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Schedule & Field Trips

Registration for the 2024 Festival will open March 2024

Field trip and schedule information will be released in February. In the meantime, get a feel for the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival by checking out our 2023 schedule below.

Online registration will be the only method of purchasing tickets.
registration

*Ticket sales are limited for each field trip and may sell out quickly. Ticket prices listed below do not include service fees and sales tax. 2023 field trip schedule is subject to change at any time.

Please use this guide to help you better select field trips based on your desired activity level.

  • Accessible: Entire trip is fully accessible for festival-goers in wheelchairs or with limited mobility
  • Easy: 0.5 mile or less walking on flat or paved surfaces
  • Moderate: up to 2 miles walking with less than 250 feet elevation change on well-maintained trails or surfaces
  • Active: 2-3 miles walking or hiking with 250-500 feet of elevation gain on trails OR involving cycling or kayaking

As you prepare for your 2023 Great Salt Lake Bird Festival field trips, remember to bring these items and anything else you may need to make your experience more enjoyable. If a field trip requires specific items that are not a part of this list, they will be noted in the field trip descriptions below.

  • Field trip QR code
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Sunscreen and bug repellent
  • Sunglasses and/or hat
  • Binoculars and any other birding gear you prefer
  • Camera or any other photography equipment
  • Comfortable clothing and footwear that is appropriate for the level of activity and weather
  • Flashlight or headlamp if birding during the early morning hours or evening
Thursday Field Trips Friday Field Trips Saturday Field Trips Sunday Field Trips

 

 

Many Thanks to our Field Trip and Workshop Committee for curating these birding experiences, and to the Volunteer Guides and Presenters who so generously donate their time to educate and share their birding knowledge of the Great Salt Lake and surrounding areas. 

Field Trip and Workshop Committee: John Bellmon, Adam Brewerton, Valerie Frokjer, Melissa Halvorsen, Suzi Holt, Heidi Hoven, Jeanne Le Ber, and Don Paul

Field Trips - Thursday, May 18

Time: 7:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus Cost: $65Spots: 35

Guide(s): Jen Wright, Patricia Mezza, and Keynote Speaker: Mark Stackhouse 

Description: Spend a day with expert birders on a birding adventure at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. You will soon learn and see why this area has been protected over the last 75 years. It is considered one of the top ten birding spots in the nation and one of Utah’s premier birding hotspots. Its 78,000 acres provide a vast wetland habitat for a phenomenal number of migrants including waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, White-faced Ibis, several species of blackbirds, gulls, terns, swallows, marsh wrens, and more. This is a great field trip for all levels of birders.

*If there are many birds actively nesting on the road, access behind the gates will be limited.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center 

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, and shrikes

Time: 7:00 am - 9:00 am or 9:00 am - 11:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $25 | Spots: 20 participants per start time

Guide(s): Russ Lawrence and Jace Taylor

Description: Participants will learn how and why biologist use fine “mist” nets for trapping small birds, proper safety and handling of birds, and how birds are measured, weighed, and banded. They will also learn how the data is used for bird conservation. Participants will have the opportunity to assist (barring any avian flu outbreaks like we had in 2022) in handling and photo ops with the birds before they are released back into the wild. Best Management Practices will be in place to assure the safety and well-being of both the bird and the participants. 

Two trip opportunities are available. Please select your start time of 7:00 am or 9:00 am during registration.


Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Accessible

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species:  Flycatcher (sp.), Song Sparrow, Bullock’s Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Marsh Wren, and anything else willing to fly between trees and get caught in our nets. 

Time: 7:00 am - 9:00 am or 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $50* | Spots: 6 participants per start time

Guide(s): Heidi Hoven and Janice Gardner

Description: Join us for an aquatic birding adventure throughout the wetlands of Farmington Bay’s Hasenyager Preserve. Paddle on the calm waters that wind through the wetlands and discover all of its wild offerings while learning about what birds are in the area and listening to the sounds of the wetlands. Having all these ecosystems so close together provide a perfect habitat for a variety of wildlife and plants blooming along the water’s edge. The wetlands’ waters will take you deep into the marsh and provide wonderful opportunities to spy a few of our feathered friends. Keep an eye out for hawks, fox and long-tailed weasels hunting the banks looking for their next meal. A variety of waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds frequent all corners of the wetlands. Come join us on a wetland adventure!

Weather permitting. Two trip opportunities are available. Please select your start time of 7:00 am or 10:00 am during registration.

*Ticket includes kayak and life jacket rental.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Active

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: wetland species

Time: 7:00 am - 12:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $25 | Spots: 15

Guide(s): Kenny Frisch and Janae Redke

Description: The wetland and riparian areas below Jordanelle Dam offer excellent birding in these foothills to the Uinta Mountains. This area is an Audubon Important Bird Area (IBA). Possible species include: American Dipper, Osprey, Black-headed Grosbeak, Warbling Vireo, Common Yellowthroat and Bullock’s Oriole. We will also look for returning Bobolinks.

Meeting Location: Canyon Rim Smith’s Marketplace

Activity Level: Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, songbirds

Time: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $25 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Tom Mathewson

Description: This is a guided self-drive tour of specific spots at Farmington Bay, with an emphasis on serious bird photography. We’ll have hands-on sessions at each stop for photographing birds with a tripod as well as hand-held shooting and shooting from a car. We will cover equipment tips, camera settings and shooting techniques for getting the best pictures possible in nearly any conditions.

Meeting Location: Farmington Bay

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, songbirds

Time: 8:00 am - 3:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $60* | Spots: 12

Guide(s): Kathy Donnell and Vivian Schneggenburger

Description: Rockport Reservoir’s nearby springs host many ducks, grebes, herons, and raptors (including nesting Osprey) with the smaller birds occupying the adjacent trees and shrubs. You will have a grand birding experience at the reservoir using canoes and kayaks. Participants will be required to row. Kayaking can be difficult if there is wind and waves. Please arrive by 7:45am for instructions. Allow for travel time. 

 Weather permitting.

*Ticket includes park entry, canoe or kayak, and life jacket rental.

Meeting Location: Rockport State Park

Activity Level: Active

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds

Time: 9:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus | Cost: $55* | Spots: 15

Guide(s): Nikki Wayment and Jesse Watson

Description: Learn about the American Kestrel from Hawkwatch International. They have been monitoring kestrels for 9 years from nest boxes they have put up around the Wasatch area, from the Great Salt Lake shores to the Wasatch Mountains. You will go out with the biologists to visit active nest sites to observe and help monitor these birds.

*Ticket includes head net.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: raptors

Time: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus | Cost: $55* | Spots: 22

Guide(s): Nikki Wayment and Jesse Watson

Description: Think you know everything about owls? Well not these little hoots. Come see the underground-dwelling, awake in the day, sentinels of the grasslands – Burrowing Owls. This is a field trip to Antelope Island State Park to look for Burrowing Owl sites. 

*Ticket includes park entry and head net.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: owls

Time: 5:00 pm - 9:30 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus | Cost: $55* | Spots: 22

Guide(s): Laura Cleveland, Chris Butler, and Keynote Speaker: Mark Stackhouse

Description: Who, Who should go? Owl lovers, that's WHO! Antelope Island is prime habitat for several species of owl: Great Horned, Barn, Burrowing, Long-eared and Short-eared Owls. This is a great opportunity to see other wildlife in the park. Picturesque views of the lake and timing of this evening trip will be great for photographing the island’s famous sunsets. 

*Ticket includes park entry and head net.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: owls

Time: 8:00 pm - 11:59 pm | Transportation: Van | Cost: $60 | Spots: 7 

Guide(s): Mike Hearell

Description: When birders think about owls, Utah probably isn’t near the top of their list of places to look. But 14 of the 19 regularly occurring species found in North America have been seen in Utah. The mountains along the Wasatch Front provide a great deal of habitat for many of these species, and this tour will provide an opportunity to look for several. The main target bird will be the Flammulated Owl, but others including the Northern Saw-whet Owl, Western Screech-Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Northern Pygmy-Owl may be seen. Other possible species we may encounter at dusk or while owling, include Common Poorwill and Hermit Thrush.


Visit Pitta Tours at pittatours.com for additional details and to register for this trip.

Field Trips - Friday, May 19

Time: 6:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation: Van | Cost: $70* | Spots: 12

Guide(s): Mike Hearell

Description: Bird along the causeway toward Garr Ranch. Depending on water level we will spend some time looking at shorebirds along the causeway before heading towards Garr Ranch to look for raptors, chukars, and songbirds along the way. Garr Ranch tends to be a migrant trap in the spring. Once there we will look for Great Horned Owls, raptors, songbirds, and more. Make sure to bring your own binoculars, scope, bug spray, snacks and your ears. 

*Ticket includes park entry and head net.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level:  Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: Black-bellied Plovers, Snowy Plovers, willets, avocets, Black-necked Stilt, waterfowl, grebes, gulls, migrating warblers, vireos, flycatchers, owls, falcons, hawks, woodpeckers, and Virginia Rail. Also, there is always a chance of rare species this time of year!

Time: 6:30 am - 11:30 am | Transportation: Van | Cost: $45 | Spots: 11

Guide(s): Alex Patia

Description: Join Wildlife Expeditions guide Alex Patia on a walk around the wetlands at Farmington Bay WMA in search of waterfowl, grebes, rails, shorebirds, waders, and more! Expect to hear many Marsh Wrens, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, and Common Yellowthroats along the way as we watch Cinnamon Teal, Redhead, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, Franklin’s Gull, Forster’s Tern, Snowy Egrets, and perhaps even an elusive American Bittern!

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level:  Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, grebes, rails, shorebirds, waders

Time: 7:00 am - 9:00 am or 9:00 am - 11:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $25 | Spots: 20 participants per start time

Guide(s): Russ Lawrence and Jace Taylor

Description: Participants will learn how and why biologist use fine “mist” nets for trapping small birds, proper safety and handling of birds, and how birds are measured, weighed, and banded. They will also learn how the data is used for bird conservation. Participants will have the opportunity to assist (barring any avian flu outbreaks like we had in 2022) in handling and photo ops with the birds before they are released back into the wild. Best Management Practices will be in place to assure the safety and well-being of both the bird and the participants. 

Two trip opportunities are available. Please select your start time of 7:00 am or 9:00 am during registration.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Accessible

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species:  Flycatcher (sp.), Song Sparrow, Bullock’s Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Marsh Wren, and anything else willing to fly between trees and get caught in our nets. 

Time: 7:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus | Cost: $65 | Spots: 35

Guide(s): Jen Wright, Patricia Mezza, and Bear River MBR Staff

Description: Spend a day with expert birders on a birding adventure at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. You will soon learn and see why this area has been protected over the last 75 years. It is considered one of the top ten birding spots in the nation and one of Utah’s premier birding hotspots. Its 78,000 acres provide a vast wetland habitat for a phenomenal number of migrants including waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, White-faced Ibis, several species of blackbirds, gulls, terns, swallows, marsh wrens, and more. This is a great field trip for all levels of birders.

*If there are many birds actively nesting on the road, access behind the gates will be limited.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center 

Activity Level:  Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes

Time: 7:00 am - 9:00 am or 10:00 am - 12:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $50* | Spots available: 6 participants per start time

Guide(s): Heidi Hoven and Ashley Kijowski

Description: Join us for an aquatic birding adventure throughout the wetlands of Farmington Bay’s Hasenyager Preserve. Paddle on the calm waters that wind through the wetlands and discover all of its wild offerings while learning about what birds are in the area and listening to the sounds of the wetlands. Having all these ecosystems so close together provide a perfect habitat for a variety of wildlife and plants blooming along the water’s edge. The wetlands’ waters will take you deep into the marsh and provide wonderful opportunities to spy a few of our feathered friends. Keep an eye out for hawks, fox and long-tailed weasels hunting the banks looking for their next meal. A variety of waterfowl, shorebirds and songbirds frequent all corners of the wetlands. Come join us on a wetland adventure!

Weather permitting. Two trip opportunities are available. Please select your start time of 7:00 am or 10:00 am during registration.

*Ticket includes kayak and life jacket rental.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Active

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: wetland species

Time: 7:00 am - 11:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $40 | Spots: 15

Guide(s): Rhea Cone and Vivian Schneggenburger

Description: Come visit high altitude wet meadows, marshes, riparian areas and uplands here in search of Sandhill Cranes. Cranes have successfully nested and reared their young in the Preserve in years past and are typically very visible during the spring. Surrounded by a scenic backdrop of the Wasatch Mountains, walk along trails normally closed to the public. These high altitude wetlands and adjacent uplands are home to more than 70 species of birds, including Mountain Bluebirds, Yellow-headed and Red-winged Blackbirds, swallows, various raptors and Yellow Warblers.

*Special guest Fiona Gillogly, nature journaler, will be participating in this trip for those interested in a closer look at what nature journaling involves. We invite you to bring your own nature journal or sketchbook to try your hand at the process. 

Meeting Location: Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter

Activity Level: Active

Good For: Intermediate Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds

Time: 7:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation: Van(s) | Cost: $80 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Ann Neville, Ella Sorensen, and Keynote Speaker: Mark Stackhouse 

Description: Experience Rio Tinto Kennecott’s Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve that is not open to the general public. Visit over 8,000 acres of private land managed just for shorebirds on the edge of Great Salt Lake. Shallow ponds or playas invite avocets, Black-necked Stilts, willets, migrating ‘peeps’ and one of the few places to consistently see Snowy Plovers. Prairie type sparrows, larks, pipits, shrike, hawks and falcons are possible. Access to some areas may be limited with wet weather. Depending on time and conditions access to bird Gillmor Sanctuary may be possible. This trip includes light walking with probable muddy conditions. It is recommended to bring an extra spotting scope if possible. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds

Time: 7:00 am - 2:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $30 | Spots: 15

Guide(s): Keeli Marvel and Terri Pope

Description: Diamond Fork Canyon encompasses a wide diversity of habitats including montane forest, sagebrush, scrub oak, juniper forest, wetland marsh, stream, and pond riparian areas and cliff habitat in which a wide diversity of bird species may be found. Possible bird sightings include: Western Tanager, Lazuli Bunting, Western Bluebird, Belted Kingfisher, Western Scrub-jay, Golden Eagle (possibly on a nest), Canyon, Marsh, Pacific Wren, Sage Thrasher, Red-naped Sapsucker, Fox Sparrow. Bring insect repellent, sunscreen, and lunch.

Meeting Location: Springville

Activity Level: Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders

Target Species: raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds 

Time: 7:00 am - 3:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $35 | Spots: 25

Guide(s): Suzi Holt, Jessica Holt, and Amanda Tinoco

Description: We will begin our trip in the Genola Goshen Canyon area. We hope to see Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Sora, Virginia Rails, Canyon Wren and some waterfowl and shorebirds. Looking out for Short-eared, Great-horned, and Barn Owls. We will continue along Elberta Slant Rd. looking for Long-billed Curlew, Burrowing Owl and Gray Vireo. Lunch break in Eureka. Then we will explore the East Tintic Mountains for Juniper Titmouse, flycatchers, vireos and warblers.

Meeting Location: Payson

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds

Time: 7:30 am - 11:30 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $25 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Valerie Frokjer and Dickson Smith

Description: Mantua Reservoir is located in Box Elder canyon at the edge of the small town of Mantua. The reservoir sits at an elevation of 5,000 feet and is lined with Cottonwood trees that are great for finding birds. We will do some walking and driving as we explore around the reservoir and surrounding fields looking for waterfowl, waterbirds, tweety birds, and a nesting Bald Eagle family.

Meeting Location: Mantua Reservoir

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: Bald Eagle, loons, ducks, grebes, sparrows, warblers, Bullock's Oriole, Lazuli Bunting, Western Tanager, swallows, Gray Catbird, Black-headed Grosbeak, Sandhill Cranes, raptors, Wild Turkeys, woodpeckers, gulls, terns

Time: 7:30 am - 2:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $30 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Weston Smith and Arnold Smith

Description: Some of the best birding in Morgan County is found in the backyards of the houses in the quaint small towns of Morgan and Croydon in Weber Canyon. Cavity-nesting Tree Swallows, House Wrens, and American Kestrel will be target birds. Bird feeders will be attracting Black-headed Grosbeaks, Bullock's Orioles, Cassin's Finches, Lazuli Buntings, and hummingbirds. This trip has averaged approximately 65 species per year and surprises are always possible. We will also bird along the Weber River in Henefer looking for large nesting birds such as raptors and herons. There may be periods of standing, short mostly flat land walking, and watching bird feeders.

Meeting Location: Morgan

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds

Time: 8:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus | Cost: $60 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Amanda Hayes-Puttfarcken and Jim Parrish

Description: This trip will have stops from the wetlands and riparian areas from Bear River Bay and travel through the uplands as we focus on the sagebrush and upland communities of the Promontory Peninsula. We will see birds associated with each habitat as we move from the lower wetlands at the edge of the lake up to the slopes and ridges of the mountains. Highlights are seeing the different communities for different habitats, and typically find grassland, upland, and sagebrush associated birds, like Long-Billed Curlews and Sage Thrashers. We will also have a chance at many of northern Utah's raptors. We will also be near some non-bird points of interest like Golden Spike National Historic Park, where the transcontinental railroad was finished.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: Long-billed Curlew, Short-eared Owl, Grasshopper Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Sagebrush Sparrow, and Brewer's Sparrow

Time: 10:00 am - 12:00 pm or 1:00 pm - 3:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $50 | Spots: 8

Guide(s): John Luft, Jim Van Leeuwen, and Kyle Stone

Description: Why is there such an abundant suite of wildlife, particularly birds on Great Salt Lake? Take a ride with the wildlife biologist who is responsible for monitoring the lake’s health. Board the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources research boat and experience Great Salt Lake’s ecosystem first hand. You will likely see Eared Grebes and various gulls, although this is not a birding trip. This excursion is a hands-on learning experience about GSL ecology and current research projects. The geology and history of the islands and other landscapes will be discussed. 

Two trip opportunities are available. Please select your start time of 10:00 am or 1:00 pm during registration.

*Trip is weather and water level dependent. Water level will be determined on May 5, 2023. Weather date, Sunday, May 21, 2023.

Meeting Location: Great Salt Lake State Park Marina

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: Eared Grebes, various gulls

Time: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus | Cost: $55* | Spots: 22

Guide(s): Melissa Halvorsen and Renata Vazquez

Description: Think you know everything about owls? Well not these little hoots. Come see the underground-dwelling, awake in the day, sentinels of the grasslands – Burrowing Owls. This is a field trip to Antelope Island State Park to look for Burrowing Owl sites. 

*Ticket includes park entry and head net. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: owls

Time: 5:00 pm - 8:30 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $30 | Spots: 25

Guide(s): KC Childs and Janae Redke

Description: This trip will start during the day in the valley near Utah Lake and finish at a nearby wetland with a small lake, and a portion of the Jordan River. We will start on the North Shore Trail of Utah Lake and then drive over to Powell Lake, which is nearby to finish the field trip. 

Probable Birds: Great Horned Owl, Yellow Warbler, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Long-billed Dowitcher, Wilson’s Phalarope, Caspian Tern, Forster’s Tern, Northern Harrier, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Western Kingbird, Eastern Kingbird, Mountain Chickadee, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Chipping Sparrow, Brewer’s Sparrow, Bullock’s Oriole, Western Tanager, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Black-headed Grosbeak, Marsh Wren, Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal and many other migrants. 

Meeting Location: Jordan River Trail, Saratoga Springs 

Activity Level: Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, songbirds

Time: 5:00 pm - 9:30 pm | Transportation: Mid-size Bus | Cost: $55* | Spots: 22

Guide(s): Melissa Halvorsen and Renata Vazquez

Description: Who, Who should go? Owl lovers, that's WHO! Antelope Island is prime habitat for several species of owl: Great Horned, Barn, Burrowing, Long-eared and Short-eared Owls. This is a great opportunity to see other wildlife in the park. Picturesque views of the lake and timing of this evening trip will be great for photographing the island’s famous sunsets. 

*Ticket includes park entry and head net.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: owls

Field Trips - Saturday, May 20

Time: 6:00 am - 1:00 pm | Transportation: Van | Cost: $75 | Spots: 12

Guide(s): Mike Hearell and Connor Johnson

Description: Join us for a new trip behind the gates at Ogden Bay. We will explore the wetlands, mudflats, and uplands for shorebirds. There is open water for waterfowl viewing. Then we will explore the trees along the edges for migrants passing through. Make sure to bring your own binoculars, scope, snacks and your ears. Bug spray and a head net are recommended. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: shorebirds, raptors, migrant trap for songbirds and warblers, Long-billed Curlew, avocets, Black-necked Stilts, waterfowl

Time: 6:30 am - 11:30 am | Transportation: Van | Cost: $45* | Spots: 11

Guide(s): Alex Patia

Description: Join Wildlife Expeditions guide Alex Patia on a driving tour of the Antelope Island Causeway in search of primarily shorebirds as well as some waterfowl. Expect good numbers of Eared Grebe, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, and especially Red-necked Phalarope. Time allowing we will also explore the north end of Antelope Island for Burrowing Owls and other upland species.

*Ticket includes park entry and head net.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level:  Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: shorebirds, waterfowl

Time: 7:00 am - 9:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $25 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Russ Lawrence and Jace Taylor

Description: Participants will learn how and why biologist use fine “mist” nets for trapping small birds, proper safety and handling of birds, and how birds are measured, weighed, and banded. They will also learn how the data is used for bird conservation. Participants will have the opportunity to assist (barring any avian flu outbreaks like we had in 2022) in handling and photo ops with the birds before they are released back into the wild. Best Management Practices will be in place to assure the safety and well-being of both the bird and the participants. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Accessible

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species:  Flycatcher (sp.), Song Sparrow, Bullock’s Oriole, Yellow Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Audubon’s Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Marsh Wren, and anything else willing to fly between trees and get caught in our nets. 

Time: 7:00 am - 12:00 pm | Cost: $60 | Transportation: Van | Spots: 12

Guide(s): Andrea Nelson

Description: This is a rare opportunity to go behind the gates at Legacy Nature Preserve. You will be guided along remnant oxbow features of the Jordan River to view migrant and resident waterfowl and shorebirds. You will also be treated to views of one of only four, known, active Bald Eagle nests in northern Utah. Rubber boots are advised. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, galliformes, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds 

Time: 7:00 am - 12:00 pm | Cost: $55 | Transportation: Van | Spots: 10

Guide(s): Merrill Webb

Description: This field trip will focus on listening to the songs and calls of common Utah birds first in a small group setting and then visiting nearby locales in Davis County where these birds will be setting up their territories. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Beginning Birders

Target Species: woodpeckers, corvids, songbirds 

Time: 7:00 am - 2:00 pm | Transportation: Bus | Cost: $60 | Spots: 50

Guide(s): Jim Parrish and Keynote Speaker: Mark Stackhouse 

Description: Cache Valley is one of the lesser known birding hotspots in the West. Our trip will reveal the area’s great diversity and wealth of birds and other wildlife secrets. The trip will visit a variety of habitats and microclimates, ranging from sub-alpine forest to fast-flowing trout streams and semi-desert savanna to wetlands. We will also see The Barrens, a Bridgerland Audubon Chapter sanctuary project. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Active

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: White-faced Ibis, American Dipper, Great Horned Owl, and Bewick's Wren

Time: 7:00 am - 3:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $35 | Spots: 25

Guide(s): Suzi Holt, Jessica Holt, and Amanda Tinoco 

Description: We will begin our trip in the Genola Goshen Canyon area. We hope to see Blue Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Sora, Virginia Rails, Canyon Wren and some waterfowl and shorebirds. Looking out for Short-eared, Great-horned, and Barn Owls. We will continue along Elberta Slant Rd. looking for Long-billed Curlew, Burrowing Owl and Gray Vireo. Lunch break in Eureka. Then we will explore the East Tintic Mountains for Juniper Titmouse, flycatchers, vireos and warblers.

Meeting Location: Payson

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds

Time: 7:30 am - 10:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $20 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Ian Batterman

Description: Located on the outskirts of Farmington Bay WMA, Bountiful Pond is a lovely oasis for all kinds of birds. This trip involves walking around the pond. The large pond provides a stopover area for many gulls and waterfowl, and the surrounding trees and fields hide many songbirds, owls, and other birds with close viewing opportunities. During migration, Bountiful Pond can often house rare vagrants like Eastern Wood Warblers.

Meeting Location: Bountiful Pond

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, songbirds

Time: 7:30 am - 2:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $30 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Weston Smith and Arnold Smith

Description: Some of the best birding in Morgan County is found in the backyards of the houses in the quaint small towns of Morgan and Croydon in Weber Canyon. Cavity-nesting Tree Swallows, House Wrens, and American Kestrel will be target birds. Bird feeders will be attracting Black-headed Grosbeaks, Bullock's Orioles, Cassin's Finches, Lazuli Buntings, and hummingbirds. This trip has averaged approximately 65 species per year and surprises are always possible. We will also bird along the Weber River in Henefer looking for large nesting birds such as raptors and herons. There may be periods of standing, short mostly flat land walking, and watching bird feeders.

Meeting Location: Morgan

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds

Time: 8:00 am - 10:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $65* | Spots: 15

Guide(s): Sammy Riccio, Cody Allen and Steve Slater

Description: Join us for a 4.5-mile ride on e-bikes (electric bikes) along the Jordan River Parkway. This is one of the best places to find birds and other wildlife in the city, and all the energy you'll save peddling less can be spent on looking for birds. You're sure to see songbirds, waterfowl, shorebirds, raptors, and more! We'll be sure to stop for plenty of birding breaks along the way. Bike rental and helmet are included in the field trip cost, but please bring your own binoculars. Note that although using e-bikes is less strenuous than riding traditional bikes, participants MUST be comfortable riding bikes and ideally should ride bikes regularly.

Weather permitting.

*Ticket includes electric bike and helmet rental.

Meeting Location: Tracy Aviary's Jordan River Nature Center, 1125 W 3300 S, South Salt Lake, UT 84119

Activity Level: Active

Good For: Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, galliformes, raptors, swallows, corvids, songbirds 

Time: 9:00 am - 11:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $15 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Laura Cleveland and Chris Butler

Description: If you've been looking for a way to get the whole family into birding, this field trip is the perfect opportunity. Participants will get the chance to meet a live bird, explore the features that attract birds to the environment, learn how to use binoculars and field guides, and look for wild birds at Red Butte Gardens, one of Salt Lake's easily accessible birding hotspots. This program is designed for families with children ages five and up.

Meeting Location: Red Butte Garden Visitor Center, Salt Lake City

Activity Level: Accessible

Good For: Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: galliformes, raptors, swallows, songbirds

Time: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $15 *kids under 10 free, registration required | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Dallin Henderson and Max Malmquist

Description: We will walk to explore the area and wetlands around the Eccles Wildlife Education Center and practice new birding skills. 

You are invited to join us in the classroom at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center for a free one hour workshop for beginners and families starting at 1:00 pm just prior to the field trip. We will discuss bird identification and the common backyard birds in the Farmington area.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: Canada Goose, Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe, American Coot, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, California Gull, Forster’s Tern, American White Pelican, Yellow-headed Blackbird and Red-winged Blackbird

Field Trips - Sunday, May 21

Time: 5:00 am - 12:00 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $35 | Spots: 25

Guide(s): Weston Smith and Chris Haramoto

Description: We will begin at the Henefer Lek to look for the Greater Sage-Grouse. The tour will view feeders placed in the state park and look for water birds on the reservoir. We will then travel to several other locations within the park looking for mountain birds. 

Meeting Location: East Canyon State Park

Activity Level: Easy to Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: Greater Sage-Grouse, Golden Eagles, Mountain Bluebirds

Time: 6:00 am - 3:00 pm | Transportation: Van(s) | Cost: $105 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Keeli Marvel and Keynote Speaker: Mark Stackhouse

Description: Bird the West Desert and the Pony Express Trail. Experience the birds of the West Desert and the ruggedness of the Pony Express Trail first hand. We'll bird a loop starting at Clover Springs CG in Johnson Pass, traveling over to Lookout Pass, and back around past Fitzgerald WMA. Highlights could include desert specialties such as Bushtits, Juniper Titmice, Pinyon Jays, Sagebrush Sparrows, Black-throated Gray Warblers, and Horned Larks.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Moderate

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds

Time: 6:00 am - 11:59 pm | Transportation: Van(s)

Guide(s): Tim Avery, Jeff Bilsky, Mike Hearell, and Kenny Frisch

Description: What happens when you take 4 crazy birding guides, a couple of vans, and have 18 hours during the height of migration in northern Utah? Marathon Birding with Pitta Tours of course! Join Mike, Kenny, Jeff, and Tim as they guide you along the shores and wetlands of the Great Salt Lake, through the canyons and mountains of the Wasatch front, and try to seek out 150 species in a fast-paced, bird-filled, sort-of big day. Over the past 14 years, we've averaged just over 150 species each day and topped out at 170 in 2015. We never know what we'll find, but we will have a great time, and cap things off with a spectacular Flammulated Owling outing! Meals, snacks, water bottles, and a swag bag are included! 

Visit Pitta Tours at pittatours.com to see options, pricing, and register for this trip.

Time: 6:30 am - 11:30 am  | Transportation: Van | Cost: $45* | Spots: 11

Guide(s): Alex Patia

Description: Join Wildlife Expeditions guide Alex Patia on a driving tour of the Antelope Island Causeway in search of primarily shorebirds as well as some waterfowl. Expect good numbers of Eared Grebe, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Wilson’s Phalarope, and especially Red-necked Phalarope. Time allowing we will also explore the north end of Antelope Island for Burrowing Owls and other upland species.

*Ticket includes park entry and head net.

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level:  Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: shorebirds, waterfowl

Time: 7:00 am - 8:00 pm | Transportation: Van | Cost: $125* | Spots: 11

Guide(s): Bryant Olsen

Description: Join Tracy Aviary’s Conservation Ecologist, Bryant Olsen, as you explore the different habitats at Great Salt Lake from freshwater wetlands, playas and mudflats to open saltwater as well as upland steppe of the lake’s islands and peninsulas to understand the numbers and diversity of birds that make this an internationally significant ecosystem and a great place to go birding.

*Ticket includes head net. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders

Target Species: waterfowl, galliformes, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, corvids, songbirds

Time: 7:30 am - 10:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $20 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Sharee Harrison and Will Harrod

Description: Located on the outskirts of Farmington Bay WMA, Bountiful Pond is a lovely oasis for all kinds of birds. This trip involves walking around the pond. The large pond provides a stopover area for many gulls and waterfowl, and the surrounding trees and fields hide many songbirds, owls, and other birds with close viewing opportunities. During migration, Bountiful Pond can often house rare vagrants like Eastern Wood Warblers.

Meeting Location: Bountiful Pond

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, songbirds

Time: 8:00 am - 10:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $45* | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Adam Blundell and Marzena Blundell

Description: Enjoy a gentle paddle across and around the reservoir. While trying to not flush waterfowl, we’ll head out on the water to gain a better view. Adam’s Reservoir is easily accessible to the parking lot, however the reservoir is very difficult to bird with a lack of trails and impassable terrain. Using paddleboards and kayaks will allow visitors to gain greater access to the far shores and interior lake. 

Weather permitting.

*Ticket includes kayak or paddleboard and life jacket rental.

Meeting Location: Adam’s Reservoir

Activity Level: Active

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: Double-crested Cormorants, Osprey, Common Loon, waterfowl, coots

Time: 8:00 am - 4:00 pm | Transportation: Bus | Cost: $75 | Spots: 24 

Guide(s): Jaimi Butler and Max Malmquist

Description: Spiral Jetty, one of the world’s most iconic examples of land art, is also a birders paradise! Located in the remote North Arm of Great Salt Lake there are many opportunities to spot different birds. On the long drive through the grassland and sagebrush landscape, we will surely see many raptors including Ferruginous Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks and Golden Eagles. Once at Spiral Jetty, amidst the hypersaline (and very pink) waters we will encounter American White Pelicans that breed on the remote Gunnison Island, flying overhead in their daily search for fish in the lake’s eastern freshwater wetlands. 

National Audubon’s Max Malmquist will help us try to find Grasshopper and Sagebrush Sparrows, Long-billed Curlews and Snowy Plovers. As a steward of Spiral Jetty and avid GSL nerd, Jaimi Butler will help explore the ecology, history and the art of Spiral Jetty. 

Meeting Location: Eccles Wildlife Education Center

Activity Level: Moderate 

Good For: Intermediate Birders

Target Species: shorebirds, raptors, songbirds

Time: 9:00 am - 11:00 am | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $15 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Melissa Halvorsen and Renata Vazquez

Description: If you've been looking for a way to get the whole family into birding, this field trip is the perfect opportunity. Participants will get the chance to meet a live bird, explore the features that attract birds to the environment, learn how to use binoculars and field guides, and look for wild birds at Red Butte Gardens, one of Salt Lake's easily accessible birding hotspots. This program is designed for families with children ages five and up.

Meeting Location: Red Butte Garden Visitor Center, Salt Lake City

Activity Level: Accessible

Good For: Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: galliformes, raptors, swallows, songbirds

Time: 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm  | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $20 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Sharee Harrison and Adam Blundell

Description: Located off I-15, Kaysville Ponds are home to a network of family friendly walking trails in a beautiful wetland environment. This trip involves walking around the pond and down the walkway through the trees. The pond provides a stopover area for many gulls and waterfowl, and the surrounding trees and fields homes for many songbirds, owls, and other birds with close viewing opportunities.

Meeting Location: Kaysville Ponds 

Activity Level: Easy

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: waterfowl, wading birds, raptors, flycatchers, vireos, swallows, shrikes, songbirds

Time: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm | Transportation: Self-Drive | Cost: $20 | Spots: 20

Guide(s): Adam Blundell and Marzena Blundell

Description: The Kaysville East Mountain Wilderness Park is an easily accessible park with a parking lot and trails following the Bonneville Shoreline area.  This wilderness park features scrub oak patches and several small creeks.  While good for birding year round, our target species will be the Lazuli Buntings!  If you are looking for a chance to see these beautiful little blue birds, this field trip is one of your best chances, with an ideal habitat. 

Meeting Location: Kaysville East Mountain Wilderness Park

Activity Level: Moderate (There is a dirt path that is easy to walk, but uneven and unpaved.)

Good For: Advanced Birders, Intermediate Birders, Beginning Birders, Families with Children

Target Species: Lazuli Buntings, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Black-capped Chickadees, Woodhouse’s Scrub Jay, and possibly both Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Black-chinned Hummingbird.

Field Trips - Pre Festival

Date/Time: Saturday, May 6, 2023 at 6:00 am to Tuesday, May 9, 2023 at 5:00 pm *4-day/3-night trip

Guide(s): Tim Avery 

Description: May in Utah is one of the best times to take advantage of birding across the entire state. While some of the best high elevation sites are still inaccessible, many of the low elevation locations more than make up for birds with migrants! This tour will cover the entire western half of the state, starting at the Great Salt Lake, and then spending 3 days discovering the incredible birding anchored around the southwest corner of the state and the Mojave Desert. With visits to Zion National Park, the Beaver Dam Conservation Area, and Kolob Plateau, this will be a memorable tour highlighting the variety of birds and places Utah has to offer. 

 

Visit Pitta Tours at pittatours.com to see options, pricing, and register for this trip.


Date/Time: Wednesday, May 17, 2023 from 8:00 pm – 11:59 pm

Transportation: Van | Cost: $60 | Spots: 7

Guide(s): Tim Avery 

Description: The mountains just outside of Salt Lake City, Utah provide some of the closest and easiest to access nesting habitat for Flammulated Owls, and by far the best opportunity to see these birds anywhere in the world. Often one of the last North American owls for ABA listers, Utah has become the go-to location to see this bird! This tiny, gray and reddish owl, the size of a smartphone, spends its summers foraging for moths and other insects in pine, oak, and aspen forests of the mountain west. These aspects make it hard to spot, although its repetitive, low-pitched hoot may be easier to notice. With more than 18 years experience in sharing Flammulated Owls with birders from around the world, join us for this special tour highlighting the 2023 Great Salt Lake Bird Festival spotlight species!

Visit Pitta Tours at pittatours.com for additional details and to register for this trip.

Free Opening Night Social & Speaker

Friday, May 19, 2023 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Join us for a free evening of workshops, live bird demo, student art viewing and awards. The evening will also include the GSL Bird Festival Bird Race awards and feature opening night speaker Fiona Gillogly for a hands-on nature journaling experience. Bring your nature journal or sketchbook and pencil and learn nature journaling techniques alongside Fiona. Art supplies will be provided for those that do not have them or may just be starting their nature journaling journey. Light refreshments will be served.

  • 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm Owl Pellet Dissection*
  • 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Opening Social, Student Art Viewing, & Refreshments 
  • 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm Eurasian Eagle Owl demonstration with Nicholas Harris of Long Wing, Inc. 
  • 6:00 pm - 6:20 pm Student Art Awards & GSL Bird Festival Bird Race Awards
  • 6:20 pm - 7:30 pm A Birder’s Brain on Paper: Nature Journaling with Fiona Gillogly


Eccles Wildlife Education Center
1157 S Waterfowl Way, Farmington, UT 84025
*Registration required.

Keynote Address 2023

Saturday, May 20, 2023 at 6:00pm MT

Cost: $45

Join us for an evening of guest speakers, the Birder of the Year award, and keynote address given by Mark Stackhouse at the Davis Conference Center in Layton, Utah. Tickets are required to attend the Keynote Address and can be purchased during the online registration process. Options to purchase a vegetarian or gluten free meal ticket will be available.

Musings of a Migratory Bird(er): Lessons learned from a lifetime of teaching others  about birds and birding.

The best way to learn about something is to teach it to others. In his talk, Mark will share some of the things he has learned, and insights he has gained, about birding and birders from the nearly 5 decades he has spent teaching. It’s an often humorous, but sometimes serious, self-examination of who birders are, and how we relate to the world and our love for birds, illustrated by anecdotes and photographs from Mark’s lifetime sharing time in the field with birders from all parts of the world.

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