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BIRDS

A Day at the Marsh

A Day at the Marsh




On an overcast winter day, a group of Great Blue Herons is joined by some Canada Geese to give us an inside look at a day on the wetlands of the Bear River Refuge. It is truly a beautiful look into the magic of wildlife and natural surroundings.


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Avocet Display

Avocet Display




An American Avocet in its striking spring plumage displays looking for a mate. In the summer American Avocets can be found in wetlands across western North America where they will raise their young and fatten up for their journey south where they winter in parts of Southern California and Mexico.


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Blackbird and Grasses

Blackbird and Grasses




This striking Yellow-Headed Blackbird stands out in a field of late summer grasses along the Great Salt Lake in Utah. These stunning birds can be found throughout the wetlands in western North America where the males stake out their territories as this one has. They are famous for their rasping song that ends in a rich croak.


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Blue Heron

Blue Heron




While herons typically nest in large groups known as rookeries, they tend to hunt alone during the breeding season and spend much of the year by themselves. Fish make up most of the heron’s diet, but they will also prey on frogs, salamanders, insects and even other birds. While Great Blue Herons are most commonly found in marshes, they can also be seen along rivers, lakes and small ponds.


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Burrowing Owl

Burrowing Owl




This long-legged owl lives underground in modified abandoned burrows of badgers, gophers and foxes. Unlike most owls, Burrowing Owls can be seen in the morning and evening when they are hunting rodents and insects that make up the majority of their diet. They stand 9” to 10” tall and weigh 5 to 6 ounces with a wingspan of 21”.


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Cinnamon Girl

Cinnamon Girl




A pair of Barn Swallows use a barbed wire fence to take a break while searching for insects that make up their diet. These birds are often seen just a few inches above the ground or water as they pursue their quarry.


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Circle of Cranes

Circle of Cranes




In their annual spring migration along the Platte River, these elegant Sandhill Cranes lift off in unison at first light to spend the day feeding in nearby fields and ponds to refuel for their journey to the Northlands.


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Cruisin

Cruisin




With an adult wingspan of almost seven feet and weighing up to 14 pounds, the Bald Eagle is truly impressive. Found typically around water, they prefer habitat that has little or no human presence. Being at the top of the food chain, eagles are highly susceptible to contaminants in the environment, which make them an indicator of our environment’s health.


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Eagle Crest

Eagle Crest




The Bald Eagle has long been a symbol of pride and strength. For years, this proud raptor could be found on the list of endangered species, a victim of pollution and habitat loss. The Bald Eagle has recently staged a moderate comeback and was placed on the list of threatened species. Although its future looks somewhat promising, it is still uncertain.


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Eagle in Flight

Eagle in Flight




The Bald Eagle is one of the most majestic birds to see in flight. With a wingspan of almost seven feet and weighing up to 14 pounds, the Bald Eagle is truly impressive. Found typically around water, they prefer habitat that has little or no human presence. Being at the top of the food chain, eagles are highly susceptible to contaminants in the environment, which make them an indicator of our environment’s health.


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First Steps

First Steps




Sandhill Cranes mate for life and stay with their mates year round. Young cranes, called colts, can leave the nest within 8 hours of hatching and will stick close by their parents for the first 9 to 10 months of their life. They will stay in family units throughout their first year first and will travel together which will teach them their migration routes and winter feeding areas.


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Fisher King

Fisher King




While herons typically nest in large groups known as rookeries, they tend to hunt alone during the breeding season and spend much of the year by themselves. When startled or alarmed, herons utter a loud kraak, kraak.


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Flower Children

Flower Children




Sandhill Cranes usually nest in isolated wetlands, preferring areas with vegetation growing in standing water for protection against predators. Nests may be 30 to 40 inches across and 4 to 6 inches deep. Clutch sizes may be 1 to 3 eggs, incubation period is 29 to 31 days. Sandhill Cranes are known as fierce protectors of their young and standing 3 to 4 feet in height with a 7 foot wingspan and are quite the match for most predators.


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Good To Be King

Good To Be King




A Western Scrub Jay perches on a moose antler shed. Western Scrub Jays are members of the Corvid family, considered the most intelligent of the birds and among the smartest in the animal kingdom. These birds have been known to stash away 10,000 peanuts and know the location of each one.


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Great Gray in Flight

Great Gray in Flight




A Great Gray Owl glides silently in search of prey. Tiny hooks, called barbules, lock feathers together so they will support a bird in flight. On the leading edge of owl wing feathers, barbules are fringed so owls fly silently through the air. The Dakota Indians called the owl “hinhan”, which translates to “bird who hunts on hushed wings”.


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Hangin Out

Hangin Out




A White-Breasted Nuthatch, distinguishable by its black cap, white face and breast and rust colored rump, hangs upside down from an aspen tree. These short-tailed acrobats climb up, down and around trees in search of insects. During winter, the nuthatch’s diet changes and consist mainly of acorns, nuts, seeds and pine cones which it stores in the soil under loose ground cover or in elevated niches.


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Heron Study #3

Heron Study #3



This portrait of a Great Blue Heron shows a striking range of colors and patterns. Fish make up most of the heron’s diet, but they will also prey on frogs, salamanders, insects and even other birds. While herons are most commonly found in marshes, they can also be seen along rivers, lakes and small ponds.



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Hummingbird and Columbine

Hummingbird and Columbine




A female Broad-Tailed Hummingbird searches for nectar from a columbine flower. Found throughout the mountainous west, Broad-tails are 4” in length, with the female being larger than her more colorful male counterpart. Hummingbirds are probably the most acrobatic of birds, with the ability to fly forwards, backwards, sideways and even upside down. They can average 55 wing beats a second, a heart rate of 1,260 times a minute and a resting breath of 250 times a minute.


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Iceman

Iceman




A Great Blue Heron endures a cold morning along the Great Salt Lake. The lake provides habitat for the heron but this one might be rethinking his stay on the lake on this cold morning.


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Little Hawk

Little Hawk




The American Kestrel is the smallest falcon found in North America. This female Kestrel conserves its energy while hunting by perching and scanning the ground for prey to ambush. Kestrels also hunt by air, hovering with rapid wing beats. Their diet consists of insects, lizards, mice and small birds.


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Magpie Salute

Magpie Salute




Magpies are revered by ancient and indigenous cultures throughout the world as symbols of happiness, good luck and bringers of good news. It is said that Magpies are the bridge between dark and light. Some cultures salute Magpies to ward off bad spirits and to say that they come in peace.


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Magpie Study #1

Magpie Study #1




Black-Billed Magpies are an elegant and graceful bird. They are members of the Corvid family and one of the most intelligent birds found in North America. They mate for life and raise one brood a year. As omnivores, their diet is quite varied and changes with the seasons - insects, nuts, fruits, grains, eggs and even small mammals. In most light, Magpies appear black and white but when the sun hits them at the right angle, they have beautiful flashes of blue and blue-green iridescent feathers.


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Marsh Wren

Marsh Wren




The 5” tall Marsh Wren is typically found in fresh-water marshes among cattails, where they can be seen bouncing among the reeds and occasionally moving to the top of a stem for a quick look around. There, the males sing their reedy songs which ends in a rasping chatter to defend their nesting territory. Sometimes Marsh Wrens will build up to 20 dummy nests, helping to ensure the safety of their young.


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Medicine Bird

Medicine Bird




Ravens have long been a symbol in many literary stories and native lore. They have a deep symbolic meaning for many cultures including Native Americans, who revere the Raven as a symbol of change and transformation.


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Morning Cranes

Morning Cranes




A group of Sandhill Cranes start to stir with the first warming rays of sunlight. After spending the evening in a shallow pond safe from predators, they will fly off to feed in fields and marshes. Cranes are the oldest known living bird species and have inhabited the Earth for 60 million years. Cranes take their name from the Anglo-Saxon word “cran” meaning to “cry out” which is fitting for these 3 to 4 foot tall birds with their rattling and siren-like cries.


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Mountain Jewel

Mountain Jewel




A Broad-Tailed Hummingbird searches for nectar in a skyrocket plant, one of the many plants that these hummingbirds help to pollinate in the mountainous west. The male Broad-Tailed can be distinguished from other male hummingbirds by its emerald green back and ruby red gorget, or throat patch. It is also the only hummingbird to have a wing “whistle”, which can be heard up to 100 yards away. This whistle is used to help defend its territory from other birds.


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Pelican Sunrise

Pelican Sunrise




Sunrise at the Bear River Bird Refuge in northern Utah can offer spectacular views as well as allowing one to see many different species of birds such as these American White Pelicans. The Bear River Bird Refuge is part of the Great Salt Lake, offering millions of birds a place of refuge to refuel on migrations, raise their young or even spend the winter.


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Pelican Sunset

Pelican Sunset




A group of American White Pelicans takes refuge on a sandbar at last light on the Bear River Bird Refuge in northern Utah. Here they will spend the evening protected against predators.


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Pelicans

Pelicans




American White Pelicans spend most of the spring and summer months in wetlands found throughout western North America and then return along the Pacific Ocean in California and Mexico. Pelicans are large birds and can weigh up to 20 lbs and have wingspans as wide as ten feet.


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Picture Day

Picture Day




An American Kestrel strikes a picture day pose while surveying his hunting grounds. Kestrels conserve energy while hunting by perching and scanning the ground for prey to ambush. The smallest falcon in North America, Kestrels also hunt by hovering in the air with rapid wing beats.


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Ramblin Man

Ramblin Man




Rough-Legged Hawks populations rise and fall with the rodent populations of the Arctic. Overall numbers of Rough-Legged Hawks seem to be healthy. They are often seen in the lower-48 states during winter, hunting over open areas.


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Raven Study #4

Raven Study #4




Common Ravens are members of the Corvid family, the smartest in the bird world. Ravens are at the top of that class. Some say Ravens have the same intelligence as most monkeys. They are omnivorous and seem especially fond of carrion. Ravens are known for their aerial acrobatics, like soaring, tumbling, rolling and chasing other birds. Ravens are found throughout the west and range high into the arctic.


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Ravens

Ravens




Common Ravens are members of the Corvid family, the smartest in the bird world. Ravens are at the top of that class. Some say Ravens have the same intelligence as most monkeys. They are omnivorous and seem especially fond of carrion. Ravens are known for their aerial acrobatics, like soaring, tumbling, rolling and chasing other birds. Ravens are found throughout the west and range high into the arctic.


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Snow Angels

Snow Angels




A pair of Trumpeter Swans lifts off a frozen river freshly dusted in snow. Trumpeter Swans are the largest waterfowl found in North America, growing 6 feet in length and weighing up to 25lbs. In order to get airborne these birds need 100 yards of runway to successfully take-off.


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Spirit Eagle

Spirit Eagle




The Bald Eagle is one the most majestic birds to see in flight. With an adult wingspan of almost seven feet and weighing up to 14 pounds, the Bald Eagle is truly impressive. At the top to the food chain, eagles are highly susceptible to contaminants in their environment. As a result, eagles are an early warning indicator of our environment’s health. For years, the Bald Eagle was a victim of pollution and habitat loss. Recently eagles have made a modest comeback.


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Spring Sparrow

Spring Sparrow




Song Sparrows are found in brushland, freshwater and saltwater marshes across most of Canada and the United States. Sparrows also thrive in human dominated areas such as in suburbs, agricultural fields and along roadsides. The species is native to North America where they can be found in abundant numbers. This Sparrow perches here enjoying the spring bloom and adding to the color of the landscape.


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Stellers Jay

Stellers Jay




The Stellers Jay lives among the conifers and pine oak forests found throughout the West. Jays are excellent mimics with a large repertoire. They can imitate many other birds as well squirrels, cats and dogs. They have even been known to mimic mechanical objects.


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Stilts in Flight

Stilts in Flight




A group of Black-Necked Stilts lifts off in flight. These striking black and white birds with very long red legs can be found from coastal California through much of the interior western United States, where they can be found in salt marshes and freshwater wetlands.


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Swan Song

Swan Song




A group of Tundra Swans arrive at the Bear River Bird Refuge in late March only to find it still frozen over. They use the refuge to rest and refuel in the spring for their long migration to the tundra of northern Canada and Alaska where they raise their young.


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Teton Red

Teton Red




Perched atop a pine sprig, this Red-Tailed Hawk is ultra aware of its surroundings. They are found in North America from the interior of Alaska and northern Canada to as far south as Panama and the West Indies. They are birds of prey and hunt primarily small mammals such as rodents.


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Trickster

Trickster




Known in mythology as a trickster, many cultures view the Raven as a symbol of the creation of the world. Ravens have long been featured in many literary stories and native lore. They have a deep symbolic meaning for many cultures including Native Americans, who revere the Raven as a symbol of change and transformation.


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Winter Blush

Winter Blush




House Finches were once only found in Mexico and the American Southwest but now are found coast to coast in the United States. They find themselves at home in rural and urban habitats and are familiar visitors to backyard feeders.


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Winter Drifters

Winter Drifters




A pair of Bald Eagles wait out a winter snowstorm. It is thought that Bald Eagles mate for life and that both parents build the nest and rear their young. They usually nest in very tall trees or cliff walls. Young birds attempt their first flights at 10 to 12 weeks but it takes 5 years for immature birds to attain the white head and tail feathers of a mature adult bird.


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Winter Junco

Winter Junco




A Dark-Eyed Junco fluffs up its feathers to help protect itself from a winter’s storm. Juncos are members of the sparrow family and in the winter travel in flocks of 10 to 30 birds. Primarily seed eaters, they will spend most of their time along woodland edges and bushy areas foraging the ground in search of food. Juncos are also frequent and familiar visitors to feeding stations throughout most of North America.


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Winter Rations

Winter Rations




Greater Sage Grouse are found in sagebrush country of the American west. This very large grouse nests on the ground among sagebrush and relies on the plant for much of its winter diet.


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Yellow-headed Blackbird Display

Yellow-headed Blackbird Display




A male Yellow-Headed Blackbird uses a cattail to display to rivals that this is his territory. Found throughout wetlands in western North America where you can hear their familiar raspy song that ends in a rich croak.


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