It’s Wednesday. Here’s an Alta update.

To start, a joke: What’s a young Mountain Bluebirds’ favorite game?

Hide and cheep!

Good, right? Scientists, bird monitors, and nest box checkers have yet to figure out what a young mountain bluebirds’ favorite game is, in reality. But, it looks like we might get the chance to find out! This week, monitors walked up Alta’s Michigan City/summer road to check the songbird and owl boxes spread out in the area. All boxes proved to be empty. All, that is, apart from Box T – an owl box with nest vegetation likely from a Mountain Bluebird.

Remember, owl boxes are slightly larger than songbird boxes, with a larger hole at the front of the box for bird entry/exit. And, Mountain Bluebirds are known for building nests in a cupped-shaped, made of dry grass and other vegetation. They will nest in either owl or songbird boxes, and choose their spots based on what the female Mountain Bluebird prefers.

Still wearing snowshoes, and some on skis, this week’s group did a decent amount of sliding around while checking boxes. With four slides around Alta in the two days before Saturday’s nest checks, monitors stayed on the summer road and off of the steep slopes for fear of getting buried by sluff. The tops of the Aspen trees are still buried, and snowshoes proved to be a safe bet around most of the nest boxes.

Next time you take a walk (a ski, or a snowshoe) around Alta, take a look around for some nest boxes. And, let us at Friends of Alta or Tracy Aviary know if you see any activity.

Apart from the nest checks, here’s what you should know:

  • For the UDOT Little Cottonwood Canyon Environmental Impact Statement, a comment period is open until June 14. Comment can be made here.The Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) addresses the “immediate challenges and inefficiencies of trailhead parking and avalanche mitigation in Little Cottonwood Canyon and traffic congestion on Wasatch Boulevard.”
  • In relation to this issue, Friends of Alta is advocating for a capacity study for Little Cottonwood Canyon, which would measure the amount of acceptable human activity for the area. It is unknown how much unrestricted human activity would change the watershed, and a capacity study would provide the information needed to properly protect the watershed before any damage has been done.