Utah County Birders Newsletter


        September 2021

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


   (See field trips below --  We may have a virtual meeting next month.)  


 Saturday Sept 18th
  8am to noon-ish

River Lane and Sandy Beach
September Field Trip:  River Lane and Sandy Beach, Saturday Sept 18th, 8am to noon-ish.  Meet at 8am in the Sam's Club parking lot.  If anyone is ok to carpool you can work that out together, otherwise we'll drive to River Lane and walk a bit and move cars down the road as we bird.  You can also meet us there.  If you have a scope you are willing to bring please do.  We're looking forward to seeing you!

Raptor watching at Squaw Peak




 Calliope Hummingbird  
by Paul Higgins
 ©Paul Higgins

   President's Message
       September 2021

         by Machelle Johnson


I don't do much traveling, but every year our family spends a week in Wyoming camping along the Grey's River. We've been going to the same area for 20 years, since our kids were little. Now our kids and grandkids all go, and sometimes my parents and other extended family members. The highlights of our week are rafting on the river, riding our 4-wheelers and kayaking on the lake.

My favorite time of the day is early morning before everyone is up. I like to slip out of the trailer and take a walk just as the birds are starting to get active. Our usual campsite host is a rowdy group of Pine Siskins. One year we had a Red-naped Sapsucker family, another year it was Yellow Warblers, but typically it's Pine Siskins. There is also a Calliope Hummingbird family in the willows nearby and some years there are Ruffed Grouse. We had Red Crossbills in camp one time, and this year we had Stellar's Jays and Clark's Nutcrackers showing up every day, they can rival the grandkids noise any day! Every morning a pair of Sandhill Cranes fly up the river and every evening they fly back down, calling all the way. We can set our watch by them, they are pretty consistent! We always see Dippers and Spotted Sandpipers when we're floating down the river, and occasionally a female Common Merganser with a brood of little ones trailing behind as she scurries up the river.

I've got a life list of 85 species seen there over the years. This year I added American Kestral, Green-winged Teal, Lark Sparrow and Sora. My favorite site was the year a Bald Eagle circled the small lake, dove in for a fish, took a victory lab around the lake, then landed on a bare tree branch and ate his catch. A couple of my kids were in the boat on the lake at the time and got a front row seat to the show. It was pretty cool!

This yearly outing gives us a chance to unwind and unplug. We play together and help each other and reconnect. Spending a week outdoors is good for the soul, and as Dan Fogelberg wrote, "My soul becomes so quiet I can hear my own beliefs".

I hope you're all able to get out there for some good birding and time in nature! See you out there!






        Marbled Murrelet  (Brachyramphus marmoratus)

            by Keeli Marvel


Nesting Habitat    by Keeli Marvel   ©Keeli Marvel

Some ocean dwelling bird species spend the majority of their lives at sea and only come into land to breed. Some don’t even venture that far into land, breeding on islands off-shore. That is not the case for the Marbled Murrelet. These petite little round ocean birds have been documented nesting up to 50 miles inland in large old-growth forests on the coastline of the Pacific Northwest. I saw my lifer Marbled Murrelet paddling around the harbor in the Crescent City, CA while I was on vacation there this week.

Marbled murrelets are small mottled brown (breeding) or dark gray and white (nonbreeding) seabirds that belong to the auk family. Up until the 1970s biologists were baffled about their breeding habits. In fact, according to the Center for Biological Diversity, marbled murrelets “won the distinction of being the last bird species in the United States to have its nesting site discovered.” These funny little birds don’t even build nests, but lay one egg in a mossy depression on tree branches up to 150 feet off the ground in large, old, trees. In Northern California they’re known specifically for nesting in the towering coastal redwood trees. When the marbled murrelet fledglings are ready to leave the nest they fly directly from their nests way above the ground straight out to the ocean.

Marbled murrelets can be found along the Pacific coastline from Bristol Bay, AK in the north down to Monterrey Bay, CA, although they can sometimes be found further south in California during the nonbreeding season. They are not colonial and are generally found singly or in pairs both during breeding and non-breeding season. Their primary prey includes fish and invertebrates such as plankton, which they forage for in

Marbled Murrelet  
 by Margaret Sloan   ©Margaret Sloan

 in sheltered bays, coves, or sometimes in lakes close to the shore. In much the same way that penguins do, murrelets use their wings to “fly” underwater to capture their prey, although unlike their penguin cousins, murrelets are also capable of flight above water as well.

Because of their solitary nature and unique nesting habits they are not the easiest to find, so I consider myself lucky for having spotted one on my trip this week. In recent years, due to the valuable nature of old growth trees to the commercial logging industry, and to other impacts such as forest fires, their nesting habitat has been reduced and they are currently listed as Threatened in WA, OR, and CA under the Endangered Species Act.

Sources: Audubon.org, All About Birds, US Center for Biological Diversity

Happy Birding!

Keeli Marvel



Book Reviews



Two Book Reviews    
by  Tammy Northrup

Good Birders Don't Wear White: 50 Tips From North America's Top Birders

Edited by Lisa White

This was one of the first books I read when I started birding a few years ago. It’s a fun, light read with lots of great tips and information about a variety of topics including: backyard birding, birding etiquette, bird mannerisms, the joy of birding and more.The chapters are short and engaging. Its easy to read one chapter, then another and before long you are nearly half way through the book! The sequel Good Birders Still Don’t Wear White is also worth reading.

Bird Watch

Written and Illustrated by Christie Matheson

This delightful, interactive book is the perfect way to introduce young children to the world of birding. The simple text invites children to look for and count specific birds hidden in the beautiful watercolor illustrations of trees, gardens and a night time sky. At the end of the book there is a list of the 10 birds mentioned in the book with a few interesting facts about each. This is a book I enjoy sharing with my grandchildren!




Field Trip Reports


The Great Australian Birding Adventure

wenty years ago Ned Hill organized a Utah County Birder field trip to Australia!  He wrote a series of 6 articles for the newsletter about this amazing adventure, but there were no digitized photos with the text at that time. 

Here is the updated account of this

Australian Adventure

complete with photos!



     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)