Utah County Birders Newsletter
June 2013

    June Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Captains Log
    Bird Nests
    Bird of the Month
    Field Trip Report
- May Big Month
Backyard Bird of the Month
    May Hotline Highlights
Newsletter is now Online Only


Thursday, June 13th, 2013 - 7:00 PM

Evening Bird Walk

Instead of our normal meeting we will have an evening walk around Highland Glen Park and then a quick trip to Battle Creek Canyon to check for Common Poorwills. 7pm-9:30 or so. Meet at the AF Pioneer Crossing Park & Ride at 7:00pm or at Highland Glen Park at 7:20pm.


13 June 2013 (Thur):  Instead of our normal Thursday night meeting we will have an evening walk around Highland Glen Park and then a quick trip to Battle Creek Canyon to check for Common Poorwills. 7pm-9:30 or so. Meet at the AF Pioneer Crossing Park & Ride at 7:00pm or at Highland Glen Park at 7:20pm.

15 June 2013 (Sat): A hike to Stewart Falls - We won't guarantee Black Swifts but we will hope.  We can guarantee a beautiful waterfall.   Meet at 6:30 am at the Orem 8th North Park & Ride lot at the mouth of Provo Canyon. 

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 Bryan Shirley at - bt_shirley@hotmail.com  

Finding the time to bird on family vacations Ė June Captain's Log
by Keeli Marvel


Brown Pelican eyeing me suspiciously.

A Conference of Royal Terns and one interloper.
 Whimbrel balancing act.

A pair of Black-bellied Plovers contemplating the tides.

Iím sure most of you are familiar with the scenario: you go on a trip with friends or family who are not birders. You try to find the time to squeeze some quality birding time in Ė whether it is before the rest of the group gets up, or while they are doing other things where your presence isnít required. That was the position I found myself in on a family trip to California last February.

Our trip plan was to spend several days in the theme parks and at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Southern California (which I highly recommend). We were lucky enough through my connections with work and my brotherís active duty military status to be able to stay in a beach cottage (aka double wide trailer) on a private stretch of beach front property at USMC Camp Pendleton. The stretch of beach was located adjacent to San Onofre state beach and included some really nice birdy habitat. It also happened to be a popular surfing spot.

Lucky for me, I come from a family of mostly night owls. This means plenty of birding time in the early AM before the rest of the family is even awake or entertaining thoughts of breakfast.

We were there for a week and I made the most of those mornings by wandering down the beach with my binoculars and camera in tow. The first morning the tide was all the way out, and I made friends with a Black Phoebe that was perched on some concrete rubble along the shore (possibly put there for erosion prevention in front of a picnic area). The next birds I encountered were a flock of Royal Terns gathered along the shore like little bald men having their morning conference. With them was a pair of Whimbrels, each balancing precariously on one leg with their heads tucked in. I was ecstatic. These were great birds!

On another morning walk I found a curious pair of Common Gallinules foraging in the sand between a marsh and the beach. What an odd place for them! Another morning there was a large mixed flock of shorebirds I got to sit down and study for a while from a ways off until I was satisfied with my species identification. That flock included Black and Ruddy Turnstones (nice comparison in winter plumage), Black-bellied Plover (also in winter plumage), Willets, Marbled Godwits, and Sanderlings. It was a nice learning experience for me to be able to sit and study them. Yet another morning on my walk I heard a Virginia Rail calling in the marsh, and I got to sit quietly and watch one sneak out and wander around the edge of the marsh for a few minutes. Most mornings the Heermanís Gulls and the Western Gulls would be there, hovering hopefully next to the campsites on the beach hoping to find leftover scraps or someone willing to give them a handout. Iím not really a huge gull fan, but Heermanís gulls are definitely my favorite of the gull family. They are really nice looking birds with their dark plumage and bright orange bills. I also really enjoy seeing the Brown Pelicans flying in formation over the ocean, their synchronized wing beats almost but not quite grazing the surface of the waves. I wonder if any have ever miscalculated and ended up getting a beak full of seawater. Iíd like to be a fly on the wall that day (or a duck on the ocean?)

My bird list that trip was not by any means epic, but those morning walks were a great time for me. Maybe some of you get the opportunity for moments like those much more often than I do, but in my hectic life Iím learning to really appreciate the rare opportunities when itís just me, my binoculars, and the birds. Happy Birding!



Bird Nests and Nesting Schemes

Female American Avocet on a Nest - photo by Mike Fish    ©Mike Fish

by Milt Moody

I was asked by a friend in Salem to teach some cub scouts about at least 10 different kinds of birds and also tell them about their nests and what they use to build them. We were to meet at Salem Pond. I figured 10 birds would be no problem, but I figured I'd better think about the nests and come up with something interesting to say.

As I thought about the different kinds of bird nests we have around here I realized how many interesting and diverse the bird nests are that our Utah birds build and how fascinating the schemes are that they use to make nesting successful.

We have the Bullock's Orioles that build hanging nests -- that's really kind of exotic if you think about it, the Burrowing Owls that use prairie dog holes and mimic rattlesnakes to scare off intruders, the Marsh Wrens that build one main spherical nest to lay the eggs in and a bunch of "dummy nests" to throw off predators, the Killdeer that will nest in seemingly busy places as long as there is some course gravel there and then they use the old fake-broken-wing trick to divert attention away from the nest, and so forth -- pretty fun stuff!

I realized that we have a lot of great photos of nests, nesting birds and young chicks fresh from their nests on our website, and figured that it would be fun to use those to illustrate the different types of nests and nesting schemes that birds use in general and to showcase our local birds as specific examples. The good thing about internet pages is that you can always add new pictures and information as things show up, and if you make dumb mistakes (not uncommon in my case) you can always correct them. (And by the way, if you take some interesting photos that might add to this article or find interesting information that might help out, please feel free to send it in -- I consider this an on-going project).

If you'd like to take a look at the article, you might find something of interest -- I know you'll definitely enjoy the pictures!

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
Eric Huish - erichuish@gmail.com

Click here for past 'Birds of the Month'.

Field Trip Report
Utah County Big Month
- May 2013
by Dennis Shirley

UCB at Powell Lake, Lehi - 4 May 2013 - photo by Keeli Marvel

 Our May 2013 Big Month was, like the previous Club's Big Month's, was challenging, well attended, and a lot of fun. We had Ten half day field trips which covered most of the habitats found in Utah County- from the lowest parts of the county in Cedar Valley and along the Jordan River in the north, to the Nebo Loop high elevations at about 9400ft in the south.

A total of 193 birders attended or an average of 19/trip. Best attendance was of course on the Saturdays (33, 35, 19). But even the week day trips had good turnouts (9 to 19). In addition to many of the "old" members, many new first time trip participants came out. Most had read about the activities on the net. It was especially fun to share our good times with these new recruits.

I thought we saw a phenomenal cross section of our county's birds. We were able to still pick up several of the late wintering birds - Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Bonaparte's Gull -and many spring shorebird migrant's ( thanks mainly to the newly discovered Powell Lake in west Lehi ) -Black-bellied, Semipalmated, and Snowy Plover, Solitary, Semipalmated, Western, Stilt, and Least Sandpiper, Red Knot, and Red-necked Phalarope.

By the end of the month most of the summer residents had arrived and we were able to find most. Hard to sometimes find county species we recorded included: American Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray and Cordilleran Flycatcher, Pinyon Jay, Juniper Titmouse, Bushtit, White-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-throated Sparrow,
Fox Sparrow, Blue Grosbeak, Bobolink, and Lesser Goldfinch. Owls are always of special interest, and we were fortunate to record six species - Barn, Flammulated, Screech, Burrowing, Short-eared, and Saw-whet (heard only).

The most rarely seen in Utah County birds would probably have been a Northern Waterthrush, Grasshopper Sparrow, Semipalmated Sandpiper, and American Three-toed Woodpecker.

One-hundred sixty seven bird species were observed on our ten trips, with largest day totals of 80, 78, 74, and 73. Fewest birds seen were on the owling trip (28 ) and Chimney Rock Pass trip ( 30 ) when high desert winds made the morning birding a real challenge. A total of 569 bird ticks were recorded for an average of 57/trip. Most regular participants saw in the neighborhood of 140 - 160 species.

A number of rare, FOY or unusual county birds were seen on other non field trip days. These included: Red Knot, Stilt Sandpiper, Lewis's Woodpecker, Gray Vireo, Purple Martin, Ruffed Grouse, Cassin's Vireo, Band-tailed Pigeon, Horned Grebe, Least Tern, and Common Nighthawk and Poorwill.

Several birders set their all time high number of birds seen in any one month, which ranged from 170's to 200 species. The old May record was 178 so we now have a new standard to shoot for.

Next year we'll pick a brand new Big Month and start all over again. so keep birding but save some energy! Thanks to all it was a great month!

Backyard Bird of the Month

May 2013


Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Indigo Bunting
- A beautiful bright blue male. Yard lifer #104!

Milt Moody - Provo

There was a pair of Downy Woodpeckers inspecting the trunk of my old apple tree, I assume for a possible place for a nest. Unfortunately, they moved on.

Leila Ogden - Orem
I finally had Evening Grosbeaks in my yard.

Leena Rodgers - Provo
Pine Siskin. Surprise bird of the month - in fact a whole flock of them on my feeders. The males decked out in brilliant yellow. Beautiful sight!

Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
Since we did a UCB Club Big Month in May I should pick the first bird I recorded -
Broad-tailed Hummingbird - at my feeders on May 1, at 6:15am

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Early during May, Lazuli Buntings frequented my backyard. However, during the past couple of weeks, bird life has been noticeably absent. The same thing happened last year after which I discovered a Cooper's Hawk was frequenting the area.

Report your favorite backyard bird each month to Eric Huish at 801-360-8777 or erichuish@gmail.com

Newsletter Announcement.  The Utah County Birders Newsletter is now online only. 


We've decided to stop the regular paper mail version of the UCB Newsletter.  This will save our club on Printing, Postage and Paper.  If you would like an email notice each month when the Newsletter is posted online please send an email to Eric Huish at erichuish@gmail.com or subscribe to the ucbnet mailing list.  To subscribe to ucbnet just send an e-mail to ucbnet-subscribe@utahbirds.org


We are willing to print the online version of the newsletter and mail it out to anyone who still wants a paper copy or who doesn't have internet access.  If you know of anyone who enjoys the UCB Newsletter but doesn't have internet access please let Eric Huish or Keeli Marvel know and we will make sure they get a copy.