The Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout, Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri
Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout
Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri
Courtesy USDA Forest Service
 
Cutthroat Trout A “no-trouts-land” on the Logan River, Copyright (c) Chadd VanZanten, Photographer vanzanten-cutthroat_trout Cutthroat Trout on the Logan River, Copyright (c) Chadd VanZanten, Photographer
 
Colorado River Cutthroat Trout, Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticusColorado River Cutthroat Trout
Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus
Courtesy US BLM Rawlins, WY Office
 

Utah streams offer excellent year-round fishing opportunities for every level of angler. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Utah’s waters are home to approximately 80 different species of fish, but it is the trout fishing that is the biggest attraction for fishermen. Of the trout species swimming in our rivers and lakes, the cutthroat trout is a local favorite and the only trout native to the state.

The cutthroat trout represents the most diverse trout species in North America. They are a freshwater fish of the Salmonidae family that live in cold, clear streams and lakes across the west. Cutthroat trout are distinguished from other trout species by two red slashes prominently striping the lower jaw after which they are named. All cutthroat trout share a single common ancestor, but historic population isolation gave rise to 14 subspecies, each endemic to their own geographic region and river drainage.

There are four subspecies that exist in Utah. Only three of these are considered native to the state: the Colorado River cutthroat, the Yellowstone cutthroat, and Utah’s state fish, the Bonneville cutthroat. In Utah, the Colorado River cutthroat trout can be found in some of the smaller streams and tributaries of the Green River, the San Juan River, and the Colorado River drainages. Their bright coloration and posterior black spotting distinguish these cutthroats from others.

Pure, native Yellowstone cutthroat trout are present in small numbers in the streams of the North Slope of the Raft River Mountains in northwestern Utah. However, this subspecies is more widely distributed across the state due to extensive stocking. Yellowstone cutthroat trout can be differentiated by larger-sized black spots concentrated near the tail and their gold, gray, and copper tones.

The Bonneville cutthroat trout evolved in the Bonneville Basin of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada. Its primary ancestors were a population of lake dwelling cutthroat trout living in the late-Pleistocene aged Lake Bonneville. The Bonneville cutthroat trout is less vividly colored and has spots that are more sparsely and evenly distributed across the body than other cutthroats. Thought to be extinct in the 1970s, populations of the Bonneville cutthroat trout are now estimated to exist in around 35% of their historic range, including the nearby Weber and Provo Rivers.

Like so many species, the native cutthroat trout of Utah are under significant pressure due to drought, habitat loss, disease, and competition with non-native species. Though only the Colorado River cutthroat is included on the Utah State Sensitive species list, conservation of all of Utah’s native cutthroat populations is a focal point for state wildlife resource managers.

For Wild About Utah, I’m Anna Bengtson of Park City.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy USDA Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management & Chadd VanZanten.
Text: Anna Bengston

Sources & Additional Reading:

“2014 Utah Fishing Guidebook.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2014_pdfs/2014_fishing_low.pdf.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclut.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Native Trout Species. The Western Native Trout Campaign, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.westerntrout.org/trout/profiles/bonneville.htm.

“Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclpl.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchCutthroatTrout.aspx.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclar.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii).” Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_010039.pdf.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet.” Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet. U.S Geological Survey, 14 June 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=890.

“Endangered Species of the Mountain-Prairie Region.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/fish/bct/.

“Fishes.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/SearchSelection.asp?Group=OSTEICHTHYES&Species=VERT.

“Native Cutthroat of Utah.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog/native-cutthroat-of-utah.

“Utah’s Native Trout.” Utah Fly Fishing Club, 24 Dec. 2011. Web. 7 July 2014: http://utahflyfishingclub.com/2011/12/24/utahs-native-trout/.

“Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclbo.
Brown, Dylan. “Shocking habitat projects help increase native Cutthroat populations.” Standard Examiner, 14 May 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://go.standard.net/Recreation/2014/05/13/Shocking-habitat-projects-help-increase-native-Cutthroat-populations.html.

Chorney, Chad. “For the Love of Cutthroat.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/love-cutthroat-trout.

American Robin

American Robin
American Robin
Turdus migratorius
Courtesy US FWS, images.fws.gov
Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, Photographer
 

Robin with Chicks in NestAmerican Robin
Turdus migratorius
Courtesy US FWS, images.fws.gov
Lee Karney, Photographer
 

Robin with Chicks in NestRobin with Chicks in Nest
Courtesy US FWS, images.fws.gov
James C. Leopold, Photographer

The American robin with its abundance, red breast, and loud song is one of the most recognizable backyard birds in North America. For many of us the robin – or Turdus migratorius – is also thought of as a herald of spring. So why is it that we still occasionally see them in our wintry Utah backyards?

Seasonal bird migration can be triggered by a number of things, but the two main drivers are food supply and nesting habitat. In spring and summer the birds move northward to take advantage of insect hatches, budding plants, and the plethora of nesting sites. Then, as food sources dwindle in fall, the birds move southward to areas where the necessary resources are still plentiful.

The distances birds migrate in order to access these resources can range widely. Therefore, birds are generally categorized as being short-, medium-, or long-distance migrants. Robins are considered short-distance migrants. While their range spans all of Canada and the United States extending down into Mexico, most robins do not travel far from their breeding grounds in winter and may not leave at all. Only the populations that breed and reside on the edges of this range will migrate seasonally.

The robin’s varied diet and behavioral adaptability are the primary reasons these short-migratory or non-migratory patterns are possible. Robins are preferably ground foragers, feasting on insects and earthworms in the spring and summer months. Yet, during the fall and winter, robins eat a fruit-based diet. They track this seasonal food source in flocks, abandoning their summer individualistic and territorial behavior. These flocks – or roosting aggregates – also help them survive the cold winter temperatures. As a result, robins are able to cope with the ground freezing, the disappearance of their preferred food source, and the harsh winter weather.

Returning to our original question: is the American robin truly a sign of spring here in Utah? Is it strange to see this bird in our backyards during the winter months? The simple answer is no. Robins can be found year round almost anywhere south of Canada. While they may migrate nomadically, staying or leaving areas as weather and snow cover affect their food supply, there could be some keeping us company in Utah all winter.

For Wild About Utah, I’m Anna Bengtson.

Credits:
Image: Courtesy US FWS, Lee Karney, James C. Leopold, Photographers
Text: Anna Bengston

Sources & Additional Reading:

American Robin Profile, Utah Birds http://utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdIndex.htm

American Robin, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_robin/id

American Robin, The Birds of North America Online http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/462/articles/introduction

Studying Migration, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/migration/

Migration Patterns, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/migration/patterns

Where Have all the Robins Gone?, Migration, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/faq/master_folder/migration/document_view

Snow Depth Survey, The Great Backyard Bird Count http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/science-stories/past-stories/snow-depth-survey

Winter Robins, The Great Backyard Bird Count http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/science-stories/past-stories/is-that-winter-flock-of-robins-in-your-yard-unusual

The Cutthroat Trout

Yellowstone Cutthroat, Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri, Courtesy USDA Forest Service, http://www.fs.fed.us/
Yellowstone Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki bouvieri
Courtesy USDA Forest Service
 
Cutthroat Trout A “no-trouts-land” on the Logan River, Copyright (c) Chadd VanZanten, Photographer vanzanten-cutthroat_trout Cutthroat Trout on the Logan River, Copyright (c) Chadd VanZanten, Photographer
 
Colorado River Cutthroat, Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus, Courtesy US BLM Rawlins, WY Office, http://www.blm.gov/wy/st/en/field_offices/Rawlins/fisheries.htmlColorado River Cutthroat
Oncorhynchus clarki pleuriticus
Courtesy US BLM Rawlins, WY Office
 

Utah streams offer excellent year-round fishing opportunities for every level of angler. According to the Department of Natural Resources, Utah’s waters are home to approximately 80 different species of fish, but it is the trout fishing that is the biggest attraction for fishermen. Of the trout species swimming in our rivers and lakes, the cutthroat trout is a local favorite and the only trout native to the state.

The cutthroat trout represents the most diverse trout species in North America. They are a freshwater fish of the Salmonidae family that live in cold, clear streams and lakes across the west. Cutthroat trout are distinguished from other trout species by two red slashes prominently striping the lower jaw after which they are named. All cutthroat trout share a single common ancestor, but historic population isolation gave rise to 14 subspecies, each endemic to their own geographic region and river drainage.

There are four subspecies that exist in Utah. Only three of these are considered native to the state: the Colorado River cutthroat, the Yellowstone cutthroat, and Utah’s state fish, the Bonneville cutthroat. In Utah, the Colorado River cutthroat trout can be found in some of the smaller streams and tributaries of the Green River, the San Juan River, and the Colorado River drainages. Their bright coloration and posterior black spotting distinguish these cutthroats from others.

Pure, native Yellowstone cutthroat trout are present in small numbers in the streams of the North Slope of the Raft River Mountains in northwestern Utah. However, this subspecies is more widely distributed across the state due to extensive stocking. Yellowstone cutthroat trout can be differentiated by larger-sized black spots concentrated near the tail and their gold, gray, and copper tones.

The Bonneville cutthroat trout evolved in the Bonneville Basin of Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada. Its primary ancestors were a population of lake dwelling cutthroat trout living in the late-Pleistocene aged Lake Bonneville. The Bonneville cutthroat trout is less vividly colored and has spots that are more sparsely and evenly distributed across the body than other cutthroats. Thought to be extinct in the 1970s, populations of the Bonneville cutthroat trout are now estimated to exist in around 35% of their historic range, including the nearby Weber and Provo Rivers.

Like so many species, the native cutthroat trout of Utah are under significant pressure due to drought, habitat loss, disease, and competition with non-native species. Though only the Colorado River cutthroat is included on the Utah State Sensitive species list, conservation of all of Utah’s native cutthroat populations is a focal point for state wildlife resource managers.

For Wild About Utah, I’m Anna Bengtson of Park City.

Credits:
Images: Courtesy USDA Forest Service, US Bureau of Land Management & Chadd VanZanten.
Text: Anna Bengston

Sources & Additional Reading:

“2014 Utah Fishing Guidebook.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, 1 Jan. 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2014_pdfs/2014_fishing_low.pdf.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclut.

“Bonneville Cutthroat Trout.” Native Trout Species. The Western Native Trout Campaign, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.westerntrout.org/trout/profiles/bonneville.htm.

“Colorado River Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclpl.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Colorado Parks and Wildlife, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://cpw.state.co.us/learn/Pages/ResearchCutthroatTrout.aspx.

“Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclar.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii).” Natural Resources Conservation Service, 1 Jan. 2007. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/nrcs143_010039.pdf.

“Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet.” Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) – FactSheet. U.S Geological Survey, 14 June 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://nas.er.usgs.gov/queries/FactSheet.aspx?speciesID=890.

“Endangered Species of the Mountain-Prairie Region.” U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/fish/bct/.

“Fishes.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/SearchSelection.asp?Group=OSTEICHTHYES&Species=VERT.

“Native Cutthroat of Utah.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 18 Dec. 2012. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog/native-cutthroat-of-utah.

“Utah’s Native Trout.” Utah Fly Fishing Club, 24 Dec. 2011. Web. 7 July 2014: http://utahflyfishingclub.com/2011/12/24/utahs-native-trout/.

“Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout.” Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. n.d. Web. 7 July 2014: http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=oncoclbo.
Brown, Dylan. “Shocking habitat projects help increase native Cutthroat populations.” Standard Examiner, 14 May 2014. Web. 7 July 2014: http://go.standard.net/Recreation/2014/05/13/Shocking-habitat-projects-help-increase-native-Cutthroat-populations.html.

Chorney, Chad. “For the Love of Cutthroat.” Trout Unlimited Blog, 29 Jan. 2013. Web. 7 July 2014: http://www.tu.org/blog-posts/love-cutthroat-trout.

Robins in Winter

American Robin
American Robin
Turdus migratorius
Courtesy US FWS, images.fws.gov
Dr. Thomas G. Barnes, Photographer
 

Robin with Chicks in NestAmerican Robin
Turdus migratorius
Courtesy US FWS, images.fws.gov
Lee Karney, Photographer
 

Robin with Chicks in NestRobin with Chicks in Nest
Courtesy US FWS, images.fws.gov
James C. Leopold, Photographer

The American robin with its abundance, red breast, and loud song is one of the most recognizable backyard birds in North America. For many of us the robin – or Turdus migratorius – is also thought of as a herald of spring. So why is it that we still occasionally see them in our wintry Utah backyards?

Seasonal bird migration can be triggered by a number of things, but the two main drivers are food supply and nesting habitat. In spring and summer the birds move northward to take advantage of insect hatches, budding plants, and the plethora of nesting sites. Then, as food sources dwindle in fall, the birds move southward to areas where the necessary resources are still plentiful.

The distances birds migrate in order to access these resources can range widely. Therefore, birds are generally categorized as being short-, medium-, or long-distance migrants. Robins are considered short-distance migrants. While their range spans all of Canada and the United States extending down into Mexico, most robins do not travel far from their breeding grounds in winter and may not leave at all. Only the populations that breed and reside on the edges of this range will migrate seasonally.

The robin’s varied diet and behavioral adaptability are the primary reasons these short-migratory or non-migratory patterns are possible. Robins are preferably ground foragers, feasting on insects and earthworms in the spring and summer months. Yet, during the fall and winter, robins eat a fruit-based diet. They track this seasonal food source in flocks, abandoning their summer individualistic and territorial behavior. These flocks – or roosting aggregates – also help them survive the cold winter temperatures. As a result, robins are able to cope with the ground freezing, the disappearance of their preferred food source, and the harsh winter weather.

Returning to our original question: is the American robin truly a sign of spring here in Utah? Is it strange to see this bird in our backyards during the winter months? The simple answer is no. Robins can be found year round almost anywhere south of Canada. While they may migrate nomadically, staying or leaving areas as weather and snow cover affect their food supply, there could be some keeping us company in Utah all winter.

For Wild About Utah, I’m Anna Bengtson.

Credits:
Image: Courtesy US FWS, Lee Karney, James C. Leopold, Photographers
Text: Anna Bengston

Sources & Additional Reading:

American Robin Profile, Utah Birds http://utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdIndex.htm

American Robin, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/american_robin/id

American Robin, The Birds of North America Online http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/462/articles/introduction

Studying Migration, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/migration/

Migration Patterns, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/studying/migration/patterns

Where Have all the Robins Gone?, Migration, Cornell Lab of Ornithology http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/faq/master_folder/migration/document_view

Snow Depth Survey, The Great Backyard Bird Count http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/science-stories/past-stories/snow-depth-survey

Winter Robins, The Great Backyard Bird Count http://www.birdsource.org/gbbc/science-stories/past-stories/is-that-winter-flock-of-robins-in-your-yard-unusual