Utah County Birders Newsletter


         September 2020 

    Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    President's Message
    Bird of the Month 
    Field Trip Reports


...Due to the uncertainty of the current situation and out of a desire to protect each other we have decided to postpone it for at least another month this year. As soon as we feel it is safe to resume meetings and our potluck we will do so, but until then, we want you to know we miss seeing all of you and we hope that you are staying safe and healthy and out there enjoying our avian world as much as possible despite our current limitations!



For the month of August [and September]  our field trips can be to see how many counties or WMA or National Forests you can get to. Then send in a field trip report.

Challenge #4 in 2020 see 20 species in 20 Utah counties

Challenge #9 in 2020 see 20 species in 20 National Forest areas or Wildlife Refuges.

Chellenge #7 in 2020 see 20 species at 20 Utah State or National Parks!
Then report back for the newsletter

I miss all of you!!

     Welcome to our new UCB board member, Tammy Northrup. She'll be in charge of publicity.


President's Message - September 2020

            by Machelle Johnson


       What is a Hybrid?

Hermit x Townsend's Warbler
by Suzi Holt

As if Warblers in general aren't hard enough to see and identify, let's throw in hybrids!  This past week at least two Hermit x Townsend Warbler hybrids were seen in 2 different locations in Utah County.  I was interested in how often this occurs so I did a little research and found some great information.

In Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion, he says this about the Townsend's/Hermit hybrid:  "Townsend's and Hermit Warblers hybridize where their ranges overlap in Oregon and Washington, (so of course, they may occur farther south in fall and winter).  Hybrids tend to more closely resemble Hermit by showing patternless cheeks, and some may show a shadow cheek patch reminiscent of black-throated Green Warbler.  Hybrid underparts are often more Townsend's like.  (pg 545)
Other warblers also mix, he says, "Golden-winged and Blue-winged Warblers hybridize freely, producing fertile young that mate and breed with either parent's species as well as other hybrids.  Hybrids form the Brewster's Warbler group; these birds show the basic plumage pattern of Blue-winged Warbler but have yellowish, not white, wing-bars and lack the complete bright yellow underparts of pure Blue-winged.  The young of paired hybrids show a mix of traits, of which the most stunning combination is the Lawrence's Warbler, which combines the face pattern of Golden-winged with the bright yellow head and underparts of Blue-winged.  Hybridization is as much the product of overlapping habitats as it is of genetic similarity."
(pg 526) 

Hermit x Townsend's Warbler
by Suzi Holt

I checked several of my field guides and found that most of them list the Brewsters and Lawrences Warblers, with a picture and description.  They also mention that Hermit x Townsends occurs regularly.  I hadn't paid much attention to this.  I find it hard enough to see the whole bird when looking at them, let alone deciding if it is a Townsend's or Hermit or mix...

Per Wikipedia, A bird hybrid is a bird that has two different species as parents. The resulting bird can present with any combination of characters from the parent species, from totally identical to completely different. Usually, the bird hybrid shows intermediate characteristics between the two species. A "successful" hybrid is one demonstrated to produce fertile offspring. According to the most recent estimates, about 16% of all wild bird species have been known to hybridize with one another; this number increases to 22% when captive hybrids are taken into account.[1] Several bird species hybridize with multiple other species. For example, the Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) is known to interbreed with at least 40 different species. The ecological and evolutionary consequences of multispecies hybridization remain to be determined.[2]

Rose-breasted x Black-headed Grosbeak
by Cliff Miles

Cinnamon x Blue-winded Teal
by Mia McPherson

In the wild, some of the most frequently reported hybrids are waterfowl,[3] gulls,[4] hummingbirds,[5] and birds-of-paradise.[6] Mallards, whether of wild or domestic origin, hybridize with other ducks so often that multiple duck species are at risk of extinction because of it.[7][8] In gulls, Western × Glaucous-winged Gulls (known as "Olympic Gulls") are particularly common; these hybrids are fertile and may be more evolutionarily fit than either parent species.[9] At least twenty different hummingbird hybrid combinations have been reported, and intergeneric hybrids are not uncommon within the family.[10][11]

Wood-warblers are known to hybridize as well, and an unusual three-species warbler hybrid was discovered in May 2018.[12]

Hybridization in shorebirds is unusual but reliably recorded.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20]

As you can see there are links to many articles relating to hybridization in this Wikipedia article if you are interested in more information.  Here are a couple other sites:


I enjoyed learning about hybrids.  I also enjoy studying field guides.  The birds are right there, sitting still, showing all the parts and colors, not flitting around at the tip-top or the thick of the tree.  I can see it and identify it in a picture, out birding I find it to be quite difficult.  

"BOLO", It's migration time!  (Be On the Look Out).
Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion



by Jeremy Telford


Lewis's Woodpecker 
(Melanerpes lewis)

by Steve Van Winkle


 On May 27, 1806 the Lewis and Clark exploratory expedition on the orders of Thomas Jefferson were engaged in an epic adventure to find the northwest passage, a supposed conduit between the Atlantic eastern seaboard and the Pacific coast.

While camped at Kamiah, Idaho on the Clearwater river, Merriwhether Lewis observed and collected the first recorded specimen of named by the same as - the “Black woodpecker” owing to it’s long black beak and blackish head, nape, surrounding collar, upper wings and tail.

Lewis describes its flight behavior as follows:  its flight actions are very similar to that of the Red-headed woodpecker, that the author is familiar with from his birding days on the east coast and to this day still recognized as an accurate depiction. It has a “crowlike flight with slow deliberate wing beats, as it sallies from perch to snatch insects in flight, returning to same or nearby perch”. Birds of North America by Fred J. Alsop.

Upon arriving home this particular specimen, as well as many others, was presented to Charles Peale, director of the Philadelpia Natural History museum where it was studied and given its initial scientific name by the American ornithologist, Alexander Wilson, Picus torquatus, Latin for “woodpecker with a necklace”. Quite descriptive and easy to recall I would venture to say. Eventually reclassified by William Swainson, of Swainson’s hawk notoriety, as Melanerpes lewis meaning “ Lewis’s Black Creeper”. Of course, our current practices of studying these feathered wonders precludes collection of the specimen via the shotgun and relies on banding, microchip tracking, blood sampling and DNA analysis.

My reasons for referencing original documents describing events and attitudes of early ornithologists is first most - to honor their efforts, determination, obstacles and accuracy in describing behavior and character of our wonderfully diverse world of birds. And, to remember the beauty of the written word as penned by ornithologists of yesteryear.

My first recollection of the Lewis, Black, woodpecker was while I was stationed, as a biological aide with the Idaho Fish and Game, at a backwoods and quite remote summer hatchery on Warm River, a tributary near Mesa Falls region of the Snake river Henry’s Fork river.

This handsome bird would dart swiftly through the canopy of Lodgepole and Quakies and edges to “fly-catch” host of insects.   

       Dark glossy-green back
       Red face and wide gray collar
       Dark glossy-green necklace
       Pink wash on belly, sides and flanks
       Sexes alike; juveniles duller and browner than adult
       Flight: smooth crow-like beat
 Habitat and Diet

       Open pine and mixed woods
       Preference for riparian edges for foraging
       Selects snags and other prominent perches
       Summer diet is primarily insects switching to acorns
         and other available nuts throughout the winter

  Throughout North America, but the most
         significant populations are found west of the 100th meridian to the pacific, south to our
         southern border with Mexico and slightly beyond, and slightly north of our borders with British
         Columbia and Alberta.
 Conservation status

       Despite having disappeared throughout a portion of its Western breeding grounds due to habitat alteration,
         ICUN currently lists the Lewis’s woodpecker as a species of least concern.
       Found throughout much of its preferred habitats in Utah with the most dense areas of concentration along
         the Wasatch range, Fishlake Nat. Forest and Southwest Utah.
       Lewis’s present throughout the year, although very few recorded birds from mid-June through August
       Highest densities (sightings) in Utah Co. occurs mid-September thru March
       High count: 7 individuals seen in Woodland Hills on Dec. 8th, 2013 by anonymous observer

   references: Lewisandclark.org, Discovering Lewis and Clark
                                 The Sibley Guide to Birds, David Allen Sibley


Field Trip Reports      (There are Individual Field Trip Reports on our Facebook Page)


   #9 - National Forest locations or Wildlife Refuges...
OR... Wildlife Management Areas

To all you birders working on the challenge, I started thinking about the suggested activity for the month in place of the meeting. The suggested activity mentioned to see how many counties you could bird and/or do bird watching in the national forests and Wildlife management areas. I thought real hard about that activity since I had already birded 20 counties in the northern half of the state by July 31, and had nearly had 20 done for item #9 for National Forests and Wildlife Refuge (which according to Dennis Shirley included Wildlife Management Areas).

On the website: utah.com/wildlife/wildlife-refuges lists our three national refuges in the state; namely, Ouray, Fish Springs, and Bear River Bird Refuge.

I was curious how many wildlife management areas there are in the state of Utah. So I did some goggling and found a very interesting website -- dwrapps.utah.gov/ram/start2 This site has a wonderful and rather fun and informative map of all the WMAs in the state and by zooming in on that map you can gain more information about any particular area.

You might be surprised that you have birded in an area that was really designated as a WMA! For instance, I didn't realize that Swede Lane is a designated WMA. Powell Slough is also a WMA area. Have some fun with that map. I found some areas not far away that can count for the challenge.

Carry on, folks!! There are plenty of fun areas out there yet to enjoy birding.
Yvonne Carter


We went to Mirror Lake Hwy twice in August to get Wasatch NF. 

by Suzi Holt
We went first on August 10th.
We headed strait up to Mirror Lake we found 14 species! Our highlights were the Canada Jay and Clark's Nutcrackers! You can't go up there without a stop to see the Pika!

We were running out of daylight but at Hayden Peak overlook we did get a American Three-toed Woodpecker and Mountain Bluebird putting us at 16. The Bald Mountain Pass sunset was spectacular!


August 15th


We did a return trip on August 15th. We started at the Kamas Chevron for gas and saw so many folks emerging with boxes of donuts. Amanda inquired, on Saturdays they have donuts to die for! We then headed up to Mirror Lake Hwy. We stopped above the Provo River falls for a bit of flyfishing. Got skunked so we headed up to Mirror Lake. 

We added a Orange-crowned Warbler and a Red-breasted Nuthatch #17 and #18! We tried and tried and couldn't find anymore species. So we went back to Hayden Peak Lookout. Hallelujah for a Green-tailed Towhee and a Red Crossbill we got 20 in Wasatch NF and Duchesne County. On the way back we stopped at Soapstone to catch a few fish and added a few more to Summit County!




    Duck Creek

   by Suzi Holt
On August 16th we decided to head to Duck Creek for the Bay-breasted Warbler! We got there about 4 and we saw it at 6:15! What a great find thanks to Bryant Olsen. There were lots of fun birds and we got over 20 species there completing Dixie NF. Such a fun place to bird! If you haven't gone it is worth it!!! We also finished a couple counties! Kane and Garfield and got started on a few other's. A great 24 hr trip!

Bay-breasted Warbler

Bay-breasted Warbler

Adult Hermit Thrush

Juvenilet Hermit Thrush




     If you have had any interesting field trips on your own this month,
feel free to write a report for the newsletter!

(Send it to: ucbirders@utahbirds.org)