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UTAH COUNTY BIRDERS
Newsletter
April 1999


Contents


April Meeting

Tuesday April 20th, 1999,  7:00 p.m., Bean Museum, BYU Campus, Provo

Noted Avian Recordist, Kevin Colver, will present our April program entitled: "High Alaskan Avian Adventures"

The program features songs, slides, and scenery of approximately 80 bird specialties from the Kenai, Kodiak Island, Nome, Pribiloff Islands, and Barrow areas of Alaska. His classy presentation will again be one of the highlights of our year's programs, and you won't want to miss it.

Kevin will also, during the evening, unveil his soon-to-be-released Field Guide to Bird Songs - Western Region, a companion guide to the Stokes' Field Guide to Western Birds.

*Note the day change to Tuesday!


Back Again

by Darlene Amott (darlene@utahbirds.org)

How many organizations have a president who is installed at one meeting and never shows up again. Wow! Well, I am back. Although I was only out of town for a couple of weeks, prior commitments have kept me from participating in many of the field trips as well as from attending meetings. Those commitments are rapidly coming to an end. One of the great advantages for an organization such as ours is the association we enjoy with one another. I was surprised at how much I have missed that association and the activities we share. When I was birding in Mexico and Belize I often thought, "If only I could share..." or 'If only others were here to see..." I find it frustrating not to be able to share exciting things with the people I care about, especially those I know who enjoy similar things. Perhaps some sharing can be done by means of a report one day. Another ambitious schedule has been outlined by the field trip committee for the next quarter. Spring is here (at least according to the calendar) and the birding is getting better and better each day. I even have new birds at the feeders in my yard, and the American Goldfinches are eating me out of house and home at the thistle feeder. This is the time to get ourselves out of bed and enjoy. See you at the next meeting. Remember -- It's TUESDAY, April 20th.

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Robin’s View

by Robin Tuck (robin@utahbirds.org)

Whooping Cranes

The news came by e-mail and personal phone call, there were two Whooping Cranes in Heber at the north end of Deer Creek Reservoir. It was amazing to watch the number of e-mails that told of seeing them, each one conveying the excitement of seeing such a rare species right in our own back yard.

Finally, I was able to free up enough time to head for Heber, and there about halfway down Tate Lane was a group of birders, scopes out, looking at the Cranes. What a wonderful sight. While I’m not sure if I can count this magnificent bird on an ABA sanctioned life list, it was a life bird for me, and for almost all I spoke to.

There was some speculation that these two Whooping Cranes were the two raised in captivity by researcher Kent Clegg in 1997 and taught a migration route by following an Ultralight airplane. Each bird has tags and radio transmitters at their knees, making them look knobby kneed. Whooping can fly up to 450 miles in migration in a single day if they have a tail wind, but more commonly go about 250 miles.

Whooping Cranes had almost gone extinct, with only 15 individuals in the winter of 1941-42. There are now more than 190 cranes in the Arkansas-Wood Buffalo flock and 57 in a non-migratory flock in central Florida, and another 133 in captivity for a total population of about 375.

It was exciting to see how many birders responded to the call to see the birds, proving how effective our E-mail and Telephone trees have been. It is a wonderful experience to drive our into the middle of no-where and run into a dozen or so friends. It can only happen birding!

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Birdnet Response to the Whooping Cranes

Sunday afternoon

... Two Whooping Cranes, both banded and with radio transmitters(?) were at the north end of Deer Creek Reservoir today - and probably RIGHT NOW. They had also been in a field just west and south of the Midway Fish Hatchery. The Whoopers that were migrating with the ultralite last year stopped in Charleston - these might likely be the same birds. In talking with George Archibald this past week, director of the International Crane Foundation - he stated that there are 4 individual birds in the west: 2 survivors from the original Grays' Lake experiment and the 2 that were taken to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico with the ultralite guy - sorry I don't remember his name at the moment. When I visited the Bosque last December, there were 3 birds known to be there at the time. ... a beautiful spring day with a pleasant surprise - maybe the adam and eve of a future western flock of Whooping Cranes?... - Dave Thompson

Monday morning

Played hooky and saw the W.Cranes this morning about 10 a.m. They were in a field north of the road that runs along the north shore of the lake to the Chateau (the name escapes me now). They were colvorting shamelessly in the sunshine with two Sandhill Cranes. Also saw two Osprey on fence posts in the same field. In fact, I got all six birds in the same view with my old 7x35 Tascos. Pretty great. - Glen Warchol

Monday Afternoon

I took off from work yesterday afternoon when I read the exciting news about the whooping cranes. In doing so, I had a dual purpose: I wanted very much to see the birds, and I also wanted a chance to distract my wife, who had just that morning been forced to euthanize our 17 year-old cat. He had become disoriented, incontinent, and extremely feeble; he died in Susan's arms, and she had spent much of the day quietly crying and mourning her old friend.

Unhappily, the drive to Midway did little to distract her. We located the cranes on the mudflats at the north end of Deer Creek, initially from the east side of the reservoir. Looking across the flats, we could see four other birders at the edge of the field west of the flats. Clearly, their view was superior, so we drove over to the Chateau (is that the right name? The dead-end dirt road with the park at the end?) to join them.

We hiked over the railroad tracks, over (in my case, under) the barbed-wire fence, across the creek, and into the field. The view of the whoopers was fantastic; the pair was obviously at complete ease, and touchingly did everything in tandem: first standing on the right leg, then the left, then preening, then feeding, then looking around.

Equally enjoyable was our company. The birders we saw from across the road turned out to be a pair of adorable high school girls from Provo ("We graduate in June, Yea!"). The two boys with them were out in the field, attempting to stalk some sandhill cranes, creeping along in a pretty hilarious attempt at stealth. It failed to fool the cranes, who probably saw those two the second they stopped their car. The cranes let the boys get about 50 yards closer, then took off, with their exhilarating, rattling call echoing off the mountains behind us.

The two girls were delightful. "Did you see the whooping cranes?" they asked us excitedly when we arrived. The generously offered to show them to us, and also pointed out some common mergansers on the water. We told them about the bird net, and about Utah County birders. When I mentioned Merrill Webb's sparrow lecture (which I have only heard about), their faces lit up: "He's our teacher!" they gushed. "He's such a great birder. We'll be out, and there'll be this little SPECK, and Mr. Webb is like 'that's a sparrow'" one of them told us. "We love to go birding with Mr. Webb."

We pointed out some loons, and a pair of buffleheads. Susan chatted happily with the girls for about twenty minutes before we retreated. The girls still had to retreive their boys, who were still skulking around in the field beyond.

What a spring tonic that trip turned out to be! Susan's blues were completely swept away by both pairs of lovely 'birds'; even my world-weary cynicism was transiently forgotten. Perhaps if we had children of our own, we wouldn't have found those girls so charming, but I was delighted. They belied every current stereotype of teenagers: they were clean and neat; they didn't have rollerblades on their feet, headphones on their ears, or cell phones in their hands; they spoke (mostly) in complete sentences; their clothes fit them (approximately); they were friendly and totally enthusiastic; and they were enjoying the natural world.

Mr. Webb, I haven't met you, but please accept my compliments: You're doing something tremendously important. If those cranes are to have any chance of increasing their numbers, if they are to be "the Adam and Eve of a new Western flock", they need people like those two girls to care about them. Please thank your students for making our day, and remind them that in thirty years (that's how long it's been since I graduated from high school) they can remember the day they stood in an empty field (how many of THOSE will be around then?) and saw one of the rarest and most beautiful birds on earth. Maybe by then they won't be so rare. - Jeff Saffle

Wednesday Evening

The Whooping Cranes were seen by our family Wednesday evening, April 14th, at about 7:30 p.m. on private property just north of the road that borders the north end of Deer Creek. They were easily spotted from the highway. The two birds were jumping and flapping in their unusual courtship display. We had tried earlier (5:30 to 6:00 p.m.) and could not see them anywhere in the area, so we were delighted to find them on our way back to Provo. The owners of the property drove by us and wondered what we were looking at. We told them and they said, "Oh, those cranes are here all the time," without giving the birds a second glance. They were quite surprised to learn that these aren't the usual Sandhill Cranes they are used to seeing. - Ned Hill

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"Top 10" Lists for Birding in Utah County

We’re going to be posting a set of "Top 10" lists on the Utah Birds web site. If you keep any bird listing records in any of the following categories, send in your numbers to Milton at 373-2795 or e-mail milton@utahbirds.org.

The first category is an example of the information collected so far. Some of the numbers are out of date all ready and not everybody has had a chance to respond yet, but we’ll be updating the lists periodically as new numbers come in. So count ‘em up and get ‘em in and maybe you’ll be in the "Top 10". (To see the "Top 10" lists go to www.utahbirds.org   <click on> Counties <click on> Utah <click on> Top 10 Lists).

Big Year for a Utah County Birder in the State of Utah
(bird species seen in Utah in one given year)
  1. 280 - Merrill Webb (1996)
  2. 261 - Dennis Shirley
  3. 253 - Junece Markham
  4. 245 - Tuula Rose
  5. 237 - Julia Tuck
  6. 234 - Flora Duncan
  7. 234 - Robin Tuck
  8. 230 - Stan Smith
  9. 226 - Ned Hill
  10. 220 - Carol Nelson
Life List for a Utah County Birder Worldwide
(bird species seen worldwide)
Life List for a Utah County Birder in the ABA Area
(North America, north of the Mexican border)
Life List for a Utah County Birder in the 50 United States
(bird species seen in the USA)
Life List for a Utah County Birder in the State of Utah
(bird species seen in Utah)
Utah County Life List
(birds species seen in Utah County)
Utah County Big Year
(bird species seen in one given year in Utah County)
Utah County Big Month
(bird species seen in a given month in Utah County)
Jan - Feb - Mar - Apr - May - Jun - Jul - Aug - Sep - Oct - Nov - Dec
Utah County Big Day
(bird species seen in a given day in Utah County)
Utah County Life-time Yard List
(bird species seen while you’re in your yard)
Utah County Life-time Feeder List
(bird species seen that are actually in your yard)

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New, On The Utah Birds Web Site

Check it out!!

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March 1999 Field Trip Reports

by Dennis Shirley

Minersville Reservoir/Zion N.P. Field Trip - March 19 - 20, 1999

Species Seen:
Pied-billed Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Turkey Vulture
Snow Goose
Ross's Goose

Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Ruddy Duck
Northern Harrier
Cooper's Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk
Golden Eagle
American Kestrel
Ring-necked Pheasant
Gambel's Quail
American Coot
Killdeer
American Avocet
Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Rock Dove
Mourning Dove
Inca Dove
Great Horned Owl
Northern Pygmy-Owl
Red-naped Sapsucker

Downy Wopodpecker
Northern Flicker
Say's Phoebe
Western Scrub-Jay
Pinyon Jay
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
Juniper Titmouse
Bushtit
White-breasted Nuthatch

Rock Wren
Canyon Wren
Bewick's Wren
Golden-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Western Bluebird
Mountain Bluebird
American Robin
European Starling
Lucy's Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Spotted Towhee
Rufous-crowned Sparrow
Black-throated Sparrow

Lincoln's Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
Great-tailed Grackle
House Flinch
Pine Siskin
Lesser Goldfinch
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow

South Utah County-Juab County Field Trip - March 13 1999 - 8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Species Seen:
Pied-billed Grebe
Clark's Grebe
Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Northern Pintail
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
American Wigeon
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Bald Eagle

Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk
Rough-legged Hawk

American Kestrel
Prairie Falcon
Ring-necked Pheasant
American Coot
Sandhill Crane
Killdeer
Common Snipe
Ring-billed Gull
Rock-Dove
Great Horned Owl
Northern Flicker
Black-billed Magpie
Common Raven
Horned Lark
American Robin
European Starling
Cedar Waxwing
Song Sparow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Brewer's Blackbird
House Finch
House Sparrow

Wasatch County Field Trip - March 2_.6 1999 - 7:30 a.m.- 12:00 p.m.

Species Seen:
Common Loon

Pied-billed Grebe
Turkey Vulture
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal
Mallard
Cinnamon Teal
Northern Shoveler
Gadwall
Redhead
Ring-necked Duck
Lesser Scaup
Common Goldeneye
Bufflehead
Common Merganser
Osprey

Northern Harrier
Red-tailed Hawk
American Kestrel
American Coot
Sandhill Crane

Killdeer
American Avocet
Common Snipe

Ring-billed Gull
California Gull
Rock Dove
Great Horned Owl
Belted Kingfisher

Northern Flicker
Black-billed Magpie
Tree Swallow
Black-capped Chickadee
American Dipper
Townsend's Solitaire

American Robin
European Starling
Spotted Towhee
Fox Sparrow

Song Sparrow
White-crowned Sparrow
Dark-eyed Junco
Red-winged Blackbird
House Sparrow

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March 1999 Field Trip Summary

by Dennis Shirley

C
o
d
e

Abundance Status

So. Ut. Co.
No. Juab Co.
3/6/99 - day
(partial list)

So. Ut. Co.
No. Juab Co.
3/13/99 - day

Minersville Res.
Zion’s N.P.
3/19-20/99
2 days

Wasatch County
3/26/99
day

Totals
(different Species)

1 Common Permanent, CP 37 24 41 24 43
2 Common, CS, CW, CT 18 23 24 16 38
3 Uncommon Permanent, UP 1 1 2 1 5
4 Uncommon, US,UW,UT   1 3 2 5
5 Rare Permanent, RP 1 (Peregrine Falcon)   3 (Rufous-crwnd Sparrow, Inca Dove, Great-tailed Grackle)   4
6 Rare Summer, RS
Rare Winter, RW
Rare Transient, RT
    2 (Golden-crowned Sparrow, Ross’ Goose) 1 (Osprey) 3
7 Occasional, O          

Total Species:

57 49 76 44 98

Total Score

83 77 134 73 192

Total Species Jan - Mar 1999 = 126

New Species:
Jan - 74
Feb- 74 + 9 = 83
Mar - 74 + 9 + 43 = 126

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Revised Field Trip Schedule

April - May - June 1999 (Revisions in Bold Italics)

  Date Length Location Target Species *Depart/Return
April Sat. 4/10/99 1/2 day Santaquin Vicinity 3 Accipiters, Blue Grouse D = 6:00 a.m.
R = 1:00 p.m.
Thur. 4/15/99 1/2 day W. Utah Co. Short-eared Owl, Burrowing Owl D = 6:00 a.m.
R = 1:00 p.m.
Sat. 4/24/99 1 day TBA   D = 6:00 a.m.
R = 6:00 p.m.
May Sat. 5/1/99 (canceled)
Fri, 5/7/99 1 day Kauffman Ranch Migrant Passerines D = 5:00 a.m.
R = 6:00 p.m.
Fri.-Sun., 5/21 - 5/23 3 day Washington Co.
Beaver Dam Slope
SW Utah Specialties D = 7:00 a.m.
R = 6:00 p.m.
Mon. 5/24/99 (canceled because of change in the field trip above)
Sat. 5/29/99 2/3 day Bear River MBR Shorebirds D = 7:00 a.m.
R= l:00 pm
June Fri. 6/4/99 1/2 day Provo Canyon Gray Catbird, Fox Sparrow, Swainson's Thrush D = 6:00 a.m.
R = 1:00 p.m.
Wed. 6/16/99 1/2 day Jordanelle Woodlands Least Flycatcher, American Redstart (!) D = 6:00 a.m.
R = 1:00 p.m.
Fri. 6/18/99 1/2 day Nebo Mt Flammulated Owl, Saw Whet Owl D = 8:00 p.m.
R = 1:00 a.m.
Fri-Sat, 6/25-6/26 2 day Uinta Basin
Ouray NWR
Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Mt. Plover D = 7:00 a.m.
R = 8:00 p.m.

*All departures and returns at Bean Museum, BYU Campus

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State Hotline Highlights

BEAVER COUNTY

Dennis Shirley, Stan Smith, others - At Minersville Reservoir, mixed flock of several hundred SNOW and ROSS' GEESE was seen on Friday, 03/19.

BOX ELDER COUNTY

Matt & Pia DeVries, Tuula Rose, Mark Stackhouse - An apparent BLACK-TAILED GULL was seen on Sunday, 03/14 at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge (BRMBR). The bird was in either 3rd-winter or adult plumage, and was observed for about 10 minutes at about 3:30 PM, circling over the "gull feeding place," about 1/3 mile north of the southeast corner of the auto-tour loop. It flew off to the north, and could not be relocated. If accepted, this will be the first record of this species in Utah.

Dana Green, Kent Lewis - A male EURASIAN WIGEON was seen in a pond on the north side of the road to BRMBR, about 4 miles west of I-15 on Saturday, 03/13.

CACHE COUNTY

Bob Atwood; Matt & Pia DeVries, Tuula Rose, Mark Stackhouse, David Wheeler, Larene Wyss - The VARIED THRUSH, which has been seen in several yards at the west end of Sunset Drive in Logan, just north of the Logan Country Club, continues to be seen. The bird was seen on Friday, 03/12, and on Sunday, 03/14.

Bob Atwood - Two BLACK ROSY-FINCHES were in a large flock of GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES at a feeder in Hyde Park on Saturday, 03/12.

Keith Archibald - A PEREGRINE FALCON was seen at the oxbow area of the Bear River near Benson on Saturday, 03/20

Bill Massich - A possible BOREAL OWL was heard by a group of cross-country skiers near Franklin Basin in upper Logan Canyon on Friday, 03/26. The bird was heard calling for about 1 hour, starting at dusk, in the upper reaches of  the Hell's Kitchen drainage. The status and distribution of Boreal Owls in Utah is poorly understood, and because they may be of marginal occurrence in the state, birders should use caution to avoid excessive disturbance of the birds.

Bob Atwood - A EURASIAN WIGEON was seen at the oxbow on the Bear River near Benson on Saturday, 03/27.

Bill Massich; Ron Ryel - The BOREAL OWL, which was heard by a group of cross-country skiers near Franklin Basin in upper Logan Canyon on Friday, 03/26, has been found again and possitively identified. It was seen and photographed on Saturday, 04/03, in the upper reaches of the Hell's Kitchen drainage (BM), and was heard calling from 9:15 pm to 10:30 pm on Sunday, 04/04 (RR). The status and distribution of Boreal Owls in Utah is poorly understood, and because they may be of marginal occurrence in the state, birders should use caution to avoid excessive disturbance of the birds.

Jared Barnes - The VARIED THRUSH, which has been seen in several yards at the west end of Sunset Drive in Logan, just north of the Logan Country Club, was seen again on Thursday, 03/25 (JB).

Todd Black - Other birds seen in Cache Valley include an OSPREY seen at Hyrum Reservoir, on Tuesday, 03/30, a MERLIN near Paradise on Saturday, 04/03, and a SWAINSON's HAWK near Hyrum, also on Saturday, 04/03.

JUAB COUNTY

Bryant Olsen - Two GREAT EGRETS were seen among a rookery of herons at Fish Springs NWR on Sunday, 03/21.

Dennis Shirley; Milton Moody - Two HORNED GREBES were seen near the dam at Mona Reservoir, and about 50 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were seen at the south end of the reservoir on Sunday, 04/04.On Monday, 04/05, one Horned Grebe and two PEREGRINE

FALCONS were seen at Mona Reservoir.

MILLARD COUNTY

David Allan - About 200 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS were seen at DMAD Reservoir northeast of Delta on Sunday, 03/28.

MORGAN COUNTY

Arnold Smith - A HARRIS' SPARROW continues to visit a feeder at the Morgan Wastewater Lagoons, as of Wednesday, 03/17.

SALT LAKE COUNTY

Dana Green; Mark Stackhouse - The immature HARRIS' SPARROW, which has been in the brush along the ponds and the canal across the road from the Federal Express building at the Salt Lake International Airport, was seen again on Saturday, 03/13 and on Tuesday, 03/16.

Hana Ramsburger - Two pairs of WOOD DUCKS were seen at the mouth of Emmigration Canyon on Thursday, 03/11.

Bob Walters - TURKEY VULTURES have returned in numbers to the Salt Lake area. Two groups of vultures were seen on Sunday, 04/04, one along the Jordan River at 106th South, and the other at the roosting place at Knudsen's Corner in Holladay (BW).

UTAH COUNTY

Dennis Shirley - The season's first report of BLUE-WINGED TEAL comes from just northwest of Salem, where a pair was seen in the slough near the Salem Sewage Treatment Ponds on Sunday, 03/14. And SNOW GEESE were seen in the pond near the north end of 4000 West in Lakeshore on Sunday, 03/14.

Milton Moody - Eight BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were seen on the east side of Salem Pond on Thursday, 03/18.

Mike Monson, Merrill Webb - A SUMMER TANAGER was seen coming to a suet feeder in Provo on Saturday, 04/03. The feeder is located across the street from Rock Canyon Elementary School at 500 East and 2300 North.

Dennis Shirley - A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was seen at the oxbow along the Provo River Parkway on Thursday, 03/25. The oxbow area is about 1 mile upstream from the mouth of the river.

Milton Moody; Julie VanMoorhem; Mark Stackhouse, David Wheeler - A WHITE-THROATED SPARROW continues to be a regular visitor to a feeder near 930 East and 2780 North in Provo. It was reported from Sunday, 03/28, and Friday, 04/02.

WASATCH COUNTY

Mark Stackhouse, David Wheeler - A GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was seen along the shore of Deer Creek Reservoir near the Charleston turnoff from Highway 189 on Friday, 04/02. A BLACK-THROATED SPARROW was also there.

Dennis Shirley; Eric Huish - Other birds reported from Deer Creek Reservoir include COMMON LOONS on Friday, 03/26 and Wednesday, 03/31; RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS on Wednesday, 03/31; and OSPREY on Friday, 03/26.

WASHINGTON COUNTY

Dennis Shirley, Stan Smith, others - A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was seen in the campground of the Red Cliffs Recreation area north of St. George on Friday, 03/19. Other birds seen by the Utah County Birders on a field trip to Washington County on Saturday, 03/20, included WESTERN BLUEBIRDS near the east entrance of Zion NP, a NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL near the Zion Lodge, and a RUFOUS-CROWNED SPARROW on the rocky hillside along the highway just west of Rockville.

Darlene Amott, Josh Kreitzer, LeIla Ogden, Lew Wilkinson - On Monday, 03/15, a female VERMILION FLYCATCHER was seen at Red Cliffs, and a NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW was seen at the Washington Fields.

Bethany & Mark Stackhouse - A GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW was seen in the campground of the Red Cliffs Recreation area north of St. George on Tuesday, 03/30.

Bryant Olsen - A COMMON BLACK-HAWK was seen about 1/2 mile north of the ranch house at Lytle Ranch on Wednesday, 03/31.

Josh Kreitzer, Lew Wilkinson - Both male and female VERMILION FLYCATCHERS were seen at Red Hills Golf Course in St. George on Friday, 03/26. And A HOODED ORIOLE was seen at Lytle Ranch on Saturday, 03/27.

WEBER COUNTY

Keith Evans; Arnold Smith - The HARRIS' SPARROW, which has been visiting feeders at the Ogden Nature Center, was seen again on Tuesday, 03/16 and Wednesday, 03/17.

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