7:00 p.m., Wednesday, June 21
At the Bean Museum on the BYU Campus Provo, Utah
presented by Russ Lawrence
The program for this month's Utah County Birders meeting will be Russ Lawrence, CUP Project Leader for the Division of Wildlife Resources. Russ has been instrumental in purchasing large tracks of Utah Lake shore line for the DWR and will explain where we can go and what we can do to help him gather species information. Attendance is free so invite your friends.7:00 p.m., Wednesday, May 17 At the Bean Museum on the BYU Campus Provo, Utah
June 24th Uintah & Duchesne Counties 6:00 AM to late-afternoon Meet at the Bean Museum Parking lot. BYU Campus, Provo, Utah
July 15th Sevier & Wayne Counties Meet at 6:00 AM at the Bean Museum.
by Darlene Amott
Internet surfing has never been a major activity in my life. I think I have spent, at the most, three to four hours per month on the net. Maybe things will change a bit. Just recently my attention was drawn to the web sites related to creating a backyard wildlife habitat. This past week I perused a few of them and found some interesting things. The first time I started looking at them, I was impressed with the commercialism. It seemed like all they were interested in was selling me something to enhance my yard. There are certainly a multitude of books and other supplies available. Then I noted that much of the information was geared to the beginner. Since thirty minutes seems to be the maximum amount of time I can afford at any one sitting, I gave up on that first attempt. Several days later, I logged on again determined to search further. This time that results were much more satisfying. With a little effort, useful tips and information were found. Again, there wasn't time to search in depth, but I know where to start now. I am not sure how much I will use this source of information. It's not because I don't feel it is useful, nor that I am not interested, nor because it may cost too much. It is just very discouraging. I want to tear out my whole backyard and start over. Some of the ideas I read about were fun, and some were just plain exciting. Wouldn't it be fun to create the backyard marsh I read about. It is fed by rain water off of the roof. We don't have that much rain, but it should be possible to think up an artificial "rain feed" system. Even a pond would be an improvement. Perhaps I can settle for a new tree or shrub for now. The sight which I have found most interesting so far is www.nwf.org/nwf/habitats/index.html. It is the National Wildlife Federation's Backyard Wildlife Habitat Home page. Two others I looked at briefly were www.birdsforever.com/habitat.html , and www.birdwebsite.com/backyard.html. Often sources such as these are geared more for the eastern U.S. or southern states, and some of the materials definitely were. However, there was good information for the western states as well. I certainly found enough things of interest to justify studying the sites in greater depth. If you want a birding backyard, you may be interested, too.
by Robin Tuck
I continue to be impressed by the birders among us who can identify birds by their song alone. Several of the birders in our club can identify over 100 birds by their song, and some can do much better than that. In fact, so many of you can identify the common, hard to see birds, such as the Sora and Virginia Rail that I am constantly asked if 'heard birds' count for the contest. (The answer is 'no', even though the ABA allows heard birds. The contest isn't being run by the ABA.)My non-birder friends are amazed when I tell them about birders who can identify birds by sound. This blows them away until I claim that they can identify up to ten birds by song themselves. These friends laugh at me until I start naming the birds they might recognize. Here is the list I give them: Wild Turkey, American Crow, Red-tailed Hawk, Canada Goose, American Robin, Sandhill Crane, Great Horned Owl, Mallard, Common Loon. These calls are sufficiently unique and commonly heard on TV or in the wild that most people can identify them. It's the birds that sound similar that throw me. Examples are: American Robin, Black-headed Grosbeak and Western Tanager just to name a few. I believe most birders can get better at bird song identification with practice, but I don't think listening to a bird song tape or CD is the answer. There are too many songs to close together and they cause a jumble in my mind. However, I think people who can 'name that tune in just 3 notes' ought to be better at picking up bird songs. Personally, I would have to listen to similar bird songs together with a frequent reminder as to which bird I am listening to. Tapes and CDs are good, but if we hurry out right now we can still hear the birds singing. Soon the breeding season will be over and the birds will stop defending a territory and the songs will diminish. Lets all go out and try to improve our listening skills and see if we can identify more species. PS. If someone on a bird trip hushes you, don't take it personally, they're just trying to listen to the bird songs while they can (but do hush).
25 Species in 9 Counties
by Alton Thygerson
In addition to the Utah County Birders' goal of 200 birds in Utah during 2000, I'm attempting to complete 25 species in Utah's 29 counties during 2000.This past week my wife and I took three days starting with Juab county by birding Nephi Canyon and much to our surprise found the KOA Campground and the nearby southern end of Mt. Nebo loop to be very productive. Then, on to Sanpete county where we took a back road (paved) between Fountain Green, Freedom, and Moroni with the key find being a Golden Eagle, and met the county goal which included a Juniper Titmouse at the Mt. Pleasant cemetery. Through Sevier county we drove from Salina on I-70 to the Fremont Junction, then south on highway 72 and found our 25 species. Key birds included Clark's Nutcracker and Mountain Bluebirds. In Wayne county where we stayed the first night in Torrey, we walked along the Virgin River in Capitol Reef National Park during the evening. Compared to previous visits in past years, there weren't too many birds to be seen or heard. A Yellow-breasted Chat let his presence known though. Disappointed, on the way out of Torrey the next morning, we traveled the road to the fish hatchery and were pleasantly able to meet our goal of 25 species which included a Rock Wren, Ruddy Duck, Mountain Bluebirds, and Cinnamon Teal. In Piute county on highway 62, we spotted a Golden Eagle in the sagebrush. Otter Creek reservoir was disappointing but things picked up between the reservoir and Kingston. Garfield county proved to be difficult since it was mid- day and getting warm. We made the 25 species because of the side trip to Panguitch Lake. Eared Grebes on the lake in large numbers, a few Canada Geese, and a Double crested Cormorant were the highlight birds. If you go there, we found that the western end of the lake most productive--a spotting scope is highly suggested. Kane county was also a challenge. We took the advice previously posted by Robin Tuck about the three ponds on the way to the very mall town of Alton. Without the ponds, getting 25 species would have been difficult. As everyone knows, Washington county has a wide variety of birds. After checking into a motel for our second night out, we drove the Washington fields with success. Our highlight Washington county bird was near Leeds-- a Blue Grosbeak. The treatment ponds sound of Quail Creek reservoir had a few ducks. Quail Creek reservoir itself had Eared Grebes, Clark's Grebes, Ring-necked Duck, etc. The north end is best since there was a lot of water activity on the reservoir and a lot of people along the shores. The next and third day we needed to get back to Provo, so we birded along the interstate without a lot of success. A side trip in Beaver county to Minersville reservoir was fruitful. It was getting warm and windy, but we did get great looks at Bullock's Orioles, a pair of American Wigeons, and a nesting Osprey. In summary, we found 25 or more species in 9 counties during our 3 day, 2 night jaunt. We were surprised by the few raptors seen--only 3 Red-Tail Hawks, 1 Northern Harrier, 3 Golden Eagles, a bunch of Vultures. But there were many Brewer's Blackbirds, Ravens, and Meadowlarks. The week before we spent an overnighter in Moab and finished out our Carbon county goal plus Grand and San Juan counties. In Grand county, Moab's Matheson's wetlands is the best place. A pair of woodducks sat for 10 minutes on the large dead tree looking north from the first foot bridge at the south entrance. You don't have to travel far into San Juan county to get 25 species. If you look at a Utah highway map, there is a road just south of Moab. Most of the road is in San Juan county and a trip up and down it will reveal great birds such a the Black-throated Gray Warbler.
Suggestions: To meet the 25 species in 29 counties goal, here's my suggestions: 1. Find water, especially ponds, reservoirs, and marshy areas--birds like water.2. Find a town--it will have the common birds but very necessary ones such as house sparrow, starling, robin, etc. to reach the 25 species quickly. 3. As all birders know, bird in the morning and evening hours. 4. Review swallow and sparrow identification. I missed several sparrows because I don't know sparrows very well. Count on these birds in every county: Raven, Robin, House Sparrow, Starling, Magpie, Brewer's Blackbird, Meadowlark, Red-wing blackbird, Vulture, Mourning Dove, Western Kingbird, and Barn Swallow. These birds form about half of the 25 needed birds.
County Contest Helps - Good Places to Bird
Finding 25 bird species in half a day in a unfamiliar county is difficult. If you know of some good places in a County here in Utah not previously published, please send a description of the site and directions to find it to firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll publish the information in the Utah Birders Newsletter as soon as I get it.