Utah County Birders Newsletter


         July 2022    

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



Tuesday July 5th, 2022, 7-9pm

In place of our meeting this month we will have another bird walk along the North Shore Trail on a different night than usual because I didn't want to keep folks out too late before the field trip on the 8th, and I'll be out of town later in the month. We will meet at 7pm and bird the west end of the North Shore Trail. Meeting location will be the little unpaved parking lot off of the curve on Saratoga Rd (Turn south on 2300 W. from Pioneer Crossing) here: https://goo.gl/maps/czH9JResGuvBNovcA. It was great to see some new folks (and some familiar faces) at our bird walk last month. Hope to see you all there!

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

       Friday, Jul 8, 2022 - 6:30 am
       Desert Lake fieldtrip

Meet at the Chevron on Powerhouse Road in Spanish Fork.
We will go to Desert Lake in Emery County.
If we have time we may stop by the Price Recreation Area in Carbon county on the way home. Bring a lunch!

    Thursday, Jul 28, 2022 - 8:00 pm

We will meet at the Payson Walmart to the west of the Quick Quack carwash.
We will spend our time on the Nebo Loop.

            | Upcoming Fieldtrips for 2022 |


President's Message - July 2022


            by Machelle Johnson


In June I went on a cruise to Alaska with my parents and sisters and their husbands. We had this planned for 2020 but it was cancelled due to Covid-19. I've said before that I haven't traveled much, so this was the first cruise I'd ever been on, also my first time to Alaska. Of course I was excited about seeing new birds and spent some time studying up on what I could see.

Glaucous-winged Gull - lifer!
by Jack Binch    ©Jack Binch

Turns out you don't see much from a cruise ship. I did see what I believe was a Black-footed Albatross on the second day when we were at sea, after that, the cruise route goes up through the Inside Passage so we were always in sight of land, and I saw about a bazillion Glaucous-winged Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes, which were lifers for me. I also saw lots of Arctic Terns and Mew Gulls, also lifers. Of course there were many, many Bald Eagles, in all plumage forms. We had rain every day, in every port. That made birding a bit challenging. I am still having knee problems so I wore a knee brace and used trekking poles to get around.



Black-legged Kittiwake - lifer!
 by Paul Higgins  ©Paul Higgins

Arctic Tern - lifer!
by Bryan Shirley    ©Bryan Shirley

Mew Gull - lifer!
by Jack Binch    ©Jack Binch

The first port was Ketchikan. It was raining so I got on the shuttle to get up to Creek Street, which eBird shows as a hot spot. It was not a hot spot on that day. I saw Violet-green Swallows. Period. Didn't even hear anything else. The boardwalk was really crowded too, so I got back on the shuttle to meet up with my group. I was hoping to see birds in the harbor, but there were 4 cruise ships in the port so no birds around.

Varied Thrush by Milt Moody

Our second port was Juneau where we took the tram, and I walked the nature trail for a bit. I was hearing warblers and robins so I turned on the Merlin Sound ID to see what warblers there were. I was also hearing something that sounded like someone blowing a whistle. I checked the sound ID and saw Wilson's warbler, American Robin and Varied Thrush! I saw a Varied Thrush at Garr Ranch a few years ago, but did not know what they sounded like. I was so excited. Those guys are skulky little buggers, it took me quite a while to locate one, I could hear 2 or 3 calling. The woods were so lush, so green, and it was still raining and the trail was muddy, but I kept going because I kept hearing other birds. My favorite bird song is the Hermit Thrush and I was hearing 2 individuals, as well as an Orange-crowned warbler, Yellow warbler, and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet. I finally had to turn back when the trail got too steep and muddy.

The third port was Skagway. Coldest, rainiest, windiest day yet. We took a bus tour of the town and stopped at the old cemetery, which I was looking forward to, but again, the rain, the mud. I'm hobbling along with my trekking poles and trying to keep the umbrella over my head and listen for birds, and as you can imagine, I wasn't too successful. My knee brace was around my ankle, my hair was dripping and the trail was muddy. I wasn't having any fun there. Back on the bus we went up the hill to the overlook. Skagway is 5 blocks wide and 20 blocks long, a really small town. We saw a Dark-eyed Junco and a Robin. So anyway, birding in AK when you're on a cruise is not that great, at least not in early June.


Northwestern Crow
by Bryan Shirley     ©Bryan Shirley

We cruised through Glacier Bay and College Fjord, which were so beautiful. We saw several glaciers and miles and miles of thick green forest. We still had clouds and a breeze, but the rain had let up. We saw so many sea otters, several seals and 2 bears. No whales. I'm considering posting one of those yelp reviews about how 'nature' ruined my cruise☺. We docked in Whittier and woke up to a little bit of sunshine. We were still surrounded by the Glaucous-winged Gulls and Black-legged Kittiwakes, but we also saw 2 Black Oystercatchers, a Tufted Puffin and some Northwestern Crows. Everything I read about Northwestern Crows says there is confliction about whether this is a separate species. These crows were 'beachcombing' with the oystercatcher, which is the habitat and feeding behavior of them, unlike American Crows, so I don't know if I saw a 'lifer' or not. The sun came out as we got on the bus to go to Anchorage, the highway goes along Cook Inlet. Our bus driver said Beluga whales are often seen, but of course, we did not see any Beluga whales. So disappointing. We saw a Trumpeter Swan family, Canada Geese, the gulls, and some others things too far away to ID while riding in a bus going 50 mph. Closer to Anchorage we saw a mama and baby Moose. That was the end of our wildlife sightings. No, wait, there were Magpies near the airport.

Don't get me wrong, Alaska is very beautiful and very lush. I enjoyed spending the time with my sisters and parents. I enjoyed being on a cruise for the first time. I enjoyed the touristy things we did in the cities. I think my expectations were too high for birding though, so I felt disappointed about that. I think that if you want to 'experience' Alaska you need to spend more time, and go interior, not just around the edges. But, take what you can get, it is breathtaking!





The 2022 Birding Challenge

Prinout with the details
(PDF file)





                Lucy's Warbler
                         (Phalaenoptilis Nuttallii

                      by Kayla Echols

Back in late April, I and my mom, Rachel Echols, took a mini-vacation to St George, Utah, where we spent several days seeing as many birds and other wildlife as we could manage. One place we visited was Lytle Ranch, a very special place whose location in Utah's southwest corner puts it on the edge of the Mojave Desert. At Lytle Ranch you can find a lot of birds that don't usually show up anywhere else in the state, but the one I want to highlight is the Lucy's Warbler.

According to Cornell University's All About Birds website, "Lucy’s Warbler was named in honor of Lucy Hunter Baird, the daughter of ornithologist Spencer Fullerton Baird, the second secretary of the Smithsonian Institution."

In the US, the Lucy's Warbler is found in parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. For a warbler, its appearance is rather unremarkable: mostly pale, smooth gray, with a hint of rufous crown, a reddish rump, and a slim, pointed bill. But this species does something that sets it apart from almost all other warblers in North America: It nests in cavities. The only other warbler on the continent that does this is the Prothonotary Warbler, found in swampy habitats of the eastern US.

When nesting season comes around, the female Lucy's Warbler builds a little cup nest of twigs, grass and other plant matter, lined with feathers or hair, inside her chosen nest cavity. She lays 3 to 7 eggs that are white with reddish spots, and both parents take turns incubating. Once the eggs hatch, the chicks--naked and helpless at first--are fed a diet consisting almost entirely of insects and spiders.

During our visit to Lytle Ranch, my mom and I were fortunate enough to find a pair of Lucy's Warblers attending to a nest! Every few minutes one of the adults would squeeze into the crevice of a damaged tree trunk about 15 feet off the ground, carrying a caterpillar or other bug to feed to the babies hidden inside. It was a very memorable experience, and I wish all the Utah County Birders the chance to see a Lucy's Warbler!

Info obtained from AllAboutBirds.org. Photo credits: Lucy's Warbler with caterpillar by Kayla Echols. Pair of Lucy's Warblers at the nest cavity by Rachel Echols, used with permission.

       [See past Bird of the Month articles

Field Trip Reports  

Mt Nebo Lookout

Nebo Bench Fieldtrip
                                   17 June 2022

                         by Suzi Holt
Eight birders met at Beer Can Flats at Payson Canyon Kiwanis Park at 7:30 am. From the parking lot we had a Cooper's Hawk, Warbling and Plumbeous Vireos and a Western Tanager.

We started up the Nebo Loop and didn't see a lot of birds on our way up to Nebo Bench Trailhead. We did see a few Mountain Bluebirds and a Red-tailed Hawk. It was 59° at the trailhead, cloudy and windy.

Western Tanager
Beer Can Flats


Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Nebo Bench Trailhead

Hairy Woodpecker
Nebo Bench Trailhead

Hermit Thrush
Nebo Bench Trailhead

Dark-eyed Junco

American Robin

Mountain Chickadee

In the parking lot a couple Mountain Bluebirds greeted us. We then walked down to the water trough and set up our chairs. Only a couple of us touched the stinging nettle...not on purpose haha. We were serenaded by lots of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Juncos, Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows. As we sat there we added Hairy Woodpecker, Cassin's Finch, Mountain Chickadee, Hermit Thrush, Violet-green Swallow, Western Tanager, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Western Wood Pewee, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Robin, Pine Siskin, Lincoln's Sparrow, Northern Flicker, Common Raven and Red-tailed Hawk.

Western Tanager

Hermit Thrush

Western Wood Pewee

Western Tanager
Nebo Bench Trailhead

Dark-eyed Junco
Nebo Bench Trailhead

American Robin
Nebo Bench Trailhead

Violet-green Swallow
Purple Martin Colony

Purple Martin
Purple Martin Colony

We stopped at the Mt Nebo lookout to checkout the view in a hurricane and left before being accidentally swept off the edge.

On the way down the canyon we stopped first at the Purple Martin Colony and had a couple flying around. We also saw some Violet-green Swallows, a Northern Flicker, and heard a House Wren.


From here we headed to Rock Springs by the Guard Station. The wind was still terrible. We did have Yellow Warbler, Lazuli Bunting, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Turkey Vulture, and Song Sparrow. We also heard a MacGillviary's Warbler, House Wren and White-crowned Sparrow. A Red-tailed Hawk was flying around and a few minutes later we had a surprise Northern Goshawk flyby, followed by a Sharp-shinned Hawk flyby. The wind continued so we headed down the canyon. We stopped at the lower Jones Ranch and found more Yellow Warblers, a Fox Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Hermit Thrush, MacGillviary's Warbler, Common Raven and Mountain Bluebird.

Lazuli Bunting
Rock Springs

Sharp-shinned Hawk
Rock Springs

Swallowtail Butterflies

Fox Sparrow
Jones Ranch

MacGillviary's Warbler
Jones Ranch

Cordilleran Flycatcher
Nebo Loop

Down by the narrows along the river we stopped by to check and see if the Cordilleran Flycatchers were there. We got good looks at one!

It was windy and not the weather we expected but it was nice to be out of the valley heat for a little while. We also had a few new birders join us and some even got lifers!

Thanks for coming!


Beaver Dam Slope

      Washington County
                            June 3-4 2022

                      by Suzi Holt


Ash-throated Flycatcher-Beaver Dam Slope

Loggerhead Shrike-Beaver Dam Slope   

We started our Washington County fieldtrip bright and early at 6 am. 24 Utah County Birders met at McDonalds. Our first bird was a Great-tailed Grackle. We quickly got on our way to Lytle Ranch. It is a beautiful area in the desert with lots of Cactus, Joshua trees, Cottonwood, Mesquite and many other native plants. The terrain is rocky with lots of dirt, and did I mention HOT! If you plan on a visit bring lots of water, a tank full of gas and good tires or know how to change one. The birding is spectacular!! On the Beaver Dam Slope we saw a few Western Kingbirds, a Cactus Wren, Red-tailed Hawk, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-throated Sparrow and some House Finch.

At the ranch [Lytle Ranch] we tried to walk the wash but it was a little rough with our group. We did see Lucy's Warblers, a lot of Phainopeplas and a couple Ash-throated Flycatchers, but decided on the more traveled path out through the orchards, up the draw and to the pond. As we dropped off our jackets by the cars we saw a Costas and a Anna's Hummingbird, a Ladder-backed Woodpecker, a couple Summer Tanagers, Hermit Thrush, Gambel's Quail, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, House Finch and House Sparrows. In the Pomegranate Orchard we saw a couple Black Phoebes getting a drink out of the sprinklers. We then headed up the draw and found a few more Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and then heard a Black-tailed Gnatcatcher. I got one identifiable shot of a female! At this area we also had Bell's Vireo, lots more Lucy's a couple Yellow Warblers, a Verdin, lots more Phainapeplas, a Ash-throated Flycatcher, Common Ravens, Lesser Goldfinch, Cooper's Hawk, Mourning Dove, Red-tailed Hawk, another Ladder-backed Woodpecker and White-throated Swift. As we walked down towards the pond we saw tons more Lucy's Warblers, heard a Black-throated Gray Warbler, more Bell's Vireo, some Northern Rough-winged Swallows, a pair of Blue Grosbeaks, Wesrern Kingbird, Eurasian Collared Doves, more White-thoated Swifts, a juvenile Black-throated Sparrow, and another Black Phoebe. In the cottonwoods we saw a Cooper's Hawk nest and had a Western Tanager. Machelle and Amanda also saw Cedar Waxwings and a Red-naped Sapsucker while by the cars. Down by the river in the wash we got some Wild Turkeys and a Brown-crested Flycatcher!!

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Summer Tanager


Black-tailed Gnatcatcher

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Cooper's Hawk

From there we decided to take the Indian Creek road to look for some Scott's Orioles. The road got a little rough for some of the sedans and we saw a guy coming the other way that said it would be doable but it would be a hour or so farther so we decided to turn around. We did see more Ash-throated Flycatchers, Black-throated Sparrows, Gambel's Quail, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, and added a Turkey Vulture and some saw a Greater Roadrunner. It was quite the adventure!

Chuckwalla-Beaver Dam Slope

Vermillion Flycatchers-Boots Cox Park

We got back on the main Lytle Ranch road and as we rounded a corner I saw a huge lizard basking in the sun on a rock. I quickly pulled over. I know it wasn't a bird, but it was a Chuckwalla!! I got one shot before it dropped off the backside of the rock, Quin Dias would be jealous! We also got good looks at another Cactus Wren and a Loggerhead Shrike.

 From there we drove down to Gunlock Reservoir. We found a Common Black Hawk and a nest. Unfortunately we were on Reservation land and did not have a permit to birdwatch...(I felt bad I didn't know that) we were quickly informed that we were to move on. So that we did.

Some decided to go home and rest, others of us went to Boots Cox Park to see the Vermillion Flycatchers there was a family of 3! We also saw another Greater Roadrunner with a lizard for lunch, another Blue Grosbeak, Western Kingbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds. After that we stopped at the Virgin River Trail, we had another Greater Roadrunner, some Cliff Swallows, House Sparrow, Turkey Vulture, Bullock's Oriole and a Barn Owl!

Others decided to go to Tonaquint Park and the Parsons and Sammy and I went to Hurricane for the Inca Doves. We heard one calling and quickly found it in the same tree I'd seen it in ovef spring break. Here's Machelle's report from Tonaquint We saw GBH, Ring-necked Duck, Mallard, Coot, Abert 's Towhee, Cooper's Hawk on a nest, Hooded Oriole, BC and BT Hummer, Anna's Hummer, House Sparrow, House Finch, Cliff Swallow, Verdin, Lesser GF, DC Cormorant, Black Phoebe, EC Dove, heard Song Sparrow. Hadlocks, Glassfords, Hincklys, and us.

Greater Roadrunner-Virgin River Trail

Bullock's Oriole-Virgin River Trail

Black Phoebe-Virgin River Trail

Barn Owl

Inca Dove-Hurricane

Mule Deer

With the Parsons we saw Inca, Mourning, Eurasion-collard and White-winged Dove, Wild Turkeys, Western Kingbirds, Phainopepla, House Sparrow and House Finch. Sammy and were so tired we decided to come home for a relaxing swim. The Parsons headed back to Tonaquint.

It was a rough night thinking about Gunlocks adventure but we did get up at 6 to meet everyone at the Hurricane Walmart. We had a Yellow-headed Blackbird flyover, almost hit a Eurasian Collared Dove in Hurricane. At the bottom of the Kolob Terrace road we saw a Red-winged Blackbird. A little further up a Western Tanager and a couple Mountain Bluebirds.

If you have not been up Kolob Terrace it is beautiful and it is a free part of Zion National Park. When you are on the red asphalt you are in Zion NP. We went straight for Lava Point Lookout. There was a Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Hermit Thrush, Cassin's Finch, Dark-eyed Junco, White-throated Swifts and Violet-green Swallows there to welcome us. As we walked around on the trails we saw a couple Mule Deer in velvet! We also saw Dusky Flycatcher, Northern Flicker, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Chipping Sparrow, Green-tailed Towhee, Mountain Chickadee, Warbling Vireo, Grace's Warbler, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood Pewee and a Townsend's Solitaire.

Kolob Terrace Road/Zion National Park

Western Tanager-Lava Point  

Spotted Towhee-Lava Point

Dusky Flycatcher-Lava Point

Ruby-crowned Kinglet-Lava Point

Long-billed Curlews-Big Springs

Vesper Sparrow-Big Springs

Band-tailed Pigeons-Kolob Creek Waterfall

At Big Springs we saw 7 Long-billed Curlew! A surprise at that elevation. A family of Canada Geese, a Mallard, Osprey, Vesper Sparrow, Mountain Bluebird, Western Wood Pewee. Then a bunch of Turkey Vultures starting soaring. They moved over the ridge so we hurried to Kolob Creek Waterfall. Rich showed me one of his photos with the Turkey Vultures and he had got a California Condor. Out to the west i saw some more big black birds starting to crest the ridge so we got in the cars to head over, as soon as I got on the road I saw a Condor out over the falls! Got on the walkie talkie and haphazardly got turned around. We all got back to the falls and had awesome looks at a few California Condors!

Some were in need of a restroom so we decided to go to the reservoir. We hadn't got 2 tenths of a mile when a Acorn Woodpecker flew past me and so I got on the walkie talkie again yelling look at the Acorn Woodpecker as it flew past our car train. Not sure if I had enough sense to look at my hands and choose right or left as I frantically turned around to see if we could watch where it went. I saw it go into the pines beside the falls. So back again we all were at the lookout! No restroom break yet!! We were just in time for a Brown-headed Cowbirds, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Violet-green Swallows, Band-tailed Pigeons, Stellar's Jay, Cordilleran Flycatchers, American Robin, Orange-crowned Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Cassin's Finch, Dusky Flycatcher and a Bald Eagle Flyover. There were more California Condors for a total of 6! We even got some wing tags to check on condorspotter.com!! We had TC, 25 and R1!!

California Condor
TC- Kolob Creek Waterfall


California CondorTC
Kolob Creek Waterfall

California Condor R1
 Kolob Creek Waterfall
 photo by Lonny Northrup

California Condor 25
Kolob Creek Waterfall

California Condor 25
Kolob Creek Waterfall

We finally made it to the reservoir and had lunch, oh and added MacGillviary's Warbler.
We drove through Whispering Pines subdivision and didn't add anything else but we got a beautiful close up of another California Condor. On the way past Blue Springs we saw a Western Bluebird.

Bushtit-Wildcat Trail

Next stop was Wildcat Trail. In the parking lot we got a small flock of Bushtits! A few of us walked down the trail a ways to the Ponderosa Pines. We saw another Ash-throated Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Dusky Flycatcher, Spotted Towhee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, nesting Pygmy Nuthatch, Red-breasted Nuthatch, another Grace's Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Western Tanager with a nest, Plumbeous Vireo, Western Wood Pewee and a Woodhouse's Scrub Jay. Machelle and Amanda saw a Black-throated Gray and Virginia's Warbler from the cars.

A few of us went to Dalton Wash. We couldn't find any Rufous-crowned Sparrows but had a Black-chinned Hummingbird, a family of Black-throated Sparrows, Rock Wrens and a Common Raven. And a few pieces of petrified wood.

Sego Lily-Wildcat Trail

Robber fly-Wildcat Trail

Pygmy Nuthatch-Wildcat Trail

Grace's Warbler-Wildcat Trail

Black-chinned Hummingbird
Dalton Wash

Black-throated Sparrow
Dalton Wash

Lynne and Sammy

Petrified Wood

Thanks Holly!!

Everyone was hot and tired so we decided to call it a day. Sammy and Amanda and I were still on the hunt for petrified wood so Machelle drove up on a Mesa and we found a few beautiful pieces.
On our way home we stopped by Hurricane to see the Incas again. We heard them but couldn't locate them in the tree.

It was a great two days. I am probably missing some birds but we hit 100 species in my trip report! A few of us also completed Beaver and Iron County with our 22 species. We definitely exceeded 22 in Washington County.

 I am grateful for all who join us with excitement and love for nature and birds. And for those who couldn't join enjoy the photos and my crazy posts. Thanks for being patient and so kind to me!  I also love my new birding bag! Thanks Holly!

I love you all! Happy Birding!   


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