Utah County Birders Newsletter
December 2000



A week early 
Wednesday December 13th at 7:00 pm 
in the Bean Museum Auditorium 
on the BYU Campus.

Our annual December Tradition- Merrill Webb will talk to us about the Christmas Bird Count. After which we will be quizzed on our winter bird identification skills in preparation for the CBC on Dec. 16th.


Provo CBC on Sat. Dec. 16th.

We will chase Hotline Birds where and when they may show up. 
Any Trips will be announced on the birdnet or at the meeting.

It's a Snowy One
by Darlene Amott

 From all of the current indications, it looks like this winter will be a snowy one. It would be easy to say, "It's too cold." or, "The roads are bad." or "It's hard to walk in deep snow.," and let the birding go until spring. Does the weather slow down the birding? I think many of us are finding that this may be the best winter we have had in several years. Backyard birding has improved, certainly. Birds are coming into the feeders that haven't been there for two or three years. That is especially nice. There is nothing like birding from the comfort of a warm house. However, there is no substitute for crisp, fresh air, either. Treks through the Provo City Cemetery have been more profitable than in the last year or two. From the number of notes on the e-mail, good things seem to be happening all over the state. 
   Winter has always been one of my favorite seasons. I grew up in the mid-west, and winters were spent ice skating and tromping through the woods. The only two birds I really noticed were the Cardinal and the Blue Jay. I wasn't a birder then, but I enjoyed the product of a summer's labors. All summer I rinsed and dried cantaloupe seeds, so we would have something to give the birds in winter. There was no commercial seed in those days. We had one small feeder just outside the breakfast room window which I kept supplied all winter. I enjoyed watching the daily, steady stream of visitors. 
   Some time ago I mentioned that my favorite bird count day came the year that there was at least a foot of snow on the ground. Tromping down the trail by the Provo River was a delight. One of the real perks of winter birding in the snow is enjoying the sheer beauty and silence of snow. The cemetery is one of my favorite spots. It is just a delight to walk down the roads and wind in and out among the headstones. I not only enjoy the birding, but I feel a sense of history as well. The bird count this year could be a snowy one as well. It is much easier to add layers to keep warm than it is to shed layers to cool off. So put on the long johns, one more sweater, and the earmuffs, and join us for one of the best days of the year. It promises to be a good one.

Robin's View

The Snow Bunting
by Robin Tuck

Under aurora the long night lightens signaling the end of the cold winter's grasp. The eternal cycle repeats; brief dawn then daylight sweeping towards endless day.
   The ice sheets break from the inlets and fiords and the sound of waves lap at the ragged cliffs. Snow becomes pools on the tundra and wild flowers poke into the dim sunlit days.
   And they return. The flocks that had left before the darkness came. Ducks, geese and the little Snow Bunting that call this cold, barren land home.
   Every patch of rock and scree along the talus slope Is claimed as male Buntings prepare to attract a mate.
   Newly clothed in striking black and white, he sings waiting. Then the females come looking for the perfect place and most attractive suitor.
   Lifting high into the air and with a trill swooning to the ground he dances round. And she is pleased with her choice.
   Across the rocks and deep into the crevices both poke looking for a nesting place. Gathered sticks and stems, litter from the shore make the nest, lined with stolen down.
   Soon a small spotted egg followed by another until they number a half dozen plus one. She sits on the eggs as they come, and he serves her tender morsels.
   The first nestling emerges in a scant 13 days, atrical - naked and blind. Others follow until the nest is filled with hungry, squawking open beaks.
   The parents are kept busy catching the plentiful gnats and flies that have hatched in swarming hordes. Six weeks from nest building, fledged young Buntings take to wing on maiden flights.
   The young, not looking back, join the growing juvenile flocks following the plentiful food south. Soon, mom and dad's parenthood responsibilities behind they join more mature flocks.
   Barely leaving before the midnight sun starts dipping below the horizon. The days start to shorten and mornings find ice crystals in the ponds.
   Large flocks of young Buntings head south breaking up into ever smaller groups as they go. Thousands divide into hundreds, then into tens until individuals work their way to milder climes.
   The trip brings the Bunting into man's territory, but not knowing, is un-wary. Further south, not a stranger but always a welcome sight, they are seen, then move on.
   The Bunting is a wanderer, staying a while and then moving on. Here resting along some rocky shore, there on some snow covered field, perhaps visiting a feeder.
   Storms may rage and snows fall but the Bunting is at home in the cold til the days lengthen and warm. Then deep within stirs the call of home and the Bunting begins the long flight north.
   Finding companions, they build into small flocks, which combine into larger flocks. Soon the gathered numbers are as before, Thousands.
   Home they come as the arctic tundra dresses up in waves of flowers to meet them. The cycle is complete; as adults they begin anew to build the next generation.

100th CBC Results
by  Merrill Web

I have received the results of the 100th Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) and would like to share with you some of the information contained within this issue of American Birds published by the National Audubon Society.
   "The 100th Count itself was a study in superlatives. The effort was unsurpassed by all measures--record-high numbers of both counts and participants. In the 100th CBC, 52,471 observers participated on 1823 CBC's across the Western Hemisphere and in the Pacific Islands. In the United States and Canada 42,422 field participants and 9231 feeder watchers participated in 1779 CBC's and tallied 78,636,382 birds...In Canada and the United States, a record- shattering 676 species was tallied in total, breaking the old record set on the 98th CBC by 19." Geoffrey S. LeBaron, CBC Director. Mad Island Marsh in Texas recorded the highest U.S. total with 228 species. Highest of the 14 Utah counts was St. George with 100 followed by Logan with 93, Silver Reef, 91 and Provo with 87. Logan had 66 observers in the field and we had 54 in Provo.
   There was a count in North Bay, Ontario, Canada that had 43 field observers and 968 feeder watchers!! I would like to enlist your suggestions and ideas on how we can include more feeder watchers on our Provo CBC. I know there are a lot of people in the valley who feed birds who we could tap for information. This early snowstorm has brought in a lot of birds that will be utilizing these feeders as their main source of food. It would be good to get an idea of how many birds are coming to feeders that we usually miss on our count.
   In a special table of last years results, totals were tabulated for Bohemian Waxwings, an "enigmatic wanderer", and for three finch species which visit feeders. Let me share some of these interesting results. Bohemian Waxwings were observed on eight Wyoming counts with a total of 2401 birds. In Idaho 14 counts totaled 941. Utah had 2 on one count (Logan). Common Redpolls: 18 birds on two Wyoming counts, 213 in seven Idaho counts and zero in Utah. By comparison, 58 counts in New York State tallied 10,388 with just smaller numbers in nine other states close to the Canadian border. Red Crossbills: 96 birds on four Wyoming counts, 190 on six Idaho count sand 5 on one Utah count (Bear Lake; the birds may have even been seen in Idaho since this count straddles the Utah- Idaho border). Highest number of this species occurred in Washington State where 590 were tallied on 23 different counts. Evening Grosbeak: Wyoming counted 80 on only two different counts, Idaho had 67 on five different counts and Utah had zero. New York State counted 1575 on 23 different counts for the highest total in the U.S. All of the Canadian Provinces had fairly high numbers of this species while very few were found in the Rocky Mountain States. Actually the numbers of Evening Grosbeaks have fallen over the last 40 years. It will be of interest to see if the trend continues in future years of CBC's.
   So, these are a few of the species that we may see more of on the Utah counts this year due to the earlier snowfall and colder temperatures. We just need to get out and scout our areas and watch the feeders. I hope this information encourages us to make a diligent search for these four irruptive species.

Good luck. Merrill Webb

Utah County Birders Year 2000 Contest

Please record your contest accomplishments by entering your information on the Internet. Go to www.utahnature.com and enter the User ID "Birding" and Password "Contest 2000". Enter it exactly, case does matter. Next select your own User ID and Password and follow the prompts and enter your Year 2000 Contest accomplishments. For those of you hardy enough to have completed the "25 species per County" part of the contest, please enter all the birds you have seen in each of the counties. There will be a special award for the wonderful birders who do enter their county data. Please enter your own data using the Internet. Please, Please. However if you do not have Internet access and cannot find someone else's connection to use, you may send your information to Robin Tuck, 917 E. 2730 N., Provo, UT 84604 before January 12, 2001.
   In summary, the contest was to see and identify 200 species of birds in Utah in 2000. Ten optional tasks were included, which are:
2000+ Individual sightings
5 more sightings than any prior year.
Increased ABA Life List by 10, 5 if over 500.
25 Species in USA not found in Utah.
50 Species in World not found in USA.
Personal Big Day - 100 or more in 24 hours.
25 Species in each of the 29 Utah Counties.
Volunteer for 4 birding service projects.
Lead 4 birding field trips.
Put 5 uncommon birds, or 1 rare bird on hotline.

   The awards will be made at a special dinner meeting the third week of January, to be announced later. This will be done in conjunction with the announcement of the new club officers. I am challenged by designing an appropriate logo for the contest, having to learn a difficult graphics program to do it. If anyone wants to volunteer, please call. Accordingly, items with the logo may be ordered at the award dinner. Again, please use the Internet to record your accomplishments

What's New Our Web Site?
(a note from the webmaster)

Know what you're about, print it out!

There's a new "Print Center" on the Utah Birds web site. You can print the latest update to the official Utah checklist with 418 species or new checklists for Farmington Bay and Cache County, or perhaps the reformatted checklists for Lytle Ranch, Strawberry Valley and Utah County. And they should all fit on the pages just right. But that's not all, you can now print county maps with directions to popular birding places, just in time to be too late for this years birding contest! Some of the counties have pretty extensive lists with good descriptions, while again others are pretty meager (the information-collecting project about birding places around the state is on-going, if you have information from your wanderings about the state this year, please send it in and add to our expending information base).  If you like what we've got print it out!
   And that's not all! For the scientific-minded, taxonomically- inclined, hardcore studious geeky types, or wan-a-be's (or wish- they-weren't's), we have the "Taxonomic List of Utah Birds" with the orders, families, subfamilies, scientific names and we've thrown in the old boring common names too, just for kicks. (We try to serve all types of people regardless of race, religion, color, age, sex, hair-distribution and national origin).
   So, try it out you just might like it if not, we take requests! "Utah Birds"

Birdnet Relief

Have you ever had times when you want to keep receiving Birdnet postings, but are too busy to read all of them, and feel annoyed that they fill up your e-mail inbox--especially during especially active posting periods? Or perhaps you are going on vacation and don't want the birdnet to fill up your inbox? If so, there is relief in sight! A new mailing list, called Birdnet-Digest, is now available at Utahbirds.org. It works just like the familiar Birdnet, except that posts to the Birdnet are accumulated ("saved") on the e-mail server and sent in a single e-mail, every five days.
   Subscription and unsubscription requests follow the Birdnet's pattern: Send an e-mail to birdnet-digest-request@utahbirds.org. In the body of the message, type the single word "subscribe" (without quotes) to subscribe; type "unsubscribe" to unsubscribe. (Note the insertion of "-digest" in thee-mail address.) Subscribing to the Birdnet-Digest doesn't automatically cancel your subscription to the Birdnet. (To cancel your Birdnet subscription, send ane-mail to birdnet-request@utahbirds.org, with the single word "unsubscribe" in the body of the message.)
   You can't post directly to the Birdnet-Digest. Instead, you should continue to post to birdnet@utahbirds.org. Happy birding! Weldon Whipple, Listmaster -listmaster@utahbirds.org