Some of the Birds I love at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge

//Some of the Birds I love at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge
Some of the Birds I love at Bear River National Wildlife Refuge2018-05-10T10:37:02+00:00

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 Flycatcher that visit the Bear River Migratory Bird 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 near 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 Green-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. Robert Rice April 28, 2018 at 7:03 am

    What an amazing time cant wait to go back Bear River is so beautiful

  2. Lisa C.Jackson November 21, 2017 at 6:33 am

    I hope to meet you someday. I am a huge fan. Having been to the places in Utah that you have been to, I know you must go day after day after day and sit for hours in the mornings, in order to get the precious photos you get. I really appreciate all that you do. Thank you so much for being amazing!

  3. [email protected] February 17, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Mia, thanks for the cross post at the Wildlife Conservation Stamp site. Your photography is transcendent in how it makes everyone feel when they see it. Thank you for caring so much about these beautiful animals and places you document.

  4. Bob Pruner December 24, 2013 at 10:14 am

    Such beautiful photographs! I visited many of the areas you mention in your blog when I was a student at BYU many years ago. It brings back wonderful memories. I am a dedicated nature lover but I do not consider myself a serious photographer like yourself. I just use my camera to keep track of what I see. Occasionally everything comes together and I get a pretty good shot so I can appreciate what it takes to get consistently superior images like the ones you post.

    In the caption for the Swainson’s hawk you mentioned that their diet consists mainly of insects. Up here in Cardston, Alberta where I live, the pair that nest almost every year in my yard feed their offspring almost entirely on Richardson’s ground squirrels during the summer. I wonder if the diet of these hawks in Utah differs from the ones here. I have read that they eat mostly grasshoppers and other insects on their wintering grounds in Argentina.

    I am glad I stumbled on your site and look forward to following your postings.

  5. judy watson August 29, 2013 at 9:14 pm

    So many beautiful birds at the bird refuge and you caught them beautifully!

    • Mia McPherson August 31, 2013 at 4:23 pm

      Thanks Judy, Bear River is awesome for birds.

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