From Birding

Lifebirds #471 and 472 – Could Be Worse Salt Lake

 Event programFor the second consecutive year, Joann and I attended the Salt Lake Bird Count. Last year, I called it the Not Too Bad Salt Lake Bird Count, and noted that we saw six life birds and, with a total count of 72 bird species seen, had what was at the time our biggest ever “big day.” This year the weather was much improved (the first spring-like weekend of the year), the camaraderie was even better (our good friends Paul S and Sally H joined us), and with 78 total species seen on Saturday we set a new “big day” record. We stuck around for a half day on Sunday to chase a few of the birds we missed, and finished with a total of 84 total species for the event.

Species  Swainson’s Hawk / Buteo swainsoni
Species  American Avocet / Recurvirostra americana
Where USA-MN-Lac qui Parle County
When Apr 27 2013
Who Joann, Paul S, Sally H
Numbers 471-472


American AvocetWe saw two lifers. One was the gorgeous American Avocet. Ken Larson chose this bird to be the event program’s cover bird despite the fact it hadn’t been seen at the festival in several years. His choice proved to be an inspired one. Not only were several individuals seen, but for many of the participants it was either a life bird or what Sally calls a “life look.” We got such good looks at it, in fact, that I was able to take the photograph seen here.

Swainson's HawkThe other lifer was the Swainson’s Hawk. Several were seen by our group. Some of the views were of distant soaring individuals, but our last sighting was of a bird that flew directly above us several times at an elevation that allowed us to see its distinguishing characteristics even without binoculars. Fantastic! I didn’t get a picture, but can’t resist including a copy here of Audubon’s painting of the species.

The hospitality shown to birders by festival organizer Ken Larson and his wife Mary Lou Frank was once again outstanding. I wrote more about the festival in last year’s post. We also enjoyed the company and expertise of our group’s leader, Steve Weston. He and I both failed to distinguish ourselves early in the day when we mistook the very familiar song of a Mourning Dove for an Eurasian Collared Dove. (It is possible that he was in fact hearing an ECDO, and it was only me who couldn’t hear it over the MODO. At any rate we did soon find the ECDO.) Later in the day, however, Steve found a high, soaring Ferruginous Hawk, and his patient and expert leadership throughout the day was much appreciated.

Ken Larson produced a PDF list of the 143 species seen at the of event.

See lifebird index.