phil jeffrey:: Utah/Wyoming/Colorado, July 2007 trip report


Salt Lake City, July 2007

The American Crystallographic Association's annual meeting was held in Salt Lake City in late July 2007, so I planned on adding a little birding time around that trip - the primary lifer target was Black Swift with other things like Sage Sparrow and Blue Grouse. Not especially high odds for any of them, but this was not a dedicated birding trip. Late summer leaves a lot to be desired in terms of looking for things, most adults are in worn plumage, there's not much singing, but there were a lot of juveniles about. The biggest ID problem came from the ducks being substantially in eclipse plumage, which lead me to ID precisely one Cinnamon Teal despite them being probably rather abundant in the right habitat.

Photographically, because I was carrying conference-associated junk, I took the lightweight combo of the Digital Rebel XTi (usefully 10 mpixels) and my 300mm f4 with a 1.4x attached. I packed my venerable 20-35 f2.8 wide-angle lens but didn't use it much. Mostly I was birding or sitting through conference sessions on Radiation Damage or drinking beer at the poster sessions.

"Dirt birds" on the trip were probably Swallows - there was an abundance of Barn Swallows in any and every suitable habitat including high altitude. There were also many Bank Swallows in the lowlands, numerous Cliff Swallows, and Violet-green Swallows in the mountains. I did not knowingly see a Northern Rough-winged, although with the juvenile Bank Swallows around it would be easy to write off the former as the latter. I had some luck (Black Rosy-Finch), some well-earned life birds (Black Swift, Sage Sparrow) and some dips (Dusky/Blue Grouse). Other lifers (basically all the owls) were pretty much not pursued on this trip because of lack of energy or motivation.

Sunrise, Sunset, Weather

Trip List With "Best Locations"

Bold species are life birds. Underlined species are Better View Desired birds.

What Where
Pied-billed Grebe Bear River NWR
Eared Grebe Antelope Island, Bear River NWR
Western Grebe Bear River NWR
Clark's Grebe Bear River NWR
American White Pelican Bear River NWR
Double-crested Cormorant Bear River NWR, Antelope Island
Great Blue Heron Bear River NWR
Snowy Egret Bear River NWR
Cattle Egret Salt Lake agricultural
Black-crowned Night-Heron Bear River NWR
White-faced Ibis Bear River NWR, Antelope Island
Turkey Vulture
Canada Goose Bear River NWR
Gadwall Bear River NWR
Mallard various
Cinnamon Teal Bear River NWR
Northern Shoveler Bear River NWR
American Wigeon Bear River NWR
Green-winged Teal (probable only)
Ruddy Duck Bear River NWR
Northern Harrier Bear River NWR
Cooper's Hawk
Swainson's Hawk Bear River NWR, near airport
Red-tailed Hawk
Ferruginous Hawk (probable distant glimpse in WY)
Golden Eagle CO: deserts on western slope
American Kestrel
Peregrine Falcon CO: Ouray; UT: Bridal Veil Falls
Prairie Falcon (probable in WY)
Chukar Antelope Island
Ring-necked Pheasant Bear River NWR entrance road
American Coot
Sandhill Crane Bear River NWR
Black-necked Stilt Antelope Island, Bear River NWR
American Avocet Antelope Island, Bear River NWR
Greater Yellowlegs Bear River NWR
Lesser Yellowlegs Bear River NWR
(Western) Willet Antelope Island
Spotted Sandpiper Bear River NWR
Solitary Sandpiper Bear River NWR
Long-billed Curlew Antelope Island
Marbled Godwit Bear River NWR
Western Sandpiper Bear River NWR
Baird's Sandpiper Antelope Island
Long-billed Dowitcher Bear River NWR
Wilson's Phalarope Antelope Island, Bear River NWR, massive numbers
Red-necked Phalarope Antelope Island, Bear River NWR, good numbers
Franklin's Gull Salt Lake
Ring-billed Gull Salt Lake
California Gull Salt Lake
Black Tern Bear River NWR
Forster's Tern Salt Lake
Caspian Tern Bear River NWR
Rock Pigeon
Mourning Dove
Common Nighthawk various montane during day !
Black Swift CO: Ouray; not seen in UT at Bridal Veil Falls
White-throated Swift
Black-chinned Hummingbird Mill Creek Cyn
Broad-tailed Hummingbird montane
Rufous Hummingbird CO: Ouray; UT: Silver Lake
Red-naped Sapsucker Brighton/Silver Lake
Hairy Woodpecker
American Three-toed Woodpecker Mirror Lake
Northern Flicker
Olive-sided Flycatcher Brighton/Silver Lake
Western Wood-Pewee various montane
Gray Flycatcher WY: Flaming Gorge NRA
Say's Phoebe CO: Coloardo National Monument
Ash-throated Flycatcher CO: Colorado National Monument
Western Kingbird espec Bear River NWR
Warbling Vireo Brighton/Silver Lake in Aspens
Steller's Jay montane
Western Scrub-Jay WY: Flaming Gorge NRA; CO: various
Pinyon Jay nr Scipio
Clark's Nutcracker Black Cyn of the Gunnison
Black-billed Magpie lowland
American Crow lowland (e.g. Ouray CO)
Common Raven montane
Horned Lark Bear River NWR, White's Valley
Purple Martin SR-39 montane
Tree Swallow
Violet-green Swallow montane
Bank Swallow abundant
Cliff Swallow
Barn Swallow abundant
Black-capped Chickadee montane (less numerous)
Mountain Chickadee montane
Juniper Titmouse CO: Colorado National Monument
Bushtit CO: Black Cyn of the Gunnison
Red-breasted Nuthatch
Rock Wren
Canyon Wren (heard only at CO Natl Monument, Black Cyn Gunnison)
Bewick's Wren Flaming Gorge NRA sagebrush
American Dipper Bridal Veil Falls nr Provo
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Western Bluebird CO: Glade Park at CO National Monument
Mountain Bluebird UT: montane; CO: Glade Park
Townsend's Solitaire CO: Ouray
Swainson's Thrush (probably heard in Mill Creek Cyn)
American Robin
Sage Thrasher CO: Glade Park; UT: White's Valley
Loggerhead Shrike White's Valley and east of Vernal
European Starling
Virginia's Warbler Brighton/Silver Lake
Yellow Warbler various riparian
Yellow-rumped Warbler various montane
MacGillivray's Warbler Brighton/Silver Lake
Western Tanager UT: Alpine loop, CO: Ouray
Green-tailed Towhee WY: Flaming Gorge NRA
Spotted Towhee CO: Black Cyn of the Gunnison
Chipping Sparrow montane
Brewer's Sparrow sagebrush
Lark Sparrow Bear River NWR, White's Valley
Black-throated Sparrow CO: Colorado National Monument
Sage Sparrow WY: Flaming Gorge NRA
Savannah Sparrow Bear River NWR
Song Sparrow
Lincoln's Sparrow montane wetter areas
White-crowned Sparrow montane
Dark-eyed Junco montane, widespread
Black-headed Grosbeak
Lazuli Bunting
Yellow-headed Blackbird Bear River NWR
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark lowland grassland
Brewer's Blackbird lowland riparan
Great-tailed Grackle UT/CO: interstate service plazas
Brown-headed Cowbird
Black Rosy-Finch UT: Bald Mountain
Pine Grosbeak Mirror Lake, Silver Lake - montane
Evening Grosbeakk Ouray CO at Box Cyn
Cassin's Finch numerous in montane
House Finch
Red Crossbill Brighton/Big Cottonwood Cyn
Pine Siskin numerous in montane
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow relatively uncommon


Utah - Online Resources

Wyoming - Online Resources

Assorted directions and sightings

Bear River NWR: From I-15 take Exit #366 (Brigham City's Forest Street) and travel west to end of road (20 miles). 
The road is at times dirt and rutted.

Description:  White's Valley is a remote ranch/farmland/grass and sagebrush covered valley in extreme 
north-central Utah. Much of the property is private, so please observe the 'No Trespassing' signs.
Directions:  Take I-15 north and I-84 west. Remain on I-84 when the two roads split and take Ranch Exit 32. 
Turn right, or north. The pavement ends after .3 miles and the road is gravel thereafter. Continue north. 
You'll reach Whites Valley after approximately 4 miles. The road zigzags west and north across the valley 
until it ends at two silos; however, the last half mile is marked, "No Trespassing".
Birding:  Watch for Burrowing Owls and listen/watch for Grasshopper Sparrows in the first mile or so. 
Watch along the road and in stubble in the fields for both Gray Partridge and Sharp-tailed Grouse. You 
might need to walk through brush or sage lining the safflower and wheat fields to find partridge or grouse. 
Watch over field edges and sagebrush for Short-eared Owls and Northern Harriers. Returning south and east 
out of the valley, you might consider taking the road that heads east at an intersection at a single silo, 
through Johnson Canyon. Grasshopper Sparrows have been heard and seen in the grassy field northwest of the 
Nucor Steel Plant. Continue east on this road and you'll intersect I-15.
Specialty Birds: Gray Partridge, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Grasshopper Sparrow, Burrowing Owl, Short-eared Owl, 
Sage Thrasher, American Pipit

(July 9th - Monte Cristo/Route 39 east of SLC)
At least one WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL flew over Monte Cristo Campground in
Rich County yesterday morning, calling in flight. Twice in the recent past I
believed White-wngs were at Monte Cristo, but the call or view was so brief
that I couldn't conclusively rule out other species. I chose not to report
the possibility. Yesterday's calling sequence was definitive even though I
didn't see the bird. What's wrong with those darn crossbills--why can't they
perch sedately at eye level for me?!? We need spruces around here that
produce cones at a height of 5' 3" instead of at 60 feet.
Calling RED CROSSBILLS also flew over the campground and I saw them flash
through patches of sky while I developed a charlie horse in my neck. All the
woodpecker families appear to have fledged. It took about an hour of
listening to get a sign from a THREE-TOED WOODPECKER; finally one drummed a
total of four times and sat patiently on a snag while I watched her. It was
the adult female. She was on the slope downhill from campsite 18 on Loop C.
That's the first place I saw the male on June 21 and I've seen both adults
in that area a couple times. Then she disappeared while I was distracted by
an adult male WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER feeding a juvenile female.
Other birds present included a vocal Hairy Woodpecker, a Clark's Nutcracker,
Western Tanagers, Mountain Chickadees, Brown Creepers, MacGillivray's Warblers, 
Cassin's Finches and many more good mountain birds. A fun
experience was watching a Ruby-crowned Kinglet bug-catch on the ground under
the shady spruce; the bird whirled and fluttered across the dry litter
toward me until I was looking down on the red slash across its crown and he
or she was only 4 feet away. The newly-fledged Red-breasted Nuthatches are
super-cute at this time of year, too.
I never strayed from of the south end of the campground. The woodpeckers
were in the mature Englemann Spruce on the slope sandwiched between Loop A,
campsites 4 and 6, and Loop C, campsites 14 and 18. The crossbills flew over
the same area. At the east end of this slope you'll find the two Group Use
Monte Cristo Campground is located on SR-39 at mile 47.7. If you bird the
shady spruce slope, know that you'll have lots of company...from mosquitoes.


Wasatch-Cache National Forest. From Utah 190 (Wasatch Boulevard, closed in winter), 
which parallels I-215, take 3800 South Street eastward up into Mill Creek Canyon. 
Several picnic areas are located along the 9 miles [14.5 kilometers] of this road, 
offering the chance to look for White-throated Swift; Black-chinned and 
Broad-tailed Hummingbirds; Red-naped Sapsucker; Olive-sided, Dusky, and Cordilleran Flycatchers; 
Plumbeous and Warbling Vireos; Steller's Jay; Clark�s Nutcracker; Mountain Chickadee; 
American Dipper (along the creek); Townsend's Solitaire; Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes; 
Orange-crowned, Virginias, and MacGillivrays Warblers; Western Tanager; Green-tailed Towhee; 
Song and Lincolns Sparrows; Black-headed Grosbeak; and Cassin�s Finch. 
Unlikely: Northern Goshawk, Blue Grouse, or Northern Pygmy-Owl, but all are possible.

East of Salt Lake City, Utah 150 is known as the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway from 
Kamas east and north toward Wyoming. Along the way it crosses the Uinta Mountains, 
the highest east-west range in the lower 48 states. About 26 miles [41.8 kilometers] 
from Kamas, stop at Trial Lake, at 9,500 feet [2,895.6 meters], to look for 
mountain birds such as Blue Grouse, Williamson's Sapsucker, 
Three-toed Woodpecker, Olive-sided and Hammond's Flycatchers, Gray and Steller's Jays, 
Clark's Nutcracker, Mountain Chickadee, Brown Creeper,
 Townsend's Solitaire, Pine Grosbeak, Cassin's Finch, Red Crossbill, and Pine Siskin.  
In 3 miles [4.8 kilometers], at Bald Mountain Pass, 
turn toward the parking area for the Bald Mountain Trail, known as a good spot to find 
Black Rosy-Finch. Check rocky slopes, especially 
around the edges of ice fields and snowbanks, for this little bird, which nests only 
above timberline. You'll also find American Pipit up 
here at around 10,700 feet [3,261.4 meters]. The 2-mile [3.2 kilometers] trail to the 
top of Bald Mountain, at 11,943 feet, offers fabulous 
views of Uinta peaks and lakes. It's normally walkable only from mid-July to October. 
In 3 more miles [4.8 kilometers], the Mirror Lake 
campground and picnic area is another popular birding spot. It is also just plain popular: 
The parking area here is full nearly every day 
in summer. After you've birded around the lake and picnic grounds, you can walk a short 
spur trail that leads to the Highline Trail, passing 
through meadows where you may find Calliope Hummingbird and Mountain Bluebird, as well as 
forests of Engelmann spruce and subalpine fir where
there's a chance you'll see Blue Grouse, Three-toed Woodpecker, and other woodland birds. 
Keep an eye out for Northern Goshawk and Golden Eagle soaring overhead. 

U.S. Highway 189 east of Provo follows the Provo River past Bridal Veil Falls, 
home of the extremely rare and elusive Black Swift (summer) - especialyl elusive this year.
Take the 800 North, Orem exit of I-15 (exit #273) going east on UT 52. After about 4 miles 
bear left at the US 189 intersection going up Provo Canyon. After about 2 1/2 miles you can 
turn off at the Bridal Veil Falls/Nunn's Park parking lot to access the Provo River Trail or 
continue about a half mile to the Bridal Veil Falls overlook which is directly in front of the falls.
Soapstone Area in Uintahs ?  Minimalist trip report from 7/2006 looked promising.
Strawberry Valley
Payson Cyn

Big Cottonwood Canyon
The road into Big Cottonwood Canyon takes you east of Salt Lake City 
into the Wasatch Mountains and up to the Brighton Ski Area. This is 
a great place to see more streamside songbirds as well as some high 
elevation birds and spectacular summer wildflowers. From I-215, simply 
follow the signs to Brighton Ski Area. Turn appears to be at the
south-east extreme corner of the I-215 loop.
City Creek Canyon is walking distance from downtown Salt Lake City
From the intersection of North Temple and State Street (downtown), 
head east (on North Temple) to B street. Turn left on B street and 
follow it up the hill then down into the canyon. Park near the hairpin 
turn and take any of the several walking/biking trails. The paved trail 
follows the stream both north (into the mountains) and south (into Memory 
Grove Park at the edge of downtown). Just a little NW of downtown where
I will be staying.  I-80/I-15 meet west of this location.

Mirror Lake Scenic Byway  utah-150 extending east of Kamas and
then north to I-80 - might make long but viable loop for return via 
SR-39.  Ends at Evanston WY along I-80

SR-39 east of Ogden towards Woodruff, or via Evanston via WY-89 and UT-16.

Antelope Island Causeway (shorebirds) and visitor center (Chukar) and Garr Ranch (passerines).  Barn Owl ?
South of that: Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area

WY: Flaming Gorge may have Sage Sparrow but lack specific directions in WY
however accessible via I-80 and generally viable for Vernal or Gd Tetons.

Tracy Aviary is located at 589 East 1300 South at Liberty Park, 9am-6pm every day.

Subject: Re: Black Rosy-Finch - Salt Lake Co
From: Dave Hanscom 
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 22:50:07 -0600 (MDT)
> I cannot remember any reports of rosy-finches from the Wasatch in the 
> summer despite the apparent good habitat.  I thought I had one fly by 
> when I hiked the Pfiefferhorn last summer, but at the time, it had been 
> awhile since I'd heard one call so I was hesitant to call it.  Anyway, I 
> definitely had 2 BLACK ROSY-FINCHES in the Devil's Castle area 
> underneath Sugarloaf Peak at Alta (Salt Lake Co.) yesterday.  They 
> called repeatedly as they flew by. They eventually landed on a snowpatch 
> about 100 yards away. 

I've seen them on Mount Superior and also on Timpanogos in the summer.  I 
haven't be up Superior this year, but there were a couple on the Timp 
snowfield two or three weeks ago.

Re: Flammulated Owls in extreme sw. Utah
Second were two FLAMMULATED OWLS that were along the road to
Kolob Reservoir, because at least near us in e.WA this species is
notoriously difficult to observe. The turnoff for the reservoir is off Rt 56
heading in the direction of the Cedar Breaks NM, just past Milt's Restaurant, to the right.  
About 5 miles up this road, one reaches the top at a ranch with heavy aspen forest all around; 
just prior to this, there is an open rocky scree area with a few firs right along the road.  The birds
were here, one of them seen fleetingly by flashlight.

Subject: Didn't see Black Swift in Utah Co.
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 18:42:25 -0600
Cory Gregory (a friend from out of state) and I tried to find Black
Swifts at Bridal Veil Falls and Stewart Falls this week.  Both of these are in Utah County near US-189 NE of Orem.
On June 30th we spent from 5:15am to 9am watching from the base of
Bridal Veil falls.  Lots of white-throated swifts, lots of swallows, and a Dipper.  No black swifts.

On July 1st we spent from 7:45pm to 10pm watching Stewart Falls.  No black swifts here either.

We also spent half an hour at Bridal Veil Falls on the 29th during the 
afternoon, and 3 hours at Stewart Falls on the 30th in the afternoon,
and didn't see any black swifts then either.

Subject: Black Rosy-Finch - Salt Lake Co
Date: Mon, 2 Jul 2007 17:12:21 -0600
I cannot remember any reports of rosy-finches from the Wasatch in the summer despite the apparent good habitat.  
I thought I had one fly by when I hiked the Pfiefferhorn last summer, but at the time, it had been awhile since I'd
heard one call so I was hesitant to call it.  Anyway, I definitely had 2 BLACK ROSY-FINCHES in the Devil's Castle 
area underneath Sugarloaf Peak at Alta (Salt Lake Co.) yesterday.  They called repeatedly as they flew by.
They eventually landed on a snowpatch about 100 yards away.
I meant to report this earlier, but I think I had a female Rufous/Allen's hummingbird at Alta on June 16th, which 
is on the early side for even a male Rufous Hummingbird.  I only had a brief look, but the hummingbird was like a
female Broad-tailed Hummingbird (there may have been more rufous on the sides than I normally think of for them), 
but it had a dark patch on the throat.  Due to the fading light, I was unable to see the color of this patch.  
Can female Broad-tailed Hummingbirds show this patch?  Also, I think the time of year and flank color would eliminate 
a young male Broad-tailed Hummingbird?

Other birds seen around Alta the past two weekends include a pair of PINE GROSBEAKS working the area around the campground, 
a flyover adult NORTHERN GOSHAWK on two different occasions, a number of singing LAZULI BUNTINGS (along the hike up to Cecret Lake), 
pretty high elevation SWAINSON'S THRUSHES singing in the willows at the first switchback on the dirt road that's on the way up to the 
Cecret Lake Trailhead, MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS, ROCK WRENS and VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS along the shoulder between Devil's Castleand Sugarloaf Peak, 
a flock of RED CROSSBILLS foraging in a small patch of cone covered firs in Day's Fork (actually in Big Cottonwood Canyon), and other expected 
was singing last evening in the same location as I heard it a couple weeks ago in Emigration Canyon

Yesterday Ned Bixler and I spent the morning and early afternoon chasing
birds at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and in the Amalga area in
Cache valley. Despite it being rather warm, and a bit buggy at BRMBR, we
had an enjoyable time and saw quite a few birds. Highlights include:
- three short-eared owls, two adults and a juvenile bird each by itself along the road into BRMBR
a pair of Wilson's phalarope, still in breeding plumage, along the Bear River at one of the 
UP&L recreation pull-over spots in Cache valley

Subject: Owling addendum
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2007 00:32:55 -0600
Summit county should be Morgan County

Subject: Owling... well sort of.
Date: Sun, 1 Jul 2007 00:18:27 -0600
Tonight, Dave Slager, his Buddy Corey (sp?) from Michigan, and I headed out
looking for Northern Pygmy-Owl.  We started at Millcreek Canyon along the
Bowman Fork Trail and headed to a spot where the birds had been heard in the
past.  We struck out on the owls, but did have 1 COMMON POORWILL singing away.
Bowman Fork Trail is the last road on the right (south) side of the road just
before the parking area at the top gate.
Next we headed to Big Mountain Pass and East Canyon to try again.  We had a
POORWILL on the Summit County side of the pass, and at a stop further down the
canyon we had multiple Flammulated Owl's answering back to the pygmy whistle. 
Unfortunately we struck out again.

Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 21:58:37 -0500
We found our lifer Black Rosy Finches at Bald Mountain on our last day of 
our Utah vacation. We were at Bald Mountain by 7:30 AM and went to the bowl area 
that has the rock cliffs on the left and the spruce trees on the right with a couple ponds in between. 
We had to keep reminding ourselves to take Mark Stackhouse's advice and be patient. 
Although we saw 3 dark birds fly over from the trees to the cliff, it wasn't 
a positive ID. So we continued to scan the cliffs and the tree tops with 
spotting scopes, and finally I found one perched on top of a spruce tree

that 3 of us got to see before it flew.

We had great looks at a male and 
female Williamson's Sapsucker feeding young at a nest hole, and great looks 
at another 3 Toed Woodpecker at Mirror Lake. Also found some Bushtits and Brown Creepers.

Subject: Black-Hawk and Condor Videos
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 17:08:37 -0600
A couple of videos shot through my spotting scope this week...
Common Black-Hawk and young:
California Condors:

Subject: Zone-tailed Hawk, Spotted Owl, etc...
Date: Thu, 28 Jun 2007 15:03:58 -0600
Over the past few days I spent some time around Washington and Kane Counties
working, and birding. I was able to spend a few hours at Kolob Terrace earlier in the week, and was
rewarded with great looks at at least 2 different ZONE-TAILED HAWKS.  The birds 
were seen in several locations: At Kolob Creek Crossing where the creek plunges
over the cliffs, and along the road to Lava Point over the pond and fields. 

Also seen in the area were 12 CALIFORNIA CONDORS, many of which perched within
100' of the road for excellent viewing. The birds when soaring by seemed more
numerous than the Turkey Vultures.

Subject: our Utah birding vacation
From: "Connie Norheim" 
Date: Tue, 26 Jun 2007 18:24:03 -0500

We're coming towards the end of our birding vacation in Utah, and would like 
to thank all the people who have been so gracious and helpful in either 
suggesting places to go for certain birds, or referring us to others.

Beus Pond at Ogden for the Western Screech Owl. We did find 3 owlets sitting on a branch 
directly over our head at 9:15 PM on the east path around the pond, just 
where she told us they'd be, and we didn't need to use any tapes to call them in.

Cars can drive into City Creek Canyon in Salt Lake City for $3 on even days, 
and we drove all the way to the end and birded. We heard, but never did see, 
Virginia's Warbler, our second lifer.

The 3 Toed Woodpecker at the Monte Criste campground, lifer #4 for Lew. What a 
lovely campground, we spent several hours there and also saw both the male 
and femate Williamson's sapsucker there.
The road to the Albion Campground is not open (won't open until June 30th we were told), 
so to go to Secret Lake we had a much longer hike than
originally planned, over 
5 miles round trip, and no Black rosy Finches to reward us. 

Over the past couple of weeks I have seen several Scott's Orioles southeast of 
Vernal. The area is south of US40 east of the the Green River. The area has 
scattered juniper and the yellow orioles are striking against the deep green of \
the junipers. 

I left work early today and wanted to get up to Monte Cristo and scout out
the woodpeckers and sapsuckers Kris Purdy reported yesterday.  My plan was
to scout them out and return tomorrow morning,blind up, and get some
pictures tomorrow.
Kris forgot to mention that one of the American Three-toed Woodpecker
nests was within four feet of the restroom about eight feet high.  I located
the cavity and started taking pictures. I used the rest room as my blind,
peeking around the corner.  I had the female come in and was feeding the
youngster's when two woman walked out of the restroom right into my lap.

Kane Co.
Last night I camped on a ridge top over looking Stout Canyon and saw a couple unusual 
things. One of the first birds I saw while scanning down into the canyon was a 
adult Goshawk perched in a dead tree that I was able to watch in the scope for 
about 5 minutes. Then while watching Common nighthawks soaring around before 
sundown a Black Swift flew right in front of me at eye level. I was watching it 
soar around for a couple minutes when another one joined it. I watched both of 
them at close range for a couple more minutes until they worked there way to 
the south out of sight. I didn't know of any nesting spots around there but at 
this time of year maybe.I thought that was a good way to end the day but the 
way things were going I figured maybe a Whip-poor-will would start calling as 
it got dark. As it started to get dark I didn't get the Whip-poor-will ( fat 
chance ) but almost as good. A Spotted Owl started calling right below me in 
the canyon. When I got up today it was in the same area calling again.

I left Salt Lake around 6:30 this morning for a 250 mile loop up to the
Mirror Lake Highway, then to Woodruff/Deseret Ranch, stopping next at Monte
Cristo before coming down to I-15 and heading back to Salt Lake.  The plan was
to tick off the majority of the sub-alpine breeders I hadn?t yet seen this
year, and thanks to reports from Kris Purdy, Jack Binch, Colby Neuman, and of
course the Beyer's for the initial find of a White-winged Crossbill, I had a
good plan and hit the road with it.
I made several stops along the Mirror Lake Highway on my way to Bald Mountain. 
The morning was filled with song and I picked up Golden-crowned Kinglet, and
Townsend's Solitaire for the month as well as several other high elevation
birds.  My first serious stop was at the Washington Lake Group Area, where the
Beyer's made their find earlier in the week.  As soon as I stepped out of the
car I heard what sounded like an AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER calling.  After
searching for a minute or two I found a female near the top of a dead snag. 
Before I was finished in the area, I ended up seeing 3 ATTW's, including 2 males.

I also had one flock of RED CROSSBILL's fly over while in the area, and a GRAY
JAY to make things interesting.  I birded a little around the regular
campground, but a lot of people were up and milling about, so I moved on.  I
stopped at the Bald Mountain view area, where nothing much was happening,
before continuing up the road to the Bald Mountain Pass, and trailhead.  Before
I made it that far, about 250 yards before the road to the trailhead I looked
over and saw a female PINE GROSBEAK feeding on the ground.  I pulled over and
took some time to get pictures of it.  2 males could be heard singing to the
north of the road.

Plenty of RED CROSSBILL's were flying over the area and between stands of
spruce.  After about 35 minutes a flock of about 20 Red's flew over me, with
one immature WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL calling away, making it stand out against
the Red's.  I spent some more time lingering around hoping another flock would
come over.  While I was waiting I heard what I distinctly thought was a
White-winged Crossbill singing to the northwest towards the peak.  I grabbed my
cameras and took off to look for it.  Every time I got within about 20 feet I
would hear it starting to sing from another spot.  After chasing for about 5
trees I gave up and just turned on my recorder to try to capture the song.  I
will upload and post it later tonight.  I spent some time with my scope
scanning the snow fields for BLACK ROSY-FINCH, and saw several birds buzzing
around , although at the distance, they could have been Pipit's for all I know.
 Luckily near the pass I had a male fly over from one drift to another,
providing great looks.

Satisfied with the birds I found I headed to Evanston and then up towards Woodruff.  

I turned onto the road that winds through Deseret Ranch hoping that
a Lark Bunting maybe hanging around somewhere? No such luck.  I did have 2
WILSON's PHALAROPE on the ranch, and a surprising GRASSHOPPER SPARROW singing
along the road out to the north.  In Woodruff I had 2 COMMON GRACKLE, and I
made a quick trip back down HWY 89 a couple miles where I had a BLACK TERN, as
well as a FORSTER'S TERN and a number of other water birds.

Finally, I made my way up towards Monte Cristo Campground making a stop at one
of the locations where Kris Purdy had posted about PURPLE MARTINS.   I managed
to find her tell-tale "pink tape" and along with it, 4 Martins? 

I next made my way to the location of the WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER nest along HWY 39.  
I found the male bird and snapped a few shots, before heading to the
campground to take a look around.

Using Kris's again excellent directions I found the ATTW nest.  It sounded like
it might have had 2 or 3 chicks begging.  Several times the adult female
returned to the nest with food.  She wouldn?t come in while I was with 30 feet
so I went back to my car and drove around the loop about 100 feet off and set
up my scope.  She came in 2 times in the next 20 minutes and I shot a little
bit of video which I will post this evening.

From: Kristin Purdy 
Subject: Three-toed Nest at Monte Cristo

A funny thing happened on my way to retrieving my GPS to mark a THREE-TOED 
WOODPECKER'S location at Monte Cristo Campground in Rich County today--a male 
WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER flew across my path and landed at the most 
BEE-YOO-TEE-ful column of sap wells I've ever seen. A Red-breasted Nuthatch 
also visited the sap wells while I watched. I followed the sapsucker as he 
transferred to his ant tree and eventually, to the grove of trees where his 
mate and his nest cavity were located west of SR-39 from the campground. 
Following him around from sap wells to tree to sap wells to grove must have 
used up about an hour and a half. But I finally found and marked his nest 
cavity and then returned to the Three-toed's location. Hopeful listening, 
watching and aimless wandering produced both the male and female Three-toed 
flaking big chunks of bark from trees in the two Group Use Units. If you 
attempt to see these birds flaking bark off the trees, wear a hardhat. Know 
that they're not flaking chips, they're flaking planks and you could sustain a 
head injury if one hit you. The female flew to the area of the bathrooms that 
serve the group picnic areas and fire pits and then disappeared. She was long 
gone when I unknowingly walked under the nest tree and heard the babies 
clamoring in the hole five feet over my head. A later Mom's moth delivery 
caused one of the little ones to be visible in the shadowy depths of the cavity 
as Mom clinged to the cavity entrance. 

Audible RED CROSSBILLs flew overhead several times during the morning; I rarely 
saw them except for a flock of about 20 while I was at the Group Use areas 
watching the woodpeckers. Other mountain birds included CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS at 
the gravel pit north of the campground and several times over the campground, 
many Western Tanagers, Western Wood-pewees, Warbling Vireos, Mountain Chickadees, 
House Wrens, Hermit Thrushes, MacGillivray's and Yellow-rumped Warblers, 
Chipping and White-crowned Sparrows, Pine Siskins, Cassin's Finches 
and Ruby-crowned Kinglets. 

Another WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER pair is back for at least the third year in the 
same nest tree north of the campground and adjacent to the gravel pit. Reply 
for directions. 

The new pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers that I saw today are on the west side 
of SR-39 at mile 47.6, which is a tenth of a mile before (west) of the entrance 
to Monte Cristo Campground. Look for a long strand of pink tape at that spot. 
From the tape, look west into the trees approximately 35 yards for an aspen 
snag that's mostly black and brown on the lower third; it also has a strand of 
pink tape tied around the bole. The nest hole is on the north side of the 
trunk, 20 feet high, not visible from the road, and just above where the black 
and brown marks end. But you can get a profile view of both birds entering the 
cavity; they also use area trees to stage to and from the nest tree. It's good 
watching, even from the pavement. 

The Three-toed Woodpeckers are nesting in an aspen RIGHT next to the bathrooms 
that serve Group Units 1 and 2. Although the campground hasn't placed all the 
signs for the season yet, try these directions. Enter the campground and follow 
the signs to Group Unit 2. Just before you reach the group picnic areas and 
firepits on the right, you'll pass the restrooms on the left--it's a brown 
building with windows and a green roof and not a pit toilet. The woodpecker's 
nest tree is at the northeast corner of the building and is only 2 feet away 
from the eaves. The cavity faces east, which is the men's bathroom side of the 

6/18 - Clear Creek Canyon, Sevier County: NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL
This bird was heard singing about 3 weeks ago and again this week between 2:00
and 5:00 am.  The side canyon is just to the south of the Fremont Indian State
Park and Museum, along the Paiute ATV Trail.

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