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July 1997


Matt's Message
by Matt DeVries (

I have spent the last two weeks preparing for our trip to Finland. I have discovered marvelous resources on the Internet that have increased my knowledge of Finnish birds and fueled my imagination. I now know that there is a chance that I will encounter Smew, the stunning merganser, that the diminutive and elusive European Kingfisher hides out in the south, and that Northern Lapwing is a common breeder.

Some information has come from the excellent Field Guide to the Birds of Europe and Northern Africa, but the most valuable information has come from the Internet. My two Internet sources have been a BirdChat and homepages.

BirdChat is a discussion group where I recently met Annika, a Finnish birder. Annika is providing me with birding contacts in Pia's home town. She has also provided me with good birding sites and information on bird occurrence. In addition, she has volunteered to take us birding when we visit her city. There are others equally eager to assist us.

On Web pages, I have found maps of Finland detailed enough to include the street Pia's home is on! I have found sites that list birds by their English and Finnish names and provide seasonal occurrence. There are beautiful pictures of birds and detailed records of trips.

I have had a wonderful experience using the Internet to prepare for our trip to Finland. I believe the Internet would be a valuable tool for planning any birding trip. There is information available on all states, most countries, and thousands of birds. Next time you plan a big trip, find a way to get access to the Web. I think you will be impressed with the amount of information available.


July Meeting
by Dennis Shirley

A change of pace is in store for our July meeting. Our scheduled speaker, Don Paul, had a conflict, and will not be able to give his program on "Birds of the Great Salt Lake" until November. So, as a last minuted substitute, your infamous program coordinator will present the program.

The program will be on "Birds and Birding in Japan." This is a program I gave last winter to the Ogden Audubon Society. My son, Bryan, who has been working, touring, and birding in Japan for the past 15 months, will also participate in the program. Slides will be shown of many of Japan’s specialty birds. Our meeting is at 7:00 p.m. in the Bean Museum, Thursday, July 17.

Future Programs

August: Picnic?/Program?
September: "Utah’s Partners in Flight" - Jim Parish
October: "Birds of Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge" - Jay Banta
November: "Birds of the Great Salt Lake" - Don Paul
December: "Christmas Bird Count" - Merrill Webb


Robin’s View
by Robin Tuck (


This month's article, "Taxonomy of birds: Parts Is Parts," is found in the Robin's View section of this web site.


North American Migration Count Day Results
by Merrill Webb

On May 10, 27 observers in 10 different parties counted 156 species in Utah County. This compares with last year’s totals of 137 species. This year observers traveled 21.5 miles on foot and 636 miles by car. They spent 45.5 hours on foot and 34 hours in their cars.

The bird species with the highest number of individuals was the California Gull with 8333. Next was the Yellow-headed Blackbird with 861. Unusual birds (for which I have received verification) were the Horned Grebe at the moat surrounding the Provo Airport and two Common Grackles along the Provo River near the BYU Motion Picture Studio. Ten species of warbler were observed with the Yellow being the most common (237 individuals). The most numerous shorebird was the American Avocet (153), and the most numerous swallow was the Cliff (344).

The purpose of the NAMCD is to get a snapshot, as it were, of where the neotropical migrants are during migration and how they are doing in terms of numbers. The health of nonmigratory populations can also be monitored over a number of years if the count is consistent in the same area.

Thanks to all those who helped. Most parties had huge areas of county real estate to cover. Next year with more participants we can decrease the area per party and get better coverage.


Field Trip to Lytle Ranch Preserve
June 13-14, 1997

by Ned Hill

Few would have expected a mid-June trip to Lytle Ranch in the southwestern most corner of Utah to be cool and wet. But then not much about Utah weather lately has been very predictable. A visit to this area is always a treat since so many birds appear here and nowhere else in the state.

The field trip started on Friday the 13th—bad luck for the Jazz but not for birders. Each car—with a total of about 17 Utah County Birders—left at a different time so each had a different experience on the way to Lytle Ranch. Our group stopped at a new park in St. George for lunch. Before we could get in a few bites, birds calling from the underbrush by the stream lured us away. We found Brown-headed Cowbirds in the tops of the trees, Song Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeak, and Abert’s Towhee in the brush and Northern Rough-wing Swallows and White-throated Swifts soaring overhead.

On the way to Lytle we diverted to Gunlock. At the reservoir we found Western and Eared Grebes. Yellow Warblers were singing everywhere. As we entered the town, just before crossing the bridge, we parked and startled a Green Heron that was sitting in the middle of the stream. As we walked along the road we found Great Blue Heron, Black Phoebe, and Western Wood-Pewee. A Yellow-breasted Chat was calling noisily from the underbrush. A beautiful little Canyon Wren hopped out on a rock just above our heads.

At Utah Hill (where the microwave towers are), we stepped out of the car and were greeted by several Black-chinned Sparrows giving their rendition of an electronic video game. By playing a tape of its call, we lured one to the top of a nearby bush for an excellent view. The same trick brought a Black-throated Sparrow within ten feet where he delighted us for several minutes. We also heard a Gray Vireo singing, but the wind and rain postponed a close look until our return trip.

At Lytle Ranch, Judy Jordan, who had arrived the night before, showed us a nesting Cooper’s Hawk pair with two recently fledged young. House Finches were abundant and we were able to pick out a Verdin or two and an American Goldfinch. A male Phainopepla flew overhead flashing white wing patches. Roberto, the caretaker, told us an early freeze had limited the production of mistletoe berries so there weren’t many of these beautiful birds this year. Everywhere we could hear the call of Ash-throated Flycatchers. Lucy’s Warblers and Bewick’s Wrens were also abundant in the trees around the camping area. A walk up to the pond revealed Common Yellowthroat, Say’s Phoebe, Western Kingbird, White-winged Dove and Black-chinned Hummingbird. The much needed rain picked up so we shortened our hike and went back for dinner at the pavilion. The rain soon abated, so a group decided to walk down to the horse corrals where Greater Roadrunner and Common Black Hawk had been seen in weeks past. According to Roberto, the Black Hawks were no longer on the property but were nesting on the Iverson Ranch south of Lytle. Sometimes they circled up over the south end of Lytle, so we wanted to have a chance of seeing them. Unfortunately, we struck out on both birds, but a male Blue Grosbeak sang loudly from a tree and a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher flitted around under him. At dusk, just before we returned to our camping area, Tom Williams spotted birds on the horizon: Lesser Nighthawks were coursing about. Junece Markham furnished a delicious punch with ice cream mixed in and we listened to the last few seconds of the last Jazz-Bulls game on the Markham’s radio. We were glad our little group was having a much more enjoyable evening.

As night fell the sky cleared completely. In the cool night air we saw nighthawks flying over the fields and could hear several Common Poorwill calling dolefully. After dark, most of the group stayed awake long enough to see the Western Screech-Owl we were able to call in. The lonely fellow(?) followed us back to our tent and called all night. How disappointing to him we didn’t turn out the be the sweet young thing he thought we sounded like. We couldn’t call in a Great Horned Owl, but Judy said one started singing over her trailer at about midnight.

Early Saturday morning we were awakened to the chatter of a Bell’s Vireo. Eric Huish found a Crissal Thrasher by the horse corral. A hike past the pond produced Bullock’s Oriole and excellent looks at male and female Summer Tanager. Lois Clark found Hooded Oriole in the fig tree and an obliging Phainopepla appeared in a tree nearby. The Hinckley’s found a Brown-crested Flycatcher, but others were unsuccessful in relocating the bird. Among the numerous kingbirds, we were able to locate one without white outer tail feathers: a Cassin’s Kingbird.

After breaking camp Saturday around noon, we all headed out, but the birding was not completed. Stopping several times on the dirt road, we were able to find a pair of stunning Scott’s Orioles. The Markhams found Ladder-backed Woodpecker, and several cars spotted Gambel’s Quail. At Utah Hill, we stopped to afford everyone a look at the Black-chinned and Black-throated Sparrows. We also called in a Gray Vireo down in the wash. A Crissal Thrasher flew about in the juniper trees, giving most of us good views. In St. George, we stopped at the Red Cliffs Golf Course, where we heard the distinctive call of Vermillion Flycatcher, but were disappointed not to get a look at this stunning bird. Some of us went to Zion’s National Park, where we called in a Rufous-crowned Sparrow just below the O.C. Tanner Amphitheater (thanks to Dennis Shirley’s directions). We also stopped near the east entrance, where a trail was said to be good habitat for Grace’s Warbler, Western Bluebird and Pygmy Nuthatch. Unfortunately, the rain and wind picked up during our hike and we decided the birds were probably smarter than we were and had found shelter. So we reluctantly returned to our cars, declared the trip a stunning success and headed for home in the company of good friends and lasting memories.


Membership in the Utah County Birders is open to any interested person. Dues are $12 per year, although no one will be excluded if unable or unwilling to participate. Send dues to Beula Hinckley, 2067 N. 420 E., Provo, UT 84604

Executive Committee

President Matt DeVries ( 226-0958
Past-President Robin Tuck ( 377-8084
President-Elect Merrill Webb 224-6113
Secretary-Treasurer Beula Hinckley ( 377-3443
Programs Dennis Shirley 423-1108
Field Trips Ned Hill ( 375-2417
Membership Barbara Whipple ( 226-3931
Newsletter Weldon Whipple ( 226-3931

Telephone Hotline: 375-2487, 377-8084
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