Utah County Birders Newsletter


         November 2022  

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



     Thursday Nov. 10th, 7 pm
(in person at the Bean Museum or online via Zoom.)

Jeff Cooper, our very own local eBird reviewer, will give us a refresher on tips and tricks to using eBird and Merlin, as well as talk about some of his experiences searching for Boreal Owls in some of the more remote parts of Utah.

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

     "Loon Loop'
     November 12, 2022

Meet at Harmon's on 800 N. In Orem at 8:30 am
We will go to East Canyon Reservoir and meet Weston Smith there to look for loons and other birds. Then we will stop at Echo and Rockport Reservoirs where Dave Hanscom will be with us to show us around . On the way home we will check out Deer Creek Reservoir . Dress warm and bring a lunch.

Turkey Trot
     November 19, 2022

Meet at Harmon's on 800 N. In Orem at 8:30 am. We will start at East Lawn Cemetery, then trot to South Fork to count turkeys. From there we will trot over to Diamond Fork, Elk Ridge, Payson Canyon and possibly Santaquin. It is a fun day. Make sure yo bring a lunch and we will also have our famous turkey trot sugar cookies!!

            | Upcoming Fieldtrips for 2022 |

        President's Message
- Nov 2022  


                    by Machelle Johnson



The year is winding down, or maybe winding up considering 'The Holidays' are upon us! We have one last field trip to check off counties, so make your list and check it twice!

This has been a fun challenge, and I've enjoyed going to the various counties either on my own or on a field trip. The board is accumulating prizes so we would like to have an idea of what level you think you will accomplish.

Please send us an email with the number of counties you expect to complete by the end of the year. If you already have 22 counties for the gold level, let us know right away!

Mark your calendar for our January 12th meeting where we'll announce the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal winners!





The 2022 Birding Challenge

Prinout with the details
(PDF file)







by  Dennis Shirley


Back around the first of the month of October, within a week’s time, we had two exciting Flycatchers show up in our state. First was a Great-crested Flycatcher along the Spanish Fork River at River Lane. The second was a Thick-billed Kingbird at the Salt Lake International Center west of the Salt Lake Airport. Both are extremely rare in the West and especially in Utah, having only been seen in the state two or three times prior. I thought it would be fun and exciting to look at this group of birds and not just a single bird of the month.

Great Crested Flycatcher
by Rick Fridell      ©Rick Fridell

Thick-billed Kingbird
by Bryant Olsen      ©Bryant Olsen

Tyrant Flycatchers are the largest world bird family with 435 species. They are found only in the New World – North and South America. Included in this family are the Flycatchers known as the Kingbirds (genus Tyranus) Kingbirds range as far north as Alaska (rarely) to the Patagonian Steppes of Southern Argentina and even the Falkland Islands. There are 13 species of Kingbirds of which 10 have been recorded in North America north of Mexico. Six have been found in Utah. The six include Western, Eastern, Cassin’s, Tropical, Thick-billed, and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers. The rarest of these six is the Thick-billed Kingbird which has only been seen three times including the recent Salt Lake County bird. Three kingbirds are known to breed in Utah – Western, Eastern, and Cassin’s.

Kingbirds are a popular group of birds because they are easy to see, most of the time perching in the open on wires, fences, posts, or dead branches of trees. They are conspicuous when they fly out and back from their exposed perch, catching flying insects. They are true tyrants of the bird world because they are afraid of no one and aggressively chase much larger birds, including birds of prey, out of their territories. I once observed a Western Kingbird actually land on the back of a flying Red-tailed Hawk and pull out several of its back feathers. They are truly fearless.

The Thick-billed Kingbird (Tyranus crassirostris) which refers to its large, conspicuous bill, is way out of its normal range when it is in Utah. Its normal range is in the hot desert areas of Mexico to Guatemala. It does, however, occasionally occur along the southeastern Arizona/Mexico border during breeding season. It is known to occasionally have juvenile first-year birds apparently get mixed up and “migrate” north instead of south. Rarities have been recorded in the fall in California, Colorado, southern British Columbia, and now in Utah. All three of Utah’s records occurred in the month of October (2009, 2013, 2022) and all were believed to be first-year juveniles.

First-year juveniles are brighter yellow in the breast than adults, have a cinnamon-colored edging to the wing coverts, and have a conspicuous white throat. Both adults and juveniles have a thick, dark, heavy bill from which the bird gets its name.

Just a note: the Great-crested Flycatcher, which occurred on River Lane, is not a true kingbird, even though its appearance tends to make it look so. It is a Myiarchus Flycatcher. This group also includes other Utah Flycatchers such as Ash-throated and Brown-crested. They are similar to kingbirds but are generally smaller, longer tailed, and tend to fly catch more inside the cover of tree canopies. This is exactly what the bird on River Lane was observed doing while it was seen over the few days it was there. On the other hand, the Thick-billed Kingbird in Salt Lake was conspicuously perched in wide open spots and was easily seen.

It’s always fun and exciting to go on a rare bird chase in the state and run into fellow birders whom you may not have seen for a while. Such was the case with both the Great-crested Flycatcher and Thick-billed Kingbird. It’s almost just as enjoyable to visit socially with friends as it is to successfully get the bird, almost.

Pop Quiz:  Can you ID the six "Kingbirds" found in Utah?








[See the answers at the bottom on the newsletter]

       [See past Bird of the Month articles

Field Trip Reports  

Capital Reef

Capital Reef/ Wayne County Fieldtrip
22 Oct 2022

by Suzi Holt


On October 22, 2022 Lonny & Tammy Northrup and the Hinckley family met us at Capital Reef National Park to start our search for 22 species in Wayne County. It was a beautiful crisp fall morning with sunlight peeking through the orchards and cottonwood trees. The magnificent red rock formations and contrasting greens, oranges and yellows with bluebird skies were a sight to see. We were greeted by two bucks in the picnic area. Our first bird was a Ruby-crowned Kinglet, then an American Robin. We then heard and saw a Northern Flicker. As we made our way towards the bridge and the orchards the views were spectacular and Tammy spotted something soaring up above one of the canyon walls, a Golden Eagle!

A beautiful sunrise


The birders

Golden Eagle-Capital Reef

We could hear Dark-eyed Juncos then saw them and heard White-crowned Sparrows. We also heard a Belted Kingfisher along the river. Birds were few and far between.
I'd told Tatum he could pick a apple if there were any left in the orchard but there weren't. But Lonny had one in his car that he hid in the trees for Tatum to find. He was so happy!!

Tatum was so happy!
Thanks Lonny Northrup


We walked along the river and saw a White-crowned Sparrow and another American Robin at the beginning of the trail, the wind had picked up and the birds all hunkered down. We did see a lone Wild Turkey patrolling the campground though. The camp host considered her a unwanted pest :( but we thought she was beautiful and felt lucky to see her. The Northrups needed to head for home. So the Hinckley's and our crew headed to Torrey. We added Black-billed Magpie and European Starling there. Onward to Bicknell Bottoms. Jess saw a lone Mountain Bluebird out in the field. Along the river we saw Mallards, Pied-billed Grebe, Northern Harriers, Common Raven, Horned Larks and a Great Blue Heron. In Bicknell we saw added House Sparrows, putting the Hincklys at 21. They decided to go through town looking for a Eurasian Collared Dove and then head home. We went through Teasdale and added Woodhouse's Scrub Jay, American Kestrel and Yellow-rumped Warbler and a stampede of Waddled Cattle.


The lone Wild Turkey-Capital Reef

Pied-billed Grebe-Bicknell Bottoms

Northern Harrier-Bicknell Bottoms

Horned Lark-Bicknell Bottoms

Mountain Bluebird-Notom Rd

Loggerhead Shrike-Notom Rd



Back in Torrey at the Farmers Market we saw a group of Rock Pigeons flying around and Eurasion-collard Doves in a backyard.
Yay 22 species!!

Back at the campground i saw a Hairy Woodpecker. Hopefully the Hinckleys found their last one too! It was a fun day despite the windy weather and such a beautiful place to spend a few days. On the 21st we also saw a flock of Bushtits and on the 23rd we added a Loggerhead Shrike and a Red-tailed Hawk on Notom Road for a toral of 27!

Thanks to everyone who joined us!



The BIG SIT-Provo Airport Dike
8 Oct 2022

by Suzi Holt


Great-horned Owl

After a couple days of landscaping we arrived bright and early for the BIG SIT at 6 am. With light from a full moon and a couple flashlights Torrey, Julie and I laid out the circle with rocks, then Keeli arrived with her flour and tape measure to check our work, we were only a foot off. I'd say that's pretty good!
In the dark we summoned a Great Horned Owl. A beautiful sight! Then we heard a Caspian Tern and Black-crowned Night Heron, Killdeer, American Avocet, Red-winged Blackbirds, Mallard, Song Sparrows, and Spotted Towhee in the twilight. In the distance we heard the calls of Sandhill Cranes and a Western Meadowlark.

The sun began peeking out over the Springville mountains and more birds began to wake up. Joellen arrived with a trampoline to occupy Tatum and with Jo's smorgasbord and Keeli's pumpkin chocolate chip muffins we had a breakfast feast!


The count continued with a few California Gulls and lots of Ring-billed Gulls and eleven Great Blue Herons! A sweet little Black-capped Chickadee sang its happy song, then with a little coaxing whistle it came in for closer views. We had Northern Flickers calling and flying by, Then three Black-crowned Night Herons flew down the moat. 
We heard the call of a Downy Woodpecker and then he began drumming.
A few Greater Yellowlegs and a couple American Crows called and flew over head. Then a Great Egret paid a visit.


Great-horned Owl

Sandhill Cranes

Yellow-rumped Warbler

We counted lots of American White Pelicans and American Coots. A few American Pipits, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, European Starlings, more Northern Flickers, lots more Red-winged Blackbirds and a few more Killdeer flew by.

Orange-crowned Warbler

White-crowned Sparrow

A couple Northern Harrier's were hunting over the marsh and a flock of White-faced Ibis and American Avocets were flying over the Utah Lake shoreline. About then Steve and a new birding friend Chuck Carn that he picked up along the road showed up. American Robins, and a few Yellow-rumped Warblers flew into the Cottonwood trees. Lots of Barn Swallows and a lone Tree Swallow flew by catching breakfast on the wing. There was a Orange-crowned Warbler and a couple Dark-eyed Juncos in the trees close to us.

Sweet Embers first field trip

Sweet Embers

West Mountain from our circle.

We found a couple Franklin's Gulls mixed in with the other gulls out on the lake, and a few Double-crested Cormorants were flying towards Bird Island.
Keeli spotted a Fox on the taxi way! That was a fun find!
We heard a Marsh Wren, saw and heard White-crowned Sparrows. As Tammy and Lonny arrived some Snowy Egrets flew out of the moat. Then Andrea, Kayla and Esther arrived. Kayla showed us a few butterflies and a praying mantis eating a grasshopper.
A little later a couple Red-tailed Hawks were soaring above the trees, and a Green-winged and Cinnamon Teal flew by.
In the heat of the day the only other species we were able to add was a Woodhouse's Scrub Jay!

Keeli, Steve and Tatum

Tatum and Andrea

He loves helping look for birds!

Around 2 pm the Shirley's arrived. We stayed with them for about a hour but we only added to our tallys not species. About 3 pm Amanda and the littles and I decided to get out of the heat. The Shirley's stayed til 4 pm without adding anything else. It was just too hot, a big change from the ice covered puddles and rain from 2021.
Our Big Sit ended with 46 Species! Not too bad considering the water levels in the lake and the moat!

Thanks to everyone who helped!



        Answers to the "Pop Quiz":

A - Eastern Kingbird   by Kendall Brown l ©Kendall W. Brown
B - Thick-billed Kingbird    by Mike Hearell ©Mike Hearell
C - Tropical Kindbird    by John Crawley  ©John Crawley
D - Western Kindbird    by John Crawley  ©John Crawley
E - Scissor-tailed Flycatcheri    by Kendall Brown l ©Kendall W. Brown
F - Cassin's Kingbird   by Rick Fridell  ©Rick Fridell

*  Photos were taken by local photographers and are in the Utah Birds Photo Gallery

           [Go back to the Quiz]

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