Utah County Birders Newsletter
Thursday, August 12, 2010
"Annual UCB Picnic", August 12th, Ned and Claralyn Hill's home, 2867 Foothill Drive, Provo, 6:00 pm
[NOTE Earlier Time Than
Our Usual Meeting]. The Hill home is located 6 houses to the north of the
Rock Canyon Park picnic area on the west side of Foothill Drive. Call
801-360-2600 if you are lost! Bring a dish to pass: salad, dessert, vegetables,
appetizer, etc. The Hills will furnish a main dish and ice water to drink. If
you'd like, bring up to 6 of your favorite bird photos (.jpg on a flash drive or
CD or on paper).
We will not have an official field trip this
month. If you are working on the birding challenge, you can organize a trip this
month (or any month).
We are actively recruiting people to lead local half-day field trips, any time, any place. If you would like to lead a field trip or if you have any ideas for this year’s field trips, please contact Lu Giddings at - email@example.com.
By Ned Hill – President, Utah County Birders
Birding In Ecuador—Part 7: Wild Sumaco Lodge”
Note: This is the seventh installment of the report of a birding adventure Ned Hill and three others took with guide Rudy Gelis to northern Ecuador, November 2008, where they saw 500 species. This is only a sampling of the species and places the group experienced.
I slipped out of our San Isidro lodge room before the others and hiked in the dark up the trail to the parking lot. I wanted to see if the “Mystery Owl” could be seen again. No luck—but as I walked down the trail towards our cabins, Rudy and the others were heading up the trail towards me. They frantically motioned for me to stop. I froze. They had scared up a Chestnut-crowned Antpitta and it was headed right up the trail towards me. Not moving a muscle, I watched the dark form come towards me and walk right over the toe of my boot, just sauntering along picking up insects on the way. Only a few days before, I didn’t even believe in Antpittas and now I had actually touched one. I think I’ll list it with an exceptionally large star.
After an excellent breakfast, we spent a few more hours around the trails and at the research station. Near the site of the Antpitta, we found a very genial and easy to photograph Masked Trogon with its bright red belly, green head and chest, red eye-ring and stunning black and white tail. Rudy located for us a calling Andean Solitaire, a gray bird with rufous back and tail. Then we found a Black-billed Peppershrike in a tree just outside our cabins. When we reached the research station, it was pouring. Nevertheless, a Pale-edged Flycatcher, winning the prize for the “Most Drenched Bird of the Trip”, perched in a small tree just off the deck. When the rain let up, we fixed our scope on the nest of a Barred Becard we had found yesterday at the top of a tree next to the deck. We were able to catch glimpses of a parent coming and going to feed the nestling(s) inside. We got good photos of Chestnut-breasted Coronet and many other hummers we had seen at higher elevation. The mixed flocks we had hoped to encounter were disrupted by the rain, so we decided to head further down the road towards the Amazon basin.
The two-lane highway was generally quite good—with considerable twists and turns. At one point we stopped to see Cliff Flycatcher attending to their nests high up in the rock face above the road. At another point, we were stopped by construction and watched a large charge of dynamite blast some of the mountain away down below us. Eventually we reached the turnoff to Wildsumaco Lodge. But before reaching the lodge, we stopped several times in the fading light to bird. At 4600’ elevation, the lodge area is home to 456 species (as of July 16th) with new species being added all the time. Viewing from the road, we were able to see Violaceous Jay, Inca Jay, Crested and Russet-backed Oropendolas, Subtropical Cacique, and Olivaceous Siskin.
The Wildsumaco Lodge opened just a few months before we arrived. These subtropical foothills of the Andes are rapidly being logged and turned into agricultural land. Many forest species—birds, mammals, etc.—are in danger of extinction. The couple that founded Wildsumaco are from the U.S. and worked for the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. One of their last posts was in Ecuador where they learned to love the birds. After retirement, they pooled their money with some friends and bought as much land as they could in the shadow of the Gran Sumaco Volcano. They had visited many other bird lodges and designed theirs to be the most comfortable and specialized to suit avid birders we had ever seen. For example, there are lots of pegs along the walls for holding raingear, jackets, packs, cameras, binoculars, etc. They also vowed to serve excellent food. As far as we could tell, their aims are being met!
As soon as we checked in they told us that one of their resident bird guides was out to looking for Band-bellied Owl with a group of other birders. We raced down to the designated site and found about 15 other people waiting for the right moment for the tape to be played to attract this colorful owl with the red, black and white bands across its chest and belly. We waited in hushed anticipation before finally seeing it swoop across the clearing and perch in a tree for us. We stayed after the others left as Rudy wanted to try for the rare Foothill Screech-Owl (possibly a different species from the Vermiculated Screech-Owl). We hiked in total darkness down a steep mountain trail—all the while wondering what snakes or other threats might be lurking. Rudy played a tape of the owl’s call but we couldn’t hear a reply. We did, however, see some luminescent insects fly around us. Rudy caught one and showed it to us with his flashlight. It was a “headlight beetle.” It glowed bright yellow through its two fake “eyes.” But when stressed—Rudy pressed on its body a little—the yellow lights turn bright green—presumably a warning message for its fellows that danger is near. Amazing!
The following morning after breakfast, we spent a couple of hours just sitting on the deck of the lodge looking into the forest below us. In a tall cecropia tree we found a green Chestnut-tipped Toucanet with a deformed beak. Then a gorgeous Many-banded Aracari came in as well as a Black-mandibled Toucan—all three different sizes of toucans in one tree. For comparison, a Channel-billed Toucan came in for a visit, too. Just below the deck, a busy and aptly named Magpie Tanager worked a tall bush—this is one of the largest tanager species. Gilded and Red-headed Barbets gave us terrific views.
We drove down a road away from the lodge to a group of fruiting trees Rudy had spotted. They attract any fruit-eating birds in the area. If you look into such trees long enough you can see quite a variety of species. But just as we got out of the van, Rudy hollered, “Look up there!” Over our heads flew eight large, calling, green macaws. Rudy quickly identified them as Military Macaws, a species that is rare and vulnerable in this area and almost impossible to find in other birding locations in South America. Rudy said he knew of a remote area where there are quite a few of these birds but it would take all day to get there. We were very fortunate to see them. A few of them perched in a distant tree for us to get a reasonable look.
Meanwhile back in the fruiting trees, before we could even focus our binoculars, Rudy started reeling off species. There were so many different tanagers coming in and out of the dense foliage: Purple Honeycreeper, Golden-collared Honeycreeper, Black-faced Dacnis, Blue-naped Chlorophonia, Bronze-green Euphonia, Golden-eared, Blue-browed, Paradise, Spotted, and White-winged Tanagers, and Ashy-throated Bush Tanager—and those are only a few of the tanagers we saw! The kaleidoscope colors was dazzling—and the sense of discovery was such a thrill! Our necks were beginning to cramp up from looking into those trees even though they were not too high up.
Of course, tanagers weren’t the only birds attracted to those trees. We also saw a variety of flycatchers such as Ornate, Yellow-olive, and Slaty-capped, as well as Yellow-tufted and Smoky-brown Woodpeckers. We were actually glad to finally take a break from birding and have lunch back at the lodge.
In the afternoon, we went out to the Hummingbird Research Center, a good hike into the woods. There we met half a dozen or so researchers from various universities—mostly in the U.S.—researching some of the 40 hummingbird species that frequent this elevation. We sat on the deck of the small building and trained our binoculars on the feeders 10-15 yards away. It was almost a repeat of this morning’s fruiting trees. The variety was amazing. Although we had seen some of the species before at higher elevations, there were quite a few new ones, too, such as, Green and Gray-chinned Hermits, the large Napo Sabrewing, Fork-tailed Woodnymph, Golden-tailed Sapphire, Many Spotted Hummingbird, Glittering-throated Emerald, Ecuadorian Piedtail, Violet-fronted and Black-throated Brilliants, and Gould’s Jewelfront. The researchers were excellent at picking them out for us and pointing out the differences. The Napo Sabrewing is an endemic and a “near threatened” species. I don’t know whether tanagers are more dazzling or hummingbirds. I’ll take them both!
Next— Birding from Wild Sumaco to the Amazon Basin.
Photo by Lu Giddings
by Cheryl Peterson
The Canyon Wren has always been one of my favorite birds. They are a year round resident of Utah, but since I don't hike in their habitat in the winter, I mistakenly think of them as a summer resident. I was excited to find one in Slate Canyon one year on the Christmas Bird Count. Now, I expect to find one or two every count either in Slate Canyon or near the lime kiln along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. I love listening to their call. My girls and I took my grandson to Red Ledges in Diamond Fork Canyon in July. We were treated to a concert of a Canyon Wren just a few feet away from us. It was really a Wow! moment for my girls.
I was surprised at the small amount of information available on the Canyon Wren. I searched online and in the books in my library. Even though it is described as being elusive and does live in canyons and on cliffs, I would have thought more studies would have been done. The wrens build their nests in crevices and on ledges (and on old stone buildings in some suburban areas) and lay 4 to 6 eggs. The eggs are white with tiny reddish brown specks. The wrens don't seem to drink water so it is thought that they get sufficient liquids from the spiders and insects they eat.
If you would like to volunteer to write an article, email me at CherylPeterson@gmail.com or call 375-1914 and I will pass your name on to Junece Markham.
Writing an article for the newsletter is part of the 2010 Birding Challenge - http://www.utahbirds.org/ucb/specialreports/2010BirdingChallenge.pdf
Santaquin Canyon and Nebo Loop - July
by Lu Giddings
Birders enjoyed a trip up beautiful Santaquin Canyon and along a portion of the
Nebo Loop. The day began rather inauspiciously as we shared the narrow bottom of
Santaquin canyon with the Great Western Cattle Drive for several miles (I don't
know about the rest of the drivers but I did find it necessary to give my truck
a very much needed wash when the trip was over). But once we finally escaped the
thronging mass of slow-walking freely-defecating animals, the rest of the trip
was brilliant. We enjoyed stops at Tinney Flat campground, Santaquin Meadows,
the Purple Martin stop on Nebo Loop,
and Nebo Monument trail head. The best birds of the day were arguably the pair of Red Crossbills Dennis Shirley spotted at the monument trailhead, but the Olive-sided Flycatchers, Cordilleran Flycatcher and Purple Martins were also favorites. My thanks to the twenty-one sharp-eyed participants who made the trip, and with a special welcome to Lyle Bingham who took his first field trip with the group. 32 species were observed.
Glenn Barlow - Fruit Heights
Eurasian Collared-Dove -- a new yard bird.
Steve Carr - Holladay
California Quail - Parents and several teenagers.
Milt Moody - Provo
First time for a funny-looking 1st year Spotted Towhee.
Eric Huish - Pleasant Grove
Western Kingbird - I hear them down the street, only occasionally see them in my yard.
Bonnie Williams - Mapleton
Cheryl Peterson - Provo
2 juvenile Downy Woodpeckers.
Thanks to all who have supported us in the past. If you are interested in officially joining us this year, make out a check to Utah County Birders for $15.00 and mail it to:
2831 Marrcrest West
Provo, Utah 84604
You will be helping to support the Utahbirds.org web page and we will send you a copy of the newsletter.