A Moment to Think About Our State Bird

A Moment to Think About Our State Bird: California Gull, Courtesy and Copyright 2003 Jack Binch - All Rights Reserved
Callifornia Gull
Larus californicus
Courtesy and Copyright 2003 Jack Binch
All Rights Reserved
Hi, I am Dick Hurren from Bridgerland Audubon Society.

Utah’s state bird is is commemorated as the seagull, more accurately the the California Gull. Known in Utah for having saved the pioneers from the Mormon cricket invasion of 1848 and subsequent years, gulls hold a hallowed place in local history.

Seagull is a generic term referring to gulls of all types. Gulls we are familiar with range from the small 11-inch Bonaparte’s gull with a 32-inch wingspan to the 20-inch Herring gull with a 55-inch wingspan. They are white, grey and some have black heads. Young go through phases giving them different appearances as they mature over two to four years depending upon the species.

Many Gulls migrate to parts of Utah and some pass through in their migration to more northern regions. Ring-billed gulls are here during the fall, winter, and spring. The occasional Herring or Thayer’s gull may visit us in winter. A few black-headed Bonaparte’s gulls pass through reliably in spring and fall during migration. Upon rare occasions, we are even visited by Herrman’s, Western, Glaucous, Glaucous-winged, Mew, yellow-footed , Sabine’s, Iceland, and lesser black-backed gulls.

In spring, the California gulls and the much smaller and black-headed Franklin’s gulls return to nest. They migrate from southern states or the pacific coast and raise their young locally on islands in fresh and salt water.

Gulls clean up. They frequent garbage dumps, and irrigated, plowed or manure-covered fields. These carnivores eat insects, worms, crustaceans, fish and the occasional french fry in a parking lot. Opportunistic, they watch and raid unprotected nests of other birds, eating eggs and young. Sometimes flying singly, they are more often found in flocks. In flocks they defend against predators by harassment and intimidation.

Thayer’s and Herring gulls have been known to use tools. They have been seen dropping shellfish on asphalt or concrete roads to crack them open and eat the contents.

At the store, take a moment to think about our state bird. In the dump, and in waterways, gulls can become entrapped in six-pack rings. Do your part to prevent this by cutting up these plastic rings before disposing of them. Or better yet, buy cans loose or in boxes instead of rings.

For Wild About Utah, this has been Dick Hurren

This Wild About Utah episode originally broadcast in August 19, 2008, In Memory of Dick Hurren.

A Moment to Think About Our State Bird: Credits

Photos: Courtesy and © copyright 2003 Jack Binch, as found on www.Utahbirds.org
Additional Audio: Courtesy & Copyright Kevin Colver, Wild Sanctuary, Special Collections
Text: Lyle Bingham and Richard(Dick) Hurren, Bridgerland Audubon Society
Voice: Richard(Dick) Hurren, Bridgerland Audubon Society
A Moment to Think About Our State Bird: Additional Reading:

Utah Symbols – California gull

Thatcher, Linda, Utah State Bird – Sea Gull(The California gull, Larus californicus), Utah’s State Symbols, Utah History Encyclopedia, Utah’s Online Library, Utah State Library Division, Utah Department of Heritage & Arts, https://www.uen.org/utah_history_encyclopedia/u/UTAH_STATE_SYMBOLS.shtml

Bonaparte’s Gull, Larus philadelphia

Bonaparte’s gull Larus philadelphia, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i0600id.html

Bonaparte’s Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bonapartes_Gull

Herring Gull, Larus argentatus

Herring gull Larus argentatus, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i0510id.html

Herring Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Herring_Gull

Herring Gull(Flying Collection), UtahBirds.org, Utah County Birders, http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsD-K/HerringGull3.htm

California gull, Larus californicus

California gull Larus californicus, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/Infocenter/i0530id.html

California Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/California_Gull

California Gull(Adults Collection), UtahBirds.org, Utah County Birders, http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsA-C/CaliforniaGull.htm

California Gull(Close-up Collection), UtahBirds.org, Utah County Birders, http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsA-C/CaliforniaGull2.htm

Franklin’s gull, Larus pipixcan

Franklin’s gull Larus pipixcan, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/Infocenter/i0590id.html

Franklin’s Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Franklins_Gull

Thayer’s gull, Larus thayeri
(Note: Reclassified in 2017 as Iceland Gull Larus glaucoides)

Thayer’s gull Larus thayeri, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i0518id.html

Iceland Gull (Thayer’s), eBird, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://ebird.org/species/thagul

Iceland Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Iceland_Gull

California Gull(Juveniles Collection), UtahBirds.org, Utah County Birders, http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsS-Z/ThayersGull2.htm

Handbook of the Birds of the World 3: 609. Lynx Edicions. Larus thayeri (TSN 176828). Integrated Taxonomic Information System. Retrieved on 10 March 2006.

Ring-billed gull, Larus delawarensis

Ring-billed gull Larus delawarensis, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/Infocenter/i0540id.html

Ring-billed Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Ring-billed_Gull

Mew Gull, Larus canus

Mew gull Larus canus, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/Infocenter/i0550id.html

Mew Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Mew_Gull

Mew gull(Front Collection), UtahBirds.org, Utah County Birders, http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsL-R/MewGull.htm

Glaucous-winged Gull, Larus glaucescen

Glaucous-winged gull Larus glaucescen, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/infocenter/i0440id.html

Glaucous-winged Gull, All About Birds, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Cornell University, https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Glaucous-winged_Gull

Glaucous-winged Gull(Adults Collection), UtahBirds.org, Utah County Birders, http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsD-K/GlaucousWingedGull.htm

Sabine’s Gull, Xema sabini

Sabine’s gull Xema sabini, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, USGS, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/infocenter/i0620id.html

Sabine’s Gull(Breeding Collection), UtahBirds.org, Utah County Birders, http://www.utahbirds.org/birdsofutah/BirdsS-Z/SabinesGull.htm

Handbooks & References

Bridgerland Audubon Checklist of Birds, http://www.bridgerlandaudubon.org/checklist.htm

Sibley, David Allen. The Sibley Field Guide to Birds of Western North America ISBN 0-679-45121-8 Bull, John; Farrand, Jr., John (April 1984).

The Audubon Society Field Guide to North American Birds, Western Region. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN-10: 0679428518.

Wild Turkeys – Recently Moved to Utah

Rio Grande Turkey Tom
Meleagris gallopavo
Courtesy US FWS
http://images.fws.gov

The pilgrims had turkeys for the first Thanksgiving*, but the likelihood that turkeys roamed Utah at that time is small. Archaeologists have found turkey bones in pueblos in the south-eastern corner of the state. But, it is not known if they were domesticated or wild birds. However, like the ring-necked pheasant, and chukar partridge, more than 20,000 wild turkeys now roam Utah thanks to hunters and wildlife professionals.

Turkeys are the largest upland game bird in Utah. Toms stand 4 feet high with tails fanned. Hens stand 3 feet tall. First year birds are called Jakes and Jennies.

Three of the five sub-species of wild turkey were introduced to Utah. Eastern turkeys lived on Antelope Island from 1925 through the 1950s. The Merriam’s, from the ponderosa pine habitat of Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado were introduced in 1952. And Rio Grandes, native to cottonwood river bottoms of Texas, were introduced in 1984.

Merriam’s turkeys are blacker than the eastern turkey, with reflections of blue, bronze and purple. Tail coverts, the feathers of the lower back that cover the tail feathers, are white on a Merriam’s turkey; and buff or tan on a Rio Grande.
For protection, turkeys roost in trees, but descend to feed under or near trees during the day. Except when nesting, they prefer protection in numbers and rarely wander alone.

In winter they roost in flocks, but disperse as far as 10 miles to nest. Hens lay 10-11 eggs near brushy cover and incubate them for 28 days. They eat pine nuts, acorns, seeds, insects and green vegetation.

The main predators are hawks, golden eagles, foxes, coyotes, dogs, cats, skunks, raccoons, ravens, and magpies. Fortunately, the numbers hatched usually overcome predation losses.

Thanks this holiday goes to the National Wild Turkey Foundation and Utah DWR for our Wild Turkeys.

This is Linda Kervin for Bridgerland Audubon Society.


Wild Turkeys Near Mack Park in Smithfield, UT, 22 Feb 2009
Copyright © 2009 Lyle Bingham

 

Credits:

Photos:

Wild Turkeys near Mack Park, Smithfield, UT Copyright © 2009 Lyle Bingham

Text: Lyle Bingham, Bridgerland Audubon

Additional Reading:

Note: Turkeys were not featured at the first thanksgiving in 1621 as they are in present meals. References to the meal included venison and wild fowl, but the likelihood that turkey was featured is questioned. Although associated with the first thanksgiving by tradition, they are believed to have become commonly associated with the thanksgiving meal around 1800. The NWTF notes this in their History of the Wild Turkey in North America: http://www.nwtf.org/conservation/bulletins/bulletin_14.pdf

The Pilgrim Hall at Plymouth Plantation notes two sources of information about the thanksgiving celebration. The William Bradford writings mention “Turkies” http://www.pilgrimhall.org/great_american_turkey.htm

Why a Turkey Is Called a Turkey, Robert Krulwich, Nov, 27, 2008, NPR, http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97541602

National Wild Turkey Foundation, http://www.nwtf.org/

Utah Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Foundation, https://www.utnwtf.org/

Wild Turkey Preditors, Posted by Admin, September 20, 2008, http://waterandwoods.net/2008/09/wild-turkey-predators/

http://wildlife.utah.gov/projectwild/newsletters/00fall-nc.pdf

http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/birds/wild-turkey.html

http://www.birds.cornell.edu/AllAboutBirds/BirdGuide/Wild_Turkey.html

Eaton, Stephen W. 1992. Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/022/articles/introduction

Merriams:

http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/search/Display.asp?FlNm=melegame

Rio Grande:

http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/Search/Display.asp?FlNm=melegain

Turkey CSI: USU Lab’s DNA Analysis Nabs Poacher, Mary-Ann Muffoletto, Utah State Today, November, 2008, http://www.usu.edu/ust/index.cfm?article=21644

The New Dove in the Neighborhood

Eurasian Collared Dove
Note the black collar
and the broad square tail
Courtesy Stephen Peterson

During the winter after most doves have migrated, you may notice a dove foraging along the roadside or perched in a tree. A new species has arrived in our neighborhood, the Eurasian collared dove or Streptopelia decaocto, which has a distinctive black neck ring and a broad tail.

Originally found near the Bay of Bengal in Asia, this dove began its range expansion in the 1600’s. By 1900, it had made its way to Turkey, and by 2000 could be found as far north as the Arctic Circle in Scandinavia. Expansion into North America occurred in the early seventies when the collared dove appeared in the Bahamas. Since 1982, when first discovered in Florida, it has been gradually making its way north and west. Nineteen ninety-seven marked the first official report of Eurasian collared doves in Orem, Utah. Now they have spread throughout the state.

Eurasian collared doves join rock pigeons, the English sparrow, and the European starling as non-native birds that have expanded across the country. Experts attribute the success of Eurasian collared doves to the wide availability of seed offered by backyard bird feeders, as well as their ability to aggressively defend feeding areas. Some fear that they will cause territory or breeding problems for our native mourning dove, but so far there is no evidence to support this concern.

In an effort to reduce the number of Eurasian collared doves, the Utah DWR allows year-round harvesting. But be careful: don’t confuse this dove with the smaller mourning dove, which has a narrow, pointed tail and no ring on its neck. Eurasian collared doves have a distinct neck band and a broad, squared tail. Their calls also differ.

Native Mourning Dove
Courtesy USFWS

The mourning dove has the familiar melodic call:
[coo-ah cooo cooo coo]

[Kevin Colver, Songbirds of the Rocky Mountains
12 Mourning Dove]


Now listen to the Eurasian collared dove:

[“coo-coooo-coo”, “coo-coooo-coo”, “coo-coooo-coo”, “krreair”]

[Eurasian collared dove – From Kevin Colver’s private library

Two calls combined for this piece.]

The verdict is still out on the impact that the Eurasian collared dove will have on native species. In the mean time, let’s watch to see how this new dove adapts to the neighborhood and fits into the ecosystem.

Eurasian Collared Dove
Courtesy Stephen Peterson

Thank-you to Lyle Bingham of Bridgerland Audubon for writing this essay and to Kevin Colver for providing the recorded songs.

This is Linda Kervin for Bridgerland Audubon Society.

Credits:

Photos: Courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS)

Recordings: Kevin Colver, https://wildstore.wildsanctuary.com/collections/special-collections

Text: Lyle Bingham, Bridgerland Audubon

Additional Reading:

Florida’s Introduced Birds: Eurasian collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), Stephen A. Johnson and Gay Donaldson-Fortier, University of Florida IFAS Extension, WEC 256,http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/pdffiles/UW/UW30100.pdf

Tricky Bird IDs: Eurasian Collared-Dove and African Collared-Dove, Project FeederWatch, A Joint Project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Bird Studies Canada, http://www.birds.cornell.edu/pfw/AboutBirdsandFeeding/EucdovRitdovID.htm

Romagosa, Christina Margarita. 2002. Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: http://bna.birds.cornell.edu/bna/species/630/articles/introduction

2009-2010 Upland Game Guidebook, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, http://wildlife.utah.gov/guidebooks/2009-10_upland_game/2009-10_upland_game.pdf

Complete Birds of North America, ed. Jonathan Alderfer, National Geographic, 2006

Bugging Marbled Godwits

Marbled Godwit on the shore
Photo by Lee Karney
Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

In the name of curiosity and hunger, man has tracked the migrations of animals for centuries. The first record of the use of leg bands to track birds is from 1595 when one of Henry IV’s Peregrine Falcons was lost in France. It showed up 24 hours later in Malta, about 1400 miles away. John James Audubon tied silver cords to a brood of phoebes and identified two nestlings that returned the next year. In 1899, Hans Mortensen added identification numbers and his return address to the plain leg bands and modern bird banding was born.

In the United States, anyone who finds a bird band is encouraged to report it to the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center in Maryland. Banding provides us with limited information, however. There is no data about the bird’s life between the time of banding and its recapture or death.

But recent miniaturization of satellite transmitters used to track larger animals is now proving valuable in bird research. In 2006, Bridget Olsen of the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and Adrian Farmer of the US Geological Survey started placing tiny satellite transmitters on the backs of Marbled Godwits, a hefty sandpiper that rests at the refuge during its migration. The Marbled Godwit is in decline throughout its range. This large shorebird was chosen by scientists from Mexico, the United States and Canada as the focus for an international shorebird conservation effort.
The solar-powered transmitters periodically record the bird’s GPS location. The transmission is picked up via satellite and returned to the researchers. Comparing two transmissions indicates travel time and speed.

Olsen and Farmer work with wildlife officers across North America to track the Marbled Godwits from their wintering grounds in Baja California, through their migration to nesting grounds in the Great Plains, Alaska and Canada.

This is Linda Kervin for Bridgerland Audubon Society.

Credits:

Photo: Courtesy US Fish & Wildlife Service, National Digital Library

http://www.fws.gov/digitalmedia/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/natdiglib&CISOPTR=4348&CISOBOX=1&REC=1

Text: Lyle Bingham, Linda Kervin, Jim Cane, Bridgerland Audubon

Additional Reading:

Go Godwits Resources: http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Resources/GoGodwits/

Frequently Asked Questions: Tracking Marbled Godwits by Satellite: http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Resources/GoGodwits/faq.asp#Q1
Conservation Plan for the Marbled Godwit: http://www.fort.usgs.gov/Products/Publications/pub_abstract.asp?PubID=21601

Marbled Godwit, Limosa fedoa, Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, Migratory Bird Research, https://www.mbr-pwrc.usgs.gov/id/framlst/i2490id.html

Effects of Management Practices on Grassland Birds: Marbled Godwit, USGS Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center, http://www.npwrc.usgs.gov/resource/literatr/grasbird/mago/mago.htm

Marbled Godwit, Utah Department of Natural Resources, Division of Wildlife Resources, Utah Conservation Data Center,
http://dwrcdc.nr.utah.gov/rsgis2/Search/Display.asp?FlNm=limofedo

Satellites Used to Track Bird Movement and Preserve Species, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, USGS Newsroom, June 12, 2006, http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article.asp?ID=1521

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, Brigham City, UT – Research Page,
http://www.fws.gov/bearriver/research.html