Utah County Birders Newsletter
Vol. 4, No. 10 - October 1999

Meeting for October

Wednesday, October 20th, 7:00 PM, Bean Museum, BYU Campus, Provo, UT.

"How to Find and Photograph Birds." Chris Weisbender, assisted by Allen Fuchs, will presenting his nature pictures

This summer he photographed a Williamsons Sapsucker nest for about2 months.

Field Trips

Thursday, October 21st

White Valley / Johnson Canyon (North of Tremonton). Target Birds: Gray Partridge and Sharp-tailed Grouse.
Leader: Dennis Shirley.
Meet at fifteen to 5:00 AM at the Bean Museum, BYU Campus, Provo, Utah. Leave at 5:00 AM

Saturday, October 23rd

Willard Bay / Antelope Island Causeway / and maybe the Bear River Refuge (depending on hunters)
Leader: Ned Hill
Meet at the Bean Museum, BYU Campus, Provo Leave at 6:30 AM

Little Things

by Darlene Amott

Have you ever looked closely at the world around you? I mean really close, just somewhat shy of microscopic intensity. It's amazing isn't it? This world is alive with intriguing shapes, and forms, and patterns. What may appear to be chaos in nature, actually, is a wonderful series of things in perfect balance and proportion.

While in Idaho this summer, we were driving on a road that seemed to go around the valley we were viewing. At one point we were just high enough to have a panoramic view of the whole area. The valley in which Island Park and Mack's Inn are located is a huge caldera, the remains of an ancient volcano. My nephew remarked that when he was up on top of Sawtelle Peak, which is the highest point in the caldera, he saw a miniature caldera. This repetition of form in smaller but proportionate size is called a fractal. We began to talk about fractals and how often they appear in nature. It is this repetition of shape and proportion and balance which turns chaos into beauty. Nature is relaxing and comfortable because it is in balance. Let's consider a few examples. Several years ago, when in Texas banding birds, I held a tiny Carolina Wren in my hands. It was so small, but so perfect. The body was only about two inches long, and the tail feathers no longer, but all were perfectly formed. Some of the feathers on the wings and body were smaller, but had the same shape and proportion. The evidence of fractals. A few minutes later I held a Cardinal in my hands. This bird was considerably larger, but just as perfect. The body to tail ratio was just about the same, and the feathers were formed in the same way. Here, too, there was a variation in the size of the feathers, but not in form or proportion. Perfect fractals.

The centers of flowers have perfect fractals of spirals, squares, hexagons, etc. Did you know that the center of a daisy has a shape just like that found in the eye pattern on a peacock's tail? A beehive, a pine cone, and a fish, among other things, all are built in perfect pattern and proportion. Tree branches can be included in this list, as well. Some are asymmetrical, but all have proportion and balance.

The next time you go out, slow down long enough to consider how you feel among the trees, or in the middle of a meadow, or on a winding trail. Consider what happens to you as you spot that sought after bird on a branch or on the water. The peace and comfort and serenity that is sensed is the gift of the aesthetically pleasing relationship of all that you see. Enjoy it and cherish it.

Robin's View

by Robin Tuck

Year 2000 Birding Contest

2000 is such a round number, with such presence and current significance that it is hard to NOT include it somehow in the Year 2000 birding contest as 'Do 2000 of this or 2000 of that.'

The question is: 'What significant thing is done by birders often enough that 2000 occurrences of them can be required by the contest?'

I have pondered this question repeatedly because a successful contest must (1) cause people to stretch, and (2) be achievable. The general rule for contests is to make the central part something birders WANT to do. In summary, the contest must be hard but achievable and worth having done.

The activities encouraged by the contest must be their own reward. There is no way the contest prize can be worth enough to cause contestants to put out the effort if the action alone is not worth it. The record keeping needed by the contest may be a worthy goal but cannot be the central point of the contest or it will not be successful.

The only thing I can think of that birders might possibly do 2000 times in a year is have a bird sighting. In 1998, my last contest year, I recorded over 2700 separate bird sightings, but I entered them on my Palm-pilot as an experiment in record keeping. I ended up spending almost as much time recording the sighting as viewing the bird; not optimal.

The purpose of the contest is to encourage more and better birding among the contestants, providing encouragement for personal growth. If the contestant wishes to be a 'lister,' that is fine, but record keeping for the contest will be kept at a minimum. Therefore, seeing and recording 2000 sightings will NOT be the primary focus of the Year 2000 Birding Contest, but will be optional for those willing to keep the needed records.

So, in the coming year go birding, stretch yourself, take others and enjoy yourself. Keep adequate records but mostly have fun.

The Year 2000 Birding Contest
Millennial Birder Preliminary Details

The contest for year 2000 will be to see a minimum of 200 bird species in Utah over the course of the year. Optional contest elements may be accomplished for added recognition, as defined below. To be eligible for a completion certificate, records certifying the accomplishment must be sent to the contest judge (Robin Tuck, 917 E. 2730 N, Provo UT 84604) by January 10, 2001. There will be a cost for award prizes if they are desired. More information about the prizes will be published toward the end of 2000. They will include patches, mugs and embroidered shirts. In addition to the basic contest requirement, up to five (5) optional components may be added for more challenge. The optional components are:

  1. Record a minimum of 2000 unique birding sightings during the year. A sighting is unique if it is in a different place or time or of a different bird species. The same bird the same place but 10 minutes later is not sufficiently unique. Record the accomplishment any way desired, but having 2000 or more separate events recorded.
  2. See 5 more species in Utah in 2000 than seen in any other year. To accomplish this component, you must know the highest number of bird species you have seen in any other year, then better that number by 5.
  3. Add to your ABA area life list new species. If your life list is over 500 species, add 5 new species, otherwise add 10 new species. To accomplish this component you must be a lister.
  4. If traveling outside Utah, see and record at least 25 bird species not (normally) found in Utah.
  5. If traveling outside the USA, see and record at least 50 bird species not (normally) seen in the US.
  6. Have a 'Personal Big Day' in Utah where you see and identify 100 species within a 24 hour period. This may be accomplished alone or in a group. Not everyone in the group needs to be participating in the Big Day, however.
  7. See and record 25 bird species in each county in Utah.
  8. Participate as a volunteer in at least 4 birding activities, such as Breeding Bird Surveys, Christmas Bird Counts, and school nature days. Each event should require more than 2 hours of volunteer time.
  9. Lead at least 4 birding excursions for your birding organizations where more than 5 other individuals participate. Only one person can claim to lead a particular excursion.
  10. Locate and report on the birding hotline or e-mail list 5 uncommon birds or 1 rare bird in Utah that is found and viewed by others. Each participant completing the contest will receive a colorful computer generated certificate attesting to the accomplishment. Gold stars will be added for each optional component completed up to a maximum of five (5). A suitable embroidered design will be created commemorating this contest that may be embroidered on a shirt, hat of patch, or printed on a tee shirt or mug. Completing participants will be able to purchase these items at cost (depending on demand).

How I Used the Internet to Find 20 Lifers

by Tom Williams

OK. Part of finding the twenty lifers was birding Point Pelee and some excellent sites in Michigan. But the Internet helped.

When we decided to visit family in the Detroit area, my wife Lois got excited about seeing children and grandchildren. I got on the Net and started searching for "Michigan Birding." I immediately found the S.E. Michigan Birding home page (www.ais.org/~alb/mi_bird.html) which had a profusion of links to local birding sites, RBAs, Michigan birding organizations, and various checklists. I learned that the Detroit Audubon Society had a field trip scheduled to Point Pelee the day after we were to arrive. The trip leader's phone number was listed; a quick phone call confirmed that the trip was on and that anyone was welcome.

On Saturday, September 4, I simply showed up at the Point Pelee Visitors Center, looked around for binoculars and scopes, and was quickly welcomed into a group of about 15 proficient birders familiar with the Point and the local avifauna. We birded from 8:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. and throughout they were more than helpful. The local birders seemed a bit disappointed with the number and variety of birds, but I was more than satisfied with the 42 species I saw -- especially the 16 lifers. Highlights for the day included Broad-winged Hawk, Merlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper, Great Black-backed Gull, Common Tern, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Red-eyed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Northern Parula Chestnut-sided Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, American Redstart, Prothonotary Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Northern Cardinal, and Baltimore Oriole.

Let me note that, although Northern Cardinals were a highlight for me, they got as much respect from the Michigan birders as a Magpie gets from us.

In addition to the Point Pelee field trip, my Internet searches led me to Crosswinds Marsh in southern Wayne County. Like our own Provo Wetlands, Crosswinds was established in mitigation of wetlands destroyed by an expansion of the airport. Unlike Provo Wetlands, it has several miles of boardwalks and trails, as well as tables and a screened shelter. Of course with Kuhni's near at hand, our wetlands isn't likely to become a popular picnic spot are even if they add tables.

Birding on my own at Crosswinds I found 32 species. Highlights were Double-crested Cormorant (in great numbers; they are NOT an endangered species!), Tundra Swan, Red-breasted Merganser, Great Egret, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Blue Jay, Philadelphia Vireo, Eastern Bluebird, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Tufted Titmouse.

By the time our one-week trip ended, I had seen 73 species and found 20 life birds. Sure, I could have had a good time birding unfamiliar territory without using the Internet first, but I had a much better time because I did.

State Hotline Highlights

Joshua Kreitzer and Lew Wilkinson - At Minersville Reservoir, 1 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, 8 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, and a BONAPARTE'S GULL were seen on Sunday, 09/12.

Todd Black - On Promontory Point over the weekend of 09/04 to 09/05, NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, NASHVILLE WARBLER, and TOWNSEND'S WARBLER were seen amongst many other migrating birds.

Mark Stackhouse - Two AMERICAN GOLDEN PLOVERS and 2 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS were seen at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge on Wednesday, 09/15. The birds were on mudflats to the west of the road along the west side of the auto-tour loop, about one mile south of the northwest corner.

Mark Stackhouse - A MERLIN and a NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH were seen at Willard Bay SP on Monday, 09/13. Both birds were in the wooded area south of the campground, just north of the beach. The Merlin was of the dark "suckleyi" subspecies.

R. J. Adams - A PALM WARBLER was seen at Lucin, about 40 miles north of Wendover, west of the Great Salt Lake, on Sunday, 09/26. The bird was in the trees around the dry pond to the south of the main pond. This is the eighth record of Palm Warbler in Utah.

Jeanie Boynton and Ron Ryel - At the campground at Tony Grove in Logan Canyon, a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL and several WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were seen on Saturday, 09/11.

Keith Evans - Many hawks, including a few early ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKS, were seen in the area between Logan and Sardine Canyon on Wednesday, 09/22.

Keith Archibald and Brian Dixon - Among the many hawks migrating through Cahche Valley on Saturday, 10/03, were seven FERRUGINOUS HAWKS in one field two miles north of Newton.

Dee & Mark Stackhouse - A COMMON MOORHEN was again seen at Farmington Bay WMA on Tuesday, 09/07. The bird was in the same area where they have been seen for the past several years, about 50 yards to the west of the first bend along entrance road.

David Jensen - Also at Farmington Bay WMA, an EASTERN KINGBIRD was seen along the entrance road on Sunday, 09/05.

R. J. Adams - An immature PARASITIC JAEGER was seen at Farmington Bay WMA on Friday, 09/17. The bird was seen in the afternoon, about 100 yards south of the Egg Island observation point.

Mark Stackhouse - our HORNED GREBES were seen at Farmington Bay WMA on Sunday, 09/19. They were along the western dike road about one mile north of Egg Island, with two on the east side and two on the west side.

Mark Stackhouse - A winter-plumaged PACIFIC LOON was seen on Tuesday, 09/21, along the Antelope Island Causeway. The bird flew over the causeway about 1.5 miles east of the island, and landed in the lake about 300 yards north of the causeway.

Kevin Johnson - A juvenile PARASITIC JAEGER was seen at Farmington Bay WMA at about 6 pm on Tuesday, 10/06. The bird was seen at the parking area at the south end of the western dike road. This may be the same individual that was reported from Farmington Bay on 09/17.

Colby & Tom NeumanA RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was seen at Fish Springs NWR on Sunday, 09/19. The bird was a juvenile, molting into first-winter plumage, and was first seen at 9 AM in the trees at the picnic area north of the headquarters, and was still there at 2:30 PM. This is the seventh record of Red-breasted Sapsucker in Utah, and the third for Fish Springs. Other good birds at Fish Springs NWR over the weekend included SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and PECTORAL SANDPIPERS, seen on Saturday, 09/18, and a CASSIN'S VIREO and two COMMON TERNS on Sunday, 09/19.

Mark Stackhouse & David Wheeler - At Kaufman Ranch, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK, a CASSIN'S VIREO, and a NASHVILLE WARBLER were seen on Saturday, 09/04. Kaufman Ranch is located at Black Rock, about 21 miles north of Milford on SR 257. Be sure stop at the house to request permission to bird the property.

Josh Kreitzer and Lew Wilkinson - A GREAT EGRET was seen at Clear Lake WMA on Sunday, 09/12.

Jim Tietz - An apparent murrelet, probably of the genus Brachyramphus, and possibly a LONG-BILLED MURRELET, was seen on the Great Salt Lake, north of Saltair, on Sunday, 09/19. The bird was seen from Saltair, flying across the lake well to the north, and landed far out on the lake. The distance was too great for a possitive identification to species. At this time, there are no records for Brachyramphus murrelets in Utah.

Alan Condie - Three WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS were seen in a large spruce tree at Brighton Ski Resort on Wednesday, 09/22. The tree was near the base of the upper lift which leads to Snake Creek Pass.

Mark Stackhouse and David Wheeler - A MERLIN was seen along US 40, about 2 miles east of Roosevelt, on Sunday, 10/03.

Milton Moody - Three SOLITARY SANDPIPERS were seen at different locations along the Provo - Jordan River Trail, just north of the Provo Boat Harbor along the Utah Lake shore, on Wednesday, 09/08.

Brian Maxfield - At Swede Lane, four PECTORAL SANDPIPERS were seen on Friday, 09/17. Swede Lane can be reached by taking the southern Springville exit from I-15 (exit 263), and heading west about 1.5 miles to Swede Lane. Take Swede Lane north until you reach the south shore of Provo Bay.

Reed Stone - Two GREAT EGRETS were seen at Provo Airport on Tuesday, 09/14. The birds were to the east of the southeast corner of the dike road.

Leena Rogers and Tuula Rose - Two NASHVILLE WARBLERS were seen along the Provo/Jordan River Walkway, just north of Utah Lake SP, on Saturday, 10/02.

Herb Clayson - In Salem, a LEWIS'S WOODPECKER was seen on the power poles near the canal which runs past the power substation along 300 West (the road to Loafer Canyon) south of town on Thursday, 09/30. On that same day, 3 SANDHILL CRANES were seen in the field south of the water treatment plant along 1200 West in Salem.

Calleen Cox and Julie VanMoorhem - A BROAD-WINGED HAWK was seen soaring over the Interlocken Estates, just north of Midway, on Wednesday, 09/22. A LEWIS'S WOODPECKER was seen in a dead tree at the junction between Ceri Lane and SR 224, near Wasatch Mountain SP, on Wednesday, 09/22.

Larene Wyss; Robin Tuck and Merrill Webb - The WHITE-TAILED KITE, which was seen west of Enterprise on 08/30, was seen again on Friday, 09/03 and on the morning of Saturday, 09/04. Several subsequent attempts to see the bird were unsuccessful. The bird was about 10 miles west of Enterprise, about 1/2 mile west of the "McComb's Ranch" sign. This is the sixth record of White-tailed Kite in Utah.

Dana Green, Mark Stackhouse and David Wheeler - An adult RED-SHOULDERED HAWK was seen about 11 miles west of Enterprise, near the Terry Ranch, on Saturday, 09/04, at about 4 pm. This is the ninth record of Red-shouldered Hawk in Utah.

Robin Tuck and Merrill Webb - A ZONE-TAILED HAWK was seen again near the Pine Park Campground west of Enterprise. It was seen on Saturday, 09/04. To get to Pine Park, go west from Enterprise for 16 miles to the road to Pine Park, and follow that road for 10 miles to the campground. This is the third record of Zone-tailed Hawk in Utah.

Mark Stackhouse - A male NASHVILLE WARBLER was seen at the North Arm Natural Area at Pineview Reservoir on Wednesday, 09/15. The bird was just west of the first trail junction past the bridge. To get to the natural area, take 12th Street in Ogden east up Ogden Canyon to the dam at Pineview Reservoir. Turn north across the dam, and take this road around the west side of the reservoir until you reach the natural area.