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Birds of Utah: 12 Eye-Catching Backyard Species

Written by Garrett Hayes

Last updated on Apr 26th, 2024

Utah, a place known for its natural diversity and is a habitat of various species down to its very last corner.

Have you ever been curious about the names of each bird that visits your backyard? Have you ever tried reading the books of the naturalist and wildlife resources photographer, Stan Tekiela? If this is the first time, then…

You’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll provide answers as to what kind of birds you can expect in your backyard and when you can meet them. Of course, each bird’s photo is attached to help you in bird identification of not just their behavior, but also their appearance.

Let’s get started!

The Twelve Beautiful Utah Birds

Listed below are the various birds that you may meet across your home.

1. American Robin

American Robin

The American Robin is a little red and black migratory bird that moves extensively throughout the United States. These birds can be spotted throughout the year and are the most prevalent bird in entire North America.

American Robins are great compared to European Robins due to their shape and size being almost identical. The only thing that contrasts these two species is the location where they’re native hence, their name.

Male American Robins are distinguished from females by their more colorful plumage. Males have vivid upperparts colors, while females have upperparts that are muted.

Their bodies are also distinct in size and shape; female bodies are smaller and thinner, while male bodies are slightly larger.

To attract females, the male birds use their voices to sing and attract them during mating seasons. After some time, females will then guard the eggs by sitting and providing warmth as the males try to provide a safe environment filled with food.

Their favorites are small insects and their larvae, small nuts, and berries. They love to feast on the seeds of small bushes and shrubs too.

2. American Goldfinch

Yellow goldfinch on a twig

This songbird is a bird that is native to Northern America. Their plumage is brighter than that of any other bird, making them stand out. Males and females are so identical in this species that the only distinction is a black patch on the males' heads.

The underparts and upperparts of this bird are yellow, and it has a bright yellow plumage. In addition, this bird has black wings with a white underbelly. Their tail is adorned with black feathers with white designs.

The color of their beaks is a vivid golden pink. In terms of size, weight, and wingspan, the male and female are practically identical.

This bird enjoys little insects, berries, and seeds from small plants and bushes.

They're quite nice. Moreover, this bird is a friendly one as long as you keep a safe distance. However, if you approach them, they’ll flee.

3. House Finch

House Finch on a branch

The Finch is a small bird of the Finch family.

They are sociable birds that can adapt to human settlements and environments.

This bird was previously only seen in the western United States, but it is now distributed all over the world. From its name, the House Finch is brave enough to approach humans without any hesitation.

Males employ a high-pitched whistle to lure females for breeding. The average mature bird is 5 to 6 inches long, with a 10-inch wingspan and more than 21 grams of weight.

The body plumage and feather color of a male House Finch differs from that of a female. Males and females have brown and gray plumage with dark brown patterns upperparts, above their wings, while females have brown and gray plumage with dark brown upperparts markings.

The House Finch visits feeders to feast on a meal. What attracts their species are small worms, insects, seeds from small plants, and berries from certain plants.

4. Mourning Dove

Mourning Dove on a fence

This Zenaida Macroura belongs to the Dove family and is a medium-sized bird. The Mourning Dove has a rusty brown body with a few black patches upperparts, above the wings and a rusty brown body. Bird feeders are visited by these birds from other parts of the United States.

Male and female Mourning Doves are essentially identical in appearance and size. Their brown and white coloring helps them stand out.

They can reach a height of 12 inches and have a wingspan of 18 inches. A Mourning Dove can weigh up to 120 grams.

During the spring and winter seasons, males attract females by emitting a charming mating call that sounds like a song. Then, females protect their offspring by sitting on them while the males provide them food and safety.

To attract these birds, a meal consisting of either nut, seeds, or insect-filled bird feeders is to be prepared. Of course, the delight worms found on the ground or in the branches are exceptional.

5. House Sparrow

perching Sparrow

House Sparrows, also known as Passer Domesticus, are part of the Sparrow family. You may observe them living in harmony almost everywhere you go. These backyard birds are also one of the most widely distributed bird species.

They are little birds with large stomachs. Males have more black and brown streaks above their wings and upperparts, while females and young birds have mild brown and gray coloring.

The House Sparrow only weighs 30 grams and is 16 cm long with a wingspan of over 30 cm. Males and females have different plumage colors, making it easy to tell them apart.

They are fearless and sociable birds that regularly approach human settlements and homes in search of food and refuge. They visit the bird feeders in various parts of the country daily in quest of food.

The majority of their food consists of seeds from small herbs and plants, as well as small fruits and berries. In addition, a House Sparrow loves to eat caterpillars, spiders, worms, and microscopic insect larvae, among other insects.

By scattering grains, seeds, and other shredded and small food items such as cracked nuts and corn, a bird feeder can attract birds to their yard. Birdbaths perform the same function, but with the addition of water.

6. California Condor

California Condor on the ground

This species of bird, which survived the brink of extinction, is among the largest and rarest bird. They can be found soaring on the red-rock cliffs of Southwestern Utah.

This bird has a wingspan reaching up to 10 feet from tip to tip. It can soar and glide up to 15,000 high up from the ground.

As the name implies, this California bird species can be found in the Golden State's deserts, particularly on some rocky cliffs. The bird has black plumage covering both its upperparts and underparts and has pink-colored skin with yellow markings on its head.

This bird, also known as the Carthartidae, is a part of the New World family or the Condor family. Just like other vultures, this bird is a carnivore that feasts on the corpse of dead mammals such as cattle and deers.

However, due to the size of the food they eat, it sometimes takes them a while to recover and be able to fly again.

These birds mostly spend their time preening, sunning, and grooming. Due to it being endangered, you must be extra careful when near them.

7. Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle about to fly

The Bald Eagle, being one of the most known birds in the world, can be found around the bodies of water such as marshes, lakes, coasts, and rivers. The best location for these birds is areas of water for fishing near forests for nesting.

This bird can build the largest nest in the world. It starts as a small one but enlarges as the bird adds new layers each year. Due to this, nests can fall over the branches so they have to start building again.

The sound of these birds is like gulls, having thrills and little whistles unlike the ones seen in movies.

This bird’s vision, being better than humans, help them hunt from 10,000 feet high from the ground. It can also see in the ultraviolet spectrum as being able to hunt fish without the reflection in the water being a hindrance.

These birds can grow up to 28 to 40 inches in length, 3 to 7 kilograms in weight, with wingspans of 71 to 91 inches.

8. Golden Eagle

young Golden Eagle

These birds are known to be expert hunters due to their fast and agile characteristics. Unlike the Bald Eagles which prefer fish, these eagles love to feast on mammals.

Their preys include rabbits, hares, ground squirrels, marmots, and prairie dogs. However, these birds can also hunt and kill small deers, seals, mountain goats, coyotes, and badgers. Bear cubs are one of their food for dinner as well.

This bird has brown upperparts with golden feathers attached to its neck hence, the name. Young ones have white strokes on their wings and tails.

These species usually mate. They use sticks or rocks, drop them and catch them from the air to attract females. Then, they hunt together; one ambushes and one takes the kill.

These birds mostly build their nests on cliffs as well as trees, observation towers, or any nesting platforms. They can be found anywhere with a good view.

9. Downy Woodpecker

young Downy Woodpecker on the ground

Dryobates Pubescens is the scientific name for these little birds, who are members of the Woodpecker family. Their bodies are covered in black plumage, with white dots on their wings and white stripes on their heads, giving them an appealing appearance.

It may be hard to distinguish its gender on the first look but all you need to see is its head. If a red marking is present in its head then, it is safe to assume that it is a male woodpecker. Female woodpeckers do not have red markings on their heads.

To add, their upperparts consisting of black wings with white strokes and white bellies make it easier for you to identify this bird.

Males have significantly higher body weight and wingspan than females and females are slightly shorter. Because these birds do not go far for food, they are commonly spotted in your bird feeders.

Small insects, worms, seeds, nuts, and berries found in small shrubs and bushes provide food for these birds.

They love suet-filled feeders. Plus, they’re more common in areas with feeders during winter than summer.

10. European Starling

European Starling picking food on the grass

This small bird is native to most of the states in North America. Being a member of the Starling family, this bird can is quite noticeable in some of the areas within North America.

What makes the European Starling unique is its magnificent and colorful plumage not just in its upperparts, but in the underparts as well.

With this, it attracts more attention. A bird can grow up to 8 inches in length and a wingspan of 13 inches.

To be more specific, the European Starling has a glossy black plumage. Moreover, their upperparts and wings portray a beautiful appearance with their blueish black feathers covering them.

Females, just like some birds, tend to be smaller than males in terms of their body size, weight, and wingspan. However, some females have brown plumage covering their bodies but still, one cannot deny their similarities in appearances.

This bird is a regular in bird feeders across numerous locations. Its favorites are small insects, worms, small seeds, and berries. Although this bird usually eats from the trees and on the ground, it sometimes approaches feeders for meals.

11. American White Pelican

American White Pelican on a pond

American White Pelican is the trademark of Utah since the population covers mostly the Great Salt Lake.

During nesting season, 20,000 birds are mostly in the area. During a typical breeding season, it is a home for 4,000 to 5,000 pelicans.

Since there are no fish in the Great Salt Lake, adults fly 100 miles to find food for their offspring.

These birds have white plumage and have large beaks which can fit water and small fish. They have wingspans of approximately 7 to 10 feet, have 1.3 to 1.6 meters in terms of length, and weight of up to 6.1 kilograms.

These birds move from North America after breeding to the coats of Central and South America during winter.

12. California Gull

California Gull on a field

This medium-sized bird is similar in terms of appearance to the Herring Gull but has different colors. It has a smaller yellow bill with a black ring, yellow legs, brown eyes, and a more rounded head.

The length of this bird can range up from 46 to 55 centimeters, body mass from 430 to 1,045 grams, with a wingspan of 48 to 54 inches.

The menu of this bird mainly consists of eggs of ducklings but it eats the eggs of other birds as well. It’s just that its favorite meal is ducklings.

Moreover, insects and fish are included in the diet of this bird. However, its favorite plant food is mainly cherries.

The species of this bird can be found either on beaches, parks, or other locations as they are searching for food. If not, they’re mostly near picnic areas and outdoor restaurants busy trying to steal other people’s food.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Utah state bird?

Utah's state bird is the California Gull. Although just known as a "seagull," this bird saved the state from insects from 1848 to 1849 and is now its state bird. It appears 14 percent of the time in the state.

Take a look at this video of California Gulls and their territoriality:

What is the most common bird in Utah?

The most common bird in Utah is the American Robin which can be seen 36% of the time.

How many species of birds are in Utah?

According to Ebird, Utah is home to 468 different bird species. Utah is a fantastic place to see a variety of birds, especially those on migration, due to its central location. Many of these species can be found in your backyard, but you might see Turkey Vultures, White-faced Ibis, Greater Sage-Grouse, and Golden Eagles if you go birding.

What birds are there in the Great Salt Lake?

Breeding colonies of American White Pelicans, Double-Crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Caspian Terns, and California Gulls can be spotted on several islands of the Great Salt Lake. The pelican colony on Gunnison Island is ranked one of the largest reaching up to 20,000 breeding adult species.

The Bottom Line

We've now seen one of Utah's most eye-catching sights. We hope we've answered your questions and piqued your interest in the feathered creatures you wish to see for yourself.

We wish you happiness as you make friends with everyone on the list above.

Just remember to respect each Utah bird's peace and privacy while watching them in their natural habitat. Also, for the sake of everyone's safety, protect the environment.

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