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June 1997


Matt's Message
by Matt DeVries (

Last week, Pia and Ben and I went to southern California for a wedding. We managed to squeeze some birding into the trip. (Or, was it the other way around?) It was refreshing to see new birds and different habitats. In one place, we saw seven species of tern, including Black Skimmer.

One of the most interesting species we encountered was the Least Tern; a tiny, elegant tern with a distinctive plumage. We were able to watch them feed and move around their breeding grounds. Though mixed in with the other terns, this diminutive tern stood out from the others.

When we returned from California, we learned that a Least Tern had also been seen here in Utah, at Farmington Bay. This extremely rare Utah bird provided several birders with a chance to see a bird they might otherwise never see. I was quite disappointed that I missed it. Despite seeing many of these terns in California, I regret that I missed the one in Utah because I need it for my state list.

So, I have been reflecting. Would I prefer to see a bird where it is a vagrant, or where it is a resident? I love the glamour and excitement of chasing a rare vagrant. The thrill of the chase is what got me started birding. But, there is more to birding than chasing and listing.

My passion for birds runs deep. And, I am finding, the familiar can be as fascinating as the exotic. How does a species change from season to season, or, from juvenile to adult? Behavior and plumage can vary greatly, or, subtly from season to season. There is so much to learn and observe to really understand a species. And, it takes more than 30 seconds with a rare vagrant, to really wrap your brain around a bird.

The longer I bird, the more I appreciate the familiarity of an old friend. However, I must admit, there is still nothing quite like a good chase.


June Meeting
by Dennis Shirley

Merlin Killpack, longtime resident of northern Utah, will present our monthly meeting on June 19 at 7:00 p.m. at the Bean Museum. Anyone who has followed the study of birds in Utah over the last half century will be familiar with the name "Merlin Killpack." Now approaching 80 years young, Merlin has dedicated his lifetime to the study of birds in Utah. He has taught biology in Utah high schools for over 40 years in the Uintah Basin and Ogden. He worked many summers for the U.S. Forest Service, doing wildlife surveys and research. Merlin is, without a doubt, the most active bird bander in Utah. He has banded between three and four thousand passerines annually for many years. His program will be a reflection of a lifetime of bird banding and bird study. Don’t miss it!

Merlin will be introduced by Lee Shirley, who will briefly discuss the new program "Friends of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge." This should be one of the best meetings of the year.


Robin’s View
by Robin Tuck (


This month's article, "Decouple," is found in the Robin's View section of this web site.


Bird Walks Continue

Did you enjoy the evening bird walks held during the past month? (Or did you miss one or both of them?)

Join us on Tuesday, June 24, for another walk. Meet at the Bean Museum at 6:00 p.m. We will be going along the Provo River at the mouth of the canyon.


Southeastern Arizona Field Trip, July 8-15
by Ned Hill (

We hope you can join us for Utah County Birders' biggest field trip ever! Southeastern Arizona contains a number of typically Mexican species found no where else in North America. The terrain is a mixture of Sonoran Desert (2,000-4,000 ft.) punctuated by "sky islands," mountain ranges that can rise to 8,000 ft. July is hot in the valleys, but the mountains are mild during the day and cool in the evenings. This is the beginning of the rainy season so it is not unusual for the afternoons to cloud up with a brief, refreshing thunderstorm.

Travel Travel to Tucson by whatever means you choose. Southwest has good prices on flights. Plan to arrive the evening of July 8th.
Accommodations Most places we bird will have motels nearby. The exception is Cave Creek Canyon and Rustler Park in the Chiricahuas. Douglas is the nearest town with motels and it is some 70 miles away. The field trip committee will help coordinate motel reservations. Let us know what your needs are.
Cost Airfare is about $180 RT. A rental car for the week is about $160 plus gas. Driving costs depend on your mileage. Motels in Arizona this time of year are relatively inexpensive—about $40 per night per room. Everyone will be on his/her own for food so that cost will depend on what you want to eat.
More Information Call Ned Hill, 801-375-2417(H), 801-378-2407(W)
Schedule Subject to what we hear on arrival from birders and the AZ Hotline.

Tuesday, July 8th
Travel to Tucson, AZ. We will all meet in the same motel for a good night’s rest. [Some may stay in a motor home park.]

Wednesday, July 9th
AM: Visit Tucson Desert Museum (actually more of a natural zoo). Great way to see desert birds and other wildlife close-up: they have a walk through hummingbird house and natural aviary. En route and around the museum we will see: Gila Woodpecker, Cactus Wren, Verdin, Curve-billed, Bendire’s and Crissal Thrashers, Pyrrhuloxia, Greater Roadrunner, Vermillion and Ash-throated Flycatchers, Lucy’s Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Hooded and Scott’s Orioles, Bronzed Cowbird.

PM: Travel to Madera Canyon in the Santa Rita Mountains, one of the best birding spots in SE Arizona. Targets: Elegant Trogon, Zone-tailed Hawk, Montezuma Quail, Elf and Whiskered Screech Owls, Black Vulture, Band-tailed Pigeon, Strickland’s Woodpecker, Buff-collared Nightjar, Lesser Nighthawk, Broad-billed, Magnificent, Blue-throated Hummingbirds, Mexican Jay, Sulfur-bellied and Dusky-capped Flycatchers, Greater Pewee, Summer and Hepatic Tanagers, Canyon Towhee, Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Hutton’s and Gray Vireos, Red-faced, Grace’s, Black-throated Gray and Virginia’s Warblers, Painted Redstart, Rufous-winged, Rufous-capped, Black-throated, Botteri’s and Cassin’s Sparrows, Varied Bunting, Bridled Titmouse. Some will want to camp in Madera Canyon, others will want to stay in a motel in nearby Green Valley or Continental.

Thursday, July 10th
AM: Again visit Madera Canyon. Some will want to travel to the next canyon south, Chino Canyon, to search for the very rare Black-capped Gnatcatcher recently reported.

PM: Travel to Patagonia and visit the Sonoita Creek Sanctuary and the famous Patagonia Roadside rest stop. Targets: Gray Hawk, Vermillion Flycatcher, Green Kingfisher, Rose-throated Becard, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, others mentioned above. At the Paton’s home, we will look for hummingbirds including Violet-crowned. Travel to Sierra Vista where there are many motels.

Friday, July 11th
AM: Visit Ramsey Canyon, the hummingbird capital of the U.S. There is a visitors center and many feeders. Most of the Arizona hummingbirds are present. We will then hike up the canyon to find any of the birds we missed in Madera Canyon. Flame-colored Tanager and Aztec Thrush are sometimes present.

PM: Visit nearby Sheelite and Sawmill Canyons where we may find Spotted Owl, Buff-breasted Flycatcher, and other Arizona specialties.

Saturday, July 12th
AM: Visit the new San Pedro Preserve to search for Green Kingfisher, Tropical and Thick-billed Kingbird, flycatchers.

PM: Travel to Douglas then up to Portal, gateway to the Chiricahuas. Look for Chihuahuan Raven and Scaled Quail. In Portal the Spofford’s have created an excellent hummingbird area where Lucifer, Blue-throated and others are present. Camp in Cave Creek Canyon. The birding here is excellent for most of the Arizona specialties. There are no motels nearby (you’d have to stay in Douglas).

Sunday, July 13th
AM: Church services in the woods—all welcome. Drive up to 8,000 ft. Rustler Park. Targets: Mexican Chickadee, Greater Pewee, Olive and Grace’s Warblers, Western Bluebird, Pygmy Nuthatch, Yellow-eyed Junco, Whiporwill.

PM: Some will return to Tucson and fly back to Utah. Others will want to camp at Rustler Park.

Monday, July 14th
AM: Bird Rustler Park. Drive to Wilcox and bird the ponds south of town.

PM: Drive to Phoenix looking for Harris Hawk southeast of Apache Junction.

Tuesday, July 15th
Return to Utah


North American Migration Count Day Results
by Merrill Webb

Editor's note: The following article was inadvertently omitted from the printed version of the June Newsletter that was mailed to the Utah County Birders. Watch for it to appear in the July Newsletter mailing.

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 BUY Motion Picture Studio. Ten species of warbler were observed with the Yellow being the most common (237 individuals). Most numerous shorebird was the American Avocet (153) and the most numerous swallow was the Cliff (344).

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.


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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