All Photos posted on this blog unless otherwise noted were taken by me with my Canon Rebel XTI using a 300 mm zoom lens

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

September 2011 Bird of the Month Yellow-rumped Warbler

This Male Yellow-rumped warbler it was pointed out to me by Ryan O'Donell is a hybrid Western Audobon's subspecies  and Eastern Myrtle subspecies.
The Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audobon's) is very common here in Utah especially during Spring and Fall Migrations but I have seen them every month of the year. I often see them in my yard and they are abundant at Farmington Bay. I have never seen the Eastern Myrtle Subspecies other than the hybrid shown above but they are occasionally reported in Utah.

I took this picture of a female last January at Beus Pond in Ogden. The temperature was below zero that day 
This one showing it's yellow rump, this picture was taken on the Nature Trail at Farmington Bay
These Russian Olive trees were full of Yellow-rumped Warblers
Yellow-rumped Warblers are perhaps the most versatile foragers of all warblers. They're the warbler you're most likely to see fluttering out from a tree to catch a flying insect, and they're also quick to switch over to eating berries in fall. Other places Yellow-rumped Warblers have been spotted foraging include picking at insects on washed-up seaweed at the beach, skimming insects from the surface of rivers and the ocean, picking them out of spiderwebs, and grabbing them off piles of manure.
They are beautiful warblers I am always exited to run into a group of Yellow-rumped Warblers
Yellow-rumped Warblers typically forage in the outer tree canopies at middle heights. They're active, and you'll often see them fly out to catch insects in midair, sometimes on long flights. In winter they spend lots of time eating berries from shrubs, and they often travel in large flocks.

Monday, August 22, 2011

A Mormon and a Naturalist

Bountiful Utah LDS Temple
In the background upper left hand side of the picture is Farmington Bay
In the past several months the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints has received a lot of media attention, some positive some not so positive. The Church is on a campaign for members to stand up and say I am a Mormon to show that we are normal every day people. One thing that I don't think Latter-day Saints are known for is for a love and concern of God's natural creations. I would like to take an opportunity to say I am a Mormon and I am a Naturalist. Any member of our church who doesn't hold all of God's creations in high esteem probably doesn't really understand the position the Leaders of the Church have  taken on the subject. I would like to include a few remarks by several of our Church Leaders including men we believe to be Prophets.

A view of the Bountiful Temple from Farmington Bay, I love this shot of the pelicans with the temple in the background
The Prophet Joseph Smith on animals:
"In pitching my tent we found three massasaugas or prairie rattlesnakes, which the brethren were about to kill, but I said, 'Let them alone—don't hurt them! How will the serpent ever lose his venom, while the servants of God possess the same disposition, and continue to make war upon it? Men must become harmless before the brute creation; and when men lose their vicious dispositions and cease to destroy the animal race, the lion and the lamb can dwell together, and the sucking child can play with the serpent in safety.' The brethren took the serpents carefully on sticks and carried them across the creek. I exhorted the brethren not to kill a serpent, bird, or an animal of any kind during our journey unless it became necessary in order to preserve ourselves from hunger." (Documentary History of the Church, Vol. 2, pp. 71-72)
"[If we] would banish from our hearts this spirit to destroy and murder, the day would soon come when the lion and the lamb would lie down together." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 71)

President Brigham Young on animals:
"Field and mountains, trees and flowers, and all that fly, swim, or move upon the ground are lessons for study in the great school of our Heavenly Father, in what is before us in good books and in the greater laboratory of nature." (Journal of Discourses 9:320)
"The animal, vegetable, and mineral kingdoms abide the law of their Creator; the whole earth and all things pertaining to it, except man, abide the law of their creation." (Journal of Discourses 9:246)

"Let the people be holy, and the earth under their feet will be holy. Let the people be holy, and filled with the spirit of God, and every animal and creeping thing will be filled with peace ... The more purity that exists, the less is the strife; the more kind we are to animals, the more will peace increase, and the savage nature of the brute creation will vanish away." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 1, p. 203)

President David O. McKay on kindness to animals:
"A true Latter-day Saint is kind to animals, is kind to every created thing, for God created all." (October 1951; quoted in Gerald E. Jones, "The Gospel and Animals," p. 65)

President Joseph Fielding Smith on animals having souls and being saved at the time of the resurrection:
"So we see that the Lord intends to save, not only the earth and the heavens, not only man who dwells upon the earth, but all things which he has created. The animals, the fishes of the sea, the fowls of the air, as well as man, are to be recreated, or renewed, through the resurrection, for they too are living souls." (Conference Report, October 1928, p. 100)
"Animals do have spirits and ... through the redemption made by our Savior they will come forth in the resurrection to enjoy the blessing of immortal life." (Answers to Gospel Questions, Vol. 2, p. 48)

President Spencer W. Kimball on sport hunting:
"In Primary and Sunday School we sang the song: 'Don't kill the little birds / That sing on bush and tree, / All thro' the summer days, / Their sweetest melody.' (Deseret Song, 1909, no. 163). ... Now, I would like to add some of my feelings concerning the unnecessary shedding of blood and destruction of life ... And not less with reference to the killing of innocent birds is the wildlife of our country that live upon the vermin that are indeed enemies to the farmer and to mankind. It is not only wicked to destroy them, it is a shame, in my opinion. I think that this principle should extend not only to the bird life but to the life of all animals ... because God gave it to them, and they were to be used only, as I understand, for food and to supply the needs of men." ("Fundamental Principles to Ponder and Live," The Ensign, November 1978, p. 45)

The Church currently owns and runs several large ranches one in Florida that I have not had the opportunity to visit, I have added the web address, take time to go to this website and watch the short video and read about how the Church preserves natural habitat for wildlife on these ranches.

Deseret Ranch in Utah is the largest cattle ranch in the state and is one of the premiere birding destinations in Utah. I have been on 2 tours of Deseret Ranch and each time logged over 100 species in a day of birding.

I am a Mormon, I am a Christian I know that salvation is in and through Jesus Christ the Savior and Creator of this beautiful world. I am a naturalist, I have had a life long love of nature and of birds in particular.

My favorite hymn is How Great Thou Art, I love all of the verses and I love that this hymn includes a verse, verse 2 on the beauty and greatness of nature.

How Great Thou Art

Lyrics ~ Carl Boberg, 1859 - 1940
English Translation ~ Stuart K. Hine, 1899 - 

Stanza 1:
O Lord my God,
When I in awesome wonder
Consider all
The works Thy Hand hath made,
I see the stars,
I hear the mighty thunder,
Thy pow'r throughout
The universe displayed;

Stanza 2:
When through the woods
And forest glades I wander
I hear the birds
Sing sweetly in the trees;
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze;

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

Stanza 3:
When Christ shall come,
With shouts of acclamation,
And take me home,
What joy shall fill my heart!
Then I shall bow
In humble adoration
And there proclaim,
"My God, how great Thou art!"

Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
Then sings my soul,
My Saviour God, to Thee,
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Swainson's Hawks

For the last 5 years and maybe even longer we have had Swainson's Hawks nest in our Neighborhood. Our Neighbor has several very large Chinese Elm Trees in his yard that they nest in. Some winters we have Rough-legged Hawks that roost in the same trees.

Each Year about the second week of April the pair arrive and start patrolling the neighborhood. I used to have an Umbrella Cockatoo that was sitting on our swing while I was mowing our lawn one time and just about became dinner for the pair.

The parents have now left or at least I haven't seen them for a couple of weeks but their two offspring are currently keeping our neighborhood free of vermin.
Sunday they visited my backyard and I was able to get some nice pictures of them.
Here are some pictures of this years brood.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Birding Without Going Birding

Steller's Jay

I used to go fishing quite often and still go a couple times a year, but have concentrated most of my leisure time to birding now and that time seems to have diminished quite a bit in the last couple of years. One reason I always give for changing hobbies is, I have never been skunked birding.

This week Nery and I took Nery's sister Liza who lives in Japan and Nami, one of her English students and two of our nieces on a tour of the Bryce Canyon area which included Bryce Canyon, Red Canyon and Grand Staircase in Southern Utah. Since this trip was dedicated to them I didn't do any actual birding other than what I saw on the trails as we hiked. But even then I did see quite a few birds and picked up a new Life Bird, White Breasted Nuthatch. Unfortunately I was unable to get pictures of Nuthatches but got a few of other birds.
Steller's Jay were the most cooperative to have their picture taken. Steller's Jays in the park seem quite habituated to people.
This is a poor picture of a Yellow-rumped Warbler
Gray-headed Race of Dark-eyed Junco
Western Bluebird
In all birds seen were:
Common Raven
Turkey Vulture
Dark-eyed Junco
White-breasted Nuthatch
Mourning Dove
Bullock's Oriole
Steller's Jay
Western Bluebird

Here are some other pictures from the trip

Bristlecone Pine
Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel 
Mule Deer
Indian Paintbrush
If you would like to see more pictures of our trip you can view them on our Picasa Photo Albums at

Friday, August 5, 2011

August Bird of the Month Eastern Kingbird

Kingbirds are interesting birds to watch, standing post at the top of a bush or bare branch of a tree waiting for an insect to fly within their well guarded territory then fly up catch the insect and fly back to their chosen post.

A pair of Eastern Kingbirds watching for food and defending their territory from intruders
I have watched Eastern Kingbirds chase off much bigger birds even hawks and jays that enter their territory. 

The Eastern Kingbird has a black head and back, white throat, breast and belly with a white terminal stripe on it's black tail
A large dark flycatcher of fields and other open areas, the Eastern Kingbird is a common and widespread species. Despite its name, its range extends from the Atlantic to the Pacific coast.

Eastern Kingbirds are regular summer visitors to Farmington Bay and in fact seem to be increasing in numbers there each year.