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Any birders? Share your photos!


Staff member
("Birders" just means bird-watchers in birder lingo...)

I got into this after my last trip to Costa Rica, where we had a guide who would take us on sunrise bird walks in the mornings. I enjoyed it so much it made me wonder what birds we have at home that I had not paid any attention to. Turns out there are a lot of really great birds in Utah too! I got a bridge camera (meaning not a DSLR, but a nice 60x optical zoom with plenty of setting options) for Christmas last year and feel like I'm finally getting some decent photos.

Being the rather obsessive person that I am... I jumped in to doing the Tracy Aviary's Citizen Science program, where they train you to identify birds by sight and sound, and then do volunteer work conducting surveys around the Salt Lake area that are used for scientific purposes (so they can track the various populations better.) I'm about done with training - we did our field evaluations this morning, which went okay, and then I have a written test tomorrow... fingers crossed! (Hah, not that it's the end of the world if I don't do well, as they'd likely just have you be the recorder rather than the observer on a team, but there's that part of me that's like A TEST! I must know everything... and I don't. EEK!) But needless to say, learning to identify birds by sound only is quite a task, and I'm only about a year and a half into this... lots of the other folks doing this with me have been birding for 10, 20, 30 years or more.

Anyway - here are a few recent photos:

A Lazuli Bunting - these are really common in the Salt Lake valley during summer (they just returned in the last week or two), but I never noticed them until I started birding - they're so tiny if you don't look for them you'd probably never notice one, despite the brilliant colors!

Lazuli Bunting 2 May 2017 CCC.jpg

A Northern Mockingbird putting on a show. He'd sit perched on the highest branch of a bush singing and then leap up, flutter around and go back to the same perch. Literally - LOOK AT ME!!!

Northern Mockingbird display May 2017 AI.jpg
The same mockingbird looking at me with a hilariously grumpy expression. I think I was not the type of attention he was hoping for. "you're not a female mockingbird...."
Northern Mockingbird grumpy May 2017 AI.jpg
A Loggerhead Shrike - these guys are beautiful, but are surprisingly vicious little predators, despite being songbirds. They will impale their prey on a thorn to tear it apart, since they don't have the strong feet of a raptor.
Loggerhead Shrike May 2017 AI.jpg

Two American Avocets sleeping in the morning sun. (They look so fluffy and soft.... I want to pet one!)
American Avocets sleeping Feb 2017 Sandy Beach.jpg


Staff member
What photographs! What birds!

Well done. Publish more!
Okay! :smile:

An American Dipper in Big Cottonwood Canyon Creek (i.e. on the way up to Solitude and Brighton) - these truly amazing little guys live YEAR ROUND in fast moving mountain creeks. They catch insect larvae that are in the water/under tiny rocks and are the only songbirds that swim like this. They are mind-blowing in that they can dive down under the water and pop back out onto a rock right where they started. If you've ever waded through one of those creeks in summer you know how strong the current is and how COLD that water is. And they are swimming in it when it's the dead of winter. Amazing!
American Dipper eating Jan 17 BCC (3).JPG

I have a raven tattoo, so you know I'm a fan... but it's tough to get much detail and texture on a solid black bird. :smile: The morning sunlight out on the Antelope Island causeway gave me a rare photo with some feather detail. :smile:

Common Raven profile May 2017 AI.jpg

A Mountain Chickadee up at Alta. I love his serious little face as he's flying in to land. I attended an event this spring called Skiing and Birding at Alta, where they offered free ski passes to people who wanted to go on a 1/2 day birding tour. We only skied 2 runs in 4 hours (hence the free pass!), but it was fantastic to see all the wildlife that is around you while you ski! We saw Red Crossbills, Red Breasted Nuthatches, Pine Grosbeaks, Brown Creepers, Golden Crowned Kinglets, and a Dusky Grouse, which eat the spruce needles in the trees. Plus porcupines, lots of red squirrels. It's a really fun way to experience the mountain if you ever around to join one. They typically offer one event a month.
Mountain Chickadee in flight Apr 2017 Alta.jpg
Not a bird, obviously, but a Pronghorn that was right on the side of the road out at Antelope Island. Photo was from inside my car (with the dogs hanging out the window, no less).
Pronghorn Apr 17 AI.jpg

This is out at Fish Springs, which is just off the Pony Express Trail in the middle of the desert. I was also surprised when I started birding at how many American White Pelicans breed in Utah in summer. They also like to soar in groups during the summer, and occasionally I can see a flock of them circling around over my office (not particularly close to water).
American White Pelicans landscape Apr 2017 Fish Springs.jpg
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Staff member
This was amazing luck - this Barn Owl was sleeping on a shrub in the ditch along the side of a quiet road. I snapped a photo out of the window and rolled away without waking him up. :smile:

Barn Owl Feb 2017 AI.jpg

A juvenile Rough Legged Hawk - these guys are also remarkable as they winter in Utah and head back north for the summer. You can see how they have feathers covering their legs and are designed for winter!
Rough Legged Hawk Juvenile Feb 2017 AI.jpg

A Semipalmated Plover (left) and Western Sandpiper (right) at Sandy Beach on the south side of Utah Lake. We get excellent diversity of shorebirds as they migrate through in spring.

Sanderling and SEPL Apr 2017 Sandy Beach.jpg

Another photo of the Loggerhead Shrike.
Loggerhead Shrike profile May 2017 AI (2).jpg
A dusky Grouse at Alta. There were two of them hanging out in a tree along a ski run heading towards Sugarloaf. The coloration of their feather, especially the white spots make them look just like bark and snow. They're pretty big, but they blend right in!
Dusky Grouse profile Apr 2017 Alta (2).jpg

ski diva

Staff member
I love these. I know nothing about birds, though I wish I did. We had a bird feeder for a while, and I loved watching all the different birds that'd come. Sadly, the bears made off with it. Same with our hummingbird feeder.

Here's one I managed to catch way back then. It's a pretty fuzzy picture, but think it's a cool bird. It's a red-breasted grossbeak.


And I caught this little hummingbird on top of the feeder, too. So cute!



Staff member
Awesome! Rose Breasted Grosbeaks are beautiful. And are a rare find out in Utah (I guess they do wander this far west on occasion, but I haven't seen one here).

Bummer that the bears ate your bird feeders! I guess that's one advantage of living in the suburbs - I haven't had anything ever bother my feeders - my challenge is just keeping them starling-proof so the native birds that I want to feed can use them. One of my friends who lives right up on the bench on the edge of the mountains has raccoons and squirrels that are constantly either emptying or destroying her feeders.


Ski Diva Extraordinaire
Beautiful pictures! I love looking at birds and figuring out what they are but I am bad at photos. We back up to some open space though and I have seen quite a few really neat ones. We've had a barn owl in our tree, a downy woodpecker, a northern flicker, and recently I caught a very grainy photo of a Cooper's Hawk dismembering a dove in our neighbor's yard!


PSIA 3 Children's Specialist 2 Keystone Resort
Crown Crane

Crown crane

Egyptian Goose

Forgot the name of this cool bird.

Bee catcher

These are a few pics of some of the cool birds we saw on safari in Kenya a year ago. Taking pictures of birds is super hard in my opinion. I was really lucky on a few shots and we had a professional photographer with us that helped capture the birds and the rest of the animals and sites.


Staff member
Wow, what an amazing trip, Katy!

And I agree... I feel like I'm starting my photography experiment with a really difficult subject. They move around a lot and can be tiny and far away, and you can rarely control the angle of the light. Yet they are so beautiful. And sometimes I can't figure out what I'm looking at in person so even a less than aesthetically pleasing photo can be really helpful to figure it out later!


Staff member
And that looks like a Dark Chanting Goshawk. (What a name!)

I was lucky enough to see a Northern Goshawk in City Creek Canyon here this spring. The Northern Goshawks are typically tough to see since they like the mature forests and people usually just see them for a split second as they are diving through the trees chasing prey.

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