Utah County Birders Newsletter
November 2001


Wednesday, November 28th.

Meet at 7:00 PM in the Bean Museum Auditorium on the BYU Campus.

Merrill Webb will present us with our annual meeting in preparation for the Christmas Bird Count
(Count assignments and winter bird quiz.)


There are no Field Trips planned this month.

Get out and participate in as many Christmas Birds Counts as you can. 
Check www.utahbirds.org for up to date info.

It's Good to be Back
by Dennis Shirley

For 28 days during October and early November, I've been out-of-touch with the birding community while trekking in one of the most isolated chunks of real estate left in the U.S. My son, Bryan, and I have been backpacking/camping/hunting the slick rock canyons west of Lake Powell in the Kaiparowitz Plateau/ Grand Staircase National Monument vicinities. 
   My excuse for this outing was first and foremost to hunt a Desert Bighorn Sheep ram. Many of you may not know, but along with my passion for birding, hunting takes up a major spot on my "To Do List" each year. I was lucky enough, in 2001, to draw one of the few coveted hunting permits for desert sheep in Utah. It's too bad one has to have an excuse to turn his back on society and be gone this amount of time and have this type of experience, but that's the way life usually is for most of us. No, I didn't find the old, senile, last-year-of-his-life trophy ram I was seeking, but it ended up making little difference in the success of the hunt. 
   Can you imagine spending four weeks with a most favorite companion (my son) with nothing more to do each day than to look, listen, and feel the rhythms of the canyon country. Our bird list palled at what normally would be considered a trip list for this length of time. We found out there aren't many birds (let alone species) in the P-J, sandstone cliff country of southern Utah in the fall. We had hopes of finding a "hotspot" migrant stopoff or secret little slot canyon with a pair of spotted owls, but it wasn't meant to be. We ended up with about a new bird species a day for our efforts--nothing unusual--just those you would expect in this habitat, including: Juniper Titmouse, Common Bushtit, Pinyon Jay, Rock, Canyon, and Bewidk's Wrens, Black-throated Sparrow, to name just a few. The Northern Raven was, perhaps, the most commonly seen species. Other trip list animals included four snakes (2 common racer, one gopher snake, and one striking black and white banded common Kingsnake; 5 lizard species (the yellow-headed leopard lizards were awesome); a dozen or so mammals, and two large tarantulas. Six species of insects are now found pinned in my collection. 
   We slept near Anasazi Indian ruins, ate what we carried on our backs, drank from seeps along the way, and walked under the Wingate. It's good to be back--I guess! 

Robin's View

The Thick and the Thin
by Robin Tuck

It was a beautiful fall day, so I snuck away from work, taking an extended lunch break and, with a taco in one hand and my binoc's in the other, I walked quietly up the Provo River trail toward the oxbow. I must be losing my hearing, I thought; it was so quiet. Arriving at the oxbow, I was surprised it was dry; not a drop of water in it, and grass growing on what had been the bottom.
   Finally, I heard twittering in front of me, in a large bramble where the path around the oxbow reconnects with the walking path. I think I saw Juncos and White-crowns, but they moved so fast in the bush's deep shadows that I could not get a good look. Of course, there I was standing, peering into the shrubbery when a lady jogged past being run by her dog. I pondered just what she thought of me standing there looking at 'nothing'. She didn't even respond to my feeble 'hi.' It would be easier to proclaim myself a bird watcher if there were actually birds there to watch.
   Slowly walking back to my car, I finally did see some birds, a flock of American Crows headed towards the airport, causing me to think "The crows are back." Crows. My big sighting of the day was a flock of seven crows. The bumper-sticker says "The worst day birding is better than the best day working," so rejuvenated, I drove back to my office.

High Tech Birding
by Robin Tuck

The Utah County Birders offers several Internet-based services to Utah residents and our interested friends. We offer a mail list server service and a web presence. While it is easy to think of these as one and the same, each offers a very different service for interested birders. Yea what? 'Mail list server' is the official name for the 'Birdnet' that many people subscribe to. It works by birders sending their bird sightings and other messages to a single email address, and the server forwarding it on to everyone who has subscribed. The software is set up to allow people to subscribe and receive the messages, or unsubscribe to quit getting the messages.
   Utah County Birders actually provides 5 public mail lists and several private mail lists supporting birding in Utah. The public mail lists include:
Birdnet - The state-wide birding hotline most people are familiar with. This hotline is intended for bird sighting messages of interest to birders throughout the state. Messages posted to the birdnet should be brief and specific to bird sightings of interest to all.
SLBnet - For bird sightings and birding information of local interest to birders in the Salt Lake area and for items concerning the Salt Lake Birders organization.
UCBnet - For bird sightings and birding information of local interest to birders in the Utah Valley area and for items concerning the Utah County Birders organization.
RedCliffs - For bird sightings and birding information of local interest to birders in the Southwest Utah and for items concerning the Red Cliffs Audubon Society.
   Other specific list servers have been set up to assist communications among specific groups within the birding community, for example, the Records Committee has a list to simplify sending messages among themselves. The easiest way to join one of these mail lists is to visit http://www.utahbirds.org and click on 'Birding Hotline'.  Should other birding groups within Utah have a need for a dedicated mail list, send a request to webmaster@utahbirds.org
   This introduces the second service offered by the Utah County Birders, the UtahBirds.org web site. UtahBirds is a clearing-house for general birding information within the state. A great variety of Utah birding information is maintained on the site. These include: Links or sections for each Utah Birding organization. Web space is provided for other birding organizations if they would like, or links are provided to their respective sites. Summaries of past sightings from Birdnet and other state wide reports. Lists of places to bird, complete with directions. Utah Record Committee submissions and forms. Information and range maps for birds occurring in Utah.. Christmas Bird Count information. Bird sighting checklists. Calendar of special birding events. Links to commercial sites of interest to Utah birders.
   Both the mail list server and the UtahBirds web site are maintained by Milton Moody, who invests a huge amount if time and effort in making them among the best on the Internet (the site is recognized as the 17th best on the Internet). People familiar with the construction and maintenance of quality web sites know that there is a huge amount of work and extensive infrastructure involved. UtahBirds is implemented in pure html and is hosted by a national hosting service. It exists only because volunteers give of their time, effort and imagination.