Birds

NPS/Michael Quinn

Many species are struggling with human development and climate change, but California condors, previously on the brink of extinction, are making a comeback in Utah.

The Hunters Helping Condors program incentivizes hunting with non-lead ammunition to help protect an endangered species of bird, the California Condor.  This large vulture almost went extinct and has since been reintroduced in several parts of North America, including southern Utah.  Condors feed on carrion, including meat from hunted animals, and can develop fatal lead poisoning when exposed to remains shot with lead bullets.  With only around 500 California Condors alive today, reducing lead exposure is crucial to the species’ recovery.

Wild About Utah: the wonders of bird migration

Oct 20, 2021
Antranias / Pixabay

As I watch waves of migrant birds move through our valley, beginning in mid-July with rufous hummingbirds and a few early shorebirds, followed by raptors pouring over the Wellsvilles mountains in mid-August, then September when many of our songbirds head for the tropics, and lastly in November come the waterfowl- ducks, geese, and swans stream through by the thousands, I am thunderstruck. The remarkable physiology that allows our avifauna to find their way through storm and unimaginable distances to their destinations defies logic. Fraught with peril, it is the most dangerous part of their existence since leaving the nest.

A rake leans against a tree trunk.
Pixabay

Fall yard cleanup can be a drag, especially as the days get shorter and the weather gets dreary. Luckily, when it comes to making your yard a haven for wildlife over the winter, experts suggest messier is better.

Wild About Utah: sermons of birds

Oct 5, 2021
Pixabay


There is a story I like of an old Zen master who one day was asked to speak wisdom to his acolytes as they were sitting outside. He obliged. He rose and walked to the front of the students. He waited a moment to think carefully about his words, opened his mouth, and then just as he was about to speak, a bird in a nearby tree sang its beautiful warbling song. The master did not interrupt but instead simply listened and waited until the song finished, and the bird had flown away. When it had, he finally spoke: “The sermon has been delivered,” he acknowledged, and took his seat once more.

The leaves are changing, the weather is cooling off and many birds are beginning to fly south for winter. There are many challenges birds face as they migrate. But there are ways people can help make birds' journeys a bit safer. 

Roger Lewis / US FWS

I first met the Great Salt Lake in 1964 with two CMU college buddies on our way to Los Angeles. We heard you could float in its magical waters. Sure enough it worked and we bobbed in its gentle waves, oblivious to the many other virtues of this extraordinary water body.

Aimee Van Tatenhove

Hummingbirds are tiny and vibrant visitors to bird feeders, but considering they’re so small, researchers must rely on special means to study them.

Pixabay

Last week, Logan Mayor Holly Daines signed a proclamation reminding residents and businesses to reduce their light pollution to help migrating birds.

Pixabay

Utah State University’s Ecology Center hosted a speaker this week, who covered bird migration and one of the world’s most prevalent invasive species: the domestic cat.

Vicki DeLoach, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Millions of birds migrate each year and many take a path that leads them through Utah. Because these cross-continental journeys take so much energy, challenges like extreme weather, food shortages, or light pollution, are often fatal for birds.

Roger McDonough

While winter may not seem like a prime time to see birds, February is an excellent month to view bald eagles in Utah. Aimee Van Tatenhove went birding over the weekend and reports on her experience. 

Wild Utah Project

Black rosy-finches are elusive alpine birds that have remained a mystery until recently. Now, researchers are using citizen science to learn more about this unusual species.

Pixabay

Each year the public is invited to count birds for the Christmas Bird Count. While some can be counted from the backyard, counting others requires a special outing.

Aimee Van Tatenhove

With the days getting colder, getting outside can be tough. Counting birds in the name of science is a great way to spend some time outside, or just looking out your window.

A Moral Dilemma

Jun 29, 2020
Rob Soto

I had a moral dilemma.

 

I was driving home from work on a small back road as I usually do to avoid traffic. As I was heading north, two juvenile robins swooped down across the road, as they normally do, in the path of an oncoming red truck. The first robin managed to cut upwards fast enough to dodge the truck’s hood, but the second broadsided the truck, hitting its door, and fell to the ground crumpled.

A Pretty Decent Salve

Jun 1, 2020
Rob Soto

 

I saw a bird miss the line the other day. I had never seen that before. Truth is, birds sticking the landing was so ingrained in my very concept of a bird that I had not even considered it before. It was pretty funny.

 

Shifting Habitats: Bird Migration And Climate Change

May 26, 2020
Frank Retes, Southern Arizona


The North American Breeding Bird Survey, a large-scale citizen science project started in 1966, is the basis of a newly-released study on migratory bird habitats and climate change. 

Felines And Feathered Friends: Nature Versus Nurture

Dec 23, 2019
Cat looking longingly at humming bird
Sponchia, pixabay.com

Several years ago, researchers with the Smithsonian Institute and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service estimated that domestic and wild cats pounce on one to four billion birds a year. The estimated numbers of birds killed by cats exceeded all mortality from window strikes, roadkill, pesticides, pollution, wind, energy and all other unnatural causes combined.

Bill Thompson / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Northeast Region

Cutler Marsh and the Bear River provide wonderful habitat for birds - and bird-watchers - in Cache Valley. Utah State University’s beautifully treed campus also has nice habitat for birds, but at a cost: perishing when hitting a window.

Shorebirds
Wikimedia Commons

Utah has long been known as a resting place for migrating bird species, however this year it’s receiving special recognition as the Utah government declares May the Month of the Bird.  Officials say that May is an ideal month to do this because of the migratory patterns of birds.

Native plants benefit bird species across the U.S.
Flickr

The National Audubon Society has just launched a new citizen-science project called Plants for Birds. The project calls for individuals across the U.S. to replace turf and non-native landscapes with native plants, which are important to the life cycle of native bird species.  

The Language Of Ravens on Wild About Utah

Feb 23, 2018
The Common Raven
National Parks Service

I was three days downriver and hadn’t seen a soul since shoving my canoe away from the boat ramp outside of town. The only sounds accompanying my solitude were the white noise of rapid water and the echoes of thoughts pin-balling around my mind—that is, until the third morning when, stooped over the small, blue roar of my cook stove, I was startled by an unfamiliar sound. 

Winter bird sightings in Utah
Wikimedia Commons

The Great Backyard Bird Count takes place every February. One of the key differences between this event and the Christmas Bird Count, is that the Great Backyard Bird Count is global and may capture some of those early migrants returning for the Spring.

Over 100 Years Of Bird Counting

Dec 28, 2017
jber.jb.mil

The 118th Annual Christmas Bird Count, organized by the Audubon Society, is in full swing. The event dates back to Christmas Day 1900 and has been held in Cache Valley since 1955. 

In The Evolution of Beauty, Richard O. Prum’s award-winning career as an ornithologist and his lifelong passion for bird-watching come together in a thrilling intellectual adventure. Scientific dogma holds that every detail of an animal’s mating displays—every spot on the peacock’s tail—is an advertisement of its genetic material superiority to potential mates. But thirty years of research and fieldwork around the world led Prum to question this idea.

Bird Benefits on Wild About Utah

May 10, 2017
Ron Hellstern

Birds may not be as exciting as certain athletic events or blockbuster films, but have you ever considered the many benefits they provide to ecosystems and humans? They control insect and rodent populations; they eat weed seeds; they pollinate crops, flowers, fruits. They are a major food source, consider chickens, turkeys, game birds, water fowl, as well as their eggs. 

The Biology Of Bird Feeders

Dec 12, 2016
Travis Wilcoxen

People love to feed birds. It’s a great way to bring wild animals right into your backyard, and it’s a big industry, too, with more than $3 billion dollars spent annually on birdseed alone. There are hopper feeders, suet feeders, hummingbird feeders, and many more. There’s even a market dedicated to keeping squirrels out of the feeders, with products for sale like the Squirrel Be Gone and Squirrel Buster Plus. As popular as bird feeding is, few people think about negative impacts that the feeding could have on the birds.

fws.gov

The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is one of the over 550 refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System. The sanctuary is open all year for visitors to witness migrating birds throughout the seasons.

Potent Bird Flu Spotted In West, Utah May Be Next

Jan 5, 2015
turkey
www.markey.senate.gov

Utah officials are warning hunters and owners of backyard poultry flocks to be wary of a highly-pathogenic strain of avian influenza virus that could appear in the state.

Though currently no affected birds have been reported, Utah is on the migratory path of affected animals, which have been found in Oregon, California and Washington.

Dr. Warren Hess, a veterinarian for the state, said the virus is carried by water fowl, but the effects are felt by domesticated birds.

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