Utah County Birders Newsletter


         December 2022 

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



     Thursday Dec 8th
      7pm at the Bean Museum and online via Zoom

In honor of this year being our 50th anniversary of our Provo Christmas Bird Count Circle we’ve invited a few of our seasoned counters to share some favorite memories of Christmas Bird Counts from past years. Following their stories we will go over some CBC logistics, assign out any unclaimed areas, go over instructions for the counts and if we have time, cover some tricks and tips for ID.


     "Fish Springs Christmas Bird Count'
       December 15th

The Fish Springs CBC will be held on Thursday Dec 15, 2022 9am- early afternoon at Fish Springs Natl. Wildlife Refuge. Join us for this fun count in a unique location!
There is limited bunkhouse space available at the refuge for count participants. Please contact Patrick Moffett (patrick_moffett@fws.gov) to reserve a spot or Keeli Marvel (keeli.marvel@gmail.com)/Patrick Moffett to sign up to participate in the count.

Fish Springs NWR is a remote refuge located in the Utah West Desert. Participants should be prepared for travel on snowy dirt roads with little or no cell service and should bring plenty of food/water/spare tires/winter travel gear.

     "Provo Christmas Bird Count'
       December 17th

The Provo Christmas Bird Count is celebrating their 50th year of the Provo Count Circle this year! In honor of the occasion, all participants will receive a specially designed commemorative sticker. The Provo CBC will be held on Saturday, December 17th, 2022 8am-5pm with a potluck tally at the Utah Lake State Park HQ at 6pm.
Contact Keeli Marvel at keeli.marvel@gmail.com if you would like to participate.

     "Payson Christmas Bird Count'
       December 31st 2022

Payson CBC Saturday December  31st. Contact Bryan Shirley at 801-722-9346 or bt_shirley@hotmail.com for assignments.


        President's Message
- Dec 2022  


                    by Machelle Johnson



by John Crawley     ©John Crawley

Well, I guess it's December already! What a great birding year! There have been many rare birds coming through just in the past couple of weeks. You've still got time to get your counties checked off for the gold level of the challenge! If you haven't reported your level yet, please do as soon as you can. We are compiling a great list of prizes for you!

The new year will bring a few changes to the board, including a new president. I'm pleased to announce that Yvonne Carter will be the President of the club for the next 2 years! Yvonne has been a member for many years, we look forward to hearing all about her at the next meeting and in her newsletter articles. If you are interested in serving on the board please let us know. We are always looking for volunteers to write an article, lead a field trip, and help with the website. We also need a President Elect for 2025. For more information talk to a board member.

I love being a member of this group! I've learned so much from the members that are so willing to share their time and expertise. Thank you to all, I'm honored to be associated with you and look forward to learning for years to come.




The 2022 Birding Challenge

Prinout with the details
(PDF file)





Green-Tailed Towhee

Piplio chlorurus

by  Steve Van Winkle


Hiking and birding amongst the shrubby sagebrush steppe, a summer resident of this mountain west habitat in East Canyon during the second week of May, I enjoyed an encounter with a handsome white throated, rust crowned, and overall gray “colorful chirper” the Green -tailed Towhee sporting its distinctive yellow-green edged wings and tail; singing whistled notes, buzzy trills while perched within a soon to bloom Service Berry, Amelanchier utahensis. *And, more often is discovered while voicing its familiar “mew” call.
By the way, quite aptly its New Latin name is derived from: Pipo (peep or chirp); Chloro (green) and wasn’t able to find a latin or Greek meaning for Urus other than that of a wild ancestral bull. Hardly a befitting name for our Towhee.
The pair arrive late April to early May and the male begins to sing and defends its territory very soon after arriving on its breeding grounds. Although, I’ve never witnessed males making low aggressive flights, with puffed out feathers, a raised rusty colored crown and an upright stiff pointed tail this is apparently how a male demonstrates to other males its territorial behavior. Breeding pairs are most often monogamous, but the male may on occasion breed outside of the pair bond.
This large sparrow, although not necessarily secretive spends much of its time (especially while raising their young hatchlings from clutches of 2-5 eggs in a deep cupped nest well concealed in scrub and no more than knee-high above the ground), double-scratching in leaf litter beneath shrubs for beetles, caterpillars, and other insects, in addition to foraging for a variety of berries and seeds dropped from filaree and dandelion and other forbs.
Well concealed most of the time, exposed particularly singing males, may become a meal for predators including East Canyon residents: Cooper’s, Red-tailed, and Swainson’s hawks and American Kestrel’s; their nests may be raided by Woodhouse jays, magpies, weasels, snakes and skunks.
While my wife and I once again camped at the East Canyon reservoir state park this past September, I hiked several areas where I had seen towhees during spring and summer, but was unable to discover one. The Green-tailed towhee is a true migrant and leaves for its wintering grounds in the fall for southern New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and throughout Mexico.
Over-all the Green-tailed towhee population is fairly stable, however, more recent population studies reveal a decline in specific habitat regions (sagebrush steppe and lower mountain shrublands) as a result of increased development, grazing, expanding agriculture and changing fire management systems.

Credits: The Cornell labs “All about Birds”; The Smithsonian Handbook, “Birds of North America, Western Region”

       [See past Bird of the Month articles

Field Trip Reports  


Mount Timpanogos from South Fork Canyon

TURKEY TROT 2022 - 491 Turkeys!!
19 Nov 2022

by Suzi Holt



14 turkeys, not chickens braved the 10° F morning and trotted for South Fork Canyon around 8:40 am.

We found 247 Wild Turkeys!! Plus a couple Scrub Jays, Steller's Jay, Dark-eyed Juncos, a Black-capped Chickadee, Mallards, Common Raven and a Red-tailed Hawk. And 12 Peacocks haha!


Our First Turkeys-South Fork

South Fork

South Fork

South Fork

South Fork


South Fork

South Fork

Juniper Titmouse - Eastlawn Cemetery

We then trotted to East Lawn Cemetery. The turkey's were MIA :( but we found a Woodhouse's Scrub Jay,  Juniper Titmouse, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, American Robin, American Kestrel and a Townsend's Solitaire! Everyone else had afternoon plans so we shared our delicious Chocolate/ Peanut Butter turkey sugar cookies and Jess and I trotted off.

Yvonne stopped by Sundance and added 10 to our tally!

Jess and I stopped at ULSP for a hopeful look at the Snow Bunting, no luck on the bunting but we did see Ian who saw it after we left ;(


Northern Pygmy Owl-

Northern Pygmy Owl-Diamond Fork

Red-tailed Hawk

From there we trotted to Diamond Fork Canyon. We didn't find any turkey's on the main road but by Red Ledges we spotted something better! A Northern Pygmy Owl!! As we trotted down the canyon we decided to check up Wanrhodes...jackpot!! We added 49 Turkeys!! Plus 2 Golden Eagles being harassed by a couple Common Ravens. We saw a Red-tailed Hawk, Black-capped Chickadee, Woodhouse's Scrub Jay, American Kestrel, American Robin, Song Sparrow and Dark-eyed Juncos!.

Diamond Fork

Diamond Fork

Diamond Fork

Spanish Fork Canyon

It was so beautiful up there today out of the haze. On the way down Spanish Fork Canyon we saw a small group of 15 Turkeys!

Payson Canyon

We trotted over to Payson Canyon. Jess and I enjoying the cookies all by ourselves. In the meadow we had a 101 Turkeys and 2 Black-billed Magpies!

Payson Canyon

Payson Canyon

  Brown Creeper-Santaquin Canyon

Last stop was Santaquin Canyon. We found 9 Turkeys, one Brown Creeper and a Golden Eagle!!

Mom called and today there were 60 turkeys in Elk Ridge!

We crushed our previous years with 491 Turkeys!!!

Happy Thanksgiving!!  

Santaquin Canyon




Photo by Robert Parsons

LOON LOOP...Morgan and Summit Counties
12 Nov 2022

by Suzi Holt

TWENTY Birders met at East Canyon Reservoir this morning around 10 am. I was excited to find a pair of Long-tailed Ducks!! We also had Ring-necked Ducks, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, Ruddy Duck, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, Mallards, a White-winged Scoter, Common Loon. We also saw Eared and Western Grebes, American Tree Sparrow, Black-billed Magpie, Golden Eagle, Northern Shrike, American Coot, Black Scoter thanks to Matt Pendleton! We heard a Sandhill Crane, Canada Goose, Bald Eagle. Red-tailed Hawk, American Goldfinch and a Merlin!! It was 15° and the wind was blowing, it was freezing!!! But we finished Morgan County with 25 species and had a great time!

Long-tailed Ducks

Long-tailed Ducks

Long-tailed Ducks


American Tree Sparrow

White-winged Scoter

Common Loon-East Canyon Reservoir

Golden Eagle-East Canyon Reservoir

Northern Shrike-East Canyon Reservoir

Black Scoter

East Canyon Reservoir

Amanda and the kiddos

East Canyon Reservoir

Photo by Robert Parsons

Photo by Robert Parsons

Echo Reservoir

From there we made our way down to Echo Reservoir. We started off with a Bald Eagle, Hooded Mergansers, Common Goldeneye, Buffleheads a Canada Goose, and a bunch of American Coots, we added a Red-tailed Hawk and Great Blue Heron and Common Ravens, at the reservoir we had Western and Eared Grebes, Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, Wood Duck, Ruddy Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, Redhead, Ring-billed Gull and Black-billed Magpie!

Hooded Mergansers-Echo Reservoir

Great Blue Heron

Rockport Reservoir



Next stop Rockport Reservoir!! Brrrrr!! Tatum had a blast playing in the snow and we tried to keep Ember in the warm car for the most part! There were Canada Goose flying over, rafts of Lesser Scaup, Ruddy Ducks, tons of Common Loons and one Pacific Loon. We also saw Horned, Eared, Western. Clark's and Pied-billed Grebes, Mallards, California, Ring-billed and Herring Gulls, Ring-necked Ducks, Common Merganser, Black-billed Magpie and a Bald Eagle! Finishing Summit County.


Canada Goose

Common Loons and Pacific Loon

Pacific Loon

Pacific Loon-

Pacific Loon

Herring Gull



At the train burger

By then we were sufficiently frozen and decided to head for warm food and home! Thanks to everyone for coming! And for our guests...Matt and Darren Pendleton. Thanks to Weston for the tips and Dave Hanscon and Margaret Sloan for sharing your area and expertise!!

And what a view of Timp!!






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