Monday, November 25, 2013

Cast Your Vote For Utah's Top Ten Birds

So I recently completed a survey that asked me to rank my top ten Utah birds based on birds I've personally observed in Utah. The point of the survey is to list birds that are representative of birding in Utah, not necessarily rare ones. I found it a difficult task to rank my top ten birds because my opinion changes from day to day, habitat to habitat, and season to season. I often think the coolest bird is the one I just observed and/or photographed. In order to simplify the task I decided to pretend I was going to guide a tour for a birder from the eastern US states. I then asked, "What birds have I seen in Utah that I would like to show an out of state visitor? What birds would they possibly need to add to their life list while visiting Utah? I had to remember to list birds I've personally observed.

I'm going to share my top ten with brief explanations, a link toward the survey, and images of my top ten birds. I'm not trying to influence anyone. I am trying to pique your interest in completing the survey so your opinion influences and becomes part of the final results. I also want to spark some thinking before you complete the survey. A personal top ten should be based on personal experience, not the experience of others.

  1. Prairie Falcon: I'm a raptor lover and the Prairie Falcon is unique to Utah and other western states.
  2. Flammulated Owl: I'm an owl lover. Owls are cool birds rarely seen by the average person and "Flammies" can be found in our Utah mountains fairly easily during the spring and summer months. Everyone is shocked when they see such a small owl for the first time.
  3. American Dipper: A western bird found in our fast moving mountain streams. How many other passerine-looking birds go under water to find food?
  4. Clark's Nutcracker: An icon of Utah's high elevations. Campers call them camp robbers. They cache thousands of nuts so they can return and eat them during the winter months. You can hear them calling from a mile away!
  5. Steller's Jay: A strikingly colorful jay of Utah's mountains. They are loud and proud!
  6. Rufous Hummingbird: Gotta have a hummer in this list and this one is colorful in terms of plumage and behavior. Love to see them show up en masse during their fall migration, which is more like a late summer migration from a Utahn's perspective.
  7. Blue Grosbeak: My favorite summertime passerine because of their cool song and being dressed in my favorite bird color, blue.
  8. Western Tanager: They add the splendid red and yellow colors to Utah during the spring and summer months. Love to hear them sing and then find them in the our mixed coniferous and deciduous mountains.
  9. Loggerhead Shrike: Okay, you can see these in the east, but they are a cross between a passerine and a raptor and they seem to be easier to find here in Utah. Love the masked bandit that takes on insects and small mammals.
  10. Greater Roadrunner: This really is a cool bird, but since it is isolated to southwestern Utah its going to carry less weight for me in this list. When I'm in southern Utah, however, its definitely at the top of my target list.
Here is the link so you can complete the survey and add to the pool of surveys. This is the last week to cast your vote. I hope you complete a survey to help us see a more complete summary of the top ten representative birds of Utah--according to the people who bird Utah.

Images of my top ten



  1. I haven't seen any of these, but have watched a Dipper in Japan and it is fascinating to see them disappear under the water and then pop out again. I'd like to see a Road Runner - your photo gives an indication of personality!

    1. I remember the first time I saw a Dipper in a stream. It went under the water and came back up so I could see the water run right off its back just like a duck. Roadrunners can show attitude at times. The one in the image was calling to a second one I saw and photographed that day. I believe they were a pair.

  2. Many of these wonderful birds are also on my top ten list. Your pictures are beautiful too!
    Thanks for sharing.

  3. Thanks, Martha! You are wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving!