Utah County Birders Newsletter
August 2014

    August Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Captain’s Log
    Bird of the Month
Backyard Bird of the Month
    July Hotline Highlights

Printable Version


Thursday, August 14th, 2014

Annual Summer Social - Saratoga Springs.

Our monthly meeting will be our summer potluck on Aug 14 at 7pm at the Saratoga Springs Owners Association park (Eagle Park). The park address is 188 Centennial Blvd in Saratoga Springs. Contact Keeli Marvel if you need directions to the park. Please bring a potluck item to share. We will provide plates, cups and utensils. Hope to see everyone there!

Here is a link to a map with a marker on the meeting spot - https://maps.google.com/?q=40.33465+-111.90708


No Field Trips scheduled this month.

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 Bryan Shirley at - bt_shirley@hotmail.com  

Captain’s Log
: August 2014

Sandhill cranes posing for pictures.


Gulls and a pigeon on New Smyrna Beach.

by Keeli Marvel


Take them as they come

Sometimes life throws you a curveball and you end up on a last minute flight to Florida to attend a funeral for someone you’ve never met. My grandmother found out her brother-in-law had passed away and she wanted to attend the funeral, but was not able to make the long trip by herself, and so I found myself in Florida for about 36 hours a few weeks ago. My purpose on the trip was to provide support and company for my grandmother, but fortunately she’s very supportive of my birding habit as well, and I was able to squeeze in a few life birds and a quick trip to the coast while we were there.

When we arrived in Orlando the evening of the 4th of July, we picked up our rental car and drove the hour north to the DeLand, FL area. Because it was the 4th of July, the drive was a spectacular firework show the whole way up there. We stayed with cousins of cousins in the rural area of Lake Helen. They live on a dirt road surrounded by five acres of land in a more rural area, and they were gracious enough to let us stay with them for a couple of nights.

On the morning of the 5th I sacrificed sleep in favor of getting in some birding before I was due elsewhere for the day’s events. I left the house around sunrise to go for a wander around the property and a little pond down the road. There I picked up several eastern specialties including Carolina Wren, Carolina Chickadee, Northern Cardinals, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and one lifer, a pair of Great Crested Flycatchers, which disappointingly enough looks just like our Ash-throated/Brown-crested varieties. I think if something is called “Great Crested” it should be sporting a ‘do more like a Hoopoe, don’t you think? Maybe we should have a word with the naming committee.

After wandering around the property watching the sun come up and the mist slowly burn off I hopped in the car for a bit of a wander around the lakes in the area, hoping to find some Anhingas or Limpkins. No luck on either, but I picked up some Purple Martins at a park, Cattle Egrets in a field where a bunch of cows were grazing, a Turkey Vulture roosting in a tree trying very hard to pretend to be a Black Vulture, a Turkey that may or may not have been wild, and a Little Blue Heron in a water runoff canal along the road. I also discovered the local population of practically-domesticated Sandhill Cranes that hang out in shopping center parking lots conveniently near “Warning- Sandhill Crossing” road signs in the DeLand area. They were very confiding birds. I pulled up next to them to snap a picture, and they posed obligingly. I headed back after that to get ready for the day.

We attended the memorial service, and headed to the DeLand Memorial Park for the graveside service, and believe it or not, that’s where I picked up another lifer. While we were waiting for the service to begin, a lifer Swallow-tailed Kite flew over. Of course I didn’t have my binoculars on me at that point, but a pair flew right over us with their distinctive black and white swallow-tail pattern and I had my lifer. Funny circumstances to get a life bird in, but I’ll take it!

A trip to Florida wouldn’t feel complete to me without a stop at the beach so that afternoon after a family luncheon and some visiting we headed out with my cousin and her kids for a quick trip to New Smyrna Beach. On the way there I got some great video of an armadillo chasing bugs around on a lawn. I know they’re considered vermin locally and they can carry diseases, but it was so dang cute I couldn’t help jumping out to get pictures! A storm was rolling in for the afternoon, but we had a chance to do a little wading in the Atlantic Ocean, and I picked up some Laughing Gulls. It rained for the rest of the day so we ended up back in DeLand visiting with family, and that was it for my quick trip to Florida. Two lifers and some quality time with family – not too shabby for such a quick trip!

Happy Birding!
Keeli Marvel



Bird of the Month

Female on tree, Male in nest hole.
photo by Paul Higgins

Williamson's Sapsucker
Sphyrapicus thyroideus
by Machelle Johnson

An uncommon woodpecker of the western mountains, this medium-sized, handsome woodpecker breeds in open forested areas with conifers, mainly Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, and Grand Fir. Typically found in higher elevations. It usually nests in aspens, both live and dead, and in snags as well as the main body of the tree.

Pete Dunne's description says: "The classic sapsucker body is complete with a strong, straight, pointy sapsucker bill. The male is unmistakable. Shiny and uniformly black above (head, back, tail), it has a head creased by two white stripes and a bold white wing patch. The prominent white rump is visible only in flight. Underparts are black on the chest, yellow on the belly. Immature males are like adults but lack the red throat and yellow belly. Females are overall pale and, in spectral defiance of the wraparound pattern of narrow blackish and grayish barring, have a brownish cast. Their heads are warmer and buffier, and their faces conspicuously plain. The blackish breast-band and yellow belly (not usually visible, since birds forage with their bellies pressed against tree trunks) are absent on immature females. Although female Williamson's lacks a white patch in the wing, a very conspicuously white rump (visible in flight) distinguishes this species from other female sapsucker. Cool fact: Originally, the female was considered to be a different species and named the Black-breasted Woodpecker by Cassin.

Sapsuckers get their name from their foraging strategy of drilling holes in tree trunks, and then coming back to those holes later to feed on the running sap and the insects attracted to that sap. They also chip bark from trees to get to insects boring beneath. Sometimes they work up from the bottom of one tree and then fly to the base of another when the canopy is gained, much like a creeper. These birds seem just as inclined, however, to switch trees as to climb and will forage horizontally through a woodland--landing, searching a trunk for ants or other insects, then flying on to another tree. Because of this active feeding pattern, Williamson's is usually conspicuous when breeding--an advantage from a birding standpoint because the species also tends to be quiet. They are most commonly found on the trunks of trees.

This species took its common name from Lieutenant Robert Stockton Williamson, who was the leader of a surveying expedition which collected the first male. They were trying to identify the best route west for a railway to the Pacific Ocean.

References: Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion, Wikipedia, birdweb.org

If you would like to write an article for the Bird of the Month, please contact Machelle - machelle13johnson@yahoo.com

Click here for past 'Birds of the Month'.

Backyard Bird of the Month

July 2014

Jack Binch - Sandy
An adult male
Rufous Hummingbird just made it into the yard on the 31st. Yes.


Yvonne Carter - American Fork

Western Scrub Jays and Black-headed Grosbeaks plus a Rufous Hummingbird!


Harold Clayson - Salem
American Crows flew over my home in Salem this month. Knowing the hunters are supposed to "Eat Crow" after harvesting makes all of this the more ridiculous.


Jeff Cooper - Pleasant Grove
The Rufous Hummingbirds have returned, but so far the Black-chinned have succeeded in defending the front and back yard feeders. I suspect the Rufous will take over in the next few days. I always enjoy their return near the end of July.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Rufous Hummingbird - I'm always excited to see them return.

Milt Moody - Provo
Bullock's Oriole - Looked like a new juvenile coming to my bird bath for a drink.


Leena Rogers - Provo
A handsome Downy Woodpecker was investigating some older trees in our yard. It was fun to watch his busy "hunt and peck" antics.


Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
Swainson's Hawk - Two youngsters ready to leave the nest


Dennis Shirley - Elk Ridge
July 31,2014 - A First Year Sharp-shinned Hawk (probably just out of nest based by its bewildered behavior) being mercilessly harassed by a flock of five magpies.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Black-headed Grosbeaks - Fun to watch them ³walk² down the 5-foot rod holding the feeder.

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


The Utah County Birders Newsletter is now online only/mostly. 


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.


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.


Printable Version of this UCB Newsletter