Utah County Birders Newsletter


         February 2022  

    Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    President's Message
    Bird of the Month 
    Special 2020 Challenge Report 
    Field Trip Reports


Thursday, Feb 17th

Join us virtually for Birding Panama, a presentation by Bryan Shirley. Meeting zoom link and passcode will be sent out via the UCBirders email the week before our meeting. Hope to see you all there! 

FIELD TRIPS:  (Please bring walkie talkies set to 5-0)

   February 12, 2022
   Farmington Bay/Lee Kay Ponds

Meet us in Farmington at the George S. and Delores Dore Eccles Wildlife Education Center at 9 am. The address is 1157 S. Waterfowl Way, Farmington, Utah.
We will meet Billy Fenimore and Kendall Watkins in the auditorium for a short introduction, then head out to search for birds. We will also drive the auto route, hopefully finding some interesting gulls. If we have time we will go to Lee Kay Ponds to continue our gull search.
We are hoping to get our 22 species in Davis and Salt Lake counties. Please bring a lunch.

   Saturday February 26, 2022
   Delta Snow Goose Festival

Meet at 8 am at the Payson Walmart parking lot on the west side of the Quick Quack carwash. We will be driving our own cars. We have a few walkie talkies but if you have one please bring it. We will watch for birds in Juab county on our way to Delta, hopefully adding species if we need to get to 22. Our first stop will be Gunnison Bend Reservoir for the Snowgoose Festival and hopefully we'll see 1000's of Snow Geese and a few Ross's geese. Then we will work on getting our 22 species in Millard County. Bring a lunch and plan on being home in the afternoon.

We do have a couple out of town challenge field trips planned.

     The first one is:

      May 20-21 2022
   Grand and San Juan County
On Friday we will meet at the Swanny Ciy Park 400 N.100 W. Moab at 11 am.
Our first birding spot will be by the Kane Creek OHV parking lot. I usually see a lot of birds here, hopefully we will get our 22 species for Grand County, if not we will stop at the Scott S. Matheson Wetlands Preserve and around town.
Please bring snacks, a lunch and water.

Then we will head to Devil's Canyon Campground to set up camp. Or if you want there are hotels in Monticello and Blanding. I would recommend getting reservations ASAP.
After setting up camp we can look for birds around the campground.
Saturday we will meet at 8 or 9 am depending on the weather to look for birds around the campground, drive to Recapture reservoir and if we have time go check out the Blue mountains. I love this area and I am excited to share it with you all. My favorite species down here are Acorn Woodpecker, Western Bluebird, Pygmy Nuthatch, Grace's Warbler and hopefully Red Crossbill! I have also seen Williamson's Sapsucker, Lewis's Woodpeckers and so many others!

Second field trip:

      June 3-4 2022
   Washington County

Friday we will meet at 6 am at the Bluff street McDonald's in St. George.
We will drive out to Lytle Ranch. We will spend a lot of time there. Please bring a lunch and water. After that we will see if we have time to go to the Gunlock area to look for Common Blackhawk, go to Snow Canyon and Tonaquint Nature Park.

Saturday we will meet at the Hurricane Walmart at 7 am. From there we will go straight up Kolob Terrace to Lava Point Lookout to look for California Condors. We will walk around the area there looking for birds, then drive around to a few other good spots.
If we have time we will check out Dalton Wash for Rufous-crowned Sparrows and hit Grafton. Plan on lunch that day as well.
Remember to book your hotels ASAP.

On your drive down Thursday please stop in Iron County to get your 22 species. My favorite spot is the trail along the river that goes up Cedar Canyon-Lower (aka Canyon trail) its a ebird hotspot, i also like Canyon Park. I would think you could find all 22 species in a few hours there.


 Click on pictures!    [County Map with links   


President's Message - February 2021

            by Machelle Johnson


We're a month in to our challenge year, how are you doing so far? We had a great field trip to Juab County and got our 22 species there. This month we'll go to Salt Lake county and Millard county. If you already have Utah county done then by the end of the month you will have 4 counties checked off!

If you are unable to make it on field trips our website is a great resource for places to bird in each county (utahbirds.org). There are thousands of photos in the photo gallery, links to local and statewide birding organizations, birding resources links and info, hotline sightings, and other fun articles. You can also see a checklist of birds seen in each county, and the Utah checklist. Milt Moody is our awesome webmaster. We are currently looking for an assistant webmaster, if you are interested in this please contact a board member.

Suzi has posted the field trip outline for the year. We have a few over-night trips that will take us to those counties that are harder to get to, so make some plans in advance! We are going to Grand and San Juan counties in May, I just booked a campsite in Devil's Canyon campground, there is still some availability there.

Something I loved about the 2020 challenge was visiting some of the Utah State Parks that I'd never been to. You can buy an annual State Park Pass that will get you into all of the parks for a year, for $100.00. This is handy and will pay for itself, especially this year if you're doing the challenge. I like to be able to zip down the Utah Lake State Park several times a month to see what's showing up, I just hang my tag in the window and go on in. This link shows a list of State Parks in each county: List of Utah State Parks - Wikipedia.

I'm sure you've got some favorite places to bird, and I'm sure you'll add to that favorite list this year as we go out to all corners of the state! Thanks to Suzi, Keeli and Milt for all they do to keep us up to date and informed, and to help us get out there birding!



 Click on pictures!   

The 2022 Birding Challenge

      Prinout with the details
                         (PDF file)




   Vermilion Flycatcher
(Pyrocephalus rubinus)

By Tammy Northrup

When I first started birding a few years ago the Vermilion Flycatcher was on my Southern Utah bird wish list. On a trip to St George in September of 2020 it was one of the birds my husband and I really wanted to see. I searched eBird and learned that Boots Cox Park was the best place to see them. We werenít disappointed!

 First thing in the morning we went to the Southeast corner of the park behind the tennis courts. There is a fence there that divides the park from some farmland. We waited and watched. First we saw a Black Phoebe and a Western Kingbird. Then we saw a flash of bright red as a Vermilion Flycatcher landed on some dead limbs in the field. Typical of most Vermilion Flycatchers it sat perched on a branch in the open then flew out and caught a small bug and returned to where it started. After a few minutes it flew away and we thought it was gone, but we saw it again on the fence then in the tall trees nearby.

 We have returned to St George a few times since that first sighting and we make it a point to visit Boots Cox Park. Spring and Fall we have been happy to see a Vermilion Flycatcher in the field or tall trees nearby. Unless they are mating they are solitary birds so they arenít usually seen in flocks.

Female Vermilion Flycatcher at the Salem Marshes





Vermilion Flycatchers are found in the Southwestern U.S. and down through Central and South America. Watch for them in insect-rich places such as scrublands, farmlands, deserts, parks and along streams. They often perch on exposed branches about 10 feet off the ground. This usually makes them easy to see. In addition to St. George we have also seen Vermilion Flycatchers when visiting Gilbert, AZ.                                     

In October of 2020 I was looking for birds in the Salem area. It was late afternoon and I was almost ready to go home. I made one last stop at the Salem Marshes. There wasnít much bird activity there that late in the day. I thought I saw a Sayís Phoebe and took a few pictures. I used the Merlin app and was surprised to discover it was a female Vermilion Flycatcher! I wish I knew how this little bird found her way to Utah County!

 What an amazing world we live in and what a joy it is to discover new birds near and far!

 Photos by Tammy Northrup



Field Trip Reports  
Payson Bird Count

January 1, 2022

   by Bryan Shirley

We had 17 people who braved the cold and woke up early to welcome the New Year by counting birds. We totaled 86 species - one above our count average. A few of the out of the ordinary species were Northern Mockingbird, Cassin's Finch, Say's Phoebe, and Brewer's Sparrow. The Brewer's Sparrow was a new species for our count is the craziest story of the day too.

Here is Jeff Cooper's report from ebird:

This bird was mixed with American Tree Sparrows foraging on the roadside where snow had melted and occasionally perching on and taking cover among sunflowers bordering a wire fence. Unfortunately for the sparrow, a female Kestrel preyed upon it when the sparrow took cover after a short attempt to flee. A Ferruginous Hawk gave chase to the Kestrel as it towed the sparrow. Moments later we observed the kestrel plucking feathers and eating the sparrow. It was surreal to see the Kestrel take the sparrow as we were observing it. Too bad it didn't migrate with others of its species.


This kestrel appeared while we were photographing the Brewer's Sparrow. The kestrel pursued, captured, an eventually consumed the sparrow. A Ferruginous Hawk actually pursued the kestrel as it rose from the fence line with the sparrow in tow. The kestrel eluded the hawk. We came upon the kestrel moments later as it was plucking feathers from the sparrow at the top of a power pole.





After looking at the Bald Eagle we spent a while waiting for the Pied-billed Grebe to come up...no luck.

Burraston Ponds, Mona Area-Juab County field trip

                                  22 Jan 2022

                         by Suzi Holt   

We had 14 cars and I think 30 birders on our field trip this morning to Burraston Ponds. It was 24 degrees when we got there, boy it was cold. But we found some birds. Our firsts were some lovely European Starlings and a couple Common Ravens. Next birds were a Northern Flicker, Canada Goose, Red-winged Blackbird, Pied-billed Grebe and a long distance Bald Eagle. We also had a Mallard and a group of 5 Redheads flyover. We found Song and White-crowned Sparrows, Spotted Towhee and lots of American Robins. We then stopped for a Great Blue Heron, Downy Woodpecker, more Spotted Towhees, Song Sparrows and White-crowned Sparrow, lots more American Robins and a lone Cedar Waxwing. Next stop we walked the trail on the North side of the big pond. It was really boring and we only found 3 Black-billed Magpies and 3 hen Ring-necked Pheasants. Rob wanted to make sure everyone got a great look. We saw a beautiful Red-tailed Hawk as we drove around the big ponds looking for the Pied-billed Grebe and spotted him shortly but only a few saw it again. From there we decided to look around town. We were headed down the main road and saw a American Kestrel and a few Eurasian Collared Doves.


Checking out the Red-winged Blackbirds and the Song Sparrows.

Red-tailed Hawk

Rob looking for the
Ring-necked Pheasant

Burraston Pond slightly frozen.

It's cold momma

Tatum was pretty frozen!

 As we were about to the turn to head towards Mona Reservoir I heard some House Sparrows. We all got safely pulled over and as we were getting out of the car. The Sheriff across the street asked, "were my lights on? Why did everyone pull over?" I explained we were Birders looking for a House Sparrow to add to our 22 speices in Juab County, and she said, " Oh I can turn on my lights to let the other know of the hazard" She really was nice. After we had all seen the House Sparrows we headed west towards the reservoir.

The nice Sheriff

Looking at the House Sparrows Haha!

Missing a couple but here was our crew!

 There is a small creek just past the train tracks and we stopped there and saw a few more Common Ravens, Black-billed Magpies and a few Dark-eyed Juncos hitting our 22 species goal for the day. At this point I had a drill competition to head off to so Machelle and Robert took over. They were able to find a few Common Goldeneye at Mona Reservoir and a Northern Harrier in the field helping others to reach 22!

After that Robert took a few others back into town to find a few others species, a House Finch and a Eurasian Collared Dove. Then back to Burraston Pond for one more check on the Pied-billed Grebe. They saw it and reached their 22 Speciesl!!! It was a fun day and I am grateful for all who came and for all who helped! See ya next month!

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