Utah County Birders Newsletter
October 2012

    October Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    President's Message
    Bird of the Month
    Field Trip Report
- Squaw Peak Road
Backyard Bird of the Month
    September Hotline Highlights


Thursday, October 11

A Utah Winter Gull Workshop, led by Dennis Shirley.

Bring Field Guides, any gull photos, experiences, etc.
Meet at 7:00pm at Milt Moody's house. His address is 2795 Indian Hills Drive, Provo.


Beginning birders are welcome.

Sunday, October 14, 2012. The Big Sit, Provo Airport Dike - Led by Eric Huish. This will be our 11th year participating in the annual Big Sit! - We will sit in one spot out on the Provo Airport Dike all day and watch birds. This year we will probably sit on the East side of the South Extension unless the Mudflats have dried up by this date. We will start at 6 a.m. Come anytime you like but there may or may not be anyone out there between Noon and 5:00 pm, we take a break during the slow time of the day. You can call us at 801-360-8777.

Saturday, October 27, 2012. 8am – 12pm. Jordanelle, Deer Creek, and Provo Canyon. Meet at the park and ride on 800 N. at the mouth of Provo Canyon at 8am. We will check Jordanelle and Deer Creek for loons, grebes, and anything else that might be out there, and then make a couple of stops on the way back down the canyon. Bring your state park pass if you have one.

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


The Next First of State Records

On September 11 Eric Huish found a Tropical Kingbird on the Provo airport dike. Tropical Kingbirds are a very rare bird anywhere in the USA. Farther south they are as common as Western Kingbirds are here, but they rarely make it across the border into the states. When they do it is normally in southern Arizona or in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas. They look quite similar to Western Kingbirds and require looking closely to tell them apart. So when I heard that Eric found this bird in Provo, I don’t know if I was more shocked by the fact that one was here or that somebody actually looked at a Kingbird close enough to tell it apart. I know that 99.9% of the time I would have just said “Western Kingbird” and not even lifted my binoculars to look at it. When I asked Eric how he noticed it was different he said “believe it or not, I was looking for Tropical Kingbirds”.

It turns out that Tropical Kingbirds are one of those species that for some reason there are a few birds that migrate North in the fall instead of South. There are scattered records though out the US and even several records in Canada. I admit I had no idea. Eric found this bird because he knew that there was a chance to find one, especially during fall migration. If it had been me on the airport dike that day, there is a pretty good chance that I wouldn’t have even raised my binoculars to look at it and called it a Western Kingbird. I would have missed ID’ing it correctly because it wasn’t even in the back of my mind as a possibility.

Assuming the record committee accepts the Tropical Kingbird, I believe it will be the 450th species recorded in Utah. We are adding 1 or 2 species each year. There is a list of all the recent additions to the checklist on Utahbirds.org. Here is a link: http://www.utahbirds.org/RecCom/ArchFirstState.htm

The Tropical Kingbird got me thinking about finding rare birds and how to be ready to ID it. It is impossible to predict what bird will be the next new state record, but I came up with a list of a few that I think are possible and we should keep in the back of our minds.
1. Tufted Duck
I have heard of a few people possibly seeing a Tufted Duck in Utah, but there is not an official record. Tufted Ducks are rare but regular in California and there are a few records in states surrounding Utah. We are overdue for this one. Not hard to ID if it is an adult, but immature or females could be easily overlooked. Watch for them on any pond or lake that attracts other diving ducks.
2. Streak-backed Oriole
This is a Mexican bird, but it is a fairly regular visitor in Arizona, primarily in winter. They have been seen farther north a few times. If you see any Orioles in the winter in Utah look close because there is a fair chance it is a streak-backed.
3. Whooper Swan
This is one that would take some luck. They are recorded occasionally in the US but primarily in the Northwest (I have seen one in WA) where there is a large number of wintering Tundra/Trumpeter Swans. I think with the huge number of wintering swans we get in Northern Utah there is a chance that a Whooper could be in with them. The problem here will be finding it since most of the swans are tough to get a close look at in Utah without an airboat. At least if one is around the yellow bill should be fairly easy to pick out.
4. Smith’s Longspur
We have the other 3 longspurs, why not this one too? Sibley’s has a dot on the map for it in Idaho, Nevada, and Arizona (no dot in CO, but I bet they have been recorded there too) so we should be able to get one here sometime eventually. Just like the other longspurs, keep an eye out in short stubble fields once the snow flies and look close at Horned Larks. I wouldn’t be surprised if one shows up on Antelope Island Causeway (or on the island itself) during migration or in the winter.

Did you notice that all these are winter birds? This list could go on forever so I purposefully picked winter birds so that we could look for them this winter. If birders can find such goodies as Tropical Kingbird, Painted Bunting, Pyrrhuloxia, Purple Sandpiper, and the many other Firsts for Utah we have had the last few years, really anything is possible. Of course the more aware we are of the possibilities the greater the chance of finding something really rare. And we have to look close at every Kingbird.


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
Squaw Peak Road
- September 29, 2012

by Eric Huish

Several Utah County Birders met to do some hawkwatching at the Squaw Peak Overlook Parking Lot. Some of us stopped at Hope Campground on our way up. The campground was very quiet at first but our patience paid off with a little flock of birds that included a Townsend's Warbler, Brown Creepers and RB Nuthatch.

We hawkwatched from the overlook for about 3 hours. We saw several hawks (I counted at least 42 while I was there) and many of them gave us great close views. The best bird was a Northern Goshawk.

Birds at Squaw Peak Rd./Hope Campground:
Steller's Jay 1 Heard Only
Black-capped Chickadee 5
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1
Brown Creeper 2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1
Townsend's Solitaire 1
American Robin 3
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 6
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's) 1
Townsend's Warbler 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed) 2

Squaw Peak Overlook:
Golden Eagle 4
Sharp-shinned Hawk 10
Cooper's Hawk 6
Northern Goshawk 1 Seen by most of the birders in our group. Cooper's Hawks nearby for comparison.
Accipiter sp. 6
Red-tailed Hawk 14
Buteo sp. 1
White-throated Swift 2 Good close look. We saw the whites of their throats.
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 1
Steller's Jay 1
Western Scrub-Jay 1 Heard Only
Black-billed Magpie 2
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Townsend's Solitaire 1
American Robin 3
Yellow-rumped Warbler 1
finch sp. 10 Fly by.


Backyard Bird of the Month

September 2012

Leila Ogden – Orem
After having practically no birds in my yard all summer, I looked out this morning to find Chickadees, Downy Woodpecker and Flickers, besides the usual Starlings and House Finches.

Steve Carr - Holladay
Red-breasted Nuthatch - Been around almost every day all month. Unusual for Holladay in September.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
White-winged Dove - Yard Lifer #102! It only stayed for a few minutes

Alton Thygerson – Provo
Western Scrub Jay - Three came back after an absence of several months.

Harold Clayson - Salem
Common Nighthawk

Yvonne Carter – Highland
The Scrub Jays and Northern Flickers have been real noisy in the back yard, along with Chickadees. And just as it was getting dark I heard several Great Horned Owls to the southeast of me and suddenly THREE Great Horned Owls flew into my yard where we have some big trees!

Milt Moody – Provo
A Red-breasted Nuthatch has been coming around to my feeder and bird bath for a few days in a row.

Cheryl Peterson - Provo
Red-breasted Nuthatch

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