Wellness experts have long extolled the virtues of immersing oneself in the natural world. In Utah County the local lakes, rivers, and mountains afford numerous opportunities for recreation that provide the benefits of fresh air, exercise, and stress relief. One of our favorite outdoor activities is birdwatching (also called birding by the small but growing body of enthusiasts). Birdwatching combines appreciation for nature’s beauty and variety with the challenge of identifying different species based on visual, audible, and behavioral clues. With just a pair of hiking shoes, binoculars, and a printed field guide (try one by Sibley or National Geographic) or identification app (Audubon Bird Guide is free and quite helpful), you are ready to go.
You might be surprised to learn that over 300 species of wild birds have been observed in Utah County. Backyard plants and bird feeders attract numerous common species, such as House Finches and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. A variety of ducks, woodpeckers, hawks, and owls inhabit local parks, ponds, and fields. In the springtime, when many birds return to Utah to nest after wintering in Arizona or Central America, watch for new arrivals such as Lazuli Buntings, Western Kingbirds, Bullock’s Orioles, Yellow Warblers, Tree Swallows, Black-necked Stilts, and Ospreys, along with colorful year-round residents like Cedar Waxwings and American Kestrels.
Some of our favorite spring birdwatching spots in and around Utah Valley incorporate hiking, biking, or even kayaking: the Spanish Fork River Trail, Utah Lake State Park, Rock Canyon, the Provo River Trail, Aspen Grove, and Lehi’s Powell Lake. Other good places to birdwatch (hotspots) can be found at www.ebird.com. You can even join a local fieldtrip led by the Utah County Birders group (see www.utahbirds.com/ucb for details). We think you will love spending some time birdwatching this spring—for us it is a great source of enjoyment and rejuvenation.