage, Seward, and the Denali Highway. I got one lifer on the trip – an Arctic Warbler. I have been to Alaska a few times before, but the Arctic Warblers don’t arrive until mid June and I have always been there too early. Along the Denali Highway they may have been the most common bird. Even thought I didn’t get any lifers on our boat trip we took out of Seward, it was definitely the highlight (If you are interested it is www.kenaifjords.com. I recommend the captain’s choice tour). I’ve been out on this same boat 5 times now so there wasn’t anything new for me, but it still is always the best day of any Alaska birding trip for me.

Seward is about a 2.5 hour drive south of Anchorage. Along the way there is a lot good birding, so the drive took us a full day. We started just outside of Seward at Potter’s Marsh for Arctic Terns and Mew Gulls nesting within a few feet of the parking lot. Later on we made a few different hikes looking for Spruce Grouse without luck, but did get other good birds like Boreal and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Varied Thrush, Pine Grosbeak, Townsend’s Warbler, etc.

The following morning was our boat trip. Seward is located just outside of Kenai Fjords National Park and the boat trip is really the only way to access a large portion of the park. The scenery is spectacular – huge mountain peaks rising out of the ocean covered in glaciers. There are lots of tours here every day, mostly to look for whales and to watch the glaciers calving into the ocean. The boat we went on does that too of course, but it also goes by the Chiswell Islands for all the nesting seabirds as well.

There were 16 people on the boat, of which 8 of us were birders. 2 of the birders were from England, 4 from California, my client from Japan, and of course me representing Utah. It was a good group and, as is usually the case with birders, we were all instantly friends discussing birds we had found and the ones we missed. One birder from California had just picked up his 700th ABA species a couple of days ago – a Slaty-backed Gull in Nome. It was a lot of fun working together on the boat to find and ID all of the target birds.

One good thing about this boat trip is most of the day the boat is in the glacier carved bays and not in the open ocean. Especially on this day it was like a lake for most of the day, but a bit rougher out toward the islands. Any pelagic trip that I don’t lose my lunch on is already a success, so this one was great.

One of our main targets for the day (and a lifer for everybody on board except me) was Kittlitz’s Murrelet. They are basically endemic to coastal Alaska and the Aleutians, with just a few across the strait in Siberia. They also are declining in number and while not protected by the endangered species act, they are listed as critically endangered by many organizations like birdlife international. They nest in the mountains and are found during the day in the long, glacier fjords. Marbled Murrelets are also found in the same area and it can be tough to tell them apart unless you can get a really good look. Luckily today we got great looks at both species.

We got all the other target birds for the day. Here is a quick list of some of the better ones:

Tufted Puffin – 100’s
Horned Puffin – 100’s
Pigeon Guillemot – saw more from the shore than in the boat
Common Murre – 100’s
Thick-billed Murre - 1. Luckily the captain knew where a nest was.
Marbled Murrelet – 15
Kittletz’s Murrelet – 4
Ancient Murrelet - 16
Rhinocerous Aucklet – 30
Parakeet Auklet - 2. Again the captain took us to a certain area they had been seeing these lately.
Red-faced Cormorant – 1. We had to work for this one (had a few other fly-bys).

Besides all the birds we also got a good bunch of mammals as well. We saw lots of Humpback Whales putting on a show, Stellar’s Sea Lions sunning on the rocks, Harbor Seals floating on icebergs, a few Sea Otters, and lots of Dall’s Porpoise riding the bow of the ship.


Bird of the Month

No bird of the month 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
Nebo Loop, Owling
- June 14th, 2012
by Eric Huish

Thursday night 25 birders birded the upper Nebo Loop up Payson Canyon (Utah County) on a UCB Field Trip led by Dennis Shirley. Around the Nebo Bench Trailhead we found an American Three-toed Woodpecker or two. The birds always stayed on the far side of the trees and not everyone got to see one well. We also made a stop at the Purple Martin nesting area along the Nebo Loop Road about 3 miles northeast of the Nebo Bench Trailhead parking area. Everyone got good looks at the Purple Martins.

After dark we heard multiple, and momentarily spotted one or two, Flammulated Owls at a stop along the Nebo Loop Road above the Santaquin Canyon cut off. We also heard a couple of Flammies at another stop in Santaquin Canyon. We listened carefully for Saw-whet Owls but never did hear one.

Here is a partial list of the birds we saw up around the Nebo Bench Trailhead and Purple Martin areas.

Mourning Dove
Flammulated Owl
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
Hairy Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker
Western Wood-Pewee
Warbling Vireo
Purple Martin
Violet-green Swallow
Tree Swallow
Red-breasted Nuthatch
House Wren
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
House Wren
Hermit Thrush
American Robin
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
Chipping Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Western Tanager
Cassin's Finch
Pine Siskin



Field Trip Report
Uintas, Mirror Lake Hwy
- June 23rd, 2012
Oliver Hansen


A dozen or so Utah Co. Birders met at 6:00 am this morning for our field trip. The following locations are where we birded with some highlights (and strike-outs).

Bald Mt. Pass - A lonely mountain blue bird and a few Cassin's finch (no gray jays or rosy finches)
Mirror Lake CG - Clark's nutcrackers, hairy woodpecker, pine siskins, pine grossbeaks, lincoln sparrows (no gray jays)
Hayden Peak Overlook - Hermit thrush (no gray jays)
Lost Lake CG - Another hairy woodpecker, ruby-crowned kinglets
Trial lake - Am 3 toed woodpecker, more Clark's nutcrackers, violet-green swallows, forster's tern, and a lonely gull (no gray jays - seeing a pattern yet?)

Alton's best bird for the day was getting a California gull for his Duchesne County list. Just kidding. =)

All in all a great day of birding. We struck out on gray jays, but that just means we'll have to go back again soon. No rosy finches were found in the morning on any of the snow patches around Bald Mountain. However, after everyone else left I went back up to do a little hiking. I hiked to the Wasatch County highpoint and then up to Murdock Mountain (on the south side of the Bald Mountain Pass). On my way back down from the summit area there was a single black-rosy finch that sat for at least 3 minutes about 10 feet away from me. Pretty great looks at a cool species. Still no gray jays though. =(

Thanks to everyone that helped with the field trip, especially those that drove.


Backyard Bird of the Month

June 2012

Steve Carr - Holladay
Song Sparrow - 2 breeding pairs - one pair in the front yard, the other in the backyard

Yvonne Carter – Highland
It's very unusual but had some Lazuli Buntings show up at the feeder a couple of weeks ago. Usually by now they are further up in the foothills at a higher elevation!

Alton Thygerson – Provo
The only bird I’ve seen in my backyard for the past couple of weeks has been a Cooper’s Hawk. The hawk may account for the scarcity of birds in my backyard. The hawk did leave two well picked over quail carcasses for me to pick up.

Milt Moody – Provo
Black-headed Grosbeak pair still around.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Western Screech-Owl - roosting in a spruce tree.

Dennis Shirley – Elk Ridge
June 30th - FOY Rufous Hummingbird - earliest for yard.

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.