Thursday, February 9, 2023

2023 Winter Birding Nature Experienceship

On Saturday, February 4th, 20 brave birders embarked on a chilly journey with birding expert Merrill Webb in pursuit of the American icon Haliaeetus leucocephalus, commonly known as the Bald Eagle. Utah is a favorite wintering spot for the majestic birds, and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) hosts special events for birders and eagle enthusiasts throughout the month of February.

Our first stop was the Fountain Green State Fish Hatchery, where the DWR had hot chocolate and collectible pins to celebrate “Utah Bald Eagle Day”.

From there, the group heading to the “Eagle Tree”, a large dead tree that has hosted 100s of eagles over the years! Our group spotted 4 that day.

Pictured: birders at their scopes, looking toward the eagle tree. 

Total for Fountain Green: 3 (Bald Eagle, Eurasian Collared-dove, Black-billed Magpie)

Our next destination was Salem Pond, in Salem, Utah. We saw an abundance of waterfowl, as well as another Bald Eagle, regally perched in a tree near the road.

Pictured: Bald Eagle, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser.

Total for Salem Pond: 10 (Canada Goose, Mallard, Ring-necked Duck, Common Goldeneye, Common Merganser, American Coot, Bald Eagle, Northern Flicker, Pied-Billed Grebe, Stellar’s Jay)

Our final stop was the East Bay Golf Course. We skipped the green, but teed up our scopes and binoculars to spot more waterfowl. What we found was not par for the course! Golf puns aside, this location hosted two Great Blue Herons, a Northern Pintail, and mostly impressively, a Black-crowned Night-heron.

Pictured: Northern Pintail, Great Blue Heron, and Merrill Webb in his natural habitat.

Total for East Bay Golf Course: 7 (American Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, American Coot, Great Blue Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron)

Total number of species spotted for the entire trip: 20

We are grateful to Merrill Webb for leading out this adventure, and to the birds for providing such wonderful amusement on a cold morning.

Sylvia Duke, educator

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