Utah County Birders Newsletter
Upcoming Field Trips
Field Trip Report -
Big Sit at the Airport Dike - June 3rd, 2006
Field Trip Report
- American Fork Canyon - June 17th, 2006
Backyard Bird of the
Wednesday, July 12th
Dennis Shirley will lead an evening field trip to the West side of
Mona Reservoir. Our target species will be the
areas Short-eared and Burrowing Owls. We
will also bird the reservoir. Bring a finger food snack to share.
Meet at 7:00 PM at the Payson Park & Ride off I-15. Take the Payson exit,
turn right at the bottom of the off-ramp then turn left to the park & ride lot.
Wednesday, July 12th
We are going to replace this month’s meeting with an evening field
trip. See July Meeting above.
Saturday, July 22nd
Merrill Webb will lead a field trip to the
Soapstone Basin in the Uintas. Meet at 6:00 a.m. at the Orem
800 North Park & Ride at the mouth of Provo Canyon.
By Alton Thygerson
Birding for Children
Linda Butler’s request for birding activities that families can do together
sparked this month’s Feather Talk. Linda will write a series of articles for the
new Utah weekly newspapers (Pleasant Grove Review, American Fork Citizen, Lehi
Free Press, Orem-Geneva) and will feature birds and children. Some newspapers
around the country carry a regular feature on birds. Linda reported that her
children have some fond memories of their grandmother taking them on short hikes
and pointing out local birds.
A birder can have a profound impact on young people if he or she is willing to
spend some time with them and encourage their interest in the natural world.
Most often it’s a school class activity or a scout outing igniting an interest
in birds. I sometimes ask other birders about what got them into birding, and
they often reply that it was from their Boy Scout experiences. That was my case
and while growing up in Texas I wanted to be a forest or park ranger and knew
that they should know something about birds. At an evening campfire, the camp
director announced that an early morning bird watching hike was to be held. I
showed up with my Boy Scout binoculars (a power of 3), and saw a Mississippi
Kite during the hike. That really wasn’t my “hook” bird, but the bird watching
hike did form a strong memory of deliberately seeking, watching, and identifying
A parent does not have to be an official (whatever that means) birder or bird
watcher to spark a child’s interest in birds. The main thing is to get outdoors
to look and listen. Nature will take care of the rest when things never before
noticed pop up. For example, a former Orem High School teacher and BYU football
assistant coach, Hal Davis, once described to me his first look through
binoculars at a bird and said, “Wow, what a beautiful bird!” Later he learned
that it was a House Sparrow. Yes, even the ordinary and sometimes undesirable
House Sparrow looks good through binoculars.
Children are fascinated with birds. It’s usually best to wait until a child is
around the age of 10 for doing more than the casual bird watching since younger
children don’t have a long attention span. For casual bird watching in children
younger than 10, you can introduce birds by pointing out easy-to-see birds.
Canada geese and Mallards are usually present in the East Bay Golf Course ponds
or Utah Lake State Park. Almost any road going west out of the Utah Valley
cities can produce Turkey Vultures and large hawks. American Robins and House
Finches abound in residential yards and city parks. During the summer, the white
birds commonly called “sea gulls” are actually California Gulls which
miraculously saved the Mormon Pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley.
Once a child sees a bird, you can add a bit of information about it. Show the
bird in a field guide to reinforce what the child saw—the red on the head of a
House Finch or the greenish head on a Mallard. As the child is looking at the
bird, have them tell you what they see. You may have to demonstrate this first.
Keep things simple.
Bird field guides designed for children are available at bookstores, a library,
or Amazon.com. I like and have given a copy to grandchildren, Peterson First
Guide to Birds of North America. Other books to consider are: Backyard Birds by
Jonathan Latimer, Birds in Your Backyard by Barbara Herkert, the The Burgess
Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess, and Bird Calls by Frank Gallo.
Spend a few minutes showing a child how to use binoculars. I took a group of Cub
Scouts to Skipper Bay trail near Utah Lake State Park and scrounged up every
pair of binoculars I could. Because each eye can be focused separately, one of
the scouts in his attempt to focus, twisted the eyepiece so hard that he broke
the $50 binoculars I carry in my car. Then I replaced it with another
inexpensive pair, so I was out over $100 because I failed to take a moment to
show the scout how to adjust and use the binoculars. Also, small children’s
hands need small binoculars.
If you have a spotting scope, it can greatly enhance not only a distant bird’s
image but also the child’s WOW response. Spotting scopes are most useful for
waterfowl which will stay in the same place to allow focusing and many minutes
for viewing a bird. Binoculars serve best when birds are moving about.
Binoculars are essential for bird watching while spotting scopes can be acquired
Before venturing out to see birds, show yard birds to children. You will have
several species to point out if you attract birds by feeding them in your
backyard. Encourage list keeping; each time the child identifies a new bird,
have him or her check it off the list or write it down. Have them add the date
Squeeze some bird watching in during trips around the Utah Valley and on
vacations. My in-laws once lived in Sanpete County, and rather than sit around
the house visiting which for me was interesting yet can become tedious, I would
take any of my children who wanted to go on a drive around Sanpete County with
the intent of seeing birds, other wildlife, and the scenery. My children
welcomed the break as much as I did. While traveling you can play a game of who
can see and name the most birds—much like playing the popular who can be the
first to complete the alphabet from car license plates while traveling. Today’s
iPods and in-car DVD players can hold children’s attention, but why not teach
them to seek and find, to get away from being passive and become actively
involved in the world around them.
A trip to BYU’s Bean Museum can provoke an interest in birds and wildlife. The
museum has almost every species of duck and goose in the world. This makes the
collection one of best in the world—yes, the world! They also have Utah County
Bird Checklists listing all of the birds which have appeared in the county and
bird field guides.
Some of the Utah County Birders programs held every second Wednesday at 7:00
p.m. in the Bean Museum and the field trips around the county may appeal to
parents and children. On field trips etiquette is expected--no yelling,
screaming, crying, horseplay, or running around, and you stay with the leader.
A family can gain a lot of information about birding in Utah by going to
utahbirds.org. This website is one of the best in the world—once again, yes, the
world! You can find locations in all 29 Utah counties considered as being good
for birding. You can also locate a photograph and description of almost every
bird ever seen in Utah. The website has a link to Utah County Birders which can
provide information about programs and field trips.
For birders who enjoy the fascination of bird watching, we need to pass along
our enthusiasm and appreciation for the natural beauties around us. We can do
that by introducing birding to our children and grandchildren and then spread
out to youth groups and others showing an interest. Never refuse to advance the
cause of birding for if in nine out of 10 do not become involved, the one in 10
can have an impact.
Field Trip Report
Big Sit at the Airport Dike - June 3rd, 2006
by Eric Huish
A Killdeer nested right where we were
going to sit so we had to move down the road
photo by Milt Moody
On June 3rd the Utah County Birders held a Big Sit on the Provo Airport Dike.
We had much more participation than in past years with people coming and going
throughout the day. We started at 6 a.m. and sat to noon when we took a break.
Some of the group manned a booth at the Utah Lake Festival and didn’t get a
break (I went home). Then we sat again from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. I was going to put
the circle in the same spot we had it last fall but when I showed up in the
morning there was a Killdeer nest in the spot I was planning to sit so we moved
the circle up the road a little. This Killdeer, the pair of Eastern Kingbirds
and a beautiful male Bullock’s Oriole entertained us during the slower parts of
We finished with 52 species! Only 4 species short of our record 56 we saw last
year. The last few species of the day were; 3 Snowy Egrets that flew over (We
thought these would be easier to find), a small group of Cedar Waxwings (again
just a fly over), some Canada Geese finally showed up and the last species added
were 2 Sandhill Cranes spotted by Milt out in the fields East of our circle.
Thanks to all who participated.
Big Sit species in the order they were added to our list - 1. American White
Pelican, 2. Song Sparrow, 3. Ring-necked Pheasant, 4. Mourning Dove, 5.
Brown-headed Cowbird, 6. Yellow-headed Blackbird, 7. Killdeer, 8. Red-winged
Blackbird, 9. European Starling, 10. American Robin, 11. American Coot, 12.
Bullock’s Oriole, 13. Mallard, 14. Eastern Kingbird, 15. Tree Swallow, 16.
Yellow Warbler, 17. American Goldfinch, 18. Western Meadowlark, 19. Western
Kingbird, 20. Black-capped Chickadee, 21. Forester’s Tern, 22. Black-billed
Magpie, 23. Black-crowned Night-Heron, 24. Barn Swallow, 25. Caspian Tern, 26.
Gadwall, 27. Redhead, 28. Western Grebe, 29. Great Blue Heron, 30. Cinnamon
Teal, 31. Clark’s Grebe, 32. California Gull, 33. House Finch, 34. Northern
Harrier, 35. White-faced Ibis, 36. American Avocet, 37. Northern Rough-winged
Swallow, 38. Osprey, 39. American Kestrel, 40. Brewer’s Sparrow, 41. California
Quail, 42. House Sparrow, 43. Red-tailed Hawk, 44. Franklins Gull, 45. Turkey
Vulture, 46. Northern Pintail, 47. Rock Pigeon, 48. Cliff Swallow, 49. Snowy
Egret, 50. Cedar Waxwing, 51. Canada Goose, 52. Sandhill Crane.
The Utah County Birders on the
Timpooneke Trail - June 17th, 2006
photo by Eric Huish
American Fork Canyon - June 17th, 2006
by KC Childs
On Saturday, June 17th, about ten Utah County birders headed up American Fork
Canyon to the Timpooneke campground and trailhead. It was a gorgeous day with
stunning scenery. Add to that the wonderful company and the day was completely
worth it. The bird numbers were not great, but everyone had a fantastic time.
Many people saw first-for-the- year birds, including a beautiful singing
Swainson’s Thrush. A secretive MacG ilvary's Warbler flew up in an aspen for all
to see in the spotting scope. We also went down to Cascade Springs along the
Alpine Loop road and were rewarded with another gorgeous setting which included
some singing Yellow Warblers and Lazuli Buntings. All and all, it was a
wonderful day to be out. Thanks to everyone who came along!
Backyard Bird of the
Steve Carr - Holladay
Black-capped Chickadee - 4 individuals taking a bath in the watering pan
at the same time.
Alona Huffaker - Springville
All the young Downey Woodpeckers flying all over my yard.
Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Western Screech-Owl - accompanied by a large, noisy mob of Robins.
Milt Moody - Provo
A pair of California Quail with one heavily guarded chick.
Bruce Robinson - West Jordan
California Quail and a herd of lil' ones!!
Alton Thygerson - Provo
Mom and Pop California Quail with 9 chicks (seen only twice).
Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
2 Eurasian Collared-Doves - often sitting on our power pole.
We would like you to share your favorite backyard bird each
month. Please send your favorite bird at the end of the month to
firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-8777. If you would like a reminder at
the end of the month e-mail the above address.