One of my favorite locations to photograph birds in northern Utah is Bear River National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve selected some of the birds there that delight and entertain me while I observe and photograph them.

Eastern KingbirdEastern Kingbird

There are several different species of Flycatchers that visit the Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, among them the ones I see most often during the warmer months are the Eastern Kingbirds…

Western KingbirdWestern Kingbird

and Western Kingbirds. Both of them look rather dapper in my opinion.

Male Black-necked StiltMale Black-necked Stilt

There are also many shorebirds the pass through or nest on the refuge, Black-necked Stilts nest on the refuge…

American AvocetAmerican Avocet

as do American Avocets. Both of these shorebirds appear rather elegant in looks and movements.

Black-crowned Night HeronBlack-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Herons are common wading birds at the refuge and despite their name, they aren’t strictly nocturnal. Black-crowned Night Herons are year round residents…

Snowy Egret in flightSnowy Egret in flight

but Snowy Egrets are not, they migrate to the refuge. This Snowy Egret is showing the peachy-colored lores seen during the breeding season.

Barn Owl flying in the snowBarn Owl flying in the snow

Barn Owls are year-round residents of the refuge and although they are primarily nocturnal they do fly during the day when the weather is bitter cold and there is heavy snow cover on the ground and they will fly later at dawn and earlier at dusk when they have chicks to feed. This one was flying during the day as the snow fell.

Swainson's HawkSwainson’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawks are also migratory birds and they are seen on the refuge during the warmer months. Their diet consists primarily of insects like grasshoppers and there aren’t many of those around during the cold months in Utah.

American White PelicanAmerican White Pelican

American White Pelicans also nest on the refuge and come into to feed on fish in the fresh water impoundments.

Male Yellow-headed BlackbirdMale Yellow-headed Blackbird

Yellow-headed Blackbirds, with their mechanical sounding call, can be found perching in cattails, reeds, phragmites and other vegetation as they forage for food. I was tickled to get this male in this pose.

Western GrebeWestern Grebe

The most common found grebes on the refuge are Pied-billed, Clark’s and Western although Eared and Horned Grebes are also spotted there at different times of the year.

Tundra SwanTundra Swan

Tundra Swans by the thousands call the refuge home during the winter and can be seen flying overhead, swimming in open water or standing on ice. This adult shows a stained head and neck.

Marsh WrenMarsh Wren

The sound of Marsh Wrens can be heard all over the refuge, they may be tiny but their voices aren’t.

Cinnamon x Green-winged Teal hybridCinnamon x Blue-winged Teal hybrid

All types of ducks can be found on the refuge during different seasons of the year. It pays to keep a look out for unusual ducks, you never know when a hybrid might be seen like this Cinnamon x Blue-winged Teal.

Forester's TernForster’s Tern

Terns and gulls can also been seeing hunting over the water and nesting there as well. This Forester’s Tern in breeding plumage was hunting for small fish.

This is just a small selection of the birds that can be found at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge, a location that I treasure.



  1. Arlyne Draper February 11, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    My husband, Robert Draper, talks about your pictures all the time Now I get to see them and love them. Thank you for sharing your birds with us, they are spectacular. We love taking bird pictures too. Ours are nothing compared to your pictures, keep them coming. Love them.

    • Mia McPherson February 22, 2013 at 9:57 am

      Hello Arlyne, thank you for visiting my blog and for you very kind words on my work. I love to share the images and the stories behind them!

  2. Mark Elliott February 8, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Love the photo fo the Forester’s tern. We see a lot of the same birds down here in the Texas Panhandle. Great article.

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2013 at 6:25 am

      Thank you Mark! I used to see some of these birds in Florida too which I am grateful for because otherwise I would miss them.

  3. Lauren February 8, 2013 at 2:11 pm

    Simply beautiful pictures.

  4. Julie Brown February 8, 2013 at 4:05 am

    A fine collection of birds here, Mia. I hope to visit Bear River someday!

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Julie, I hope you get to visit Bear River NWR too, you’ll love it.

  5. Kathie February 7, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    I love this place! I miss this place! and your photos are OUTSTANDING!!!!!!!

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2013 at 6:07 am

      I can’t wait for you to be able to come back to Utah Kathie!!

  6. Seagullsteve February 7, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Crap, there are some great images in here…sweet pose on that blackbird.

    Why isnt that teal a Blue-winged X Cinnamon?

    • Mia McPherson February 9, 2013 at 6:04 am

      Thanks Steve!

      I wondered about the duck being a Blue Teal X Cinnamon cross too and asked for some help from people who know ducks better than I, they came up with the Green-winged x Cinnamon Teal hybrid.

  7. Scott (@NESASK) February 7, 2013 at 6:59 am

    It’s always a great treat to visit your blog, Mia. Fantastic shots!

  8. Eileen February 7, 2013 at 3:09 am

    Mia, awesome shots of all the birds. What a great place for birding. The Yellow-headed Blackbird is a beauty and ONE of my favorites. Wonderful post, happy Birding!

    • Mia McPherson February 7, 2013 at 6:12 am

      Thanks much Eileen, that Yellow-had Blackbird just cracks me up!

  9. Jane Chesebrough February 6, 2013 at 3:29 pm

    A lovely tribute to these birds, and I enjoy many of them, but still can crack up at the call of the yellow-headed blackbird.

    • Mia McPherson February 7, 2013 at 6:03 am

      Thanks Jane, the call of a Yellow-headed Blackbird and the contortions they go through when they are singing crack me up too!

  10. Larry Jordan February 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    OMG Mia! I’m in sensory overload! You should never put this much eye candy in front of drooling birders. Thank you for the trip through Bear River National Wildlife Refuge. I don’t know where to start with the accolades. All of the in-flight shots are excellent, of course, but the Black-crowned Night-Heron and the Forster’s Tern are out of this world. Love the bokeh on the Kingbird shots and the shorebirds are gorgeous. All that aside, I’m with you, the Yellow-headed Blackbird pose takes the prize. What a cool shot that is!!

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm

      Thank you Larry, these birds are eye candy, aren’t they? They cause my face to melt. You would love Bear River National Wildlife Refuge and I hope that you see it one day soon.

      That Yellow-headed Blackbird pose just cracks me up!

    • Ingrid February 6, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Ditto everything Larry said because I can’t say it any better.

      • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 2:26 pm

        Thank you Ingrid, your comments mean a lot to me.

  11. Merrill Ann Gonzales February 6, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    I am lost for words… so much beauty all at once! What a joy you are!

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 2:02 pm

      Thank you Merrill, I am at a loss for words when I see these amazing beings through my lens too.

  12. Sally Wood February 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    These are incredible – the flycatcher looks like the Eastern Kingbird we have here in midwest.

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm

      Sally, the first image is an eastern Kingbird, we get them out here too.

  13. Prairie Birder February 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Excellent series, Mia, the Cinnamon x Green-winged Teal hybrid is really cool!

  14. Bob Bushell February 6, 2013 at 8:01 am

    You must be proud to have taken all those birds, my favourite is the American Avocet, superb.

  15. Sherry in MT February 6, 2013 at 7:47 am

    I love that you shared all of these photos with us. Many of those birds are the same ones I see up at Freezeout (along the migratory route, known for its masses of snow geese) and have photos of. I had my first ever encounter and photo of a grebe last summer nesting down on the lake by my house…it was magical! Thank you for the lovely shots and the ids and commentary as well.

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 1:48 pm

      Sherry, I think nesting grebes are magical, those floating nests are amazing. Thanks so much for your comment.

  16. Laurence Butler February 6, 2013 at 6:35 am

    Geez Mia…so many awesome birds in so many awesome photographs…
    It’s maybe not such a good idea for me to pull up your blog early in the morning. It makes the rest of the day seem dull by comparison. : )

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      Ah, your days are any thing but dull Laurence, I read your blog!

  17. Kathleen February 6, 2013 at 6:29 am

    So much fun to view and guess species before reading your descriptions!

  18. Ricky February 6, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Excellent blog Mia, I love it!

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Thank you very much Ricky!

  19. judy watson February 6, 2013 at 6:03 am

    Those are fantastic!!
    I wish I could get pics like you do.

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 1:45 pm

      Thank you Judy. Keep on shooting!

  20. M. Firpi February 6, 2013 at 5:38 am

    What a post Mia. I love The Forester’s Tern. When I saw the Male Yellow-headed Blackbird it reminded me of the frustration I have from not getting decent shots of the Red-winged Blackbird when I was in Florida. What variety you have there. You have worked so hard.

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      Thanks Maria, I’ve found blackbirds to either be very cooperative or completely uncooperative with hardly any middle ground!

  21. eric c11 February 6, 2013 at 5:21 am

    impressive serie, good job mia ☺

    • Mia McPherson February 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm

      Thank you very much Eric.

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