Western Bluebird male in Tooele County, UtahWestern Bluebird male in Tooele County, Utah – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I headed west yesterday towards the Stansbury Mountains in Tooele County because I wanted to explore some of the canyons on the east side of the mountain range. The day started like I thought it would with some images of Horned Larks on rocks near the reservoir up North Willow road. The condition of that road higher up is horrible right now because of deep ruts so I didn’t go all the way up.

But the going up South Willow Road brought a lovely surprise in the form of a small flock of Western Bluebirds that I found on the way back down. I’d seen them before when I lived in Colorado but I had never photographed them which made them lifers for me.

The male was the first one I photographed as it perched on an old fence post calling very softly. He was further away than I would have liked but I enjoyed looking at his brilliant blue plumage against the rusty red of his chest.

A female Western Bluebird in Tooele County, UtahA female Western Bluebird in Tooele County, Utah – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Then a female popped up on a fence post even closer than the male. The females aren’t as brightly colored but they are beautiful just the same. As much as I relished photographing them I also enjoyed hearing their soft calls.

Front view of a Western Bluebird femaleFront view of a Western Bluebird female – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The range maps I looked at show that these Western Bluebirds were well out of their normal range, the maps don’t even show this area as being part of their migration path so seeing them was even more of a treasure than I first imagined when I raised my lens and started photographing them. I looked on ebird.org and only found two sightings in 2008 that were north of Provo.  They are found in southern Utah but not typically in northern Utah.

Is climate change affecting Western Bluebirds? Will we see them more often as they migrate? I truly don’t know.

A perched Western Bluebird femaleA perched Western Bluebird female – Nikon D810, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 320, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Seeing these Western Bluebirds in Tooele County in the Stansbury Mountain Range yesterday is part of why I love bird photography so much. You just never know what you will see out there and that alone makes it very exciting.

Life is good.

Mia

My eBird checklist