Utah County Birders Newsletter


        November 2021 

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


Date: Thursday, November 11, 7pm via Zoom

    “Vagrants and Endemics A-Z”

Our guest speaker is David Lariviere, an avid birder and a masters student at Brigham Young University currently studying rare and endangered cactus. He’ll be presenting on a recent birding trip he went on to Southeastern Arizona.


Turkey Trot Field Trip

Don't forget the TURKEY TROT field trip!!!!
November 20, 2021, 8 am

Meet at the Provo Sam's club parking lot by the gas pumps at 8 am. From there we will trot to Eastlawn Cemetery for our first gobblers. Then up to Southfork. Next stop will be Hobble Creek, then Diamond Fork. After that we will head up Loafer Canyon, then trot to our favorite spot in Payson Canyon. Our last stop will be Santaquin Canyon!! We will have Peanut butter chocolate turkey cookies!!! This is an all day field trip. If you can't go to all of it, call me and I will let you know where we're at and you can join us!  (Suzi Holt)


President's Message - November 2021

                  by Machelle Johnson



Request for Nominations


The past 2 years in our bird club have been different than any of the other years! We've had zoom meetings and hardly any group field trips. It feels like we're out of touch with each other. I'm hoping that 2022 will bring us all back together!

I have been the president for these 2 years and don't feel like I did much President-ing, but I am ready to hand over the title to someone else. We have a great group of people and it’s fun to get together doing some thing that we all enjoy. I have really learned a lot from everyone in the group and it has been great to get to know people better.

Please consider this position and let either Keeli or I know if you are interested in serving this awesome group.



                                       Spotted Sandpiper  (Actitis Macularia)

                                                            by Steve Van Winkle

Figure 1:  Adult breeding, Female

This rather dapper sandpiper species, with distinctive stipplings, dark conspicuous spots, extending from its chest, flanks and down to the belly has a ubiquitous range in North America extending north to the northern shorelines of eastern Canada and throughout the interior of Alaska during the breeding season. Winter migrations find this species occupying the very most southern United States, Mexico, Central American, the Caribbean and regions of South America (1).

This past summer while camped and hiking from our “old guys” basecamp at Big Sandy Lake, Bridger-Teton Wilderness (elevation @ 9,800ft+), I was able to observe and photograph a handsome couple of males and the above strikingly beautiful female, (size being my delineating factor for determining the sex of observed birds, although by no means absolute) whisking from boulder to boulder and then while ”perched” upon a rock exhibiting its characteristic teetering (bobbing) motion aptly earning various nicknames ( Among them are teeter-peep, tetter-bob, perk bird and tip-tail) (2); And, then just as suddenly take flight with rapid wingbeats followed by skimming fairly low over the surface with its characteristic decline tip of its wings. Also, much like the “feigned” wing injury display by the Killdeers, though not entirely understood contributions by early ornithologists suggest these behavioral actions are a result of a confused “fight or flight” instinct to protect the young vs. protect itself from harm. However, a much more commonly observed behavior, when a threat is perceived finds the young, as well as adult birds, diving underwater and rapidly swimming as a means to escape, G.M. Sutton, 1925 and others (2).

My encounters at Big Sandy occurred in a talus wash and along a steep shoreline surrounded by fairly dense cover composed of willow, low shrubs, native grasses and flowers bordering the shoreline; One of its preferred habitats, although the far-and- wide range of this species includes rivers and streams, coastal shores and brackish lagoons, as well as grasslands, forest and rainforest wetlands (3).

Interestingly, the female most often arrives on the breeding grounds before the male, and probably influenced by a sevenfold increase in testosterone levels during the breeding season, she also engages in the courtship ritual. Thus, attracting and often breeding with more than one male during the breeding season

Furthermore, as described by Lewis O. Shelly,(1925); I observed a (presumed) male dart past her and stop, throw his head higher, and make a “ fump, fump, fump “throatal” utterance while alternately spreading its wings and tail. However, upon collection and dissection, of course, this is strictly taboo today, this assumed male turned out to actually be a female (2).

Interestingly, a female may store viable sperm for up to one month resulting in fertilized eggs being from more than one male in a single clutch of 3-5 eggs, usually 4 pinkish to pale-olive buff irregularly spotted or blotched or a combination of both markings.(2). The eggs are laid in a shallow cup constructed of moss, grass and a sampling of native vegetation in soil in its surroundings.

The male, although not exclusively, assumes the primary role of clutch incubation and rearing of the precocial young and the female does actively defend the chicks and its territory.

I personally have never observed its feeding habits, but the Spotted Sandpiper is carnivorous; feeding on a variety of aquatic invertebrates (diminutive), and insects. Nor, have I ever witnessed predation of this sandpiper by mustelids, raptors, gulls, owls and crows just to name a few of the recorded predators of the adult, young and eggs (3).

Conservation status of this common and widespread species is listed as non-threatened by the IUCN, though local and specific threats include pesticide poisoning, restrictive hunting, loss of habitat and surprisingly, foot loss due to leg-banding (3).



    1. All About Birds, The Cornell Lab
    2. Life Histories of Familiar North American Birds by Arthur Cleveland Bent
    3. Animal Diversity Lab, Museum of Zoology, University of Michigan




Field Trip Reports


Looking west from the Provo airport dike 
  by Keeli Marvel ©Keeli Marvel

 8 October 2021

Utah County Birders Provo Airport Dike Big Sit

Text and photos by Suzi Holt

Clouds from Provo airport dike 
by Keeli Marvel
©Keeli Marvel

yesterday, Amanda, Tatum, Jessie, and I woke up before dawn and headed to the Provo Airport Dike. We met Joellen at the bridge. We followed her along the road til we hit the dirt by the tower. As we drove, deer scampered off to the side of the road. On about the last corner we scared up a bird, he landed about 30 feet ahead of us. I scrambled for my binoculars and Jessie got one shot as I exclaimed its a Burrowing Owl!! It flew off over the moat. Too bad we weren't in our 17' circle. It's probably the first report of a Burrowing Owl on the airport dike. Certainly mine. About 6:15 am we had layed out our circle with orange chalk dust and began to sit and count the birds.



Storm brewing, from Provo airport dike 
by Keeli Marvel
©Keeli Marvel

It was cold but Jo is smart and brought hot cocoa. At dawn we heard a Killdeer and Red-winged Blackbirds. David and Emma showed up to help around 7:00 am. Emma loved playing with Tatum and he loved playing in the puddles. In the darkness we heard a Spotted Towhee, Marsh Wren and had a couple White-crowned and Song Sparrows calling. A couple Virginia Rails then added their calls. Machelle joined us around 8:00 am or so.

The 17 foot count circle





Sun setting, from Provo airport dike 
by Keeli Marvel
©Keeli Marvel

As the sun came up birds began to fly. We saw Caspian Terns, California Gulls, American White Pelicans, DC Cormorants, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Barn Swallows, European Starlings, Mallards, Green-winged and Cinnamon Teal. We heard Western and Clark's Grebes. Machelle had a quick lesson on their calls, and we could see them swimming and diving on Utah Lake. There were a few American Coots, two Pied-billed Grebes, an American Robin, an Eared Grebe and had a close Say's Phoebe in a snag tree by us. Off to the south we saw a couple Red-tailed Hawks and a Northern Harrier in a tree. We heard a Black-capped Chickadee, some Western Meadowlarks and had a Northern Flicker and Downy Woodpecker in the same tree. We also had more Red-winged Blackbirds and a couple Brewer's Blackbirds fly over.





All photos not Labeled where taken by Suzi Holt

We heard the beautiful calls of Sandhill Cranes off in the distance toward Provo Bay and a close Ring-necked Pheasant, Black-billed Magpie and a Ring-billed Gull. As time went on we saw a American Kestrel, and had a huge flock of House Finches flyover. We witnessed a murder of American Crows, sixty-eight to be exact. We saw a couple Turkey Vultures, and couple Osprey's put on a good flight show, we had front row seats for that! Yvonne arrived about then. By 1:00 pm when Keeli and Terri showed up we were freezing and sitting in our car in the circle because of the rain. We handed over the lists and they finished out the BIG SIT. Sam joined later. They saw most everything we saw and added 11 more species. Their highlights were Lincoln Sparrow, Canada Goose, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Savannah Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet. American Pipit, Forester's Tern, Lesser Scaup, Sora, Northern Shoveler and a Franklin's Gull. Although it was cold and stormy the photos don't do it justice. It was beautiful! Thanks to all who braved the cold and had a good time with us!



The Provo airport dike road

by Keeli Marvel
©Keeli Marvel



     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)