Utah County Birders Newsletter


         November 2020  

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


According to the updated guidance from the governor’s office, our county is currently in High Transmission Status which means gatherings are restricted to 10 people or less and a 6 ft. distance must be maintained. We want to make sure we’re keeping everyone safe and complying with state guidelines so we will not be meeting again until our county transmission status drops back down to moderate or low. We really miss seeing all of you and we are looking at options for virtual meeting/online presentation options we can do in the meantime. Stay safe and happy birding!



by Cliff Miles  ©Cliff Miles

November 21, 2020

Because of covid 19 restrictions, everyone can try to find 20 Wild Turkeys for this year challenge on their own.  You can choose any day during the month to complete Challenge #25 -- "see 20 turkeys on our annual Turkey Trot field trip."

Here's a list of the usual places  East Lawn Cemetery, South Fork, Hobble Creek, Elk Ridge and Payson Canyon.  

Christmas Bird Count
December 19, 2020

The Provo Christmas Bird Count will be held on Sat. Dec 19th. Due to Covid, we will not be holding our regular December bird quiz/prep for the bird count. Also this year we will not be doing the post-bird count potluck and will ask everyone to email their results. Participants are encouraged to use separate vehicles if birding by car unless it is with immediate family. We should also wear masks when around other people in the field. Contact Bryan Shirley at bt_shirley@hotmail.com or 801-722-9346 for more info.


President's Message - Novemberr 2020

            by Machelle Johnson


The year 2020 will soon be done. Have you been able to have some fun?

Western Meadlowlark
by Paul Higgins   ©Paul Higgins

Has your 2020 vision helped to you see enough birds in each categoreee???

We've got 2 months to go for this challenge year - where do you stand? I think I'll be able to complete 20 of the items, but not the 20 I thought I could do last January.

I've been able to see over 220 birds in Utah, but not in Utah County. I've only made it out to 18 counties so far and only 14 State Parks. I got 20 shorebirds and waterfowl but not 20 warblers or sparrows. I should have gone on 20-1 mile walks but I didn't...My Big Day was only 67, and I'm not anywhere near 120 in for a
 big month. I was counting on a lot of help for identifying trees and shrubs. Turns out I don't know as much as I thought I did. I've really missed the expert help from our club members!

I added my own category, 'Go Birding on your Birthday', can I count that?
I took photos of 20 birds with my cell phone. They are terrible, but they count for #29. We are counting any birding outings as field trips so if you've been out by yourself or with others you can count those times for #15. We are planning to do the Turkey Trot, #25, and the Christmas Bird Counts, #10. I would say if you did the Payson Christmas Bird count last January and you do the Provo Christmas Bird Count in December you can count both, instead of just marking off #10 for one.

I've really enjoyed seeing your posts on the Facebook page, and reading reports in the Newsletters. The Big Sit was a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to the Turkey Trot and the Christmas Bird Counts. We've gone back and forth about getting together as a group, but feel that it is in everyone's best interest if we don't do that for now, seeing the high numbers in positive covid cases. We are working on a way to have a January 'virtual' meeting for the Challenge Awards. Perhaps a live Facebook event, or a 'Zoom' meeting, maybe YouTube. We will keep you posted.

So, keep working on your numbers, we'll get through these last two months of this crazy year! I hope that you all stay healthy and can get out and about. I'll see you out there!





All photos by Douglas Denys
 ©Douglas Denys

       Greater Roadrunner 
(Geococcyx californianus)

                     by Douglas Denys

Order: Cuculiformes
Family: Cuculidae
Species: Geococcyx californianus

BEEP! BEEP! Perhaps the most recognized call of any bird, to both birders and non-birders alike. The roadrunner certainly gave poor Wile E. Coyote many frustrations and its viewers delight. A childhood favorite-I watched every episode.

The greater roadrunner is a special bird and is also known as the chaparral cock, ground cuckoo, and snake killer. The Hopi thought it protected against evil spirits. Frontiersmen believed roadrunners led the wandering back to trails. In Mexico they delivered babies like the fabled white storks in Europe.

Unlike other cuckoos, roadrunners are ground birds. They are long-tailed large birds with dark-brown and white streaked feathers often seen with a raised unkempt crest. Average length is 21-23 inches with a weight of 11-13 oz. They are smooth, strong runners that position their head and tail parallel to the ground. When hunting and standing they often cock their heads in odd positions or stand with tail up or down. Their X shaped foot print is distinctive-caused by four toes, two set forward and two backward. The cartoon roadrunner always escaped, but the truth is the maximum speed of a roadrunner is about 25 mph. Coyotes are much faster and can run up to 43 mph.

Roadrunners are widespread across the southwestern United States from California to Louisiana and from southernmost Utah to Mexico, but not common at the edges of distribution. They are usually solitary and live at low elevations in open brushy areas often with mesquite, pinyon, and juniper shrubbery within deserts and chaparral. They may be seen perched or motionless along road edges waiting for prey. They are most active a few hours after sunrise and from late afternoon to evening. They hide in cover in the day to avoid heat. These territorial birds are monogamous and both birds participate with nesting: the male collects material and female constructs the nest. Usually a single clutch of eggs is produced per year.

Special adaptations for desert life include panting to reduce heat, and the ability to lower their temperature at night. Special nasal glands secrete salt. Urine and moisture is absorbed by the GI tract to retain fluids. Sunbathing to re-heat is facilitated by ruffed feathers and spread wings to expose black skin. They will take advantage of water but get most moisture from foods they eat particularly mammals, insects, lizards, birds, eggs, and carrion. Snakes of all sorts including venomous varieties are on the menu and they will grasp snakes by the head with their strong beaks and wack them against hard ground and rocks.

I am always delighted to see my favorite childhood bird in the wild. This bird was seen in in Snow Canyon State Park in late afternoon. Sony a9 600m F4 ISO100 1/2500.

Douglas Denys

Birds of North America, Francois Vulleumier. Pg 320. 2009. Penguin Random House.
The Sibley Guide to Birds. David Allen Sibley. 2014.


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


    Southern Utah State Parks

Challenge # 7
         See 20 species in 20 Utah State or National Parks

        by Suzi Holt

A couple days before Fall Break Amanda, Tatum, Jessie and I headed to Southern Utah. We met my mom and Aunt Geniel so we could add a few more State Parks to our challenge.
On Wednesday we got up and headed to Snow Canyon. Our first bird of the day was the best bird GREATER ROADRUNNER eating a moth!!! If you are looking for them you won't find them...if your not they will be there!

Greater Roadrunner

Rock Wren

Anna's Hummingbird

After the Greater Roadrunner we saw House Finch, Common Raven and a Rock Wren.
At the campground we were greeted by Woodhouse's Scrub Jay, ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, GAMBEL'S QUAIL, Dark-eyed Junco, Red-tailed Hawk, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, White-crowned Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Verdin, Canyon Wren and Red-naped Sapsucker, some got to 13 or 14 and I got to 15. It was a rough day for birding in Snow Canyon. The summer stuff has gone and the winter birds haven't settled in yet.

Red-naped Sapsucker

Bewick's Wren

Western Grebes


 Next stop Veyo pies for a LEMON SOUR CREAM pie! Yum!!!
Down the steep grade into Gunlock SP.
We finished there pretty quickly. Highlights were Osprey, BEWICK'S WREN and Horned Lark! It was really hot and we were hungry so we headed home to eat. After dinner we checked out Sand Hollow it was a bust with only 9 species...we did find Western Grebe, Great-tailed Grackle, lots American Coots and Ruddy Ducks and a few others.


Juvenile Double-crested Cormorant

Greater Roadrunner

On Thursday morning we headed back to finish Snow Canyon. Sadly we didn't finish but the rest added White-crowned Sparrow, Red-tailed Hawk and Common Raven and we saw another ROADRUNNER!!! Everyone was now at 15!!

We decided to go to Tonaquint so Amanda could find her last Sparrow for the challenge...ABERT'S TOWHEE! We also saw a couple Ladder-backed Woodpeckers another Southern Utah special.

Abert's Towhee

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Black Phoebe

Cassin's Finch

We headed out for Hwy 20 and added CASSIN'S FINCH, Townsend's Solitaire, Red-tailed Hawk and White-crowned Sparrow. I think we are at 13! That road is really not too birdy! We then met Bruce and Izzy and Sammy for Fall Break above Hatch Town for some camping, sightseeing and fishing.


Townsend's Solitaire

White-crowned Sparrow

We'll have to try again next month around Thanksgiving to finish Snow Canyon and Sand Hollow. It was a fun trip even though we only completed Gunlock! Good birding!



     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)