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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