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December 1998


Matt's Message
by Matt DeVries (

Another year is wrapping up and I think it has been a good one for the Utah County Birder's. As always, we will wrap the year up with the Christmas Bird Count (counts for many of us). This is a great time to get together, bird, freeze, and give a little something back to the birds.

Through the holidays I will again dream of high powered optics, massive camera lenses, an adventurer's wardrobe, and unlimited travels. But, while I dream of these things, I will enjoy the simple moments with friends and family where the true spirit of the season is expressed.

The New Year will bring new experiences and opportunities to the Utah County Birders. So, as we head into the 1999, look for some changes in the club leadership. We will have a new president and several officers will also be changing. We're a club filled with great birders and great people, so while there will be some administrative changes, all of the things that make us a fun, active birding community will remain intact.

Merry Christmas and Happy New year,



December Meeting
Christmas Bird Count "Warmup"

Thursday, December 17, 7:00 PM, Bean Museum Auditorium

In preparation for the Christmas Bird Count on Saturday, December 19th, we will be meeting for orientation and for our

"Annual Bird Skins Challenge."

Again, Dr. Clayton White has graciously given permission to use the bird skins from the BYU collection for practice in identification. This is a rare chance see birds up close. Please bring your own fieldguides, a pencil and some paper to write the answers on.

This has been a favorite annual event – one you won’t want to miss.


Robin’s View
by Robin Tuck (


Ravens are Everywhere

This year I have driven virtually every mile of the state’s Interstate Highways and taken almost every exit then traveled many west-side back roads, and I am amazed at the variety of places I find Common Ravens. Mind you, I don’t go to find Ravens, they are just there. I have seen Ravens in 13 counties and in every one of the past 11 months. I have seen them from the forest to the bleakest desert. In fact, I have seen more in the desert than anywhere else, counting 72 Ravens along I-70 from Crescent Junction to the Colorado border one hot June afternoon.

Seeing all these Ravens has caused me to wonder what their impact is on the other birds that also live in the desert. Ravens are large and have to have a huge appetite, likely making themselves a scourge on all the small nesting birds around them.

In looking around, I have not found any analyses of Raven predation on small birds, probably for lack of data. Which brings me to my major point, data. I don’t know what good my personal sighting records are, since I am still learning how I want to gather my information. But, this month we all have an opportunity to participate in the largest and longest running data collection exercise known to birding, the Christmas Bird Count. While the Christmas Bird Count will not tell me much about Ravens in the desert, it does tell a lot about the dynamics of winter bird populations over the entire USA.

Please join with Merrill Webb and participate in this year’s count. I have enjoyed the count for the past five or six years and feel I have made some (small) contribution to avian knowledge.


Utah County Christmas Bird Count

Saturday, December 19, 1998

Just a reminder about the Christmas Bird Count: Our Groups are forming fast, so if you are interested in working a particular area with particular people let me know as soon as possible at 224-6113. Call in the evening. If you know of people who would like to watch feeders instead of going out on the count, please inform them to call me.


The warmup for the event will be Thursday evening, December 17th in the Bean Museum Auditorium. Dr. Clayton White has graciously given permission for me to set out some of the bird skins from the B.Y.U. collection for practice in identification as we have done in the past. Please bring your own fieldguide(s), a pencil and some paper to write the answers on. I am out of checklists.

I will hand out the folders for your assigned areas Thursday night at the meeting. However, if you can get out into your areas now, it would be to your advantage. Thanks for your help and your interest.


Also, the compilation of the CBC results will be in my classroom at Provo High School beginning at approximately 6:15 P.M. Saturday night after the count. Please bring something for the group to snack on.

My classroom is in the science building just west of the L.D.S. seminary building and south of the main campus buildings.

Merrill Webb


The 1998 Quality Birder Contest

Remember the contest? Well, it comes to a close at the end of this month. The rules were:

The form passed out at the beginning of the year had places to record your accomplishments. We will have additional forms at the Utah County Birders meeting on December 17 in case yours has been mislaid.

Please complete the form and mail it to the contest judge by January 8, 1999. Mail to:

Robin Tuck
917 East 2730 North
Provo UT 84604

We will award Quality Birder prizes to all who complete the contest. I am becoming quite liberal in my old age, so here are the Frequently Asked Questions.

Q: I invited people to come to the meetings, but they didn’t come.
A: Your prize cannot be based on some other persons actions. (You did ask someone, didn’t you?)

Q: What constitutes and "Official" outing?
A: Of course, Utah County Birding Field trips count, but, hey, I’m liberal. Did you go birding with other club members or maybe some newbee? Works for me.

Q:What is a "Volunteer" activity?
A: The Christmas Bird Count is a Volunteer activity. Any trip where the records were turned in for recording and any class taught about birding and any scout or school group counts as a volunteer activity. Julie and I were invited to a dinner where we spoke about local birding opportunities - a cush way to get in a volunteer activity.

Q: What is a "quarter" and how do I average the number of bird species I have seen?
A: Winter quarter is January, February and March. The other quarters follow, each with three months. You average the species seen by adding the counts seen in each quarter together and dividing by 4. Suppose I had seen 108 species in Winter Quarter, 190 in Spring Quarter, 153 in Summer Quarter and 97 in Fall Quarter, the total species would be 448, which divided by 4 would yield an average of 137 per Quarter.(I’ll do better when I add in December.)

Q: Suppose I got a late start, because, maybe I joined the club in the summer after the contest was going for a while. Can I still participate?
A: I don’t want to dilute the importance of the honor, but send me a compelling reason and a glowing account of your efforts and we will see what we can do.

Robin Tuck (377-8084)


Salt Lake Christmas Bird Count

The Salt Lake City Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sunday, December 20, with the compilation pot-luck at Dee and Mark Stackhouse's home that evening. If you would like to participate, call Mark at 487-9543 or 486-2221. [I know that some of you wonder why we do the Salt Lake count on a Sunday, and the answer is that we do it for religious reasons - two of our most skilled and dedicated birders are members of the Seventh Day Adventist church, and can't go on a Saturday. The tradition of holding the count on the first Sunday of the count period started long before I started organizing the Salt Lake count. Anyway, it allows you fanatics the opportunity to do the Logan, Ogden, or Provo counts - and go do the Salt Lake count the next day!]

Schedules for the 1998 Christmas Bird Counts in Southern Utah

(Information posted on the Birdnet mailing list by Marilyn Davis, Red Cliffs Audubon, P.O. Box 1225, St. George, UT 84771.)

Dec 18 - Cedar City
Contact: Steve Hedges, BLM, Cedar City, 586-2401
Dec 26 - Silver Reef (15 miles north St. George)
Contact: Marilyn Davis, Red Cliffs Audubon, 673-0996
Dec 28 - Zion National Park
Contact: Marilyn Davis, Red Cliffs Audubon, 673-0996
Dec 29 - St. George
Contact: Marilyn Davis, Red Cliffs Audubon, 673-0996
Dec 30 - Pipe Spring (very small area)
Contact: Andrea Bornamier, Pipe Spring National Monument, AZ
Dec 31 - Kanab
Contact: Harry Barber, BLM, Kanab, Utah


State Hotline Highlights

BOX ELDER COUNTY - Seen by many different groups

A female NORTHERN PARULA, first seen on 11/07, continues to be seen at Willard Bay State Park. The bird has been in the campground, with most sightings either near the campground host site, or in the trees and brush on the west or north side of the pond. The bird has been moving with a mixed flock of Black-capped Chicadees and Ruby-crowned Kinglets, which also has an Orange-crowned Warbler and at least one Golden-crowned Kinglet. This is only the third record of Northern Parula in Utah.

Dee & Mark Stackhouse - Hundreds of MARBLED GODWITS were at two different locations along the west side of the auto tour loop at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (BRMBR) on Saturday, 12/05. On the same day, a lone AMERICAN TREE SPARROW was seen on the road to BRMBR, about 6 miles west of I-15.

CACHE COUNTY - Jared Barnes & Allen Christensen

A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was seen visiting a feeder in Richmond on Sunday, 12/06. The feeder is located at 11530 North 2000 East in Richmond. To get there, turn east at the traffic light, then north on 3rd East, and follow the road 1.6 miles to the house.

DAVIS COUNTY - David Wheeler & Mark Stackhouse

A HARRIS' SPARROW was seen just north of the Davis County line along the Jordan River on Tuesday, 11/17. A late BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER was also seen in the area on Wednesday, 11/18 and Thursday, 11/19. To get to the area where the birds were seen, take Redwood Road north to a point about 1/2 mile north of the intersection with 2300 North, to where the Jordan River first swings close to the road. You can park here and walk along the parkway. The birds were in a mixed flock of juncos and White-crowned Sparrows just upstream (south) of this point.

Dana Green, Julie VanMoorhem, Dee & Mark Stackhouse

A number of birds have been reported from along the Antelope Island Causeway. At least 4 female OLDSQUAW were seen on Saturday, 12/05, two in the marina and two more at about mile marker 5 (D&MS). On both Saturday 12/05, and Sunday 12/06, a small flock of SANDERLINGS, a RED-NECKED

PHALAROPE, and several HERRING GULLS were seen (DG,D&MS,JVM). A THAYER'S GULL was seen on Sunday, 12/06 (DG,JVM).


A NORTHERN SHRIKE was seen in Oak City on Monday, 11/23.

RICH COUNTY - Jared & Kylie Barnes

A SNOW BUNTING was seen on Friday, 11/13, on a rock jetty across from the Harbor Village Resort at Bear Lake.

SALT LAKE COUNTY - Steve Carr; Mark Stackhouse

A female HARLEQUIN DUCK was seen just north of the marina at Saltair on Saturday, 12/05 (SC) and again on Monday, 12/07 (MS). On Monday, the bird was about 150 yds. off the northeast corner of the marina.

Other birds at the Saltair marina on Monday, 12/07 included a male OLDSQUAW, two BARROW'S GOLDENEYES, and a HERRING GULL (MS).

Susan Thomas - Both BLACK and GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES were reported visiting feeders at Alta on Tuesday, 12/01 (ST). The feeders are located along the Alta Bypass Road between Snowbird and Alta Ski Resorts.

SUMMIT COUNTY - Letitia Lussier;

At Rockport Reservoir, a HOODED MERGANSER and a TUNDRA SWAN were seen on Thursday, 12/03. The birds were near the inlet to the reservoir.

UTAH COUNTY - Alan Godwin & Yvonne Stroup;

A LEWIS' WOODPECKER was seen in the town of Alpine on Saturday, 11/14. The bird was in the trees behind a house which is under construction on Westfield Cir. (AG,YS). To get there, go north on 6000 West in Alpine until you reach Westfield Cir.

Larisa Harding & Milton Moody - A pair of WOOD DUCKS were seen at Salem Pond on Saturday, 11/21.

Ned Hill - LEWIS' WOODPECKERS have been seen regularly near Salem, with recent reports from Tuesday, 11/24 and Friday, 11/27. To get to the area where theyt were seen, take the road from Salem towards Spanish Fork, turn right (east) at 8800 South, turn right again at the log house, and continue south unitl the road starts to rise. Look in the trees on both sides of the road at this point.

Christian Peay - AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS have arrived in Utah this week. Two birds were seen at Powell Slough, on the shores of Utah Lake, on Monday, 11/23, and a small flock of tree sparrows were seen at Swede Lane, west of Springville, on Friday, 11/27.

Mary Lou Huffman - Two CATTLE EGRETS were seen at Utah Lake State Park on Thursday, 11/26 (MLH).

Christian Peay - A male ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK was seen visiting a feeder in Orem on Wednesday, 12/02. Unfortunately, the bird visited the feeder for that day only, and has not been seen since.

Larisa Harding & Milton Moody - Two HORNED GREBES were seen on Monday, 12/07 at the north end of 4000 West in Lake Shore (west of Springville).

Darlene Amott - A female NORTHERN GOSHAWK was seen at Secret Pond, just north of the town of Goshen at the south end of Utah Lake on Tuesday, 12/08.

WEBER COUNTY - Ingrid Payne

The BLUE JAYS which were visiting a feeder in Pleasant View have not been seen since Saturday, 11/21. A HARRIS' SPARROW was seen visiting the same feeders on Tuesday, 11/24.

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Ned Hill & Merrill Webb

A WINTER WREN was seen at the Oak Grove Campground, west of Leeds, on Sunday, 12/06.

WAYNE COUNTY - Alan Schmierer


Where the Hotline Birds are Supposed to be

Range Profiles*

Northern Parula

Breeds mainly in eastern US.

Winters mainly in southern Florida, Mexico, Central America, and West Indies; also rarely on Gulf Coast and casually in West.

Regular wanderer in West; isolated nesting records in California, New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico. (This is the third record of Northern Parula in Utah). Listed as Occasional in Utah.

White-throated Sparrow

Breeds mainly in central and eastern Canada.

Winters from northern California along coast to southern California, southern Arizona, southern New Mexico and northern Mexico and Eastern US.

Regular in small numbers in West during fall and winter. A Rare Winter Visitor to Utah.

Harris’ Sparrow

Breeds in north central Canada.

Winters primarily along eastern edge of Great Plains.

Apparently winters regularly in very small numbers in parts of interior West and southwest. Stragglers reach both Pacific and Atlantic seaboards virtually every year. A Rare Winter Visitor to Utah.

Harlequin Duck

Breeds on turbulent streams and rivers from Alaska inland along mountain streams to Alberta, rarely south to Colorado and on eastern coast of Canada. Also in Iceland and eastern Siberia.

Winters abundantly in Aleutian Islands, regularly to northern California, sparsely farther south; on Atlantic Coast rarely further south south than Long Island; rare on inland lakes. An Occasional Visitor to Utah.

Rosy Finch

(All forms, in general) Breeds at timberline mountains along pacific coast and Rock Mountain areas as far south as northern California, northern Arizona and Northern New Mexico.

Winter range is basically the same area, but they move to lower altitudes where they gather in large flocks. An Uncommon Permanent Resident of Utah.

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Breeds from central Canada to Great Lakes area to Nova Scotia extending south to central Indiana.

Winters from central Mexico to South America; rare but regular in Southwest; rarely in Cuba. A Rare Transient in Utah