8 August 2020

State Bird

August 3rd, 2020
Black-capped Chickadee (with insect), East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 03 August 2020.
Black-capped Chickadee (with insect).

Utah’s state bird is, rather peculiarly, the California Gull. These gulls are literally legendary, credited with saving the crops of settlers from the East (in what is now the Salt Lake City area) back in the 1840s. I’ve seen a few California Gulls in town, but during my hikes with the captain, I see a lot more of the state bird of Maine, the place I left to move to SLC—where I arrived exactly a year ago today.

I’m talking about the Black-capped Chickadee.

Black-caps have a subtly different accent out here, especially in their “gargling” call (far more declarative and far-carrying out here), but their behavior is just the same. Problem is, I don’t have chickadees flitting around tall trees of the sort dog and I hiked through in Maine; rather, this part of the high desert has wide, open spaces populated by low-slung scrub oak and occasional junipers.

But in the cool shade of Coyote Canyon, lined by bigtooth maples, I can occasionally grab a decent photo of a bird that doesn’t seem as skittish as most (in either state).

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Black-capped Chickadee
2. Rock Pigeon*
3. Mourning Dove*
4. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay**
5. American Robin*
6. House Finch*
7. Black-chinned Hummingbird
8. Lazuli Bunting
9. Spotted Towhee
10. Pine Siskin
11. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
12. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
13. Lesser Goldfinch
14. Cooper’s Hawk (v)

Elsewhere

15. Eurasian Collared Dove
16. California Quail

Mammals

Mountain Cottontail

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

Banded Pigeon

August 2nd, 2020
Rock Pigeon, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 02 August 2020.
Rock Pigeon.

I see more doves and pigeons here than I ever did in Maine. For one thing, there’s an extra species (Eurasian Collared Dove); for another, the pigeons here come in flocks of a hundred or more—at this time of year, at least, when they swoop and veer in huge numbers up and around the foothill canyons.

Alhough I rarely get an up-close look at them, today dog and I encountered a solitary bird perched on a rocky overlook. We stopped. It stayed, I approached nearer. It stayed. I got near enough for close-up photos, and the pigeon didn’t move. Then I noticed the blue band around it’s leg.

Not the first banded pigeon I’ve seen here, turns out. I got nothing against pigeons, though. In fact, I rather like ’em.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay (v)
2. Mourning Dove*
3. American Robin
4. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
5. House Finch**
6. Rock Pigeon*
7. Spotted Towhee
8. Black-chinned Hummingbird
9. Lazuli Bunting
10. Black-headed Grosbeak
11. Black-capped Chickadee
12. Pine Siskin (v)
13. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
14. Warbling Vireo
15. Black-throated Gray Warbler
16. Virginia’s Warbler
17. Cooper’s Hawk (v)
18. Northern Flicker

Elsewhere

19. Lesser Goldfinch
20. Black-billed Magpie

Mammals

Mountain Cottontail

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

Patch Birding

August 1st, 2020
Virginia’s Warbler, East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 01 August 2020.
Virginia’s Warbler.

I’ll admit it: I’m a patch birder. For about a decade or so I’ve regularly birded one patch or other (with a rare—and delightful—excursion to Monhegan Island, one of my favorite places on the planet). Sure, patch birders might miss out on variety, rare vagrants, long life lists. But if you really want to get to know a place, it helps to get to know individual birds when they return to their particular trees each spring.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (male), East Millcreek, Salt Lake City, Utah, 01 August 2020.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird (male).

I’m also an ear birder—that is, my very first true birding experiences involved chasing down songs until I found the birds that made ’em. (Fortunately, my ears remain more sensitive than my eyes even.)

In this new (well, almost year-old) Utah patch, I’ve gotten to know a bunch of new species, individual members of those species, their voices, their habits, their subtler sounds. Take, for instance, the Black-throated Green Warbler. Just today I confirmed that I can ID that species by its chip note. Tell you the truth, it feels kind of like a superpower.

Also today, I heard a chip note I had not yet learned. It sounded to me like a warbler’s, but it wasn’t a dry note (like the black-throated gray’s)—it had a touch of music to it. A tiny sweet tone. And then I spied the bird.

My next challenge is to be able to ID a Virginia’s Warbler by its chip. We shall see.

Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8 a.m., I hiked a few hundred feet up a mountain.

1. Rock Pigeon*
2. Lazuli Bunting
3. Mourning Dove
4. House Finch*
5. Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
6. Brewer’s Sparrow
7. Spotted Towhee
8. American Robin**
9. Black-capped Chickadee (v)
10. Black-chinned Hummingbird
11. Broad-tailed Hummingbird
12. Cooper’s Hawk
13. Virginia’s Warbler
14. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay (v)
15. Black-throated Gray Warbler
16. Pine Siskin (v)
17. Barn Swallow

Elsewhere

18. Black-billed Magpie (v)

(v) Voice only
*Also elsewhere

**Voice only elsewhere

 
Bird Report is a (sometimes intermittent) record of the birds I encounter while hiking, see while driving, or spy outside my window. —Brian Willson



3IP Logo
©1997–2020 by 3IP