Utah County Birders Newsletter
June 2000

7:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 21
At the Bean Museum on the BYU Campus  Provo, Utah
presented by Russ Lawrence

   The program for this month's Utah County Birders meeting will be Russ  Lawrence, CUP Project Leader for the Division of Wildlife Resources. Russ  has been instrumental in purchasing large tracks of Utah Lake shore line for  the DWR and will explain where we can go and what we can do to help him  gather species information. Attendance is free so invite your friends.7:00  p.m., Wednesday, May 17 At the Bean Museum on the BYU Campus Provo, Utah    


June 24th   Uintah & Duchesne Counties  6:00 AM to late-afternoon  Meet at the Bean Museum Parking lot. BYU Campus, Provo, Utah   

July 15th   Sevier & Wayne Counties  Meet at 6:00 AM at the Bean Museum.   

Backyard Habitat
by Darlene Amott

   Internet surfing has never been a major activity in my life. I think I have  spent, at the most, three to four hours per month on the net. Maybe things  will change a bit. Just recently my attention was drawn to the web sites  related to creating a backyard wildlife habitat. This past week I perused a  few of them and found some interesting things. The  first time I started looking at them, I was impressed with the  commercialism. It seemed like all they were interested in was selling me  something to enhance my yard. There are certainly a multitude of books and  other supplies available. Then I noted that much of the information was  geared to the beginner. Since thirty minutes seems to be the maximum amount  of time I can afford at any one sitting, I gave up on that first attempt.  Several days later, I logged on again determined to search further. This  time that results were much more satisfying. With a little effort, useful  tips and information were found. Again, there wasn't time to search in  depth, but I know where to start now. I am not sure how much I will use this  source of information. It's not because I don't feel it is useful, nor that  I am not interested, nor because it may cost too much. It is just very  discouraging. I want to tear out my whole backyard and start over. Some of  the ideas I read about were fun, and some were just plain exciting. Wouldn't  it be fun to create the backyard marsh I read about. It is fed by rain water  off of the roof. We don't have that much rain, but it should be possible to  think up an artificial "rain feed" system. Even a pond would be an  improvement. Perhaps I can settle for a new tree or shrub for now. The sight  which I have found most interesting so far is  www.nwf.org/nwf/habitats/index.html. It is the National Wildlife  Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat Home page. Two others I looked at  briefly were www.birdsforever.com/habitat.html , and  www.birdwebsite.com/backyard.html. Often sources such as these are geared  more for the eastern U.S. or southern states, and some of the materials  definitely were. However, there was good information for the western states  as well. I certainly found enough things of interest to justify studying the  sites in greater depth. If you want a birding backyard, you may be  interested, too.    

Robin's View

Tweet tweet
by Robin Tuck

I continue to be impressed by the birders among us who can identify birds  by their song alone. Several of the birders in our club can identify over  100 birds by their song, and some can do much better than that. In fact, so  many of you can identify the common, hard to see birds, such as the Sora and  Virginia Rail that I am constantly asked if 'heard birds' count for the  contest. (The answer is 'no', even though the ABA allows heard birds. The  contest isn't being run by the ABA.)My non-birder friends are amazed when I  tell them about birders who can identify birds by sound. This blows them  away until I claim that they can identify up to ten birds by song  themselves. These friends laugh at me until I start naming the birds they  might recognize. Here is the list I give them: Wild Turkey, American Crow,  Red-tailed Hawk, Canada Goose, American Robin, Sandhill Crane, Great Horned  Owl, Mallard, Common Loon. These calls are sufficiently unique and commonly  heard on TV or in the wild that most people can identify them. It's the  birds that sound similar that throw me. Examples are: American Robin,  Black-headed Grosbeak and Western Tanager just to name a few. I believe most  birders can get better at bird song identification with practice, but I  don't think listening to a bird song tape or CD is the answer. There are too  many songs to close together and they cause a jumble in my mind. However, I  think people who can 'name that tune in just 3 notes' ought to be better at  picking up bird songs. Personally, I would have to listen to similar bird  songs together with a frequent reminder as to which bird I am listening to.  Tapes and CDs are good, but if we hurry out right now we can still hear the  birds singing. Soon the breeding season will be over and the birds will stop  defending a territory and the songs will diminish. Lets all go out and try  to improve our listening skills and see if we can identify more species. PS.  If someone on a bird trip hushes you, don't take it personally, they're just  trying to listen to the bird songs while they can (but do hush).   

25 Species in 9 Counties

by Alton Thygerson

  In addition to the Utah County Birders' goal of 200 birds in Utah during  2000, I'm attempting to complete 25 species in Utah's 29 counties during  2000.This past week my wife and I took three days starting with Juab county  by birding Nephi Canyon and much to our surprise found the KOA Campground  and the nearby southern end of Mt. Nebo loop to be very productive. Then, on  to Sanpete county where we took a back road (paved) between Fountain Green,  Freedom, and Moroni with the key find being a Golden Eagle, and met the  county goal which included a Juniper Titmouse at the Mt. Pleasant cemetery.  Through Sevier county we drove from Salina on I-70 to the Fremont Junction,  then south on highway 72 and found our 25 species. Key birds included  Clark's Nutcracker and Mountain Bluebirds. In Wayne county where we stayed  the first night in Torrey, we walked along the Virgin River in Capitol Reef  National Park during the evening. Compared to previous visits in past years,  there weren't too many birds to be seen or heard. A Yellow-breasted Chat let  his presence known though. Disappointed, on the way out of Torrey the next  morning, we traveled the road to the fish hatchery and were pleasantly able  to meet our goal of 25 species which included a Rock Wren, Ruddy Duck,  Mountain Bluebirds, and Cinnamon Teal. In Piute county on highway 62, we  spotted a Golden Eagle in the sagebrush. Otter Creek reservoir was  disappointing but things picked up between the reservoir and Kingston.  Garfield county proved to be difficult since it was mid- day and getting  warm. We made the 25 species because of the side trip to Panguitch Lake.  Eared Grebes on the lake in large numbers, a few Canada Geese, and a Double  crested Cormorant were the highlight birds. If you go there, we found that  the western end of the lake most productive--a spotting scope is highly  suggested. Kane county was also a challenge. We took the advice previously  posted by Robin Tuck about the three ponds on the way to the very mall town  of Alton. Without the ponds, getting 25 species would have been difficult.  As everyone knows, Washington county has a wide variety of birds. After  checking into a motel for our second night out, we drove the Washington  fields with success. Our highlight Washington county bird was near Leeds-- a  Blue Grosbeak. The treatment ponds sound of Quail Creek reservoir had a few  ducks. Quail Creek reservoir itself had Eared Grebes, Clark's Grebes,  Ring-necked Duck, etc. The north end is best since there was a lot of water  activity on the reservoir and a lot of people along the shores. The next and  third day we needed to get back to Provo, so we birded along the interstate  without a lot of success. A side trip in Beaver county to Minersville  reservoir was fruitful. It was getting warm and windy, but we did get great  looks at Bullock's Orioles, a pair of American Wigeons, and a nesting  Osprey. In summary, we found 25 or more species in 9 counties during our 3  day, 2 night jaunt. We were surprised by the few raptors seen--only 3  Red-Tail Hawks, 1 Northern Harrier, 3 Golden Eagles, a bunch of Vultures.  But there were many Brewer's Blackbirds, Ravens, and Meadowlarks. The week  before we spent an overnighter in Moab and finished out our Carbon county  goal plus Grand and San Juan counties. In Grand county, Moab's Matheson's  wetlands is the best place. A pair of woodducks sat for 10 minutes on the  large dead tree looking north from the first foot bridge at the south  entrance. You don't have to travel far into San Juan county to get 25  species. If you look at a Utah highway map, there is a road just south of  Moab. Most of the road is in San Juan county and a trip up and down it will  reveal great birds such a the Black-throated Gray Warbler.  

Suggestions: To meet the 25 species in 29 counties goal, here's my  suggestions: 1. Find water, especially ponds, reservoirs, and marshy  areas--birds like water.2. Find a town--it will have the common birds but  very necessary ones such as house sparrow, starling, robin, etc. to reach  the 25 species quickly. 3. As all birders know, bird in the morning and  evening hours. 4. Review swallow and sparrow identification. I missed  several sparrows because I don't know sparrows very well. Count on these  birds in every county: Raven, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling, Magpie,  Brewer's Blackbird, Meadowlark, Red-wing blackbird, Vulture, Mourning Dove,  Western Kingbird, and Barn Swallow. These birds form about half of the 25  needed birds.   

County Contest Helps - Good Places to Bird

  Finding 25 bird species in half a day in a unfamiliar county is difficult.  If you know of some good places in a County here in Utah not previously  published, please send a description of the site and directions to find it  to robin@utahnature.com. I'll publish the information in the Utah Birders  Newsletter as soon as I get it.