Signs of Spring ~ American Avocets and Double-crested Cormorants

/, Double-crested Cormorants, Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Salt Lake County, Utah/Signs of Spring ~ American Avocets and Double-crested Cormorants

It has been a very weird winter here in Utah, there hasn’t been much snow at all in the Salt Lake Valley and temperatures have been warmer than normal. For a few weeks it has felt like spring. This week I saw a report of butterflies already flitting around and the trees I see have buds that look like they are ready to burst open.

Birds that I normally expect to photograph in the winter have been scarce, for instance the Bald Eagles at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area where last year I could count hundreds on any given day in February and this year I’ve been lucky to see more than 4 at a time.

So I’ve found myself wishing for the arrival of “spring birds” on more than one occasion because bird photography has been rather slow the last few weeks.

Swimming Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Swimming Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) ~ Salt Lake County, Utah
Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Today I went out to Antelope Island State Park not expecting much because it has been very slow out there for bird photography lately and for the most part I was correct. But at the marina I saw some dark shapes in the sky flying very rapidly. I realized they were Cormorants as soon as my lens could focus on them! My FOY (first of the year) Double-crested Cormorants! There were four of them and they were too far away to get decent images but I felt like dancing because in my mind they are “spring birds“. Hooray!

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) in flight

American Avocet (Recurvirostra americana) in flight ~ Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area, Utah
Nikon D200, f8, 1/2000, ISO 400, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

Just about a mile away from the park entrance I caught sight of a bird in flight and wondered what it was. My first instinct was “American Avocet” but it seems a little early for them. But I was right on the ID and saw not just one but two of them in flying along the causeway. Wow, more “spring birds“!

Oh yeah, I’m ready for the birds of spring.


(These images were taken previously, not today)


  1. judy watson March 1, 2012 at 9:16 am

    Wow, Mia. Fantastic shot of the Cormorant. I dream of shots like that.
    I read on the bird refuge paper that they are coming back this month. So I’m excited. I think we are going to go there this weekend.

    • Mia McPherson March 1, 2012 at 9:28 am

      Judy, I bet the Cormorants are at Bear River NWR already. I’ve photographed them there in early March. I hope we get some sunshine this weekend, I am feeling cabin fever already!

  2. Scott February 27, 2012 at 7:36 am

    You caught the eye so well on the Cormorant. And a terrific American Avocet BIF shot. One of my favorite birds.

  3. Julie Brown February 26, 2012 at 6:19 pm

    Same strange winter for Indiana too, Mia. 50 degrees today, 36 yesterday. Last weekend I saw RWBB and killdeer in the marshlands.

    • Mia McPherson February 27, 2012 at 9:52 am

      Julie, yesterday felt & looked like spring but tonight there is snow in the forecast. The weather is so changeable this time of the year!

  4. Linda Rockwell February 26, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    More wonderful photos Mia. That American Avocet photo is absolutely fabulous!

    • Mia McPherson February 27, 2012 at 9:51 am

      Thanks so much Linda, I appreciate your comments.

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