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Birdwatching Hotspots in Southern Utah

Southern Utah is a paradise for birdwatchers, offering diverse habitats that attract a wide variety of bird species. From desert landscapes to lush wetlands, this region provides birdwatching enthusiasts with numerous hotspots to explore. Here’s a guide to some of the best locations and times for birdwatching in Southern Utah.

Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

Located near the Great Salt Lake, Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is one of the premier birdwatching locations in Southern Utah. This vast wetland habitat is home to over 200 species of birds, including American avocets, white-faced ibises, and sandhill cranes. Spring and fall migrations are the best times to visit, as thousands of birds stop here to rest and feed. Early morning or late afternoon is ideal for birdwatching, when birds are most active.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is not only known for its stunning landscapes but also for its rich birdlife. The park’s diverse habitats, from riparian zones to coniferous forests, attract species such as peregrine falcons, western tanagers, and California condors. The best time for birdwatching in Zion is during spring and early summer, when many birds are nesting. The Riverside Walk and Pa’rus Trail are excellent areas to spot a variety of birds.

Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge

Situated in the remote west desert, Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge is a hidden gem for birdwatchers. This oasis in the desert supports a variety of waterfowl and shorebirds, including American white pelicans, egrets, and grebes. Fall and spring are the peak seasons for birdwatching, with early mornings offering the best opportunities to see birds as they are most active at dawn.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park’s unique geological formations provide a striking backdrop for birdwatching. The park is home to species such as the violet-green swallow, Steller’s jay, and the rare peregrine falcon. Birdwatching is excellent in the spring and summer when migratory birds arrive. Sunrise and sunset are perfect times for birdwatching, as the lighting highlights both the birds and the stunning landscape.

Red Cliffs Desert Reserve

The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve, located near St. George, is a lesser-known birdwatching destination with a diverse array of bird species. This area is home to birds like the greater roadrunner, Gambel’s quail, and various raptors. Spring is the best time to visit, as the desert blooms and attracts numerous birds. The reserve’s numerous trails offer great vantage points for birdwatching throughout the day.

San Juan River

The San Juan River corridor is a fantastic birdwatching area, especially for those interested in waterbirds and raptors. The river’s banks attract species such as great blue herons, bald eagles, and osprey. Late fall and early spring are the prime times for birdwatching along the river, as migrating birds use the corridor as a resting and feeding stop.

Southern Utah is a birdwatcher’s haven, offering a variety of habitats and a diverse array of bird species. By visiting these hotspots during peak seasons and times of day, you can experience the incredible birdlife that Southern Utah has to offer. Grab your binoculars and field guide, and set out to discover the avian wonders of this beautiful region.


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