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May 1999


May Meeting

Wednesday May 19th, 1999,  7:00 p.m., Bean Museum, BYU Campus, Provo

Professor Clayton White, Brigham Young University, Curator of Birds at the Bean Museum and one of the nation's leading research ornithologists, will give us an update on several ongoing studies: Mountain Plovers, Flammulated Owls, and Falcons.


Up-coming Field Trip

May 21st - 23rd
Beaver Dam Slope / Washington County

The main group will be leaving from the Bean Museum at 7:00 AM Friday the 21st and coming back Sunday evening at about 6:00 PM. Details of housing / camping etc. will be given at the Monthly Meeting on the 19th. The plan is to bird Lytle Ranch and the Beaver Dam Slope on Saturday and the rest of the time will be spent at other great Washington County birding locations.

To arrange housing or to meet up with the group for part of the field trip, call Junece Markham at 373-2487 or Dennis Shirley at 423-1108.

A Big Sit

by Darlene Amott (

A few weeks ago Carol Nelson and I were birding in Midway. While walking down the road by the ponds at the fish hatchery, we saw a tree full of Great Blue Herons. We stood and watched them for some time. During that time we saw also a Great Egret, a dozen or more Osprey, many Sandhill Cranes, two Turkey Vultures, an unidentified hawk, Song Sparrows, several Cinnamon Teal, and Red-winged Blackbirds. Some were in trees, some on the ground, and some in the air. As we walked back to the car, Carol suggested that we should take time to just sit and watch someday. That's right. Why were we just standing there and getting tired. Who knows what we might have seen had we sat quietly and stayed longer. Why not let the birds come to us instead of trying to chase them all of the time.

Lois Clark is a true advocate of the "Big Sit," and I have heard her suggest it often. It always sounded good to me, but then I would go off with the others to see what was around the next bend. Lois always has her stool with her, but we don't often give her time to use it. One time she and I took our stools, drove to a spot near the bridge below the Jordanelle Dam and just sat for a while. It was delightful. There are several favorite birding spots where just sitting could be very advantageous. Let me cite one example from the past which illustrates the benefit of just sitting. During the first Christmas bird count in which I participated, we had driven down onto Riverside Golf Course and we were checking out the river. The snow was deep and walking was hard. When we reached the river, Lois put down her stool and told us that she would sit there while the rest of us plodded on down the river path. We struggled all the way down to the gate and back, and we saw several good birds. However, when we returned to where Lois was sitting and asked what she had seen, her count was as good as ours. The walk down the river was necessary in that situation, but I was sold on the advantages of just sitting at times. Do I do it? No. For some reason I am usually in a hurry and I am driven to see what is next.

For those who may be interested, I would like to propose a "Big Sit" field trip. It would be necessary to have a comfortable stool, undoubtedly some mosquito repellent, patience, and a willingness to sit quietly. We are a sociable people, and the desire to chat in such a setting could limit the possibility of seeing some special birds. However, chatter is a topic for another article. There are birding places where walking is necessary, however, there are places where just sitting can be a profitable experience, as well. Let's try it, we might just like it.


Robin’s View

by Robin Tuck (

"But I don't want bird watchers ruining it for me." - John R.

I drove out the lane, toward the lake, following a pick-up truck hoping the driver was the land owner. When I stopped, he came over to me and said "Birdwatching, Huh? Well you can watch birds on my property." His daughter had taken Hal Black's nature class some years before and he knew his farm land along the lake was prime birding country.

When I told him about the Little Blue Heron seen nearby, he responded "Comes through every year on migration. A lot of birds migrate through here every spring."

We discussed the politics of the shore line ownership between him and the state (the lake has been kept at artificially high levels for the past several years so the state can establish their rights to more of the shoreline), a topic of importance to him. We also talked about the new construction on the upper end of his property. John pointed out that the land was not wetland, but was land he had farmed for many years, currently harvesting grass from it.

And he didn't want birdwatchers to limit what he could do with his property. But he was willing to let birdwatchers go through his property down to the shore to watch birds.

I watch with more than passing interest the battles between those who want to develop the land and those who would have it remain pristine. It seems unavoidable that more people will move in, requiring more space for homes and services. Our area is growing and growing fast.

I heard it said once, that when people move into an area and begin to love it, they all the sudden want to close the gate, and not let more people move in behind them. Plainly, we cannot close the gate. We cannot stem the tide of people moving into our area and taking away needed habitat. We can't stop it, but I wish we could.


Birding Central California

by Beula Hinckley

The last week of January Ed and I took an auto trip (destination the Monterey Bay area). We planned the trip to go through the Central Valley of California in order to do some birding at the Merced/San Luis National Wildlife Refuges. From November through February is the time to see wintering-over geese and Sandhill Cranes in considerable numbers, and we were not disappointed!

We stayed the night in the city of Merced so we could easily get to the refuge before 8:00 a.m. Just before we reached the entrance to the Merced NWR, the first crane flew right over our car and settled in the field adjacent to the highway, followed by many others. Then Snow/Ross’ geese flew in, and then great numbers of White-Fronted Geese. Great flocks of all three species just kept coming in for at least half an hour. They’d get settled and then fly up and settle down again, all eventually landing close enough to be seen easily without binoculars. Scattered among all the geese and cranes were the regal Great White Egrets. It was really exhilarating, exciting, and beautiful!

When we got the scope on them, though, we noticed a couple of things. First, the Sandhill cranes appeared smaller than I remembered. We met a local birder later in the day who explained this by saying that these were Lesser Sandhill Cranes, apparently peculiar to this locale. Then, though I saw a few geese that had the bills and size for Snow Geese, many of them sure looked like Ross’ to me. I lost confidence in my ability to tell the difference until the same local birder said that both last week and this, their local group had identified more Ross’ than Snows in the flocks. Later I found by reading that Merced offers the best opportunity to see many Ross’ Geese.

If you want to go, head for Merced (south of Modesto), and then take SH 59 straight south 8 miles and then west on Sandymush road.


Book Review

by Beula Hinckley

Winn, Marie. Redtails in Love  (New York: Pantheon Books, 1998). 292 p.

This is a true wildlife drama which takes place in New York City’s Central Park. The cast of characters include the Regulars, "who notice what others have long learned to ignore: the sights and sounds, smells, textures of the world around them." Most of the Regulars are dedicated birdwatchers and some focus on the plants and animals in Central Park as well. Jobs or income or family background don’t matter. What does matter is skill and, most of all, regularness. This is what binds them together. It allows them to be there, observing, noting, keeping track.

The Bird Register is their communications center. It is kept at the Loeb Boathouse. Anyone can make notes about bird sightings in it and/or other observations, and many do - new birders, old timers, out-of-town birdwatchers, ornithologists from the Natural History Museum, and tourists.

The stars of this drama are two Redtail Hawks who decide to nest in Central Park. It is an historic event. In the 119 years of the park’s existence, no hawk had ever nested there before (though there is a good record of the sightings of sixteen migrating hawks). Not only that, but the pair eventually choose a high-priced Fifth Avenue apartment building on which to nest. (Other tenants are Woody Allen and Mary Tyler Moore!) The fascinating and detailed saga of the Redtails continues through the book.

In addition, there are other sub-dramas from nature taking place in the Park, all faithfully reported in the Bird Register, and eventually compiled and written by Marie Winn, one of the Regulars who also writes a column on nature and birdwatching for the Wall Street Journal.

This book is a great read! It’s all true, but reads like a novel. I have it for borrowing or BYU Bookstore has it. It is also available from in paperback, hard cover, and large print editions.


Newsletter Options (An Experimental Program)

For those that have E-mail or are on the Internet there are several options for receiving the newsletter:

Regular Mail, Internet and E-mail

Regular Mail: It takes a couple of day or so for the newsletter to get to you by mail. Everyone is welcome to receive the newsletter delivered to their mailbox, but if you discover that you’ve already read it (in you E-mail or on the Web) and you want to help out the budget a bit, you can choose the other options instead.

On the Internet: You can read the newsletter as soon as it comes out (usually by the second Thursday of the month) by going to, click on "Utah County Birders", then click on "Newsletter" (there are newsletters for the last couple of year on the web site).

By E-mail: As soon as the newsletter is ready, you can receive it in your E-mail. This way you don’t have to check to see if it’s posted on the web yet. You can receive it as regular text in an E-mail (without bold, underline and different fonts) or you can receive it as an attached WordPerfect Document (let me know what kind of word processor you have and we may be able to send it in a compatible format -- we can experiment a little bit).

Feel free to try out a combination of options
to see what works best for you.

To choose your options, send an E-mail to:   or call Milton at 373-2795. (If you’d like a formatted attachment, please let me know what word processor you use).


"Top 10" Lists

Utah County Big Year

(bird species seen in one given year in Utah County)

  1. 230 - Dennis Shirley, (1997)
  2. 223 - Merrill Webb (1996)
  3. 205 - Junece Markham (1996)
  4. 203 - Reed Stone (1996)
  5. 200 - Cheryl Peterson (1996)
  6. 200 - Chris Peterson (1996)
  7. 200 - Tuula Rose
  8. 198 - Matt DeVries (1996)
  9. 192 - Julie Tuck (1996)
  10. 190 - Bonnie Williams (1996)

Check out the other "Top Ten" lists for Utah County at Send in your numbers to Milton at 373-2795 or E-mail


State Hotline Highlights


Matt Billerman, Shawn Billerman, Mark Stackhouse - Birds seen at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on Sunday, 04/11, include BONAPARTE'S GULLS, CASPIAN TERNS, and 100's of MARBLED GODWITS at the northwest corner of the auto-tour loop. A flock of about 20 BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS were also seen about 5 miles east of the refuge.


Don McIvor - The BLUE JAYS at James Mack Park in Smithfield continue to be seen, with recent sightings on Thursday, 04/08. The jays appear to be moving between the park and the nearby Smithfield Cemetery.

Ron Ryel; Bob Atwood - A ROSS'S GOOSE was seen in a pond on 9800 North, west of Richmond, on Sunday, 04/11. A HORNED GREBE was on the same pond (RR). The grebe was seen again on Monday, 04/12.

Mark Stackhouse - A NORTHERN GOSHAWK was seen flying over the parking area at Beaver Mountain Ski Resort on Sunday, 04/11.


Carol Gwynn - Along the Antelope Island Causeway, four SANDERLINGS were seen on Saturday, 04/10

Troy Parkin - A SURF SCOTER was seen at Farmington Bay WMA on Sunday, 04/18. It was in the canal by the locked gate near the Egg Island observation point.

Troy Parkin; Joel & Kathy Beyer - A GREAT EGRET was seen just east of the Egg Island observation point at Farmington Bay WMA on Tuesday, 04/27 (TP). Also at Farmington Bay, a BLUE-WINGED TEAL and several BONAPARTE'S GULLS were seen on Sunday, 04/25.


Suzanne Boshane - An AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVER was seen in the Harrison Unit of Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge on Wednesday, 04/07.

Jay Banta - A GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE has been present in the staff housing area at Fish Springs NWR from Thursday, 04/23 through at least Monday, 04/26. Birders wishing to bird the housing area need to request permission at the refuge office on weekdays, or at one of the residences on weekends.


Chuck Larue (of AZ), John Spence; Fary Rosenberg (of AZ) - A YELLOW-FOOTED GULL was seen at Lake Powell on Wednesday, 04/21 (CL,JS). The bird was seen near the dam in Arizona, and then went to roost at Lone Rock Beach near Wahweap, in Utah. It was found again on Friday, 04/23 near The Chains, a swimming area north of the dam on the east side of the lake (GR). This is the second record for Yellow-footed Gull in Utah, and the first record for Arizona.

The YELLOW-FOOTED GULL which was seen at Lake Powell on Wednesday, 04/21, has not been seen since Friday, 04/23.


Leslie Loeffel - BLACK ROSY-FINCHES were seen at the feeder at Alf's Restaurant, at the base of the Sugarloaf ski lift at Alta Ski Resort on Friday, 04/09.

Pat Jividen - An apparent female DICKCISSEL has been visiting a feeder in Holladay. The bird was seen in the afternoon on Monday and Tuesday, 04/26 and 04/27. To make arrangemnts to see the bird, and to obtain more current reports of its visits, call 944-5001. If verified, this will be the fifth record of Dickcissel in Utah.

Brandy Cox - A PEREGRINE FALCON was seen near the junction of I-215 and 21st South in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, 04/21.


Lew Wilkinson - An AMERICAN BITTERN was seen east of Richfield on Saturday, 04/10. The bird was in a small pond which can be reached by taking Glenwood Road east to 2450 East, and going south 1.2 miles to the pond on the right.

Tom Madden - An immature TUNDRA SWAN was seen about 4 miles east of Richfield on Thursday, 04/22.


Scott Gruwell; Merrill Webb - A LITTLE BLUE HERON was found in Springville, south of the Mountain Springs Truck Stop, on Monday, 04/26 (SG). It was found again on Tuesday, 04/27, in the corner of a flooded field on the west side of I-15 (MW). Since Tuesday, it has been seen many times in the same location, with sightings as recent as Thursday, 04/29. To get there, take exit 265 from I-15, and go west to the frontage road, and then turn south. The pond is on the west side of the road about 1/4 mile south of the exit. This is the 8th sighting of Little Blue Heron in Utah.

Tuula Rose, Bonnie Williams, Reed Stone, Eric Huish, Milton Moody - Two GREAT EGRETS were seen at the north end of 4000 West in Lakeshore on Saturday, 04/24. This is the same area where Great Egrets nested last year.


A pair WHOOPING CRANES has been seen this week in the fields between Deer Creek Reservoir and the Midway Fish Hatchery (m. obs.). The most recent reports come from Wednesday, 04/14. These individuals are birds which have been released into the wild in an effort to establish a population of Whooping Cranes in the Rocky Mountain area, and because they are not yet established, do no constitute a valid Whooping Crane record for Utah (they're great to see anyway!).

Eric Huish - A HORNED GREBE in breeding plumage was seen at the Charleston turn-off at Deer Creek Reservoir on Saturday, 04/17.

Stan Smith - A WHOOPING CRANE was seen flying with a small group of Sandhill Cranes between Midway and Heber City on Monday, 04/26 . This bird is no doubt one of the Whooping Cranes recently released to the wild.


Rick Fridell, Steve Summers and others - An ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD has been visiting a feeder in Hurricane from Tuesday, 04/20 through at least Monday, 04/26. To get information on seeing the bird, call (801) 487-9453 and leave a message.

Mark Stackhouse - A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was seen along the road through the Beaver Dam Mountains, at a pullout about 5 miles south of the junction with the road to Gunlock Reservoir, on Tuesday, 04/27.

Mark Stackhouse, David Wheeler - A BENDIRE'S THRASHER was seen and heard singing just south of Zella Tank, on the southwest slope of the Beaver Dam Mountains, on Monday, 04/26, and again on Tuesday, 04/27 (MS,DW). To get to Zella Tank, take the Welcome Springs Pipeline Road south from the road to Lytle Ranch.

Dave Allen (of NV) - A pair of COMMON BLACK-HAWKS continues to be seen at Lytle Ranch, at the first grove of cottonwoods north of the ranch. They were seen on Saturday, 04/24 (DA), and on Tuesday, 04/27 (MS). Also at Lytle Ranch, a "Myrtle" race of the YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER was seen on Saturday, 04/24 (DA).

Mark Stackhouse, David Wheeler - A flock of RED-NECKED PHALAROPES was on Quail Creek Reservoir on Monday, 04/26.


Ingrid Paine - A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW was seen visiting a feeder in Pleasant View on Thursday, 04/22. The feeder is at the first house on the west side of the road, north of the gate, on 900 West in Pleasant View. In the trees near the gate on 900 West in Pleasant View, LEWIS' WOODPECKERS continue to be seen as of Thursday, 04/22.