Utah Birds: Common Birds in Utah (With Pictures)

Utah has a wide variety of habitats, making it a popular destination for birders. The state has a wide range of habitats, from scorching deserts to coniferous woods, you may see a wide variety of bird species in just one visit.

Common Birds in Utah
Common Birds in Utah

There are various birding areas in Utah, which are home to some of the country’s most magnificent national parks. Be sure not to miss the following highlighted species if you’re exploring birds in Utah’s millions of acres of landscapes.

This list of Utah birds contains species that have been reported and accepted by the Utah Bird Records Committee in the United States state of Utah.

There were 467 species on the official list as of March 2021. There are 119 that are accidental, 31 that are infrequent, 57 that are rare, and 10 that have been imported to Utah or North America. Nine of the unintentional species are likewise tentative.

Birds in Utah range from common species like the House Finch to uncommon species like McGillivray’s Warbler. The California gull was declared as the official bird of Utah in 1955.

In 1955, the California gull was designated as Utah’s official bird. The gull was chosen as the state bird because it aided the people of Utah in 1848 by eating Rocky Mountain pests that were spoiling the crops. Unless otherwise specified, all of the species listed below are considered permanent inhabitants, summer or winter visitors, or migratory in Utah.

ImageName
Snowy PloverSnowy Plover
Ferruginous HawkFerruginous Hawk
Clark's NutcrackerClark's Nutcracker
Tundra SwanTundra Swan
Juniper TitmouseJuniper Titmouse
Green-Tailed TowheeGreen-Tailed Towhee
California GullCalifornia Gull
Sage ThrasherSage Thrasher
Clark's GrebeClark's Grebe
Virginia RailVirginia Rail
Steller's JaySteller's Jay
Canyon WrenCanyon Wren
Gambel's QuailGambel's Quail
White-Faced IbisWhite-Faced Ibis
Golden EagleGolden Eagle
Greater Sage-GrouseGreater Sage-Grouse
Red-Napped SapsuckerRed-Napped Sapsucker
Northern Pygmy-OwlNorthern Pygmy-Owl
American DipperAmerican Dipper
ChukarChukar
Snow GooseSnow Goose
Mountains BluebirdMountains Bluebird
Wilson's PhalaropeWilson's Phalarope
Black Rosy-FinchBlack Rosy-Finch
Violet-Green SwallowViolet-Green Swallow
Prairie FalconPrairie Falcon
Broad-Tailed HummingbirdBroad-Tailed Hummingbird
Western TanagerWestern Tanager
Plumbeous VireoPlumbeous Vireo

1. Snowy Plover

Snowy Plover

Utah’s arid lands and lakeshores provide perfect living circumstances for the snowy plover. This bird’s population has been falling in recent years. Finding it might be difficult unless you extensively investigate the beach and marsh environs. Being an important breeding area for the snowy plover, the Great Salt Lake in Utah is a better option to start your search.

This bird is tiny and has a sandy look, allowing it to blend in well. A breeding adult may be identified by its black markings on the head and neck.

2. Ferruginous Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

The ferruginous hawk is a splendid bird of prey with rusty and white plumage that is mostly found in southwestern and northeastern Utah, which are the permanent residents of this bird. The ferruginous hawk expands across the rest of the state during the summer breeding season.

Prairies, deserts, and different wide grasslands are all home to these formidable raptors. A ferruginous hawk may be easily identified due to its pale appearance, which shines out whether it is flying or perching. The unique silhouette can help differentiate it from other hawks.

3. Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

The Clark’s nutcracker is a robust corvid that occasionally visits campsites and can be seen on hilly forest treks. In the summer, this bird prefers higher altitudes, so search for it in the winter when it relocates to lower ranges.

Color

Clark’s nutcrackers have a dagger-like beak and grey plumage with black wings, making them easy to spot. The white outer tail feathers are a distinguishing feature that may be seen during the bird’s flight.

4. Tundra Swan

Tundra Swan

The sight of these graceful swans will enchant Utah birders. This bird loves tundra environments and nests in Arctic areas, as its name indicates. The tundra swan’s nesting sites range extends to northern Utah. Birds move in big flocks and are immediately identified by the distinctive whistling sound made by their wings.

Color

Visually, a tundra swan may be distinguished by its beautiful white plumage and black beak. A tiny yellow patch can be seen in the beak region of some birds.

5. Juniper Titmouse

Juniper Titmouse
Credits – Wikipedia

The juniper titmouse has a fascinating rough chatter that gives some vitality to the favored pinyon-juniper woodland setting, with its basic grey appearance. This bird should not be overlooked by birders because it has some impressive habits and behaviors. It will occasionally hang upside down from branches and execute other acrobatic feats.

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Juniper titmice are easy to see because they forage in such a visible manner. These birds can be found all year in Utah, but it’s best to seek them in late April to increase your chances of locating one.

6. Green-Tailed Towhee

Green-Tailed Towhee
Credits – Wikipedia

The green-tailed towhee, named because of its rich olive tail and wing margins, is a common summer visitor in Utah. The green-yellow highlights on the bird’s grey body stand out against the scarlet head. The shrubby mountainsides and sagebrush flats are the ideal spaces for towhee where these birds spend most of their time.

Since it tends to be found in dense tree cover, spotting it may take some additional work. Because Green-tailed towhees are shy birds, it’s worth listening for the male’s rising mew cry.

7. California Gull

California Gull

Regardless of the fact that it is named after yet another state, the California gull is the official state bird of Utah. The year-round distribution of this gull includes sections of the state with lakes and marshes, primarily in the northern regions.

When you’re far away from the colony, you’ll see this bird species with other gulls. During their journey, California gulls stop in Utah and can be seen in major cities. Nonbreeding birds have a streaked look, whilst breeding individuals have a white head. Both species have yellow legs and bills with a red tinge.

8. Sage Thrasher

Sage Thrasher

A summer journey to Utah provides birders with a fantastic opportunity to see a wide variety of intriguing species. A sage thrasher might be spotted while exploring sagebrush step habitats. This thrasher is much smaller than other thrasher species. It has a mockingbird-like appearance, however, there are a few notable differences.

The sage thrasher is distinguished by its browner plumage and different markings on its body. Males are quite industrious when it comes to singing, and their call notes are remarkably similar to those of red-winged blackbirds.

9. Clark’s Grebe

Clark's Grebe

The Clark’s grebe is a rare bird that lives in freshwater marshes and has a beautiful black-and-white plumage. This species is only seen in Utah during the summer when it migrates to marshy lakes to nest. For every birder, Clark’s grebe is a pleasant experience.

Some of the most recognizable features include the black crown, sinuous neck, and bright orange bill. This bird’s elaborate courtship show, which is reminiscent of ballet performances, and is one of the reasons it is so sought after.

10. Virginia Rail

Virginia Rail

Another bird that can be found in Utah’s wetlands is this one. The Virginia rail mixes well within lush vegetation, but its location can be determined by listening for characteristic booming sounds. This bird has a grey cheek and a crimson beak. It can be identified by its chicken-like profile and the way it walks with its tail cocked.

In the summer, Virginia rails are rather common in Utah, but their impenetrable habitat and secretive nature make it difficult for birders to locate them.

11. Steller’s Jay

Steller's Jay

Steller’s jays are so common in Utah, you may readily admire their bright plumage and sassy crest. The Steller’s Jay is mainly found in evergreen forests in hilly places, but it can also be found in human-populated areas such as backyards or campgrounds. These birds like to spend the majority of their time on the treetops.

To detect the jay more successfully in dense trees, it is advised to listen for its sharp sounds. Steller’s jays feature beautiful flight patterns and a blue lower body that contrasts with a dark charcoal crest, making them visually stand out.

12. Canyon Wren

Canyon Wren

Even with its diminutive stature, the small canyon wren sings sweetly and powerfully, with a variety of whistle-like noises. This bird prefers rocky habitats and other dry regions. Canyon wrens are quick-moving birds that are continually on the lookout for insects in cracks or on the ground.

The rusty brown overall plumage of this wren distinguishes it visually. The long tail has a cinnamon color, and the wings have barring patterns. The stocky-chested bird has made Utah its permanent home.

13. Gambel’s Quail

Gambel's Quail

If you want to see the Gambel’s quail, you should go to Utah’s shrubby or thorny habitats. This bird is adapted to the state’s desert regions in the south. It’s easy to mix it up with California quail, but the Gambel’s variety has a black belly patch that helps distinguish it.

This ground-feeding game bird forages for food. Males and females both have a plump appearance with a swirling black knot of feathers, but the male bird’s cinnamon-brown crown shines more which makes it more prominent.

14. White-Faced Ibis

White-Faced Ibis

The white-faced ibis is definitely a spectacular sight, with its exquisite dark red plumage and shiny green wings. The state of Utah contains a significant population of these shorebirds. It’s most likely to be found near the Great Salt Lake.

The white-faced ibis can be found in a variety of marshy areas in northern Utah. The bird is frequently confused with the glossy ibis, which has a similar appearance except for the absence of a white line around the eyes.

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15. Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

The golden eagle is a must-see for birders looking for stunning raptors. Many regions of Utah are home to this magnificent bird. The gleaming feathers, graceful profile, and its powerful talons and beak for hunting mammal prey of these birds are all worthy of admiration.

Despite their extensive distribution in the western United States, golden eagles are solitary birds that are difficult to spot. Because the bird prefers big, open areas that are typically more remote, this is the case. To watch soaring golden eagles in all their grandeur, invest in a good set of binoculars.

16. Greater Sage-Grouse

Greater Sage-Grouse

Birders visiting Utah believe that the greater sage-grouse is a magnificent sight. When males fan their pointed tails and inflate bulbous air sacs during the mating season, it gives a tremendous sight. The only suitable dwelling habitat for this game bird is the sagebrush plains of the western United States.

It’s difficult to see the greater sage-grouse’s display unless you go to a lake that’s open to the public. Adult birds resemble speckled pudgy grouses outside of the breeding season. Males have a white breast and a yellow eyebrow patch, which makes them stand out.

17. Red-Napped Sapsucker

Red-Napped Sapsucker
Credits – Wikipedia

Red-napped sapsuckers are diligent bark foragers who are frequently heard before seen. The bird’s piercing cry and typical stuttering drumming sounds are associated with its search for sweet sap. In the early stages of its breeding season, this woodpecker is quite busy.

If you visit Utah during the summer, it is a fantastic area to watch them. You may look for red-napped sapsuckers in aspen and pine forests. Keep an eye out for sap wells, which may signal the presence of a woodpecker. The vivid red patch on the skull distinguishes it from other sapsucker species.

18. Northern Pygmy-Owl

Northern Pygmy-Owl

Utah is home to a variety of unique owl species, none are more difficult to spot than the northern pygmy-owl.  These birds may be active during the day, so it’s obvious to see them. This is a little owl that feeds primarily on songbirds.

It prefers to live in hilly woodlands, where it waits patiently for prey to appear. The smoothly rounded heads and long tails of a northern pygmy owl are some of its distinguishing features. It spends the entire year in Utah and can be found by listening for its high-pitched toots.

19. American Dipper

American Dipper

As a birder, it’s a good idea to venture near rivers and streams in Utah. Various species, such as the American dipper, may be visible. It is an aquatic songbird, so this bulky bird can be considered unusual on the continent. All the year, American dippers can be seen in Utah, where they forage for food in the water. The bird isn’t particularly colorful, but it’s worth looking for if you want to watch its frantic foraging habits.

20. Chukar

Chukar

The chukar, a fascinating bird to observe in Utah, has adapted admirably to the stony canyons and scrub deserts of the western United States. It’s an Asian native bird that’s been successfully introduced and is now a year-round inhabitant in dry terrain. Chukars are game birds with vivid stripes on the sides of their bodies that give them an unusual appearance.

Adults have a spherical head with a dark ring around their eyes. It has a stark contrast to the crimson bill. Chukars are easily identifiable due to these traits. Keep in mind that this is a wary bird, so getting a good look from a short distance may be difficult.

21. Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Snow geese may be seen across North America in considerable large numbers. During the winter migration season, vast groups of these loud birds can be found in Utah. The majority of snow geese have white plumage with black patches, but there is a rare blue variant that is worth looking for.

The sooty grey hue of these geese will stick out amid a sea of white birds, making it easy to identify. The only white feathers on the heads of adult blue morph snow geese are on their heads.

22. Mountains Bluebird

Mountains Bluebird

In the summer, the mountain bluebird, with its gleaming cerulean look, offers a splash of color to Utah’s alpine meadows. The male bird has a striking sky-blue plumage, and the females have a gray-brown appearance with minor blue tinges.

Finding a mountain bluebird is a simple undertaking if you’re seeking the correct open woodland environments. This is due to the fact that these birds are not afraid of humans and prefer to sit in many visible locations. Residents of Utah should think about getting a nest box. Mountain bluebirds are reported to make frequent use of them.

23. Wilson’s Phalarope

Wilson's Phalarope

This is a lovely shorebird that may be seen in Utah. When it comes to breeding sites, Wilson’s phalarope prefers salty lakes. Large flocks of birds gather on marshes and shallow wetlands in the northern parts of the state during the summer. The female of this species is more colorful than the male, as compared to other such bird species.

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In contrast to other bird species, the female of this species is more colorful than the male. Warm orange and reddish plumage tones are prominent in breeding Wilson’s phalaropes. Their legs are fairly lengthy, and their bills have a needle-like appearance.

24. Black Rosy-Finch

Black Rosy-Finch
Credits – Wikipedia

Many birders flock to Utah to see the bright black rosy-finch, which was discovered in the state’s northern mountains. This alpine finch has a dark brown overall look with distinct rose pink tinges on its wings.

During the breeding season, the yellow bill turns black, and the brown plumage of the bird darkens. It nests in inaccessible rocks and crevices, so you’re unlikely to see this bird during its mating season. The ideal time to look for the black rosy-finch is during the winter when it migrates to lower elevations.

25. Violet-Green Swallow

violet-green swallow

Violet-green swallows can be found in abundance in Utah’s mountain gullies. The appearance of these birds is a blend of violet and green, which assists in visual identification. Summer is the greatest time to see the violet-green swallow, an airborne insectivore.

Mexico and Central America have winters. To search for this bird you must visit near rivers or lakes, as well as any other place where there are a lot of flying insects. You’ll be rewarded with a variety of acrobatic tricks from the swallow.

26. Prairie Falcon

Prairie Falcon

If you want to witness some of the West’s most powerful raptors, a trip to Utah is a good idea. Prairie falcons can be seen in this state, gliding above vast grasslands in search of prey. The bird is a permanent inhabitant of Utah, where it can be found in open areas with little trees. This falcon species has dark feathers in their armpits zones and is quite huge than other such species.

It’s otherwise indistinguishable from other falcons with similar appearances. Prairie falcons don’t stay perched for long periods of time, so you’ll most likely encounter them flying near to the ground.

27. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird

Broad-tailed Hummingbird

The broad-tailed hummingbird has a rose-magenta throat that makes it an eye-catching presence everywhere during the summer months. This hummingbird prefers high alpine meadows to breed in. It can be difficult to identify in its natural habitat, but the metallic trills can help you pinpoint its specific location.

Broad-tailed hummingbirds are frequent feeders throughout its territory. An adult male bird doing dives to attract a female can be a stunning sight. Without the binoculars, you can generally follow this hummingbird more closely.

28. Western Tanager

Western Tanagers

The western tanager, which has a flame-like appearance, is a typical sight in Utah’s coniferous woods during the summer. The bird enjoys open forests, but it does not sit in highly visible areas. It will almost always take more effort to locate it than a simple visual search.

The tanager spends so much time in the deep canopy, so it’s best to listen for its brief, burry song and distinctive call notes to make a definite identification. Remember that only males have a unique redhead, whereas females have a slightly deeper yellow appearance.

29. Plumbeous Vireo

Plumbeous Vireo

In Utah, the plumbeous vireo is a summer visitor. It’s a gray-colored bird with a lovely song. A plumbeous vireo is easily spotted in dry pine woodlands. A thick bill and the white border of the eye can be used to correctly identify the bird.

The plumbeous vireo’s upperparts are grey, while the underparts have white feathers. This bird’s grey tone got it the name “plumbeous,” which comes from the Latin word for “lead.”

Final Words

Humans have drawn inspiration from birds for centuries, from flight technology to the invention of zippers modeled after feather barbules. Some of these breakthroughs have been enormous: Darwin’s observations of finches in the Galápagos Islands influenced his views on evolution by natural selection. They serve a more significant role than simply providing us with inspiration. They serve as messengers, informing us about the state of the environment. Birds are widely distributed and adapt fast to environmental changes.  They act as a useful warning system for important issues like climate change.

FAQ

What is Utah’s most common bird and the smallest bird?

The American Robin is the most common bird in Utah, appearing on 36 percent of bird checklists for the state. The Calliope Hummingbird is Utah’s tiniest bird, measuring only around 3 inches long, although it can fly enormous distances from Canada to southern Mexico.

How many different bird species can you find in Utah?

Utah is home to 462 of the 990 bird species recorded in the lower 48 states.

Where can you find blackbirds in Utah?

Grasslands, brushy thickets, prairies, and forest borders are all-natural habitats for the blackbirds in Utah. However, as a result of human advancement, they have substantially increased their range and have adapted well to residential areas, pastures, orchards, and cemeteries.

Last Updated on February 14, 2022 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.