Reinhard Jockel, Naturalist

Reinhard Jockel at the Wellsville HawkWatch Site Overlooking Box Elder County Sept 25, 1999. Image from Reinhard Jockel
Reinhard Jockel at the Wellsville HawkWatch Site Overlooking Box Elder County Sept 25, 1999.
Image from Reinhard Jockel
Naturalists are fading. They have been replaced by specialists-botanists, ornithologists, entomologists, geologists, or one of many other natural resource specialists. I consider myself a naturalist, or generalist. I have high interest in all of these disciplines, but do not consider myself an expert on any of them.

I’ve met a handful of other naturalists in Utah, but they are an endangered species. A few weeks ago we lost one here in Cache Valley. Reinhard Jockel was our version of John Muir. He came from Germany in the 1950s as a teenager for better educational opportunities.

I first met Reinhard in the late 1980s. Living in a tiny second story apartment, he chose a bike and boots as his only mode of transportation. With a long beard, thick German accent, and antiquated outdoor equipment including a wooden hiking staff, Reinhard became a local legend. Many birders and botanists befriended him for his local knowledge, which he was very willing to share and was awarded the Bridgerland Audubon educator award in 2012. Another contribution came from the detailed, meticulous records he kept on blooming dates for many wildflowers and migratory birds, a treasure trove of data on life’s response to our a changing climate.

Reinhard’s passion for nature’s offerings knew no boundaries. Although he only lacked a few credits to attain a PhD in botany, Reinhard abandoned his studies at UC Berkley and headed back to Cache Valley Utah to resume his independent field studies in our valley and mountains. I was one of the benefactors.

As a backcountry Ranger in the Naomi and Wellsville Wilderness, Reinhard often joined me for a free ride to his beloved mountains. I welcomed him knowing he would add to my knowledge base on all wildlife and plants we encountered- birds, butterflies, wildflowers, tiger salamanders, leopard frogs- whatever might cross our paths. In our years together, we kept track of the dwindling populations of pica and amphibians, goshawks, and a few other species of special concern.

Occasionally we would happen onto a rarity that made Reinhard dance with delight. Following a long, rigorous hike into the high country of Naomi wilderness, we found ourselves at the base of Mt. Elmer cliffs. “An Alp lily”! His excitement couldn’t be contained. This beauty is circumpolar found in high latitudes and altitudes around the globe. It reminded him of his homeland alpine heights.

Another discovery came on our hike into Whitepine Lake above Tony Grove. Reinhard was ecstatic to discovered a Whipple’s penstemon growing along the trail, a delicious surprise! Others came- orchids, gentians, new butterfly and bird species expanded my list.

Two weeks ago, Reinhard became part of his beloved earth in the Logan cemetery. He has good company with 58 species of birds recorded within its confines. The Bridgerland Audubon has planned a Reinhard memorial bird outing 9 am on February 5th beginning at his grave. See more detail on our website.

This is Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I am totally Wild about Utah!

Pictures: From Reinhard Jockel
Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Kevin Colver,
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Reihard Jockel was the recipient of the 2014 Carl Johnson Education Award from Bridgerland Audubon Society,

Reihard Jockel was a member of the 200 club maintained by the Bridgerland Audubon Society, The 200 club recognizes those who have recorded seeing 200 bird species in one calendar year within the county borders.

Click to view pdf of Reinhard’s Obituary as found on

McCollum, Charles, Legendary local naturalist Reinhard Jockel dies at 80, HJNews, December 22, 2021,

Reinhard Memorial Birding Field Trip, Feb 5, 2022, Meet Saturday, Feb 5, 9 am at the “Weeping Woman” statue near the center of the Logan Cemetery,

Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys: Wild Turkey Tom Courtesy Pixabay, Biggles55 Contributor & Photographer
Wild Turkey Tom
Courtesy Pixabay
Biggles55 Contributor & Photographer
It’s turkey time, and time to give thanks for this great bird! There is much to learn beyond stuffing them full of stuffing. In my younger years when hunting was a major part of our Michigan culture, I was forewarned that the wile wild turkey was a formidable opponent for the small game hunter.

I’ve had many turkey encounters beyond eating their deliciousness. Our little town of Smithfield was held at bay by four huge Toms who terrorized a neighborhood with their testosterone-fueled aggressiveness. This followed by two toms in Logan who gave merry chase to police officers that attempted to coral them as they were attractive nuisances at the Main and Center intersection. One unfortunately took refuge in a butcher’s shop. In the wild, I was surprised to find large flocks roosting in trees reminding me of passenger pigeon stories when their massive, collective weight could break limbs. On a Christmas bird count, I witnessed a near 200 yard line of single file turkeys traipsing through deep snow, like a herd of bison plowing through prairie drifts.

Wild Turkeys: Rio Grande Turkey Tom, Meleagris gallopavo, Courtesy US FWS, Robert H. Burton, Photographer,
Rio Grande Turkey Tom
Meleagris gallopavo
Courtesy US FWS
Robert H. Burton, Photographer
Anyone who has the opportunity to meet these animals will tell you that they are highly intelligent birds full of playful and unique personalities. They are incredibly curious and inquisitive and enjoy exploring their surroundings. Turkeys are very social including human companionship. Researchers have found that when a turkey is removed from its rafter (flock that is), they will squawk in obvious protest until reunited. Turkeys have a refined “language” of yelps and cackles, with more than 20 unique vocalizations. They mourn the death of a flock member and so acutely anticipate pain that domestic breeds have had heart attacks after watching their feathered mates take that fatal step towards Thanksgiving dinner.

A bit more turkey trivia. The area of bare skin on a turkey’s throat and head vary in color depending on its level of excitement and stress. When excited, a male turkey’s head turns blue, when ready to fight it turns red. The long fleshy object over a male’s beak is called a snood. Wild turkeys can also fly 55 miles an hour and run 18 miles an hour.

The turkey was sacred in ancient Mexican cultures. The Mayans, Aztecs and Toltecs referred to the turkey as the ‘Great Xolotl’, viewing them as ‘jewelled birds’. From ceremony and food to clothing and companionship, their winged friends have always held significance in their lives. In the ancient Southwest, as elsewhere, human-avian relationships had important social, ritual, economic, and political dimensions.

Wild Turkeys were nearly hunted to extinction in large parts of North America with only 1,900 known to remain in the 1930’s. When European settlers arrived in Utah, none remained. Merriam’s wild turkeys from Colorado were reintroduced into S. Utah in the 1950’s from Colorado, creating an established population that has spread into several parts of Utah. In 1989, a second subspecies- the Rio Grande turkey, was successfully established in Utah’s Washington County. So as you give thanks before partaking in the TG feast, please include the turkey in your many blessings.

Jack Green for the Bridgerland Audubon Society, and I’m thankful for Utah and its wild turkeys.

Wild Turkeys at the mouth of Smithfield Canyon, across from Mack Park, Nov 22, 2009, Courtesy & © Lyle Bingham

Picture: Courtesy US FWS, Robert H Burton, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Vince Guaraldi
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Zion National Park, Utah – Wild Turkey Mating Dance, “pkerikno” Photographer ‘Eric Def Films, Grandpa Pete Studio Production…’

Bingham, Lyle, Read by Linda Kervin, Wild Turkeys – Recently Moved to Utah, Wild About Utah, November 19, 2009,

Utah Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF),

Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, Guide to North American Birds, National Audubon,

Wild Turkey, Meleagris gallopavo, All About Birds, The Cornell Lab of Ornithology,

Rio Grande and Merriam’s wild turkey use areas in Utah, USA, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, Conservation Biology Institute, Feb 7, 2011 (Last modified May 13, 2011),

The Wonders of Bird Migration

The Wonders of Bird Migration: Geese in Formation, Courtesy Pixabay Manfred Antranias Zimmer, Photographer
Geese in Formation
Courtesy Pixabay
Manfred Antranias Zimmer, Photographer
As I watch waves of migrant birds move through our valley, beginning in mid-July with rufous humming birds 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.

In the past two decades, our understanding of the navigational and physiological feats that enable birds to cross-immense oceans, fly above the highest mountains, or remain in unbroken flight for months has exploded. What has been learned of these migrations is nothing short of extraordinary.

Bird migration entails almost unfathomable endurance, like a sparrow sized sandpiper that flies nonstop from Canada to Venezuela- the equivalent of running 126 consecutive marathons without food, water, or rest- avoiding dehydration by drinking moisture from its own muscles and organs, while orienting itself using the earth’s magnetic field through a form of quantum entanglement that made Einstein queasy.

Crossing the Pacific Ocean in nine days of nonstop flight, as some birds do, leaves little time for sleep, but migrants can put half their brains to sleep for a few seconds at a time, alternating sides- and their reaction time actually improves.

Birds add muscle when and where it’s needed, and shrink it away when the task is completed. Barred godwits lose their entire digestive system for flight. They burn fuel with extraordinary efficiency, qualities that would make endocrinologists, bodybuilders and weight loss gurus salivate. Birds can pack on fat without obesity’s downsides, add muscle when and where it’s needed, and burn fuel with extraordinary efficiency. Most of their fuel comes from omega 3 fatty acids gained by eating certain crustaceans and other invertebrates along the way. These fats also provide water and assist with protein digestion and synthesis

Birds have intricate air sacks connected to their lungs allowing 90% efficiency in capturing oxygen, far beyond the human respiratory system capability. This is combined with super-efficient hemoglobin molecules. Pulmonary embolism, which I recently experienced, is unknown in migratory birds. Might these remarkable beings have something to tell myself and medical science?
Regarding navigation, in addition to sight and smell, it has been recently discovered that when a photon of blue light strikes crypto chrome in the bird’s eyes which it becomes magnetized through quantum entanglement allowing them to see the earth’s magnetic lines. That’s amazing! Much of this information is from “A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds” by Scott Weidensaul, a beautifully written book you must read.

Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon Society and I’m wild about Utah

The Wonders of Bird Migration
Picture: Courtesy Pixabay Manfred Antranias Zimmer, Photographer
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Weidensaul, Scott, A World on the Wing: The Global Odyssey of Migratory Birds, W. W. Norton & Company, March 30, 2021,

Greene, Jack, Migration, Wild About Utah, September 24, 2018,

Hellstern, Ron, Autumn Migrations, Wild About Utah, October 16, 2017,

Cane, James, Ladybird Beetle Migration, Wild About Utah, November 18, 2010,

Strand, Holly, Heading South, Wild About Utah, October 28, 2010,

Strand, Holly, Spring Migration, Wild About Utah, April 28, 2009,

The Great Salt Lake’s Importance for Birds

Decreasing water levels in the southern arm of the Great Salt Lake expose microbialite communities that are normally underwater. Courtesy USGS, Hannah McIlwain, Photographer
Decreasing water levels in the southern arm of the Great Salt Lake expose microbialite communities that are normally underwater.
Courtesy USGS, Hannah McIlwain, Photographer
I first met the Great Salt Lake in 1964 with two Central Michigan University 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. The Great Salt Lake’s Importance

This saltwater marvel is the largest wetland area in the American West. Its 400,000 acres of wetlands provide habitat for over 230 bird species traveling from the tip of South America, north to Canada’s Northwest Territories and as far west as Siberia. These wetlands and surrounding mudflats are vital habitat for 8-10 million individual migratory birds with many species gathering at the Lake in larger populations than anywhere else on the planet.

In 1991 the Great Salt Lake was declared a site of “hemispheric importance,” the highest level of designation given to a site by the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network. The Reserve conserves shorebird habitat through a network of key sites across the Americas. Salt Lake receives the largest percentage of the world’s population of migrating Eared Grebes, nearly one-third of Wilson’s Phalaropes, more than half of American Avocets, and 37 percent of Black-necked Stilts. The lake’s shoreline, playas and mudflats also support 21 percent of the North American breeding population of Snowy Plovers, a species identified as one of greatest conservation needs by Utah’s Wildlife Action Plan.

These shorebirds are among nature’s most ambitious, long-distance migrants. But their numbers are dropping quickly. Shorebirds are showing the most dramatic declines among all bird groups. Species that undertake hemispheric migrations rely on specific habitats and food sources to survive, but these resources are increasingly under threat from human disturbance including habitat loss and degradation, over-harvesting, increasing predation, and climate change. As humans have continued to alter the landscape, shorebird populations continue to drop, with accelerated declines in recent decades.

Of 52 shorebird species that regularly breed in North America, 90% are predicted to experience an increase in risk of extinction. This includes 28 species already considered at high risk, and 10 imperiled species that face even greater risk.

At the base of Salt Lake’s food chain are microbialites, underwater reef-like rock mounds created by millions of microbes. These structures and their microbial mats form the base of the entire Great Salt Lake ecosystem, serving as a primary food source for brine shrimp and brine flies, which are the main food source for these aquatic birds. Falling water levels exposing the microbialites to air could trigger a collapse in the lake’s food chain according to a July study by the Utah Geological Survey.

So we humans aren’t the only one’s suffering from our disappearing Lake. Thank goodness we have awakened to this extraordinary resource found on our doorstep with many organizations and agencies attempting to save what remains for our health, wealth, and for the millions of threatened feathered friends that grace our skies, and our lives. Last May, Utah Governor Cox declared 2021 the year honoring shorebirds. We can do our part by taking action on conserving water and energy.

Jack Greene for Bridgerland Audubon Society and I’m wild about Utah and its magnificent great lake.

The Great Salt Lake’s Importance
Audio: Courtesy & © Kevin Colver
Text: Jack Greene, Bridgerland Audubon,
Additional Reading: Lyle W Bingham, Webmaster, and Jack Greene, Author, Bridgerland Audubon,

Additional Reading:

Jack Greene’s Postings on Wild About Utah,

Strand, Holly, Important Bird Areas, Wild About Utah, October 21, 2008,

Strand, Holly, One of the World’s Largest Shrimp Buffets, Wild About Utah, June 3, 2008,

Chambless, Ross, When the Great Salt Lake we know is gone, what shall we name it?, Commentary, The Salt Lake Tribune, August 19, 2021, [Accessed September 19, 2021]

Shorebirds are among nature’s most ambitious, long-distance migrants. Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network (WHSRN),

Drought Negatively Impacting Great Salt Lake Microbialites and Ecosystem, Utah Geological Survey (UGS), Utah Department of Natural Resources, State of Utah, July 15, 2021,

Chidsey, T.C., Jr., Eby, D.E., Vanden Berg, M.D., and Sprinkel, D.A., 2021, Microbial carbonate reservoirs and analogs
from Utah: Utah Geological Survey Special Study 168, 112 p., 14 plates, 1 appendix,

Riding, Robert, Definition: Microbialites, Stromatolites, and Thrombolites, Encyclopedia of Geobiology, SpringerLink, Springer Nature Switzerland AG. Part of Springer Nature.,

Romero, Simon, Booming Utah’s Weak Link: Surging Air Pollution, The New York Times, Sept. 7, 2021,

2015–2025 Wildlife Action Plan, Division of Wildlife Resources, Department of Natural Resources, State of Utah, July 1 2015,

Governor Cox Declares 2021 as Year of the Shorebird at Great Salt Lake, Declaration celebrates 30th anniversary of Great Salt Lake as a Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network Site, Western Water News, National Audubon, May 12, 2021,
See also:

Gov. Cox Issues Drought Executive Order,, March 17, 2021,

Written by Hall Crimmel & Dan Bedford, Filmed and Edited by Isaac Goeckeritz, iUtah EPSCor, Rachel Carsen Center Environment & Society,
Based on the book Desert Water; The Future of Utah’s Water Resources edited by Hall Crimmel and published by University of Utah Press, 2014

Carney, Stephanie, Vanden Berg, Michael D., GeoSights: Microbialites of Bridger Bay, Antelope Island, Great Salt Lake, Survey Notes, Utah Geological Survey, State of Utah, January 1, 2022,