Utah County Birders Newsletter
March 2016

    March Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Captainís Log
    Bird of the Month   
    Field Trip Report
- Antelope Island
Backyard Bird of the Month
February Hotline Highlights

Printable Version


Thursday, March 10th, 2016 - 7:00 pm.

Our topic for our March meeting will be how to maximize your use of eBird, both for those who already use it, and for those who haven't taken that step yet. Keeli Marvel will do an eBird demo. If you don't yet have a free eBird account, but would like one, she'll get you set up with one and show you what you need to do to get started. If you have any photos of birds you would like help identifying, any questions about birding or identification, or any lists you would like to enter in eBird, bring those as well and we will discuss them!

Meet at 7:00 pm at the Monte L. Bean Museum. 645 East 1430 North, Provo, UT http://mlbean.byu.edu/ 


Saturday March 12, 2016: 8am - 2pm  - Meet at the Provo East Bay Sam's Club Parking lot. We will bird South Utah County. We'll plan to bird around the Goshen Valley and Goshen Canyon area and possibly the Tintic Mountains up around Eureka, weather and road condition dependent.

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  

Utah County Birders Captainís Log
:  March 2016

by Keeli Marvel

Utah County Birders
Captainís Log: March 2016

It feels like spring is in the air. Iím not sure if Iím ready yet, but the sunshine sure feels good! I look forward to the next couple of months as the migrants all return. In spite of the nasty inversion fog (which we hopefully have seen the last of this season) we had a successful field trip up to Antelope Is. a couple weeks ago where we saw the Varied Thrush, Northern Shrike, and both Burrowing and Great Horned Owls. It was fun to see the Tundra Swans along the causeway.

A couple of interesting sightings from my neck of the woods:

Thereís been a pair of American White Pelicans hanging out in the Saratoga Springs gated harbor just south of Inlet Park. The Great Horned Owls in my neighborhood put on a nice show for me this week calling back and forth to each other in the dark. Less notable, but still interesting, I spotted a Sayís Phoebe on my way in the gate at work last week, and Iíve been hearing one from the parking lot calling Ė assuming what Iím hearing is actually a phoebe, and not the starlings doing a really good mimic.

My sister and I got to experience the mimicking power of Stellerís Jays a couple weekends ago. We went up to Summit Park near Park City in search of the White-throated Sparrow. We did not locate the sparrow, but instead, watched a Steller ís Jay doing a very convincing Red-tailed Hawk impression. In spite of dipping on the sparrow, we spent an enjoyable morning with our nephew checking out the House Finches and chickadees, and we even spotted a couple of moose on our way back through Parleyís Canyon.

Not much else to report from the front line. Nesting season for raptors like Golden Eagles and Red-tailed Hawks and for Great Horned Owls has officially begun, and Iíd like to remind everyone that as birders, we should be especially careful of our behavior in regards to nesting birds during this sensitive period in their life cycle. That means maybe not sharing the location of a known active nest or keeping our distance and maybe refraining from playing call backs during this sensitive time. Ultimately, we want to have as little impact as possible so that they can carry on the business of being birds and having bird offspring for future generations to enjoy.

Hope to see you all out birding, where I will be enjoying the warm weather while it lasts. If you have any suggestions/requests/desire to volunteer to lead field trips, you know how to get in touch with me!

Happy Birding!



Bird of the Month

Savannah Sparrow.
photo by Paul Higgins

Savannah Sparrow Stakeout in Japan.
photo by Bryan Shirley

Savannah Sparrow
Passerculus sandwichensis
by Bryan Shirley

Two days ago I was birding in Japan and was on a stakeout for a very rare bird. According to the locals, this bird had been around for a few weeks. This was the second of this species in Japan this year, but typically it is only recorded about every 3rd year. I didnít know the exact spot, but once we got close it was obvious due to the crowd of photographers with their cameras pointing into a small row of weeds surrounded by rice fields. We joined the crowd and waited. And waited. Finally, after over 2 hours I saw a small bird scamper across an opening. Then it popped out. A beautiful Savannah Sparrow!

Savannah Sparrows are a lot more common here. They are common breeders in Utah in grassy or brushy habitat. (they breed across most the USA and Canada). After the breeding season they head south into warmer areas. Most move out of northern Utah, but some years we find a straggler on our Christmas Bird Count.

They have a streaked breast and a yellow eyestripe (can be very variable). They can also easily be identified by their call - a couple of notes followed by a long buzz.

They should be showing up in Utah County soon. Next time you see one take an extra minute to enjoy it Ė there are a lot of places in the world where it would attract a pretty good crowd!


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'.


Field Trip Report
Antelope Island
  February 13th, 2016
by Keeli Marvel

Sixteen Utah County Birders met for a field trip to Antelope Island on Saturday, Feb. 13th. The weather was still pretty hazy, but visibility at the causeway and around the island wasn't too bad. We got pretty much all of our target species for the field trip, plus a bonus or two. Highlights included Tundra Swans and a female Barrow's Goldeneye at the bridge closest to the island, a Northern Shrike along the road to Garr Ranch, the Varied Thrush and a pair of Great Horned Owls continuing at Garr Ranch, Great Horned Owls at the Bison Corral Barn, a Burrowing Owl west of the visitor center, and Chukars in the rocky area just north of the visitor center. Rumor is the Barn Owls were/are also nesting at the corral, but they must have been too far back in the nest box for us to get a peek. Links to the ebird checklists are below. Thanks to all who braved the fog and joined us!

Happy Birding!

Keeli Marvel

Antelope Is. Causeway: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27478376

Road to Garr Ranch: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27559063

Garr Ranch: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27558982

Visitor Center and Loop Road: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S27559200


Backyard Bird of the Month

February 2016

Jack Binch - Sandy

Nothing new here, still enjoy the Yellow-rumps.


Jeff Cooper - Pleasant Grove

It was nice to see Pink-sided Dark-eyed Juncos at the feeders. It was interesting to see them adapt to circumstances and feed from the sock feeder when the ground had no food for them. As in other years when we've had heavy snow cover the Red-winged Blackbirds showed up at the feeders as well.

Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Cooper's Hawk -
A regular visitor every winter.  

Milt Moody - Provo

A Hermit Thrush showed up at my bird bath to drink a little water from the melted snow.


Leena Rogers - Provo
A Spotted Towhee has visited our yard. It was right out in the open under our feeder near the patio. No other birds around so it was quite brave. Fun to watch as it foraged for seeds on the ground!


Kay Stone - Lehi
We have had Spotted Towhees in our yard this past month, also Mountain Chickadees.

Alton Thygerson - Provo
Brown Creeper - Appeared briefly on the last day of the month.

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