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March 1997


Matt's Message
by Matt DeVries

The past week has seen the first wave of neo-tropical migrants trickle into the state. Rough-winged Swallows, Tree Swallows, American Avocets, and Blue-winged Teal have all been seen in the state this week. Cinnamon Teal and Double-crested cormorants are becoming increasingly common. Birds can be heard singing and seen displaying or carrying nest materials. These activities signal the arrival of spring.

Spring is a special time for me. I live daily with a sense of anticipation and excitement. I anxiously await the arrival of birds that have spent the winter in South and Central America. First as a trickle and then a flood the birds arrive to breed. In the process, they excite my mind and emotions.

At this exciting time of year, several opportunities have presented themselves to the Utah County Birders. We have the opportunity to assist in several projects that will be both enjoyable and useful. Participation in these projects will make us volunteer birders. We will increase our birding skills and assist others in important research.

Here is a list of current opportunities:

  1. Reporting sightings of Short-eared Owls and Burrowing Owls for a DWR research project.
  2. Monitoring spring bird activity at the wetlands mitigation site next to Kuhni's.
  3. Participating in International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday, May 10th.
  4. Walking line transects near Myton to help Ann Ellison locate breeding Mountain Plovers.

Each day, as the migrating birds grow closer, my enthusiasm for these activities builds. I am excited that we have these unique opportunities to bird, learn, and make a contribution. More detail on these activities is provided in this newsletter or will be in a future edition.

The above volunteer birding activities combined with the field trips, day and evening walks, and monthly meetings that are planned will make this a busy and exciting spring for the Utah County Birders.


March Meeting: Merlins in Utah Valley
Birders Meet Day Earlier in March
by Dennis Shirley

The March meeting will be held one day earlier than usual, on Wednesday, March 19, 1997. It will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the BYU Bean Museum. You don't want to miss this meeting! We have a special treat for you raptor freaks.

Don Haney, a BYU graduate student under Dr. Clayton White, will present his research on wintering Merlins in Utah Valley. Don is just finishing up his research this spring and will graduate in April with a masters degree in zoology. Originally from southern California, he did his undergraduate work at Humboldt State in northern California. He and his wife Denise and their two children in Orem.

Don would like to teach and do wildlife research on a college level when his studies are complete.

Bring your records on Short-eared and Burrowing Owls to the meeting. (See article later in this issue.)


Robin’s View
by Robin Tuck


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


Upcoming Field Trips

Mark your calendar with the following field trip dates:

March 15. Willard Bay, Bear River Refuge, to observe migrating birds. Leave from BYU's Bean Museum at 6:30 a.m. sharp.

April 26. Pelican Lake in the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge near Roosevelt. On the all-day trip, we will observe migrating birds, shorebirds, Black Terns, Eastern Kingbirds, and possibly warblers and bitterns.

May 10. International Migratory Bird Day. Merrill Webb and the Utah County Birders will conduct a Utah County-wide bird count.

May 24-26 (Sat.-Mon., Memorial Day weekend). Lytle Ranch, in southern Utah near St. George.

If you have other ideas for field trips, contact Ned Hill at 375-2417 or 375-2419, or send e-mail to


Short-eared and Burrowing Owl Records Needed!
by Dennis Shirley

The Division of Wildlife Resources has requested information from the Utah County Birders concerning Short-eared Owls and Burrowing Owls. Specifically, information regarding occurrence, nesting sites, roosting sites, valuable foraging areas in Utah County (and east Juab County) from Benjamin Slough south to Nephi, and Goshen Valley.

Information recently collected (1996 season) is most useful, but if you believe several years' data is necessary to more accurately portray the species' natural history (your time permitting), that would be much appreciated. The information we provide will be used to identify potential impacts to the species, and to avoid or minimize any actual impacts.

Please bring any records you have to our March meeting. Dennis will summarize our information and pass it on to Gary Ogborn, habitat biologist for the DWR. Gary thanks our group for our active interest in preserving and protecting our state's wildlife.


Kuhni's Pond Bird Census
by Merrill Webb

The Utah County Birders have a chance to do some field work to determine bird species and number at the Kuhni's Pond during the next three months. This will be a three-times-a-week census, utilizing no more than two or three people at a time.

For more information, attend the March Birders meeting on Wednesday, or call Merrill Webb at 224-6113.


Calling Hotline for Birders

Have you ever seen a bird species for the first time, and wanted to let other birders know about it?.

The Utah County Birders have organized a telephone tree for informing members about new or unusual sightings. To access the tree, phone either Junece Markham at 375-2487, or Julia Tuck at 377-8084. If you think you are being left out, contact either Junece or Julia to make sure you have a place in the tree.


Future Meetings

April: Birds of the Virgin River Riparian Habitat - Ken McDonald
September: Birds of the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem - Don Paul
Other months:
Hawk Watch International - Western Hawk Migration - Steve Hoffman
Utah's Neotropical Migrants - Jim Parrish.

Please contact Dennis Shirley if you have additional suggestions for future meetings.