Utah County Birders Newsletter


        Junc 2021 

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


Hollow Park Field Trip
June 17, 2021 @ 6 pm

Meet at the park at 400 E. 800 S. Payson Utah. You can park along the road on 800 S.
We will be walking the trails around the park. Hope to see you there! This will be in place of our monthly meeting.


Hollow Park Field Trip
June 17, 2021 @ 6 pm

Meet at the park at 400 E. 800 S. Payson Utah. You can park along the road on 800 S.
We will be walking the trails around the park. Hope to see you there! This will be in place of our monthly meeting.



  Williamson's Sapsucker  (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)
 [Reprinted from August 2014]

              By Machelle Johnson

Female on tree, Male in nest hole.
photo by Paul Higgins   ©Paul Higgins

An uncommon woodpecker of the western mountains, this medium-sized, handsome woodpecker breeds in open forested areas with conifers, mainly Ponderosa Pine, Douglas Fir, and Grand Fir. Typically found in higher elevations. It usually nests in aspens, both live and dead, and in snags as well as the main body of the tree.

Pete Dunne's description says: "The classic sapsucker body is complete with a strong, straight, pointy sapsucker bill. The male is unmistakable. Shiny and uniformly black above (head, back, tail), it has a head creased by two white stripes and a bold white wing patch. The prominent white rump is visible only in flight. Underparts are black on the chest, yellow on the belly. Immature males are like adults but lack the red throat and yellow belly. Females are overall pale and, in spectral defiance of the wraparound pattern of narrow blackish and grayish barring, have a brownish cast. Their heads are warmer and buffier, and their faces conspicuously plain. The blackish breast-band and yellow belly (not usually visible, since birds forage with their bellies pressed against tree trunks) are absent on immature females. Although female Williamson's lacks a white patch in the wing, a very conspicuously white rump (visible in flight) distinguishes this species from other female sapsucker. Cool fact: Originally, the female was considered to be a different species and named the Black-breasted Woodpecker by Cassin.

Sapsuckers get their name from their foraging strategy of drilling holes in tree trunks, and then coming back to those holes later to feed on the running sap and the insects attracted to that sap. They also chip bark from trees to get to insects boring beneath. Sometimes they work up from the bottom of one tree and then fly to the base of another when the canopy is gained, much like a creeper. These birds seem just as inclined, however, to switch trees as to climb and will forage horizontally through a woodland--landing, searching a trunk for ants or other insects, then flying on to another tree. Because of this active feeding pattern, Williamson's is usually conspicuous when breeding--an advantage from a birding standpoint because the species also tends to be quiet. They are most commonly found on the trunks of trees.

This species took its common name from Lieutenant Robert Stockton Williamson, who was the leader of a surveying expedition which collected the first male. They were trying to identify the best route west for a railway to the Pacific Ocean.

References: Pete Dunne's Essential Field Guide Companion, Wikipedia, birdweb.org

Click here for past 'Birds of the Month'.


   Special Report


Birding Southeast Arizona

    by Keeli Marvel

Last month Sam Phillips and I made a long awaited trip down to southeast AZ to do some desert birding. We’ve been wanting to do it for a few years but it seems like work field season and busy schedules always got in the way until we just decided this year it was the year to make the trip. We left on a Thursday and drove straight down to Phoenix. Sam picked up her first lifer - a Gila Woodpecker with a nest hole in a Palm Tree across the street from the patio of the restaurant we stopped at for dinner.
After spending a night in an Airbnb in Chandler AZ, we drove down to Tucson, where we made a quick pit stop to see a vagrant Northern Jacana on Ina Rd where it has been hanging out for the last few months. We also picked up a few other fun species there including a perched Gray Hawk.

Northern Jacana that’s been hanging out for months in Tuscon

Lifer Hepatic Tanager

After that stop we headed down to Madera Canyon where we were lucky to nab the last open campsite in Bog Springs Campground. While setting up camp Sam got a lifer Arizona Woodpecker at our camp site. After setting up camp we headed down near the bottom of Madera Canyon, to the Whitehouse Picnic Area. We birded the trail below the picnic area and then headed up canyon along the trail that runs along the creek between there and the Madera Picnic Area. That turned out to be a particularly good choice and we picked up 42 species, including several lifers for Sam and one for me, a Hepatic Tanager. Highlights along that trail included Painted Redstarts, Bridled Titmice, Dusky-capped Flycatcher, Acorn Woodpecker, and Hutton’s Vireo. We also saw a really cool coatimundi, a weird pointy nosed mammal from Central America.

Coatimundi in Madera Canyon

Yellow-eyed Junco

Next we sat down on the benches at Santa Rita Lodge and got lifer Yellow-eyed Juncos. Other highlights included Rivoli’s and Broad-billed Hummingbirds. We spent the late afternoon scouting out the trails at the top of Madera Canyon and had a heard only Olive Warbler and Montezuma Quail, the only ones we got during the trip.

The Santa Rita Lodge feeder setup

Later that evening, while waiting for the sun to go down, we saw a Zone-tailed Hawk and a Short-tailed Hawk (both lifers for both of us) soaring over the canyon from the Santa Rita Lodge parking lot. The elf owls reliably still nest in a pole across from the Santa Rita lodge and the lodge owner/host comes out most nights to show people and help them get pictures without disturbing the owls. When we were there the male came in from his day roost and called to the female right after dark and then she came out of the nest hole and they went off foraging.

The next morning we spent a couple hours hiking up the Agua Caliente Saddle fork of the Carrie Nation Trail where we got lifer Red-faced Warblers. Warbler migration was in full swing and we also saw Townsend’s, Grace’s, Hermit, and Black-throated Gray Warblers.

Saguaros are home to lots of birds including Gilded Flicker and Gila Woodpecker

That afternoon we headed out to the Paton’s Center for Hummingbirds in Patagonia, which is an Audubon property down near the border with a bunch of bird feeders That bring in all kinds of fun birds. There we got a lifer Violet-crowned Hummingbird. It was quite birdy there and we saw a Curve-billed Thrasher and Summer Tanagers and Abert’s and Green-tailed Towhees and Lucy’s Warblers.

On our last day in Madera Canyon we packed up camp and headed over to Florida Canyon, just north of Madera. At the corrals below the base of the canyon we got a lifer Cassin’s Sparrow. You can park at the gate at the bottom of the canyon and hike up around the outside fence line of the Santa Rita Experimental Range Station. Black-capped Gnatcatchers have been reported setting up a couple breeding territories there and we were able to find them by hiking up above the station property. Other highlights on the trail included Cactus Wren, Scott’s Orioles, and Pacific-slope Flycatcher.

That afternoon we journeyed back up to Tucson and spent the afternoon driving around Saguaro National Park where we got a lifer Gilded Flicker. After another night at an Airbnb in the Tucson area, we headed home via a quick stop outside Phoenix again to pick up six species of doves (Eurasian collared, Inca, Ruddy Ground, Common Ground, White-winged, and Mourning Doves) in Monterey Park in Gilbert, AZ.

Total lifer for the count for the trip: 12 species for me and 30 species for Sam. What a great trip!

Happy Birding!

Keeli Marvel


   Field Trip Reports


Big Day - Utah County Hotspots
                  May 8th

         by Suzi Holt

On May 8th we did our Prep trip for our Utah Co.. Hotspots. We had a "big day" We had 11 birders with Tatum. We left Payson Walmart at 7:05 am. It was a little rainy and cold but we could see sun over by the Tintics so we changed the route a bit.

Long-billed Curlew

We started on Goshen Bay Road hoping for a Short-eared Owl. No owls but we saw Sandhill Cranes, Long-billed Curlew, Horned Lark, Bullock's Oriole and a few others. From there we drove by the Bobolink field in hope of finding one. No luck! But we stopped by the Secret Pond and found a Solitary Sandpiper! There were also Killdeer, Mallard, Redhead, Gadwall and Green-winged Teal, Great Blue Heron and a Black-crowned Night Heron. Off to see a Burrowing Owl on Elberta Slant Road...success! We stopped in the junipers for a Gray Vireo...no luck. But we did see Lark Sparrows and Loggerhead Shrikes. After that we went to the East Tintics. We had Green-tailed Towhee, Spotted Towhee, Virginia's and Orange-crowned Warbler and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird vs Blue-gray Gnatcatcher fight! We stopped at the gas station for a peach frazil and saw Mountain Bluebirds and Say's Phoebe.

Solitary Sandpiper

Broad-tailed Hummingbird


Next stop Dividend Road. We found Golden Eagle, Dusky, Hammond's and Gray Flycatchers. Black-throated Gray and Virginia's Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Western Tanager, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and 4 Juniper Titmouse! At Goshen Reservoir we found Wilson's Phalarope, Spotted Sandpiper, Western and Clark's Grebe, Canvasback, Ruddy Duck, DC Cormorants, Bank Swallow and Yellow-headed Blackbird.


Dusky Flycatcher

Gray Flycatcher

Western Tanager

Juniper Titmouse

At Goshen Canyon and saw a Black-headed Grosbeak, Barn Owl, a active Golden Eagle nest! We stopped at the East Goshen Pond and saw Snowy Plovers, Baird"s Sandpiper, Red-necked Phalarope, Mallards, Cinnamon Teal, Willets, American Avocets. Last stop was Warm Springs WMA. Tons of Cedar Waxwings, we heard the Sora and Virginia Rail and had Yellow Warblers, Western Kingbird and Brown-headed Cowbird, Red-winged Blackbird, and a lot of Mourning Doves.

Cactus in bloom

We had a fun time! The weather was cold at at 49° and windy. But even though we had to work hard for the birds we felt like we had a great day! Our total species for the day was 89!

Never too young to start birding!