These are avocets. We first saw them at Antelope Island. After a while Michael started calling them "avatars." The name stuck and that's how I remember them.
This chukar looked like it was posing for us. We came across it as we were driving to the old ranch that's on Antelope Island.
I call these ducks "Mohawk Dudes" because of their radical hair styles. We also saw our first pelicans at Bountiful Lake.
Bear River Bird Refuge
We hit the mother lode with the Bear River Bird Refuge! It's just about an hour out of Salt Lake City. Our heads were turning (just like the little guy below) trying not to miss anything during our visit there. We ended up doing two 12 mile loops through it one day and briefly stopping by on another!
I've posted some of my personal favorites from Bear River. It was really hard to choose; but here they are:
These male yellow-headed blackbirds picked just the right spot to gather, didn't they? Color coordinated signage and birds. Amazing!
Near the end of our first loop around the refuge we came across these sandhill cranes and witnessed part of their courtship ritual. Wow, talk about being in the right place at the right time!
There were loads of swallows too. This is a close up of nest building using mud.
Now for some "stranger than fiction shots" from the refuge.
We'd see these columns from a distance and were trying to figure out what they were. We'd drive up to them and they'd seem to disappear. It's a matter of perspective as these were insect swarms. Crazy! Thankfully they were non-biting flies or the trip through the refuge would have been really uncomfortable to say the least.
The picture below is the one I rate the most "bizarre." Can you guess what it is?
At first when I saw this I thought it was a snake. Turns out that it's a carp. The carp grow HUGE and when the wetlands start drying out they swim in just inches of water. They were introduced to the area (probably by some well-meaning person) years ago. While they weren't part of the "original" habitat they do serve their purpose. As the water dries they make good fishing for the pelicans and other larger birds.
We looked and found so many beautiful birds and interesting things to see while on our way home. I guess you could say my eyes have been opened. Now, I try to look and really see.
It's a wonderful, diverse world we live in!