Utah County Birders Newsletter


         September 2022

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



Thursday Sep 8, 2022, 7 pm

Birding Antarctica and the Southern Ocean: Adventures on a Research Expedition, presented by Bryce Robinson.
This will be a hybrid meeting, in person at the Bean Museum, and on zoom for those who would prefer to tune in online.

Bryce W. Robinson is an ornithologist and illustrator with a deep tie to Utah County. He was born in American Fork, went to American Fork High School and then left Utah County to attend University of Utah. He has since travelled the world birding and working with birds. Currently he is a PhD student at Cornell University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, a position that recently provided him the unique opportunity to join a research expedition to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean. During his 30 days aboard a sailing vessel, the Vinson of Antarctica, he worked through difficult ID challenges such as the Prions and Diving-Petrels, while capturing and sampling multiple penguin species and interacting with nesting seabirds such as Albatross and Petrels. Bryce will share stories and multimedia from Antarctica, South Georgia, and the Southern Ocean, providing an intimate insight into the birdlife of this wild region of the world.

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

       Saturday, Sept. 17th - 5 am
       Piute, Garfield and Kane County Fieldtrip

Meet at the Payson Walmart at 5 am. We will drive to Piute Reservoir and get our 22 species in Piute County. Then we will drive to Garfield County stopping at a couple different locations searching for our 22 species. Bring a lunch, we will stop somewhere along the way to eat. Then we will head towards Alton and the 3 lakes. They are in Kane County. Hopefully finding our 22 species in Kane County! It will be a long day for sure. You are welcome to stay over somewhere down that way and join along the way. I just don't know how well cell service will be. It will be a fun adventure!!

            | Upcoming Fieldtrips for 2022 |


President's Message - July 2022


            by Machelle Johnson


Hermit Warbler
by Tuula Rose 
©Tuula Rose

American Redstart
by Cliff Miles    ©Cliff Miles

September in Utah is a beautiful month, the sky is a deeper blue, the leaves are starting to turn colors, the nights are cooler and the days are not so hot. What makes it even better is fall migration! There have been quite a few migrants spotted here and there throughout the state. Now is a good time to check off another county or 2 on your list. I'm at 19 counties so far, hoping to get 3 more in the next couple months, although I won't be able to make it on the field trip on the 17th.

How are you coming on your list? I've talked to many of you that have already reached the gold goal of 22 counties! I hope the rest of you are able to make it as well. This has been a fun challenge to do this year, especially after being more home bound for the past year or two. Let's hope for a slew of great migrants to visit Utah in the coming weeks! We will meet in January to announce challenge level awards and talk about plans for next year.

Also, another call for volunteers or nominations for upcoming club president and president elect. This is a great way to serve the group and get to know the awesome people in our club. This is not a position that requires a lot of extra time on your part, we have a great board and we all work well together to plan meetings and field trips, and to put out a great newsletter each month. Please contact me or another person on the board directly if you would be interested in this.

I hope to see you at some hot spot this month, scoping out a migrating rarity!




The 2022 Birding Challenge

Prinout with the details
(PDF file)





 California Gull

(Larus californicus)

by Lynn Garner


                     Family: Gulls and Terns (Laridae); Order: Shorebirds (Charadriiformes)

California Gulls, Powell Lake, Lehi, Utah Co
 ©Lynn Garner  

 Seagull Monument on Temple Square,
 Salt Lake City. ©Bonneville Productions

It was May, 1848; the 1500 settlers in the Salt Lake valley had just arrived the previous summer and had barely survived the winter. Their hopes for survival were centered on their newly sprung crops, not only for themselves, but for hundreds more on their way across the plains. Suddenly, an irruption of “Mormon crickets” (probably bush katydids) descended on their crops and everything green, eating voraciously. For about two weeks, the settlers prayed and fought the insects, but there were just too many of them. Early in June, their prayers were answered. Flocks of seagulls appeared from the direction of the Great Salt Lake and descended on their crops, not to eat the crops but to feast on the insects! Settlers reported the birds gorging themselves, then disgorging what they could not digest, then eating more insects. For the next two weeks, the gulls controlled the crickets, and while the harvest would not be as abundant as originally hoped, it was sufficient for the survival of the colony. In gratitude, the Seagull Monument was erected in 1915 to honor the birds, and the “California Seagull” was adopted as the Utah State Bird in 1955.[1][4]

Bird book descriptions of gulls always compare them to several other species and predict that they will be seen in company of those species. For California Gulls, the comparable species are Ring-billed Gulls (our most abundant gull) and Herring Gulls, fitting between them in size and sharing their habitat. The average adult California Gull is 21 inches long with a wingspan of 54 inches and weighing 1.3 pounds. It is white with a medium dark gray back and extensive black on the wingtips, a dark eye with a red orbital ring, a yellow bill with red and black markings on the tip, especially on the lower mandible, and dull greenish legs. Juveniles are quite brown and take four years to mature, getting lighter each year. The call is hoarse and scratchy, slightly descending in pitch; the long call is a rapid sequence of higher-pitched calls, wheezy and raucous.[2]

Typical nesting range is from Arizona to upper Canada and from the Dakotas to the Cascades; the winter range is along the Pacific coast from Washington southward into Mexico. There are pockets of permanent residence in Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Nevada. California Gulls are common on lakes and ponds and are often seen in farmland, parking lots, and city parks. In Utah, they are uncommon during the winter months.[2]

Nesting places are on islands in inland lakes and along rivers; the nest on the ground is made of grass, dead weeds, and sticks. The typical clutch is 2 or 3 heavily-blotched buff-olive eggs. Both parents take turns of 3-4 hours incubating the eggs, trading long calls during the shift change. California Gulls are scavengers and will eat everything they can find, from insects to garbage. They often travel miles from their nesting sites in search of food.[4]

The oldest California Gull on record was 28 years old. The population of California Gulls has been mostly stable for decades.[3]

[1] Saints, Vol. II: No Unhallowed Hand, 2020, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
[2] Sibley, Sibley Birds, V2 App.
[3] National Audubon Society, Birds of North America, 2021, New York: Knopf.
[4] All About Birds and various web sites.


       [See past Bird of the Month articles

Field Trip Reports  


Cascade Springs-Wasatch County fieldtrip

28 Aug 2022

by Suzi Holt


Ruffed Grouse

We had a slow but beautiful morning up at Cascade Springs. Our first birds were a couple Common Ravens. Then we saw a American Robin. Down the trail one of the Hinckley boys saw a clump in a tree. Holly looked a little closer and it was a Ruffed Grouse...a great find!! We then heard and saw Black-capped Chickadees, saw more American Robins, a Woodhouse's Scrub Jay and a couple of Song Sparrows. The cascades were absolutely beautiful and so worth coming up for.  Tatum had a blast running on the boardwalk looking for fish. A little farther up where the river spread out across the meadow we had Yellow, Virginia's, Orange-crowned and MacGillviary's Warblers., a Western Wood Pewee, Spotted Towhees and a couple of Finch. We also saw a Golden Eagle! From there we worked our way back down the trail seeing and hearing Cedar Waxwings.

We walked down to the pond on the dirt road and added a Northern Flicker putting us at 15.

Black-capped Chickadee

Song Sparrow

Virginia's Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

Golden Eagle

Cedar Waxwing

Yep a snake


Red-tailed Hawk


We decided to take the road over to Soldier's Hollow. We added Red-tailed Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, Turkey Vulture, Red-winged Blackbird, Mourning Doves and Black-billed Magpie .

At the Fisherman's access we added Osprey, Mallard and California Gull. For a grand total of 27 species. Glad to have Wasatch completed! It was a good morning!

Thanks for joining us!




Soapstone Basin

Mirror Lake Fieldtrip

(Summit and possibly Duchesne County)

5 Aug 2022

by Suzi Holt



Willow Flycatcher

Sixteen birders met way too early and headed for Mirror Lake Highway in search of birds. Our first non bird was a beautiful Moose right below Soapstone Basin! We saw a Common Raven and tons of Black-billed Magpies. We passed the "Bear Naked Campground" it had just rained so we figured the campers had also got a morning bath :)

First stop Soapstone Basin.
It was sprinkling just a little bit. But despite the weather we managed 21 species. We heard a Sandhill Crane and Northern Flicker upon arrival. Over by the pond we heard a couple Willow Flycatchers then located one in a aspen tree on the backside of the pond. A Mallard flew over the pond and we saw Song Sparrow on the log, Yellow Warblers were chasing each other all over the fir trees and a Northern Rough-winged Swallow perched on a small snag overhanging the pond. A ways off on another snag we saw a Cedar Waxwing and a Downy Woodpecker. We heard a pip, pip, pip and a Red Crossbill flew into the top of a fir tree!! We watched Ruby-crowned Kinglets flit all over had a Warbling Vireo fly over us and into a Aspen Tree, we had a Rufous Hummingbird come in for a close look and a Belted Kingfisher on the swallows snag. A American Goldfinch replaced the Willow Flycatcher in the Aspen to the back of the pond. We also saw American Robins, Western Wood Pewees, a Stellar's Jay, lots of Black-capped Chickadees and one Orange-crowned Warbler. We finished Summit County!! The rain began to pour so we jumped in the cars and headed up the highway.


Yellow Warbler

Red Crossbill

American Goldfinch

Belted Kingfisher

Black-capped Chickadee-

Western Wood Pewee

Mountain Chickadee-

Duchesne County first stop Hayden Peak Lookout. Once again it was drizzling. But we managed 15 different soaked birds. We saw Mountain Bluebird, lots of White-crowned and Chipping Sparrows and tons of Dark-eyed Juncos on the other side of the road. At the outlook we saw Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Cassin's Finch, Red- breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Brown Creeper, American Robin, Northern Flicker and heard a Hairy Woodpecker!



Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Orange-crowned Warbler

Brown Creeper

 Fireweed -  in the Willowherb family, Onagraceae

Hayden Peak Lookout

Tatum-Hayden Peak Lookout

American Three-toed Woodpecker


The rain started up again so we headed down to Mirror Lake. We drove the horse campground on a quest for the Canada Jay. Some of the trailing cars saw one!! Some missed it :(
We all saw lots of White-crowned and Chipping Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. We enjoyed other birds like Mountain Chickadees, Yellow-rumped Warblers, A pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Northern Flicker, American Robin and Orange-crowned Warbler. Some of us took a hike on the Highline Trail and we found another American Three-toed Woodpecker and Clark's Nutcrackers, Pine Siskin, Pine Grosbeak, Brown Creeper, Osprey and Green-tailed Towhee.

Fireweed / Willowherb

Mirror Lake CG

Pine Grosbeak

Clark's Nutcracker

Yellow-bellied Marmot




The others drove the campgrounds. Lucky ducks saw a Canada Jay too! We decided to eat lunch at one of the picnic tables and hope to be visited by one...nope, so we continued to drive around the campgrounds. One by one, car by car all headed home. Holly and Steve stayed with us and we drove through Butterfly Lake CG with no luck. We stopped at the Pika boulders and found two!! The rain started again but sttopped when we got to Moosehorn Lake. No luck there either. Amanda still needed two species and Lynn needed one. Our last try was at Hayden Peak Lookout, luckily it wasn't raining. But we didn't add any birds :(

Despite the weather we had a lot of fun! And the wildflowers, rain and refreshing temperatures were so worth the drive!

Thanks for coming!

Pika - Mirror Lake Highway



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