The Casual Hiker™

Trails, Tips, & Other Topics

Birds Along the Great Salt Lake February 27, 2013

Yellow-headed blackbird, California gull, and Great egret

Yellow-headed blackbird, California gull, and Great egret

An amazing variety of birds are found along the shore line and in the bordering wetlands not far from the heavily populated Wasatch Front. Popular destinations for bird watching are Antelope Island (which has a half-dozen trails) and, of course, the bird refuge to the north.

According to the U.S. Geological Survey:

Great Salt Lake supports between 2 and 5 million shorebirds, as many as 1.7 million eared grebes, and hundreds of thousands of waterfowl during spring and fall migration. Because of its importance to migratory birds, the lake was designated a part of the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network in 1992. The lake and its marshes provide a resting and staging area for the birds, as well as an abundance of brine shrimp and brine flies that serve as food.

At the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, you’ll find an education center, a half-mile accessible trail, and a 12-mile auto route through the wetlands. The refuge provides critical habitat along the Pacific and Central Flyways of North America, with a continuous flow of birds in and out of the area. Swans, ducks, and geese arrive in early March, and shorebirds return from the south in early April through May. Over 60 species will stay to nest. Then, in fall, the migration turns southward. Bald eagles winter in the refuge, as do other raptors.

For a month-by-month breakdown of bird migrations, check out this link. For example, if you’re interested in bald eagles, the high time to see them is early March. Don’t forget your binoculars and camera!

American avocet, Canada geese (not Canadian; they don't have passports!), barn swallow, and mallard

American avocet, Canada geese (not Canadian; they don’t have passports!), barn swallow, and mallard

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Birds February 10, 2013

Filed under: Tips,Wildlife Watching — Chanté McCoy @ 11:58 pm
Tags: , , , ,
Yellow-headed blackbird, California quail, Stellar's jay, and wild turkeys

Yellow-headed blackbird, California quail, Stellar’s jay, and wild turkeys

Lazuli bunting, Black-headed grosbeak, American avocet, and Spotted towhee

Lazuli bunting, Black-headed grosbeak, American avocet, and Spotted towhee

Utah is home to a wonderful variety of birds, from majestic raptors like Bald Eagles to shore birds like pelicans and egrets to magpies, quails, hummingbirds, and ibis…and everything in between.

In the mountains, you will encounter grouse, chickadees, blue jays, and finches. For shore birds, Antelope Island is your destination.

The best way to spy a bird is to hone in on its birdsong (particularly in spring) and pay attention to rustling in the surrounding area.  For photos, a good zoom capability will be invaluable.