Caution: Spring Birds Ahead

American White Pelican at Bear River Bird RefugeAmerican White Pelican at Bear River Bird Refuge – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 500, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Yesterday my friend Shyloh reported seeing 50+ American White Pelicans at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area which made me dance at my desk. It won’t be long before the American White Pelicans are back at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge which is where I photographed the pelican in the image above last spring.  I hope that I’ll be photographing these birds soon at Bear River NWR and at a pond close to where I live.

American Avocets and the Great Salt LakeAmerican Avocets and the Great Salt Lake – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 278mm, natural light

American Avocets will soon make their appearance at Farmington, Bear River and along the causeway to Antelope Island. I checked and the first American Avocets I saw last year was on the 26th of February. Soon hundreds of thousands of American Avocets and other shorebirds will find their way back to Utah and the Salt Lake Valley. I’m surprised that I haven’t seen any Yellowlegs yet as they seem to show up early. The American Avocets above were photographed along the causeway to Antelope Island State Park.

Why the “Caution” in my title?

Because my bird photography addiction is definitely going to get stronger with the arrival of the birds of spring!


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About Mia McPherson

I am a nature lover, wildlife watcher and a bird photographer. I first become serious about bird photography when I moved to Florida in 2004 and it wasn’t long before I was hooked (addicted is more like it). My move to the Salt Lake area of Utah was a great opportunity to continue observing their behavior and to pursue my passion for photographing birds.


  1. Mia, I relate so profoundly to following the seasons through the birds. When I look at the calendar, I think, just weeks before the Osprey come back … and weeks before the Snow Geese leave. I used to mark my Berkeley winter with the arrival of the Cedar Waxwings: it wasn’t winter until they came home. These cyclical certainties are nectar for the soul among the chaos that we humans tend to create. Lovely post and kindred sentiments, thank you.

  2. Is it possible for your bird photography addiction to get any stronger? Hopefully when you ease the ‘itch’ more easily it will settle down a bit. Love the hairdo on the pelican.

  3. Hi Mia,

    I love your enthusiasm about the arrival of the birds signaling spring! From 2007 – 2012 I wrote a photo-blog about a small (tiny!) pond near my house at the time. I was new to photography and new to all things of the natural world. I came to recognize that the arrival of a pair of mallards, paddling through slushy ice on the pond, was the first sign that spring was coming. It was truly thrilling to see them for the first time each year! I share your excitement!!! I’ve linked to that blog in this message. The blog is now idle, but all the content and photos are there if you or anyone else wants to have a look. I called the blog “silverlining” because I had moved to that house for reasons related to declining health (I needed single floor living). My life and health had changed dramatically and I was pretty bummed out! The life around that pond became my world. It was my silver lining… Thankfully, I’ve adapted to the new me and life is again good! I no longer live near the pond and I miss it as much as any living thing I’ve ever had to part with.
    Enjoy the unfurling of springtime!

  4. Hope your Spring gets there soon! Superb photographs of both species! Love that line of Avocets!

  5. Two wonderful’ very different images. Love the portrait of the pelican (whose beak can hold more than his belly can) and the line of avocets and their reflections is a real prize winner! I mesn this literally…

  6. That’s a great photo. We’ll soon have to be checking out Bowdoin NWR as well, for the Avocets. I’m not sure they get here quite that early though.

  7. I wish spring was here! I’m from the east and we’re getting a little snow now. The question for you is; the White Pelican appears to be in basic (winter) plumage, do they always migrate through like that, or do some fly though in alternate (breeding) plumage?

    • Derek,

      I just spoke to my brother in West Virginia and he has over a foot of snow and it is still coming down hard.

      The photo of the American White Pelican in this post was taken at the end of May last year so this bird was starting to go into summer plumage. When they arrive here in the spring many of them are in breeding plumage.

  8. Mia, congrats! We’ve had spring in P.R. ever since December, so a lot of blooming is going on here. The White Pelican is adorable. We don’t get them here at all, we get the Brown pelican.

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