Lesser Scaup drakeLesser Scaup drake – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/800, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The weather has been unseasonably warm here in Utah the past few weeks  but I know that it won’t be long before temperatures drop, snow starts falling and I will have opportunities to photograph birds that I only see here in winter. It felt weird yesterday to see a temperature of 77°F before 7 am but we have had odd weather lately.

Last winter I was able to photograph this drake Lesser Scaup as it floated near some hens at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area. I see these ducks up in Montana during the summer but not here in Utah.

Adult White Crowned Sparrow on a cold winter dayAdult White Crowned Sparrow on a cold winter day – Nikon D300, f10, 1/200, ISO 400, +1 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

It is time to check my winter clothing out to see if I need to add to the wardrobe I wear in the field. It gets bitter cold and I want to be prepared for it.

The White-crowned Sparrows don’t seem to mind the cold much and as soon as the sun warms them they are off searching for food.

Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow perched on frost covered RabbitbrushJuvenile White-crowned Sparrow perched on frost covered Rabbitbrush – Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 500, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

I see other sparrow species in the winter here in Utah but the White-crowned Sparrows seem to be the ones I see most often. The juveniles look very different from the adults but their song is just as beautiful.

Common Raven on a mound of snowCommon Raven on a mound of snow – Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 500, +1.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, natural light

The snow will fall, the winds will blow, the fog will blot out the Great Salt Lake and the mountaintops and the freezing temps will chill me to the bone. But guess where I will be? Out in it all soaking up the winter scenery and being delighted by the birds that make a home in the Great Basin during the winter.

Another wonderful thing happens in the winter and it involves people. During the warmer months my fellow bird-loving and photography friends and myself are spread all over the place like dandelion fluff in the wind but during the winter it seems we all go to a few locations where large numbers of our birds overwinter and form a delightful flock of our own. We catch up and share stories of birds we saw in the warmer months and reveal the journeys we have been on. We complain about the cold yet we have a light in our eyes that says we enjoy it all.

Life is good, isn’t it?



  1. Lois Bryan September 27, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    soooo beautiful!!!!!

  2. Elephant's Child September 27, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    I would love to see (first hand) the catch light in the eyes of your fellow birders…

  3. Jolanta September 27, 2014 at 11:15 am

    Love all your photos. Thank you 🙂

  4. Mary McAvoy September 27, 2014 at 11:04 am

    Wonderful post, Mia!
    As I read it I could feel the frigid chill of winter and then the warmth of friendship!
    Great photos, too!

  5. Montanagirl September 27, 2014 at 9:03 am

    Beautiful as always!

  6. Humming Bird Lover September 27, 2014 at 8:36 am


    Yes I look forward to Snow! Ha ha and all our beautiful colored birds here in Virginia! Send lots of your beautiful picture our way! Have a great day! Keep up your great work!

  7. judy watson September 27, 2014 at 8:21 am

    Love your blogs, Mia!
    Now I have relearn my ducks this winter.
    I think I’ve forgotten their names.
    Beautiful photos.

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