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State of Utah

Calif Gull
California Gull Larus californicus ©Robert Royse Website

Birding Utah

Utah is the 11th largest state in the U.S, comprising 84,900 square miles. There are 29 counties, most of them quite rural. The human population of Utah is 2.2 million, most of whom reside along the Wasatch Front, a 102 mile (164.153 kilometers) stretch of a mountain range which is a branch of its more famous big brother, the Rocky Mountains. Much of Utah is a high desert; it is the second driest state in the U.S., averaging only 16.18 inches (41.0972 centimeters) of moisture per year. However, this can be deceptive as the northern part of the Wasatch Mountains average 600 inches (15.24 meters) of snowfall in a year. As such, it is an international destination for skiers. The 2002 Winter Olympics took center stage as most of the area ski resorts hosted millions of visitors. The state has a very diverse geographic habitat; whether it is Kings Peak, which rises to a height of 13,528 feet (4123 meters) in the Uinta Mountains in the northeastern part of the state, or the Beaver Dam Wash located in the southwestern most part of the state, which is the lowest point in Utah, at a modest 2,350 feet (716 meters). Roughly two-thirds of the state is high desert terrain, and the other third mountainous terrain. Utah is justly famous for its National Parks, one of which is Arches National Park in Southeastern Utah, where many a photo has been taken and published worldwide as it boasts over two thousand natural sandstone arches created by wind blown sand. Others are Bryce's National Park and Zion's National Parks. All three are located in the southern part of the state within a few hours of each other, making it easy to visit all three. Consequently, Utah offers a rich diversity of regular and rare winged visitors. The official Utah bird checklist stands at 428 species; species as different as the Greater Roadrunner and the White-tailed Ptarmigan may be seen here.

Perhaps most vital to bird habitat is the Great Salt Lake. A remnant of old Lake Bonneville which existed about 23,000 years ago, it is the second saltiest body of water in the world, second only to the Dead Sea. Salt content ranges from 6 to 27 percent (oceans are about 3 percent). With no natural outlet, water evaporates leaving the salts and other minerals to accumulate. At its normal elevation of 4,200 feet (1,280m), the lake is 28 miles wide (45 klms), 75 miles long (120 klms), with over 335 miles (539 klms) of shoreline (about 1,700 square miles). Fortunately, much of this shoreline is protected. It is not a deep lake, averaging only 13 feet deep (4m), with 33 feet (10m) being its deepest level. However, this is no dead sea but a true oasis which sustains life to millions of creatures as the water is rich with microorganisms. The most famous is the brine shrimp. Every fall these are harvested and sold overseas. The amount that can be harvested depends on that year's brine shrimp population. Crews operate every day for 24 hours straight, but once the poundage quota set by the DWR for that year has been reached, the fishing ends immediately. [Division of Wildlife Resource (DWR) realizes how vital the brine shrimp are to the ecosystem]. There has been as little as 265 pounds (120 kilos) in 1968 to 7,400 tons (7,518 metric tons) taken in 1995.

Each year between two and five million shorebirds migrate to, or through, the Great Salt Lake area, many feeding on the brine shrimp. Wilson's Phalaropes on their way to wintering grounds in Argentina, will sometimes double their weight before the long, non-stop journey. Hundreds of thousands of waterfowl over-winter. Year round there are plenty of raptors to be seen. The lake has six islands, the largest being Antelope Island. This is the only publicly accessible island, via a seven mile causeway. Gunnison Island, on the northwest side of the lake, is a state nature preserve. This island hosts the third largest colony of breeding American White Pelicans in North America. While there are many places to bird in Utah, if one has the opportunity to come in February one should spend at least one day at Farmington Bay. This is located about 20 minutes north of Salt Lake City. During the month of February, one can easily see hundreds of Bald Eagles here. Utah has the second highest congregation of Bald Eagles in the U.S., second only to Alaska. In February 2003, a record high count of 426 was seen in one day at Farmington Bay. A very good resource for what birds are being seen, a photo database of many North American birds, and the official Utah bird checklist can be found at: www.utahbirds.org.

While birds are plentiful in Utah, other animals which can regularly be seen are the black bear, moose, elk, mule deer, pronghorn antelope, coyote, kit and red foxes, raccoons, cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits, and badgers. A herd of 800 bison is maintained on Antelope Island. Every October DWR personnel have the Buffalo Round-up to check their health, which has become something of the tourist event as 800 bison in one place is quite a site to behold.

Contributor

Brian L Currie

Member of the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival Committee

bcurrie100@comcast.net

http://www.pbase.com/bcurrie

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 463

(As at October 2018)

State Bird - California Gull Larus californicus

It may seem strange that Utah's state bird is the California Gull. It was so honoured because of the Miracle of the Gulls. In late May 1848, one year after arriving in Utah, Mormon (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) Pioneers were plagued by crickets [written reports affirm that the fields and mountain sides were blackened by their shear numbers]. Prayers were said and in early June thousands of California Gulls came to their rescue. Not only was each gull witnessed to eat dozens of these crickets, but once full the gulls regurgitated the crickets and continued to eat more. Thus, the vast majority of crickets were destroyed, so much of the pioneer's crops were saved; the event becoming known as the Miracle of the Gulls.

Checklist

iGoTerraChecklist

iGoTerra Checklist

Fatbirder Associate iGoTerra offers the most comprehensive and up to date birds lists on the web

Useful Reading

Birding Utah (FalconGuide)

By D E McIvor | Falcon Press | 1998 | Paperback - 410 pages, B/w photos, distribution maps |

ISBN: 1560446153

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Northeastern Utah

By WH Behle | Utah Museum of Natural History | Paperback | 136 pages |

ISBN: 9780940378018

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of the Central Rockies

By Jan L Wassink | Mountain Press | 1991 | Paperback | 180 pages, 240 colour photos |

ISBN: 0878422358

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Zion National Park and Vicinity

By Roland H Wauer | Utah State University Press | Paperback |

ISBN: 9780874212198

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Utah Birds

(A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species) | James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leungv| Waterford Press | 2001 | Unbound | 12 pages, colour illustrations, 1 colour map |

ISBN: 1583551328

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Utah's Featured Birds and Viewing Sites

(A Conservation Platform for IBAs and BHCAs) | By Keith Evans & Wayne Martinson | Utah DNR | 2008 | Paperback |

ISBN: 9781607029366

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Audubon Society in Utah

Webpage

Offices & Chapters; Centers & Sanctuaries

Bridgerland Adubon Society

Website

Welcome to the Bridgerland Audubon Society Home Page. The Bridgerland Audubon Society (BAS) is a chapter of the National Audubon Society. The chapter is centered in the city of Logan, situated in the beautiful Cache Valley of northern Utah and southern Idaho… Also see the Facebook page

Great Salt Lake Audubon

Website

Great Salt Lake Audubon, a chapter of the national Audubon Society, was founded in 1912 and is the oldest conservation organization in Utah. This volunteer organization strives to meet its mission through volunteer opportunities, seminars, educational field trips, urban riparian restoration and informative general meetings with guest presenters. We also support state and local conservation efforts.

Nature Conservancy in Utah

Webpage

When you donate today, you will help ensure a thriving natural environment for future generations of Utah.

Red Cliffs Audubon

Website

Red Cliffs Audubon is dedicated to inspire people to enjoy and protect the variety of birds and their habitats in our region.

Utah Birds

Website

This website is sponsored by the "Utah County Birders," a birding group from the north-central part of Utah. Funding for the website comes through the Utah County Birders organization with donations from and the Salt Lake Birders and Utah Ornithological Society.

Utah County Birders

Facebook Page

This page is a place for Utah County birders to share photos, video, sightings, birding adventures near and far, and more! We have all levels of birders as members. Non commercial, family friendly site. No advertising, and no offensive posts or language. Please keep posts and comments positive and constructive. This Facebook page is sponsored by the "Utah County Birders," a birding group from the north-central part of Utah.

Utah County Birders

Website

Membership in the Utah County Birders is open to any interested person. Dues are $10 per year. Send dues to Tuula Rose, 1065 East 560 North, Provo, UT 84606.

Utah Ornithological Society

Website

The Utah Ornithology Society was dissolved 1 January 2011 , but some of the functions provided by the society will continue on through other means. It no longer publishes the Utah Birds journal, nor holds yearly conferences and is legally dissolved. However, the Utah Birds Records Committee, which was established under the auspices of the UOS will continue on as before. It will function in conjunction with the Utah Birds website which will facilitate its activities and publish committee reports and the official state checklist which is maintained by the committee.

Utah Records Committee

Website

There are about 125 bird species on the Utah Checklist for which sighting documentation is requested by the Records Committee.

Wasatch Audubon Society

Website

The mission of National Audubon is to conserve and restore natural ecosystems focusing on birds, other wildlife, and their habitats for the benefit of humanity and the Earth's biological diversity. Wasatch Audubon is a local chapter of National Audubon, covering Weber, North Davis, Morgan and Box Elder Counties in Utah. It is one of nearly 500 such chapters nationwide.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

BS Gillmor Audubon Sanctuary

Website

Satellite View

Gillmor Audubon Sanctuary is part of the Great Salt Lake wetland ecosystem; an internationally recognized site in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, and a vital pathway for millions of nesting and migrating birds….

IBA Cutler Reservoir and Marsh

Information

Satellite View

This IBA includes the lands that PacifiCorp owns within the project boundaries of the Cutler Reservoir Project and Marsh, any sovereign lands (the submerged meander corridor) of the Bear River within the boundaries, the 150 acre Bud Phelps WMA owned by Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, and the 146 acres owned by Bridgerland Audubon Society. Bald Eagles use trees and perches for resting and hunting in the spring. Ferruginous Hawks hunt and Grasshopper Sparrows nest in grasslands around the reservoir. There are significant numbers of American White Pelicans that use the area for foraging and loafing. Numbers are under 4(b) below. Peregrine Falcons (migration and summer resident), Swainson's Hawks (nest/forage), Caspian Terns (forage), Short-eared owls (nest), Osprey (forage), Burrowing Owls (nest) and Long-billed Curlews (nest?) use the area, but transect survey data provides very limited numbers. Survey data is on file with the IBA nomination.

NC Kennecott

Information

Satellite View

The Kennecott Nature Center is a nature observation center and classroom located in an area of wetlands alongside the Jordan River in Murray, Utah.

NC Ogden Nature Center

Information

Satellite View

The Ogden Nature Center is a 152-acre (0.62 km2) nature preserve and education center located in Ogden, Utah. Created in 1975, it was Utah's first nature center. The center includes live animal exhibits, walking trails, ponds, bird blinds, observation towers, treehouses, gardens featuring drought resistant plants, and protected areas for wildlife.

NC Stokes Nature Center

Webpage

Satellite View

The Allen & Alice Stokes Nature Center is a regional nature center and outdoor exploration hub for people of all ages in the heart of the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest. We are the official educational permittee of the USDA designated Logan Canyon Children’s Forest and are proud to serve the Bear River region.

NC Swaner EcoCenter

Information

Satellite View

The Swaner EcoCenter is a nature preserve and Utah State University Distance Education site located in Snyderville Basin near Park City, Utah. Swaner encompasses a 1,200-acre (490 ha) wildlife refuge, a 10,000-square-foot (930 m2) state of the art environmental education facility, a 100-acre (40 ha) farm, and 10 miles (16 km) of trails.

NP Bryce Canyon

Webpage

Satellite View

At Bryce Canyon National Park, erosion has shaped colorful Claron limestones, sandstones, and mudstones into thousands of spires, fins, pinnacles, and mazes…

NR Lee Creek Area, South Shore Preserve

Webpage

Satellite View

With the help of many partners, we've transformed a severely degraded area into a healthy, vibrant place for wildlife, and created a place where the community can experience the natural beauty and wonder of Great Salt Lake through wildlife compatible activities such as sunset viewing, bird watching, photography and nature walking.

NR Legacy Nature Preserve

Facebook Page

Satellite View

The Legacy Nature Preserve is a 2,225-acre wildlife preserve on the southeastern shore of the Great Salt Lake. Established as environmental mitigation for the Legacy Parkway Project, the Preserve helps prevent encroachment of future development into this portion of the Great Salt Lake Ecosystem by restoring a mosaic of different wetland and upland habitats that are important for a myriad of wildlife species, especially migratory birds…

NWR Fish Springs

Webpage

Satellite View

Located on the southern extreme of the Great Salt Lake Desert, Fish Springs has been a place of essential importance in meeting the needs of humans and wildlife over the past 10,000 years. Most critical are the life-sustaining waters that make Fish Springs a true oasis in the desert.

NWR MBS Bear River

Webpage

Satellite View

In the spring, Bear River is active with life as birds fly back from the south. There is a continuous flow of different species in and out of the refuge. Each day offers something new. Birds are in their bright and colorful breeding plumage and the observant visitor can witness eons-old courtship rituals. Geese and ducks begin to arrive in late March. Shorebird migration lasts from early April through mid-May…

NWR Ouray

Webpage

Satellite View

Ouray National Wildlife Refuge lies along the Green River in the Uinta Basin of northeastern Utah. The Refuge provides diverse habitat types supporting over 350 fish and wildlife species and offers numerous wildlife-dependent recreational opportunities.

WMA Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area

Webpage

Satellite View

During migration, the diversity of sound and color astounds visitors to Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area (WMA). Hundreds of thousands of waterbirds, songbirds and raptors visit this area during the migration and nesting seasons. More than 200 different species have been documented on the management area.

Forums & Mailing Lists

BirdTalk

Mailing List & Forum

To make field trip reports, to participate in discussions, to ask questions about birds and birding and to announce birding-related activities, use Bird Talk.

Utah County Birdnet

Forum

UCBirders forum

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Mountain West Birding and Wildlife Tours

Tour Operator

Mountain West Birding and Wildlife Tours is a small family owned business operated by Tim Avery. We are located on the outskirts of Salt Lake City, Utah and take people birding all over the mountain west. We offer a variety of tours to see some of the great birds and wildlife found in Utah and around the mountain west. Our Flammulated Owl tour is the most reliable and popular tour we offer; while our Custom Tours are a perfect way to maximaize your birding experience!

Zion Birding Tours

Tour Operator

Are you visiting Zion National Park and Southwest Utah? Why not include a day or two of birding in one of the most beautiful locations in the world, and also a highly productive birding area? I am Maurice DeMille, and I live in La Verkin, Utah, just 20 minutes from Zion National Park. I have been traveling, hiking, and birding SW Utah for over 15 years and would love to guide you to the best birds and locations.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2013 [06 June] - Petri Hottola

PDF Report

…A circle trip to a number of birding sites in Utah, Colorado and Kansas followed, before a return in Denver on the 28th. The idea was to look for eight target species/subspecies: White-tailed Ptarmigan, Greater Sage Grouse, Gunnison’s Sage Grouse, Dusky Grouse, Lesser Prairie-Chicken, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black Rosy-Finch and Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. For Greater Prairie-Chicken there was not enough time, June not being the easiest season for neither this species nor for some of the listed ones. I did, however, eventually score with all the eight, some more easily than some others…

2016 [08 August] - Andrew Birch - Zion, Bryce, Cedar Breaks and Grand Canyon National Parks

Report

This was a family road trip visiting the Utah National Parks (sandwiched between nights in Vegas), so birding was not a priority. However, these trip lists will give you a flavor of the species possible to see at this time of year with little effort.

Places to Stay

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Sorrel River Ranch Resort B&B

Accommodation

You will find on the ranch an abundance of wild life attracted by the protected environment. They include, bald eagles, golden eagles, blue herons, a herd of mule deer, otters, beaver, canadian geese, mallards, falcons, raccoons, horses, goats and many species of birds.

Willow Glen Inn B&B

Accommodation

Willow Glen is open year round with each season of the year having its special attractions of birds, gardens, weather and room decorations. Willow Glen is in close proximity to Bryce, Zion and Grand Canyon National Parks and the Utah Shakespearean Festival.

Festivals

Great Salt Lake Bird Festival

Webpage

The Great Salt Lake Bird Festival is one of the most unique bird festivals in the U.S. The field trips are held at some of the most amazing wildlife areas in the world are abundant with bird life! 21st Great Salt Lake Bird Festival May 16-19, 2019

St. George Winter Bird Festival

Information

Southwestern Utah habitats can attract over 375 species of birds during the year. The habitats range from desert to pine with riparian areas. During the St. George winter months many waterfowl migrate through and stop at our lakes and reservoirs. Raptors especially find this region an ideal location for the cold months. Whether you are a beginner or longtime birder, you will find many attendees that are eager to share their experiences and enthusiasm for birding.

Blogs

Jeff Cooper - NeoVista Birding

BLOG

Blogging allows me to fulfill my passions for exploring, discovering, learning, and sharing. I never tire of seeing what nature has to offer and love capturing and sharing images from my experiences with nature

Lisa Boice - The Accidental Birder

BLOG

Life lessons from the wife of a birder - A blog dedicated to birding. I'm the wife of a birder and I blog weekly about birding and I'm also a novice (VERY novice) photographer…

Utah Birders

Blog

The Utah Birders are about sharing. Sharing information, sharing knowledge, sharing sightings, and sharing in the enjoyment of our feathered friends…

Other Links

Audubon Western Water, Saline Lakes Program

Webpage

Saline lakes—the landlocked saltwater lakes fringed with wetlands that dot the Intermountain West—are beacons for millions of birds crossing an otherwise arid landscape. But as water recedes (due to drought, water diversions, and climate change) and exposes toxic dust, not only is habitat lost, but surrounding communities—like the one near the Salton Sea—are at higher risk for asthma and other health issues. The risk of toxic dust is also increasing at Great Salt Lake—the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere, and a critically important habitat for birds.

Birds and Great Salt Lake

Website

Important lake wetlands include Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge operated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Locomotive Springs, Salt Creek, Public Shooting Grounds, Harold Crane, Ogden Bay, Timpie Springs, and Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Areas operated by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources; and Gillmor Sanctuary wetlands managed by the Audubon Society…

Birds of Utah

Website

Utah's diverse climate and terrain is home to over 600 species of mammals, birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians. Naturalists, pack your rucksacks with field journals and your best pair of binoculars. Settle in, and enjoy our other citizens...

Checklist

Website

Compiled by the Utah Birds Records Committee - This Checklist contains 447 species approved by the Utah Ornithological Society Bird Records Committee through August 2010, arranged in taxonomic order and using nomenclature of the 7th American Ornithologist's Union Check-list of North American Birds and the 51th supplement of that Check-list…

Index of Birding Places in Utah

Website

This is an index of popular birding sites in the state of Utah. Most of the information concerns directions on how to get to these sites…

Salt Lake Birders

Website

Membership in Salt Lake Birders is open to any interested person. Dues are $15 per year and may be sent to Salt Lake Birders, P.O.Box 58343, Salt Lake City, UT 84158.

Tim Avery Birding

Website

When it comes to birding there are several things I'm very passionate about. One was doing a Utah Birding Big Year in 2007, when I saw 355 species. Another passion is one I've been at work on for 4 years, a field guide to the Birds of Utah. And third, I love sharing that passion with others, and do so through various field trips and my company Mountain West Birding Company--which offers a variety of guided tours.

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Mia McPherson - On the Wing Photography

Gallery

This site contains blog posts with my photos and the stories behind the images plus my extensive photo galleries which contain more than 8000 photos of birds, wildlife, flowers and trees along with images of the landscapes I visit. I feel that it is important to tell the stories behind my images.

Photographer - Tim Avery

Gallery

Since 1996 I have literally taken 100,000's of photos of birds. Since 2004 this website has accumulated over 14,000 edited photos of more than 1000 species + various other wild things. Take a look around!