Utah County Birders Newsletter


         October 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!



Saturday, Oct 10, 2020


Please Sign Up ASAP!

(We need an idea of how many are coming throughout the day to get approval to use the Provo Airport Dike.)

The Big Sit is an annual, international, noncompetitive birding event hosted by Bird Watcher’s Digest and founded by the New Haven (Connecticut) Bird Club.

The Big Sit! is like a Big Day or a bird-a-thon in that the object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours, but the difference is that all birds must be observed by birders who are sititng or standing inside a pre-determined 17 ft diameter circle.

The Utah County Birders have participated in 17 annual Big Sits as the team the Utah Lakers. This year will be our 18th Big Sit. Our high count for species was achieved last year with 64 species.

The 2020 Big Sit will be held Saturday Oct 10 on the Provo Airport Dike. We ask all attendees to wear a mask while inside the count circle, to plan to bring and use sanitizer/alcohol wipes on shared spotting scopes, and to stay home if you have any COVID-19 symptoms or join us in spirit as we posts updated on our Facebook page if you are in a high risk group.

If you’re interested, a sign up sheet with timeslots is available. We usually cover the count circle from dawn to dusk although earlier and later counting for owls is also an option.


President's Message - October 2020

            by Machelle Johnson


I got out and about in September, working on Goals #3, #4, #7, #12 and #35. I drove out to Carbon County to Soldier Creek State Park and Reservoir. It is quite small with a couple of nice campgrounds. Half the reservoir and one campground is in Utah County and the other half and campground are in Carbon County,

Burrowing Owls
by John Crawley
 ©John Crawley

Northern Mockingbird
by Cheryl Peterson    ©Cheryl Peterson

 so watch for that...The park was not crowded at all, just a few campers and a few outfits on the water. Highlights for me were a Brewer's Sparrow and a Willow Flycatcher. I also spotted a red fox running down the road.

I then went farther south to Emery County. Huntington State Park and Reservoir is even smaller than Soldier Creek! There were a few campers and a few on the water there as well. It's a very clean park though. It was birdy enough, I got my 20 birds there, but nothing noteworthy. All in all I checked off 2 counties, 2 reservoirs and 2 state parks!

On Saturday Sept 12 I visited Antelope Island State park. I met my daughter and 2 granddaughters there and we saw 8 owls! It was really fun for the girls to see 3 Great Horned Owls pretty close up, by the bison corrals. We also saw 5 Burrowing Owls, but they were harder for the little girls to see. I tried my best but did not see any special shorebirds. My scope isn't good enough to see 400+ yards out I guess, they all looked the same to me! I was able to check off another state park and body of water though.

On Saturday Sept 19 I drove out to Lincoln Beach. I was able to add 2 birds to my Utah and Utah County lists, a Bairds Sandpiper and American Pipit. I was hoping to see the Common Tern that Bryan had reported, but no luck there.

On Sunday Sept 20 I got my 20+ birds for the day plus a one-mile walk on Skipper Bay Trail. I saw 2 Northern Mockingbirds which surprised me, so I added another bird to my Utah County list.




by Spencer Covert


Canvasback  (Aythya valisineria)

           by Spencer Covert



I’ll start this off with a quick story of my introduction to birding. When I was growing up my dad was very much into woodcarving. He wanted to try carving ducks, so a friend took him out see some of the different species. Ever since then my dad was hooked and always wanted to go birding. I remember him taking me to meetings with the bird group in the basement of the Bean Museum. Back then I could not figure out what the big deal was about birds. I was young and birds were just not that exciting. One day my dad started watching for a Canvasback. This became the quest, and we spent several Saturdays going to different places searching. Then one day we met some birders that had one in their scopes and they let us take a look. I remember watching my dad stare at the speck that was the Canvasback and how excited he was. That was when I decided maybe birds could be “cool” after all. Needless to say, Canvasbacks hold a special place with us and I still call and send my dad a picture every time I see one.

Interesting Facts and ID

Canvasbacks are large diving ducks with males having a chesnut-red head, black breast, white sides and belly, and black tail. With bright red eyes and a long, thick black bill these ducks stand out in a crowd. They dive underwater spending up 20 seconds searching for plants, tubers, and clams along the lakebed. Canvasbacks spend the winter months down in the lower 48 states and Mexico, then head farther north during the summer heat. I love all ducks but Canvasbacks are, in my opinion, one of the coolest out there!

Ducks Unlimited -- "About the Canvasback"
Ducks Unlimited -- "The Big Four - Diving Ducks"
All About Birds -- "Canvasback"

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

Quick Trip to Southern Utah

   by Tammy Northrup

In our September UCB Newsletter we were challenged to see how many counties, WMA or National Forests we could visit and make a report. Last week my husband and I made a quick trip to Southern Utah to see some new birds. We spent two days looking for birds in three counties: Washington, Kane and Garfield. Our target birds were the Vermilion Flycatcher and Summer Tanager. We are fairly new to birding so I’m sure we missed some good ones, but we were able to see 35 different species including our target birds! If you’re new to birding, like we are, Tonaquint Nature Park in St George and Grafton near Zions National Park are great places to see lots of birds. Both areas have lots of big trees that attract a variety of birds and offer some shade on a hot day. We also enjoyed looking for birds in Snow Canyon State Park, Zions and Bryce Canyon National Park. Here are some photos of our target birds!

Tammy Northrup

Vermilion Flycatcher

Summer Tanager



National and State Park

Spontaneous Trip  

in the Birdmobile!   

by Suzi Holt  


5 crazy lady birders and one

 tiny baby boy woke  up to snow

 on the mountains and a

 temperature that seemed below

 zero by multiple digits.  But let's

 get this show on the road! .....

...Read More    

(16 Meg. PDF file --
may take up to 30 second to download).



    A Little Big Day

   by Keeli Marvel

Sam Phillips and I attempted a mini big day back in early September. We started our adventure at sunrise at Garr Ranch on Antelope Is, followed by a quick trip around the island (including a brief stop to yell at someone getting too close to a bison while taking photos of it haha). Highlights on the island included great looks at Virginia Rails at Garr Ranch, Great Horned Owls hooting most of the time we were at the ranch, several warbler species including a Townsend’s Warbler that Sam pretty much spoke into life, and a Burrowing Owl near the visitor center. Following some quick fast food refueling we jetted out to Farmington Bay where we picked up a few more great birds in the ponds on the way out to the gate including Snowy Egrets and Caspian Terns. We went for a warm but fairly unproductive wander around the birding trail by the Education Center, and then finished up strong at Bountiful Pond with highlights that included a Willow Flycatcher and a Nashville Warbler. We saw a total of 84 species for the day including 9 different species of flycatcher and 9 different species of warblers.
Nothing crazy rare but a good bird haul for the day! We dipped on the smaller shorebirds- we tried on the causeway but all the peep flocks were way too far away and we were just a few days too early for some of the great finds that have been out there recently. All in all it was an awesome bird filled day!

Happy Birding!


Birding in the time of Coronavirus

One of the owls that kept us company while birding Garr Ranch



     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)