Mixture of Spring Birds at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Clark's Grebe adult swimming on the Bear RiverClark’s Grebe adult swimming on the Bear River – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge reopened on Monday and I was able to get out to photograph the birds there yesterday. The river is still running high and there is more water than I have ever seen on the way to the auto tour route, with warmer temps predicted coming up there may be more flooding so I wanted to see what birds there were on the refuge and there are plenty of them to see. These photos represent only a few of the bird species I saw yesterday.

I was able to photograph this Clark’s Grebe adult swimming on the Bear River with another adult nearby. I hoped they would rush across the water in a mating display but they didn’t seem interested in doing that.

Perched male House SparrowPerched male House Sparrow – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 320, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I also photographed this perched male House Sparrow in his breeding plumage not far from the maintenance buildings. House Sparrows are introduced birds that some people love to hate. While I don’t like how aggressive they are or how they take over nests that native birds could be using I can’t blame them for being here because they didn’t arrive on their own, people brought them here.

Besides, this one is a dapper looking bird.

While the population of House Sparrows in North America is stable or even increasing the population of these birds in many of the areas where they are native are on the decline. I guess we could always send some back to their native countries.

Sleek male Red-winged BlackbirdSleek male Red-winged Blackbird – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 320, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The Red-winged Blackbirds were making a lot of noise yesterday while flitting about, calling and displaying close to the road. This male was near another displaying male whom he might have been slightly intimidated by because of the behavior he displayed by tilting his bill up and making his feathers and body appear sleek. I photographed the other male too but I like this setting and the blackbird’s behavior.

Yellow-headed Blackbird male calling up closeYellow-headed Blackbird male calling up close – Nikon D500, f9, 1/500, ISO 250, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

This Yellow-headed Blackbird was so close the the road when I spotted it that I could barely fit all of him in my viewfinder at times, this photo is full frame and I didn’t have any room to spare behind his tail without clipping it. I could have taken off my teleconverter but I didn’t want to miss any of the action. So, I clipped some of his tail and feet in quite a few of my images but I am happy with the ones where I didn’t.

Marsh Wren with Midges at Bear River MBRMarsh Wren with Midges at Bear River MBR – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/640, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

I was only able to photograph one Marsh Wren yesterday and I only took 15 images of it before it flew off and hid in the rushes but I liked this photo because it shows several midges in the frame including one to the right of the wren’s leg that was in focus. Midges are an important food source for many of the birds found at the refuge.

Pale adult American PipitPale adult American Pipit – Nikon D500, f9, 1/400, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

The bird that surprised me when I located it was this lovely pale adult American Pipit perched on a barbed wire fence. I usually hear pipits long before I see them but I hadn’t heard one yesterday at all so I didn’t expect to see any. This pipit was silent the entire time I photographed it.

Savannah Sparrow singing at Bear River MBRSavannah Sparrow singing at Bear River MBR – Nikon D500, f7.1, 1/1250, ISO 250, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

Listening to this Savannah Sparrow sing yesterday was such a joy for me, they are beautiful sparrows and their songs match that beauty well. I usually hear them at the refuge while they are here in Utah but most of the time they have been too far away to photograph.

I was so happy to photograph this mixture of spring birds at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge that I had a hard time picking out which birds and which photos to share. I’m certain I will be sharing more of the birds I photographed yesterday in the future.

It felt wonderful to be back out on the refuge that I love so dearly.

Life is good.



  1. Utahbooklover April 13, 2017 at 10:50 pm

    Interesting collection of fine images. Clark’s Grebe, with the deep blue water, stands out to me. Thanks!

  2. Pepe Forte April 13, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    Wonderful group Mia. I especially like the Savannah Sparrow and Pipit images. And the yellow headed blackbird is a real treat. Thanks.

  3. Elephants Child April 13, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    Smiling from the other side of the world. Broadly. Thank you.

  4. Jorge H. Oliveira April 13, 2017 at 1:20 pm

    Great series. I like them all.

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. John sherrill April 13, 2017 at 9:40 am

    You must have felt like a kid in a candy shop!

  6. Kathi Stopher April 13, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Thank you for those extraordinarily stunning photos of songbirds at BRMBR! They are a reminder that the Refuge is a sanctuary for many different species. Thanks for sharing!

  7. Patty Chadwick April 13, 2017 at 7:39 am

    What a wonderful visual spring festival of brds!!! Thank you!!!

  8. Bob mcpherson April 13, 2017 at 7:15 am

    Beautiful photos MiA.

  9. Rosemary Harris April 13, 2017 at 6:26 am

    Beautiful male Yellow-headed Blackbird one day I hope to see one.

  10. Kim April 13, 2017 at 6:21 am

    Beautiful! I’ve never seen a yellow-headed blackbird!

  11. judy April 13, 2017 at 5:54 am

    Wow! Great set!

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