Utah County Birders Newsletter


         August 2022  

    Monthly Meeting
Upcoming Field Trips
    Bird of the Month 
    Monthly Meeting Report 
    Special Report
    Field Trip Reports



       Thursday August 11, 2022, 7pm
       Annual UCB Potluck Dinner -  Vivian Park, Provo Canyon

Join us for an evening of socializing with fellow bird lovers and nerds. We have reserved the smaller pavilion at Vivian Park (Provo Canyon South Fork turnoff) for our potluck dinner. We will provide tablecloths, plates, silverware, cups, napkins, and water. Please bring a potluck item to share.

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

       Friday, August 5th, 2022 - 6:00 am
       Mirror Lake Fieldtrip
 (Summit and possibly Duchesne County)

Meet at 6:00 am at the Orem 800 N Harmon's grocery store to the west of the gas pumps.
We will stop at Soapstone CG area. Then head up to Mirror Lake. Hoping for the usual mountain birds like American Three-toed Woodpecker, Canada Jay, and Clark's Nutcracker. Bring your National Park Pass or pay the fee. Bring a lunch.
    Saturday, August 27th, 2022 - 7:30 am
     Cascade Springs
 (Wasatch County)

Meet at 7:30 am at the Orem 800 N Harmon's grocery store to the west of the gas pumps. We will drive up the Alpine Loop to Cascade Springs. You will need a National Park Pass or pay the entrance fee. Bring a lunch. Hopefully we'll get our 22 species!

            | Upcoming Fieldtrips for 2022 |

The 2022 Birding Challenge

Prinout with the details
(PDF file)




                         Greater Roadrunner
Geococcyx californianus)

                                   Text by Jeremy Telford
                                Photos by Nichole Telford

Meep Meep! The Greater Roadrunner is steeped in lore, from Acme explosions to sacredly shaped footprints. It was also, until a week ago, as much my nemesis bird as I imagine it still is to Wile E Coyote.
      The Greater Roadrunner is part of the Cuckoo bird family that is more famous for hanging out in clocks and imposing its eggs on unsuspecting parents. Unlike some other Cuckoo species the Greater Roadrunner raises its own young. The male gathers the sticks, twigs, and leafy matter and the female arranges it into a nest either in a tree, bush, or on a cactus. If the male takes too long to gather the materials or gets distracted the female emits a whining call reminding him to get back to work. The resulting nest is typically 17 inches in diameter and 8 inches thick, dipping to 4 inches thick in the center.
      Roadrunners are voracious eaters. They eat, among other things, lizards, insects, some fruit and seeds, centipedes, mice, and young ground squirrels. They will also eat other birds like baby quail, sparrows, and they can even jump vertically and snatch hummingbirds out of the air. They also go after venomous prey that other predators avoid, like rattlesnakes, scorpions, and tarantulas. They will even eat snakes that are too large for them to swallow, running around with the tail sticking out of their mouth until their stomach’s have dissolved enough for them to swallow the rest.

Photos taken in St. George, Utah   
 ©Nichole Telford

   ©Nichole Telford

   ©Nichole Telford

            Though roadrunners prefer to run along the ground they can fly short distances. Roadrunners can run a constant 15 miles per hour and can have short bursts faster than that when pursuing prey maxing out at about 26 miles per hour. Unfortunately a coyote has a top speed of 43 miles per hour and that is without rockets and roller-skates.
      Roadrunners are well adapted for their desert environments. Roadrunners have a gland just in front of the eye from which they excrete salt, this uses much less water than urinating for removing excess salts. They also get much of their water from eating water rich prey like lizards. Also they have a featherless patch on their chin called a gular which they can flutter to dissipate heat.
      Like some of the other birds in the cuckoo family, the Greater Roadrunner is a zygodactyl bird. This is not a type of prehistoric reptile. Instead it means that they have four toes and that two of its toes face forward and two face backward. This gives them a unique ‘X’ shaped footprint. Pueblo tribes thought this shape sacred and that it would ward off evil spirits. Since the x is the same shape from any direction the evil spirits wouldn’t know what direction to travel to try and follow.
      There is a legend about the rivalry between the rattlesnake and the roadrunner among the Tejas. The rattlesnake was the official messenger of the Great Spirit bringing messages to wise men of the native tribes. No animal or person dared stand in its way due to its venomous nature. The roadrunner knew it could run much faster than the snake. One day it overheard the Great Spirit giving the rattlesnake a message. Seizing its chance the roadrunner rushed ahead, delivered the message, and enlisted the aid of the wise native to become a messenger permanently. The Great Spirit was both impressed and annoyed. Impressed at the speed of the delivery, but annoyed that the roadrunner would eavesdrop on a private conversation. In the end the Great Spirit used the roadrunner but only for unimportant messages. The rattlesnake was still angry. It sought out the roadrunner’s nest and ate its young. When the roadrunner discovered what had happened it sought out the snake’s young and returned the favor. From then on the bird nested off of the ground and has always looked both ways when returning home to make sure it had not been followed.
      It is easy to see how this lively bird could spark the imagination of so many cultures and be the source for many stories and legends. It was a pleasure to see not one, but three and check it onto my life list last month. Seriously, I may have teared up a little. And although it is no longer my nemesis bird it is still on my short list of birds to always look for when I am in their habitat and probably will be for very long time.



       [See past Bird of the Month articles



     Monthly Meeting Report

                 by Keeli Marvel

Eight birders met for our bird walk/July meeting on Tuesday and we had a great walk along the west end of the North Shore Utah Lake trail. Highlights from our walk included seeing newly fledge great horned owlets, western wood-pewees and warbling vireo, Caspian terns, the resident marmots, and getting great looks at a pair of Eastern Kingbirds that have returned to nest along the trail. We ended up with around 26 species for the evening. I didn’t get any pics of the group, but it was a beautiful evening and thanks to everyone who joined us!


                      New Species for Utah

                                               by Milt Moody

Alder Flycatcher
by Bryant Olsen   eBird Photo

On June 21st, Adam Zahm discovered an Alder Flycather at Little Dell Reservoir.  This species had never been officially documented in the state before, although there was a very well-written report in September 2016 at the Salt Lake International Center that unfortunately didn't include an audio recording.  Because the Alder Flycatcher is part of the Empidonax group of flycatchers, which look very similar to each other, an audio recording is often needed to  confirmation  the ID.  This latest sighting was thoroughly reviewed  but  easily accepted by the Records Committee since there were at least seven audio recordings, two official sight records, and numerous photos, from many observers over a three-day period.  Overwhelming evidence!

So we have a new species on our Utah State Checklist.  This makes 462 species on the checklist itself and with the seven species that are on the Provisional Species List, that makes 469 species that have sight records that have been accepted for Utah.

The Alder Flycatcher joints a list of First State Records that has grown by 20 birds in the last 10 years and an astounding 50 species in the last 20 years..  This may be due to more birders, more capable cameras and better access to audio recording equipment. So judging from the 30 species on the  Unverified Species List, which have records submitted but none accepted, we can probably expect many more to come in the future.

Field Trip Reports  
Owling Trip - Nebo Loop
                                   28 July 2022

                         by Suzi Holt

Flammulated Owl
by Jeff Cooper     ©Jeff Cooper

On Thursday July 28th 16 birders met at Walmart in Payson and headed south to Nephi to start a evening of owling. We started on the Juab side of the Nebo Scenic Loop. Our first birds were Common Nighthawk and Western Wood Pewee. We then had a Great Horned Owl fly over the road in front of us and land in a tree. It was calling and put on a beautiful show. Next stop was along Salt Creek, we had a couple Flammulated Owls calling. But we never did get a look at them, but it sure is fun to hear them. Although some of the calls will send chills down your spine in the dark. We worked our way up the loop and found a couple more Flammies calling. We could also hear a Northern Saw Whet Owl We were all so excited to finally get to see it!! We also saw a huge ugly spider. Yikes!
Up the road we went, we stopped and heard more Flammulated Owls, same story we never got a look.
Our last stop was Beer Can Flats we tried for Common Poorwill with no luck but did have 3 Western Screech Owls calling. It was a fun night! We finished a little after 1:00 am. I'm sure everyone slept in on Friday.

Happy birders!


Mule Deer-Price Recreation Area

      Emery and Carbon County Fieldtrip
                            8 July 2022

                      by Suzi Holt


Blue Grosbeak

We got up early and headed up highway 6 to Emery and Carbon County.

Our first spot was Desert Lake in Emery County. We saw 27 species there! It was really dry but we managed to find some great birds. Our best was definitely a pair of Blue Grosbeaks! We also saw lots of Canada Geese, Vesper and Lark Sparrows, a lone American Avocet, Long-billed Curlew, Western Kingbird, Common Raven, and a Northern Mockingbird. Other birds to note were Eurasion-collard Doves, Western Meadowlark Red-winged and a Yellow-headed Blackbird, Swainson's Hawk, American Robin, Northern Harrier, Killdeer, Cliff Swallow, a few Common Yellowthroats, a Great Blue Heron, down the road we saw a Horned Lark, a couple Mallards, a pair of Ring-necked Pheasants, a Rock Wren, Turkey Vulture, Black-billed Magpie and Black-throatedSparrow.

Lark Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Northern Mockingbird-

Long-billed Curlew and Canada Goose-Desert Lake

Common Yellowthroat-Desert Lake

Ring-necked Pheasants

Rock Wren

Black-throated Sparrow


Now off to Carbon County.
We stopped at the gas station and saw a House Sparrow and Rock Pigeons. We also saw a couple Violet Green Swallows at Gigliotti Pond. It was pretty quiet so we headed up the mountain to the Price Recreation Area. After last year's fire it broke my heart to see all the burn. It was quiet up there too but we managed 25 species!

Dusky Flycatcher

Grace's Warbler

Virginia's Warbler

Chris Lackenbucher, from Michigan , joined the group.
 Photo  by Steve Van Winkle

On the way up we ran into a "birdographerhiker" from Michigan. He hopped in the car with us crazies and birded with us for the afternoon. We saw Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and a Dusky Flycatcher and a Red-tailed Hawk on the road up. At the campground we searched for the American Three-toed Woodpecker to no avail. But we did have lots of other good birds. My favorite is always the Grace's Warbler. Oh and hearing the Red Crossbill! We also had lots of Spotted and Green-tailed Towhees, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Mountain Chickadee, Swainson's and Hermit Thrush, Virginia's Warbler, American Robin, Plumbeous Vireo, Western Tanager, Western Kingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Chipping Sparrow, Pine Siskin. On our way back down we saw a Warbling Vireo, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Woodhouse's Scrub Jay, Black-headed Grosbeak, Mourning Dove, a Golden Eagle and Downy Woodpecker!!

Hermit Thrush

Plumbeous Vireo

Hairy Woodpecker

I felt bad I had to change the trip from Saturday to Friday. We only had 5 well 6 with Chris from Michigan, but it's always a fun time!

See ya all next time....

Black-throated Gray Warbler

Golden Eagle

Utah County Birders website             
Utah County Birders Board Members             

   If you'd like to write an article for the news newsletter...        
send it to: