Utah is an exciting place for birding! The birds of Utah are 467 species that live in gorgeous mountains, beautiful deserts, the unique waters of the Great Salt Lake, and other wild habitats.
Birds in Utah include powerful raptors like the Golden Eagle, the lovely Mountain Bluebird, and many other beautiful western species.
How many birds in Utah have you seen? We bet you’ve seen a lot but how many could you identify?
This accurate list of the 30 most common backyard and wild birds in Utah will help!
30 Most Common Birds You Can See In Utah
Utah is a wonderful place for birds but which are the most commonly seen species?
To make an accurate list of common Utah birds, we looked at eBird data from 2021 to 2023, found the 30 most frequent species, and arranged them from most common to least common.
PS! The species on the bottom of the list are common birds too!
To help you identify these common birds of Utah, we also included up to date information about their behavior and field marks.
Scientific name: Turdus migratorius
Length: 10 inches
Weight: 2.7 ounces
Wingspan: 17 inches
Song: “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”
The American Robin is a familiar and common thrush that is dark gray above and brick red below. It also has an orange-yellow bill, a blackish head with white markings around the eyes and on the throat, and a white belly.
Both sexes of this thrush species are similar, but males are darker above and more reddish on the underparts. Young American Robins have more white marks on their faces and spotting on orange underparts.
In flight, this common thrush of Utah also shows white corners in its outer tail feathers.
American Robins forage on the ground for worms, insects, snails, and other small creatures. In winter, these common birds flock together and perch in trees and bushes to eat berries and fruit.
The American Robin makes a cup nest in trees and lives in parks, woodlands, towns, and many other habitats. They reside in Alaska, most of Canada, the USA and in Mexico.
- Fair-sized songbird that is dark gray above, and brick red and white below.
- Forages for worms and bugs on lawns and other open grassy areas, also flocks together to feed on fruiting trees in the winter.
- Makes a cup nest in trees.
- The American Robin is quite vocal and makes a loud, sharp, “yenk!” call and quieter “check,check,check” calls. It also has a lovely cheerful song of caroled phrases, “cheery, cheery, cheery, cheery, cheer, cheer”.
With an estimated population of 37 million, the American Robin is considered to be the most numerous landbird in North America.
Scientific name: Haemorhous mexicanus
Length: 6 inches
Weight: .88 ounces
Wingspan: 10 inches
House Finches are sparrow-sized birds with dark, rounded beaks and fairly long wings. Males are orange-red or rose-red on their head, throat and breast, and have some red on their rump. They also have brownish streaks on their back, flanks, and white belly.
Like the male, female House Finches have two white wing bars on long, gray-brown wings. However, they lack red and are mostly streaked, dull brown-gray birds.
House Finches feed on seeds, buds, fruit, and flowers. They often visit feeders in Utah but also forage on the ground and in bushes and trees.
We see these pretty birds in deserts and arid zones, and in parks, farmland, urban areas, and other semi-open habitats.
The House Finch makes a soft cup nest built on a tree, building ledge or other spot with some overhanging cover. They often occur in small groups and live in southern Canada, most of the USA, Mexico, and Hawaii.
- Reddish or plain gray-brown, streaked, sparrow-like bird.
- Eats seeds, flowers, buds, and fruit. Can visit feeders but also forages on the ground and in bushes and trees.
- Makes a soft cup nest in trees, on building ledges, and other places.
- The House Finch often makes a soft, “fidip” call. Males also sing a warbling song from prominent, high perches. It sounds like, “chip,chip,chiprididip,ZREEYachip”.
House Finches are sparrow-like, reddish or brownish, streaked birds. They live in arid zones as well as in parks and urban areas. All of the millions of House Finches that live east of the Rocky Mountains are descendants of birds released on Long Island in 1939.
Scientific name: Anas platyrhynchos
Length: 23 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 35 inches
Song: “quack, quack”
The Mallard is a fairly large, familiar duck. The male has a metallic green head, yellow bill, narrow white ring around the neck, and chestnut breast. The rest of the bird is pale gray with pale brown, and black on its back and around its tail.
Female Mallards are mottled brown and buff with a dark crown and line through the eyes, and have a dark gray and orange beak.
In flight, both sexes show a green-blue wing patch bordered with white.
Mallards eat a variety of items, including insect larvae, snails, other small aquatic creatures, acorns, seeds, and grain. They forage by filtering and picking up food items in and near shallow water, and in farm fields.
This Utah duck species makes a shallow nest with sticks and lined with down feathers. It builds its nest on the ground, hidden in grass or under a bush.
The Mallard lives in ponds, marshes, and many wetland habitats in Canada, USA, and Eurasia.
- Feeds on insect larvae, grain, seeds, and other items picked up with its bill in and near shallow water.
- Makes a shallow stick nest hidden in grass or under a bush.
- The female Mallard makes the classic “quack, quack” duck sound. Males make similar but softer sounds and a whistling call.
The Mallard is a fairly large and familiar duck with a dark green head (the male), or is buff and brown with a dark gray and orange beak (the female). Thus duck species often lives near people and occurs on lakes, ponds, and other wetlands. No matter how different they look, most small domestic duck species are descended from wild Mallards.
Scientific name: Corvus corax
Length: 24 inches
Weight: 2.6 pounds
Wingspan: 53 inches
Song: “Grauk Grauk Grauk Grauk!”
The Common Raven is a big, black crow-like bird with long, broad wings and a broad, wedge-shaped tail.
Both sexes look alike and have feathers extending onto the top part of their strong, stout beaks.
This bird is often seen in soaring flight or in direct flight, where it gives a few strong flaps between glides.
Common Ravens are omnivores that feed on carrion, small animals, nesting birds, and various other food items. They forage by flying above roads and other places and are always on the lookout for feeding opportunities.
This big Corvid makes a big, bulky nest out of sticks and lines the shallow cup with mud, wool, and other items. It builds its nest on a cliff, tree, bridge, or other structure.
The Common Raven lives in wilderness areas from the Arctic to parts of the northeastern USA and the western USA. In some places, it lives in urban areas. Common Ravens are common in Utah.
- Huge, black, crow-like bird with a strong, stout beak and a wedge-shaped tail.
- An omnivore that feeds on small animals, carrion, and other food items.
- Makes a big bulky stick nest in trees, on cliffs, and on human-made structures.
- Common Ravens are vocal birds. One of their most common calls is a load and croaking, “Grauk Grauk Grauk Grauk!”.
The Common Raven is a large, black, crow-like bird of mountains, forest, tundra, and other wild areas. Some also live near people and, in flight, they can sometimes be mistaken for raptors. However, no hawk species is entirely black with a wedge-shaped tail. The Common Raven can mimic human speech and is one of the most intelligent bird species.
Scientific name: Pica hudsonia
Length: 19 inches
Weight: 6 ounces
Wingspan: 25 inches
Song: “reh reh reh reh reh!”
Males and females look alike and also show bold white wing patches in flight. These birds fly with a few flaps followed by short brief glides and usually occur in groups.
They are omnivorous and eat a wide variety of food items. In winter, magpies often scavenge animals killed by predators as well as roadkill. They and also eat insects, small animals, seeds, and other items.
Black-billed Magpies make domed nests out of sticks and mud, and build them in trees and on poles and other structures.
This species lives in a variety of open, semi-open, and wooded habitats in Alaska, western and central Canada, and much of the western USA south to New Mexico.
- Medium to large black and white bird with a black beak, and a long, glossy green and purple tail.
- Feeds on carrion, small animals, seeds, and other food scraps.
- Makes a domed nest out of mud and sticks.
- This vocal bird makes a repeated raspy vocalization, “reh reh reh reh reh!”.
The Black-billed Magpie is a bold black and white bird with a long tail. They often occur in groups that forage on carrion, small animals, and other food scraps. This species often perches on cows, Moose, and other large herbivores to eat the ticks that attach to these large animals.
Scientific name: Sturnus vulgaris
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 2.9 ounces
Wingspan: 16 inches
European Starlings are plump, short-tailed birds with long sharp beaks and longish, pointed wings. In summer, they have yellow beaks, glossy black plumage with purple and green highlights, and some small white spots.
Males and females are similar, but males have less spotting and glossier plumage. In winter, they have black beaks, white spots, and more reddish colors in their wings.
Young starlings are shaped like adults but are grayish birds with a dark beak and a pale throat.
This species feeds on a variety of insects, fruit, and seeds. They can dominate bird feeders and are common species in urban areas, parks, farmlands, and other open habitats.
This European Starling builds a soft cup nest in a tree cavity, nest box, or suitable cavity in other structures.
European Starlings flock with each other and blackbird species, especially during the winter. They live across a large part of Canada and the USA.
- Rotund, short-tailed bird with a long, sharp beak, and pointed wings. Glossy black with some spotting in the summer and blackish with heavy white spotting and streaking in the winter.
- Feeds on seeds, fruit, and insects. Visits feeders and forages on the ground in flocks.
- Builds a soft cup nest in nest boxes and other cavities.
- The European Starling makes a wide variety of mechanical and whistled sounds. They also mimic other birds and sounds in their environment. They sing long, jumbled mechanical-sounding songs, “tiktiktitZHREEree..tiktiktik..ZHREE”.
European Starlings are rounded, blackish birds with long, sharp beaks and short tails. They live in towns, cities, parks, on farms, and in other open habitats. This species forms large flocks called “murmurations” that move in coordinated patterns.
Scientific name: Melospiza melodia
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .7 ounces
Wingspan: 8.25 inches
Song: “seet serate sitsziziziziziziziz seet”
The Song Sparrow is a small, gray and brown, streaked songbird with a thick dark mark on each side of its white throat. Males and females look the same and have white underparts with a dark brown mark on their breast, and dark brown streaks on their breast and sides.
Most Song Sparrows also have two narrow wing bars and show a rounded tail when fluttering between bushes.
This species feeds on insects, seeds, and small fruits. Pairs forage by picking up food items on and near the ground. They are also frequent visitors to bird feeders.
Song Sparrows use grass, stems, hair, and other materials to make a cup nest placed on or near the ground. They nest in dense vegetation, shrubbery, or low trees, often near water.
This species uses a wide variety of brushy habitats in open and wooded situations in southern Alaska, most of Canada, and all of the USA.
- Small brown, streaked sparrow with a dark mark on its breast.
- Forages on and near the ground for seeds and insects in brushy habitats.
- Builds a cup nest on or near the ground in a shrub or low tree.
- Makes high-pitched “tink”, chirping calls, and has a cheerful song with a trill, “seet serate sitsziziziziziziziz seet”.
They usually occur in pairs and are often heard and seen in brushy areas and large gardens. There are several subspecies with distinct plumages including a large, dark one that lives on the Aleutian Islands.
Scientific name: Branta canadensis
Length: 35 – 45.2 inches
Weight: 5.29 – 19.8 pounds
Wingspan: 50 – 67 inches
Song: “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”
The Canada Goose is a large, grayish-brown bird with a long black neck, and black head with a white throat and cheeks. Males and females look alike and have pale barring, a white belly and undertail, and a short black and white tail.
They have strong, direct flight and make deep flaps with long, broad wings.
Canada Geese feed on grass, sedges, and other vegetation, grain, and berries. They forage by walking along and grazing, or picking food from the ground and bushes. This species also feeds by dipping its head below the surface of shallow water.
This large goose uses grass and other plants to make a large, shallow cup nest on a small mound or other elevated spot next to water.
The Canada Goose prefers open grassy areas and farm fields near water where it can feed and see predators before they get too close. They live in Alaska, most of Canada, and most of the USA, being one of the most common birds of Utah.
- Big, gray-brown goose with a long black neck, and black and white head.
- Grazes vegetation and forages for berries in wide open, grassy habitats near water like golf courses, parks, and airports.
- Makes a shallow, open cup nest on an elevated spot next to water.
- Vocal and often makes honking calls, “uurrRUNK! uurrRUNK!”.
Canada Geese are a large, common goose species with long black necks, and a black and white head. These big birds are a common sight on golf courses and other places that combine open lawns and water. When the Canada Goose and other birds migrate in “V” formation, they expend less energy than flying on their own.
Scientific name: Passer domesticus
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .98 ounces
Wingspan: 9.5 inches
House Sparrows are small, plump gray and brown birds with conical, finch-like beaks. Males have a gray and rufous head with pale cheeks, and black near their eyes and on their throat.
The rest of their underparts are gray, and they have brown, streaked backs with rufous highlights. They also have a white mark on the shoulder of each wing and a grayish rump and tail.
Females are plainer brown and buff, have paler beaks, and buff eyebrows.
House Sparrows feed on seeds, grain, and insects. They are regular visitors to bird feeders and often dominate other smaller species. They also forage on the ground in farmlands, parks, urban areas, and other open situations.
The House Sparrow nests in cavities. When searching for suitable nesting sites, they can kill and remove the eggs and young of smaller species like Eastern Bluebirds.
House Sparrows usually live near people and occur in most of North America, including Utah.
- Brown and gray sparrow with a bold pattern on its head.
- Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects at feeders and on the ground in urban areas and farmlands.
- Nests in tree cavities, including nest boxes.
- This species is vocal and often makes short chirping calls. Its song is a friendly series of chirping sounds, “see,chirrup,see,chirrup,see,chirrup”.
In many places, the House Sparrow is the common urban sparrow. It occurs in pairs and small groups that forage on sidewalks, in parking lots, farm fields, and other familiar places. This species is one of the very few birds that has evolved to live with people and digest the same grains that we eat.
Scientific name: Colaptes auratus
Length: 12.5 inches
Weight: 4.6 ounces
Wingspan: 20 inches
Northern Flickers are fairly large, tan and gray woodpeckers with barring on their backs. They have a black mark on their breast, black spotting below, and a dark, stout beak.
Males in the east have a tawny throat and face with a black mustache and small red spot on the back of their heads. Males in the west have mostly gray heads with a red mustache.
Female Northern Flickers look like males but lack the mustache mark.
In bounding flight, they have white rumps and flash color on their underwings. This is bright yellow in eastern birds and reddish in flickers west of the Rocky Mountains.
This woodpecker eats many ants and other insects that it catches on the ground. It forages by flying to the ground, locating anthills, and lapping them up with its long tongue.
Northern Flickers nest in tree cavities and live in wooded and open habitats in Canada, the USA, and Mexico.
- Tan and gray woodpecker with black barring above, black marks below, and a bright, white rump.
- Forages for ants and other insects on the ground.
- Nests in tree cavities.
- A vocal woodpecker, the Northern Flicker often gives loud, “flicka,flicka,flicka” calls, and another loud, single note that sounds like, “Keer!” They also have a long, laughing vocalization of repeated notes, “kick,kick,kik,kik,kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik.kik!”.
They mostly forage for ants on the ground in open and wooded areas. The red-shafted Northern Flickers in the west used to be considered a separate species from the yellow-shafted flickers of the east. At present, they are considered to be one species because they frequently hybridize with each other.
Scientific name: Junco hyemalis
Length: 6.25 inches
Weight: .67 ounces
Wingspan: 9.25 inches
Dark-eyed Juncos are sparrow-like birds with pale conical bills and dark eyes. This small bird has variable plumage with most being slate gray or gray and brown with white on their bellies, and white under their tails.
Other plumages include birds with dark masks and faint white wing bars, juncos with pale gray hoods and pinkish sides, and birds with blackish hoods and chestnut sides.
In flight, all Dark-eyed Juncos show extensive white in their longish tails.
This species feeds on seeds, insects, and some fruit and grain. Juncos forage on the ground in wooded areas, parks, and other habitats. They also feed on fallen seed beneath feeders.
They build cup nests on the ground under fallen logs, in roots, and other hidden spots. After breeding, juncos form flocks that forage together in similar wooded and semi-open habitats.
Dark-eyed Juncos are common birds in Canada, the USA, and parts of Mexico.
- Sparrow-like gray and brown bird with dark eyes, a pale beak, and white in the tail.
- Forages for seeds and insects on the ground, can feed on seeds at and beneath feeders.
- Builds a cup-shaped nest on the ground in tree roots, under logs, and other hidden places.
- This species often makes a sharp, high-pitched chip note, “pik!”. On breeding grounds, males sing a short, plain trill, “sipsipsipsipsipsipsip”.
Common wintering birds in many areas, they forage for seeds on the ground in wooded and park-like habitats. In many places, this common species is also known the “Snowbird” on account of only occurring in the winter months and having white on the belly and tail.
Scientific name: Poecile atricapilla
Length: 5.25 inches
Weight: .39 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
Song: “see bee, see bee”
Black-capped Chickadees are small grayish birds with a black cap, black throat, and a stubby black beak. Both sexes look alike and have a white face, white edging to the feathers in their wings, and some buff on their underparts.
These cute little birds feed on caterpillars, insects, spiders, seeds, and fruit. They are regular visitors to feeders but also forage on bark, twigs, and in foliage. When foraging, they often hang upside down from twigs and usually occur in small flocks.
This species makes a small, soft nest out of moss and deer hair. It builds its nest in tree cavities and can also use nest boxes.
Black-capped Chickadees live in a variety of wooded habitats and can also occur in gardens. They are year-round residents in parts of Alaska, Canada, and the northern USA south to Oregon, northern New Mexico, northern Ohio, and the Appalachian Mountains to North Carolina.
- Small, cute, grayish birds with a black cap, white face, and a black throat.
- Forages for insects, spiders, seeds, and fruit in wooded habitats. Also visits feeders.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- This little bird is quite vocal and often says its name, “chick-a-deedeedeedeedee”. They also make other chattering calls and sing a whistled song, “see bee, see bee”.
They usually forage in flocks with other chickadees and other small birds, and often visit feeders. This species hides dozens of seeds and other bits of food for the winter, and recalls where each of these food items are hidden.
Scientific name: Streptopelia decaocto
Length: 13 inches
Weight: 7 ounces
Wingspan: 22 inches
Song: “hoo hoo hoowuh hoo WUH hoowuh hoo WUH!”
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a medium to large, pale tan and gray dove with a black mark on its nape. Males and females look similar, have a slender black beak, and a narrow gray eyering.
Eurasian Collared-Doves have black primaries and white in their tail feathers. These field marks are especially visible in flight.
These doves feed on grain and seeds picked from the ground, and they can also visit feeders. In some places, Eurasian Collared-Doves occur in large flocks, especially around farms and grain silos.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove makes messy stick nests in trees and on structures near people. This species is highly adapted to living with and near people and prefers to feed in farm fields, gardens, towns, and other places where they can find grain and seeds.
This Eurasian species was accidentally introduced to North America in the 1970s and 1980s. It now occurs in parts of Alaska and much of Canada and the USA, including Utah.
- Fairly large, pale tan and gray dove with black primaries and white in its longish tail.
- Forages for grain and seeds on the ground.
- Makes messy stick nests in gardens, parks, and on farms.
- This dove species often calls and makes a typical dove-like sound, “hoo hoo hoowuh hoo WUH hoowuh hoo WUH!”.
The Eurasian Collared-Dove is a fair-sized pale tan and gray dove with much white in its longish tail. These birds can probably only survive near people and live in gardens, towns, and on farms. When drinking water, this species uses its beak like a straw.
Scientific name: Zenaida macroura
Length: 12 inches
Weight: 4.2 ounces
Wingspan: 18 inches
Song: “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”
Mourning Doves are medium-sized, grayish-brown doves with long tails. They have small black spots on their wings and a small head with a slender, dark beak.
Males and females also have narrow gray eyerings, a black mark on the face, and pale iridescent gold on the sides of their necks. They look alike except for males having more gray on the head and neck, and more iridescence.
This dove has fairly long wings and swift, direct flight. When flying, it shows black and white in its tail.
The Mourning Dove occurs in woodlands, gardens, on farms, and in urban areas. This common feeder visitor eats seeds and grains. It also forages in open situations, picking food from the ground.
This pleasant dove species can visit a feeder on its own or forage in small flocks. It builds an unkempt stick nest in bushes and trees and is very common throughout the USA, southern Canada, and Mexico.
- Plain brown and gray dove with a long, pointed tail.
- Feeds on seeds at feeders and on the ground in open areas.
- Makes a small, messy nest of sticks in trees.
- Sings a sad and owl-like “hooOOA, hoo, hoo, hoo”.
The Mourning Dove is the common garden dove in most of its range. It often visits feeders and its cooing song is commonly mistaken for an owl. This species has a short lifespan, with many adults only living for a couple of years or less.
Scientific name: Agelaius phoeniceus
Length: 8.75 inches
Weight: 1.8 ounces
Wingspan: 13 inches
The Red-winged Blackbird is a medium-sized blackbird species with a sharp, all-black bill. Males also have a scarlet patch with a pale yellow border on the shoulder of each wing.
Female Red-winged Blackbirds are dark, heavily streaked, brownish-gray birds with an orange-buff eyebrow and throat. She can also have a little bit of dingy red on her shoulder.
Red-winged Blackbirds often flock together and can form very large groups in the winter. They feed on seeds, grain, and insects found on lawns, in marshes, farm fields, and other open habitats.
This species builds a cup nest made of leaves and dead stems in a bush or other low vegetation in a marsh, park, or brushy field.
Red-winged Blackbirds are very common birds that live in all sorts of open habitats. We see them in parks, farming areas, and marshes in much of Canada, the USA, Mexico, and parts of the Central America.
- Males are medium-sized blackbirds with a bright red patch on their wings. Females are heavily streaked, have a sharp black beak, and buff on the head.
- Feeds on seeds, grain, and insects on the ground in many open habitats.
- Builds a cup nest in a bush or other low vegetation.
- Red-winged Blackbirds often call. Males sing a loud, “kan-keree!” and both sexes also make “check!” calls and a high-pitched whistle-like sound.
The Red-winged Blackbird is a common, social species easily seen in marshes and open habitats. In the winter, it can form huge flocks that feed in farm fields. This species can make a daily commute of 50 miles to and from roosting and feeding sites.
Scientific name: Buteo jamaicensis
Length: 19 inches
Weight: 2.4 pounds
Wingspan: 49 inches
The Red-tailed Hawk is a large and chunky raptor with a broad, orange or reddish tail. Males and females look alike, although females are larger.
These raptors are dark brown above and are pale below, with dark markings on their belly. Young birds are more streaked on their underparts, and have brown tails with dark barring.
Red-tailed Hawks often soar and have long, broad wings that can show pale square patches on the bases of their primaries. While soaring, they watch for squirrels and other small animals that they feed on.
When they spot prey, these big birds drop down to catch it with their talons. This hawk also hunts by watching for prey from a perch.
The Red-tailed Hawk builds a large, bulky, stick nest high in trees. They thrive in a wide variety of habitats, but especially in woodlands near fields and other open habitats.
This raptor lives from Alaska and Canada south to Central America.
- Large, bulky hawk with a broad, reddish tail.
- Catches squirrels, rats, pigeons, and many other small animals on the ground.
- Nests in large, bulky nests made of sticks.
- A vocal raptor, Red-tailed Hawks often call in flight. They usually give a “classic” but quiet sounding raptor scream, “Kreeeyahh!”.
Red-tailed Hawks are large dark brown and pale hawks with broad, reddish tails. The most common raptor in many areas, they often perch on powerline poles along roads. The Red-tailed Hawk’s vision is eight times better than a person’s; they can spot a tiny rodent while soaring 100 feet above it.
Scientific name: Pipilo maculatus
Length: 8.5 inches
Weight: 1.4 ounces
Wingspan: 10.5 inches
Song: “two two two chreee!”
The Spotted Towhee is a thrush-sized, colorful, sparrow-like bird with reddish eyes and a black, finch-like beak. It has black upperparts with some small white spots, a black hood, and a white belly with chestnut flanks.
It also has a buff undertail, and white spots on the underside of its longish, rounded tail. Both sexes look similar, but the female has a grayish-brown head. Juveniles are like dark brown, streaked sparrows with white in their tails, two buff wing bars, and a buff undertail.
Spotted Towhees find insects and seeds by using both feet to scratch and toss leaf litter. This bird also eats berries in bushes, especially in winter.
This species makes an open cup nest out of grass and other plant matter in dense vegetation near or on the ground.
The Spotted Towhee lives in shrubby habitats from Manitoba and the Dakotas west to the coast. In winter, they range east to Kansas and south to Texas.
- Medium-sized, colorful songbird with a black hood, white spotting on black upperparts, and chestnut flanks.
- Forages on the ground for insects and seeds in leaf litter in shrubby habitats.
- Makes an open cup nest in dense vegetation, on or near the ground.
- Often calls and makes a nasal, cat-like call, “rheyeah”, and sings a short trilled song, “two two two chreee!”
Spotted Towhees are thrush-sized black and white birds with chestnut flanks and white spotting on their wings and/or back. They occur in pairs that forage for insects and seeds in leaf litter. When female Spotted Towhees are disturbed on their nests, instead of flying away, they distract predators by running away.
Scientific name: Fulica americana
Length: 15.5 inches
Weight: 1.4 pounds
Wingspan: 24 inches
Song: “reah reah rik rik cluck cluck cluck”
The American Coot is a blackish, duck-like bird with reddish eyes, and small dark marks near the tip of its stubby, chalky white beak. Males and females look the same and have short tails with a bit of white, and greenish-yellow legs with semi-webbed toes.
In flight, this species shows a narrow white line on the trailing part of its rounded wings. Young birds are like adults but are duller grayish overall.
American Coots feed on aquatic plants and small aquatic insects. They can also forage on land for corn and other types of grain but mostly pick vegetation from the surface of water while floating. Like ducks, they also dip below the water to feed.
This species uses aquatic plants to make a floating nest in marsh vegetation. That’s why it is one of the most common birds of Utah.
American Coots live on lakes, ponds, and shallow marsh habitats in many parts of Canada and the USA south to the Caribbean and Central America.
- Duck-sized blackish aquatic bird with a stubby white beak.
- Feeds on aquatic plants, grain, some insects, and some small aquatic creatures.
- Makes a floating nest from marsh vegetation.
- A vocal bird that makes lots of odd growling and clucking sounds, “reah reah rik rik cluck cluck cluck”.
The American Coot is a dark, duck-like aquatic bird with a stubby white beak. It feeds on aquatic vegetation and insects in lakes, marshes, and other shallow water habitats. When coots fly, they run on the water while quickly flapping their wings to become airborne.
Scientific name: Carduelis psaltria
Length: 4.5 inches
Weight: .3 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
Song: “chip idid see sipachupchipchipasipsipchipadip”
The Lesser Goldfinch is a small bird with a grayish, finch-like beak, rather short, forked tail, and long blackish wings with white markings.
Males have a black cap, olive gray-green upperparts, and yellow underparts. Birds that live east of the Rockies have completely black backs. Females are much plainer and are pale brown-olive above and yellow below.
Lesser Goldfinches have quick, bounding flight. They can occur as pairs but, in California and the American southwest, often form sizeable flocks.
This species feeds on a variety of seeds. They often occur in groups with other seed-eating birds as they forage in weedy fields and visit feeders. Lesser Goldfinches pick up seeds from the ground and while perched on stalks of grass-like plants.
The Lesser Goldfinch uses plant fibers to make a small cup nest in a tree.
This species lives in brushy and semi-open woodlands in Utah and the American southwest north to southern Washington.
- Small finch with olive or black upperparts, yellow underparts, a dark beak, and a small white patch in the wing.
- Forages for seeds on and near the ground and also visits feeders.
- Makes a small cup nest out of grass and other plant matter.
- This species makes clear, high-pitched calls and has a jumbling, tinkling song with warbled and trilled notes, “chip idid see sipachupchipchipasipsipchipadip”.
The Lesser Goldfinch is a small, yellow and olive or black finch with white in their wings and a dark beak. It occurs in brushy habitats and open woodlands, visits feeders, and is most common in California and the American southwest. This species waits for thistle and plenty of other “weedy” plants to have seeds before it builds its nest.
Scientific name: Aphelocoma woodhouseii
Length: 11.5 inches
Weight: 3 ounces
Wingspan: 5.15 inches
The Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay is a medium to large blue and gray jay with a strong, dark beak.
Both sexes are similar and can have a bit of white above their eyes. They also have a dull white throat and a dusky gray face.
This species has a fairly long tail, rounded wings, and rather long, black legs and feet.
Young birds look like adults but have less blue, have more gray on their heads, and more uniform gray underparts.
The Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay is an omnivore that eats arthropods and many other small creatures. It also feeds on pinyon seeds and the seeds of various other trees. Small flocks pick food from bark, foliage, and the ground.
This species makes a cup nest of sticks in a dense bush or short tree. We find Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays in pinyon-juniper woodlands and other scrubby habitats from southern Idaho to central Texas and Mexico.
- Medium to large, dull blue and gray jay.
- Forages on and near the ground in scrubby habitats.
- Builds a cup nest of sticks in dense vegetation.
- Makes a rising, nasal, “rheeuh”, and nasal rattling calls.
The Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay is a dull blue and gray jay with a dull white throat. It lives in scrubby habitats in the “Great Basin” area and parts of the Rocky Mountains. Mule Deers often let this species stand on their backs to remove ticks and other parasites.
Scientific name: Zonotrichia leucophrys
Length: 7 inches
Weight: 1 ounce
Wingspan: 9.5 inches
Song: “tuuur teeteetee zhree zhree zeh”
The White-crowned Sparrow is a thrush-sized sparrow with black and white stripes on its head, and a small, finch-like orange or pinkish beak.
Both sexes look alike and have a gray face, gray underparts with pale brown flanks, streaked brown back, and gray-brown rump. Their rounded wings are mottled brown with two pale wing bars.
In winter, young birds have brown and tan stripes on their head.
The White-crowned Sparrow feeds on insects, seeds, grass, buds, and fruit. It forages by picking food items from the ground and in low vegetation. In winter, this species moves around forest and park-like habitats in flocks.
This sparrow makes a cup nest out of grass, bark strips, and other plant matter and builds it on the ground or in a low bush.
White-crowned Sparrows occur in shrubby habitats in Alaska, Canada, the Rocky Mountains, along the Pacific Coast, and winter in much of the western, central, and eastern USA.
- Thrush-sized sparrow with a black and white striped head, gray underparts, orange or pinkish finch-like beak, and two wing bars.
- Eats insects, seeds, and fruit on and near the ground, often in flocks.
- Makes a cup nest on or near the ground.
- Makes a sharp call, “Pick!” and sings a pleasant song, “tuuur teeteetee zhree zhree zeh”.
The White-crowned Sparrow is a fairly large sparrow with black and white stripes on its head. Young birds have brown and tan striped heads and this species occurs in flocks in the winter. Some White-crowned Sparrows are “bilingual” as they learn more than one regional song.
Scientific name: Falco spaverius
Length: 9 inches
Weight: 4.1 ounces
Wingspan: 22 inches
Song: “kli kli kli kli”
The American Kestrel is a small falcon that has a long, orange-brown tail and dark barring on an orange-brown back. It also has a gray crown, a dark spot on the back of its head, and two bold, dark marks on its face.
The male has a black tip on its tail, dark spotting on blue-gray wings, and some dark spotting on its buff underparts.
Female American Kestrels are like males but are a bit larger, have dark barring on their tail and on red-brown wings, and have red-brown, streaked underparts.
The American Kestrel feeds on mice, grasshoppers, and small birds. It catches them on the ground after watching from a perch or hovering overhead.
This species nests in tree cavities and can also use nesting boxes. We find American Kestrels in grasslands and many other open habitats in parts of Alaska, much of Canada, and the lower 48 states south to Argentina.
- Small, slender, and colorful falcon with a long orange-brown tail, and long, pointed wings.
- Hunts small animals in open, grassy areas.
- Nests in tree cavities and nest boxes.
- Makes a strident “kli kli kli kli”, often in flight.
The American Kestrel is a small, boldly patterned falcon that perches on roadside cables and posts. It frequents large meadows and other open habitats in much of North America. This species can see UV light; a trait that helps it see small rodents in grass.
Scientific name: Setophaga coronata
Length: 5.5 inches
Weight: .42 ounces
Wingspan: 9.25 inches
The Yellow-rumped Warbler is a small, blue-gray songbird with a yellow rump, crown, and yellow patches on each side of its breast. It also has two white wing bars, dark marks on the back, and white underparts with blackish markings on its breast and sides.
In summer, this species has a blackish face and white markings above and below the eyes. Females are like males but duller. In winter, both sexes of Yellow-rumped Warblers are duller and have more brownish plumage.
The western subspecies has a yellow throat and more white in the wings.
This species feeds on insects and small berries. It picks food from vegetation and briefly flies into the air to catch bugs in flight.
Yellow-rumped Warbler build small cup nests in conifers in Canada and the northeastern and western USA. They spend the winter in semi-open habitats from the southern USA to Central America.
- Small songbird with two pale wing bars and yellow patches on the rump, each side of its breast, and crown.
- Feeds on insects and small berries.
- Builds cup nests in conifers in northern and montane forests.
- The Yellow-rumped Warbler makes a sharp call note, “chup!”, and sings a brief and easy-going warbling song, “si,sit,sit,sit,sit,sue,sue,sue”.
Yellow-rumped Warblers are small, blue-gray or brownish songbirds with two pale wing bars, and yellow patches on the crown, sides of the breast, and rump. In winter, they occur in small flocks that feed on insects and berries in parks and other semi-open habitats. The eastern subspecies is known as the “Myrtle Warbler” and the yellow-throated western subspecies is called, “Audubon’s Warbler”.
Scientific name: Charadrius vociferus
Length: 10.5 inches
Weight: 3.3 ounces
Wingspan: 24 inches
Song: “tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”
The Killdeer is a fair-sized, slender plover that is dark brown above and white below. They have two black bands on their breast, a patterned, black, white, and dark brown face, and a longish, orange tail.
Both sexes look alike and also have a slender, black bill, narrow, red-orange eyerings, and long, pale legs. In flight, we can see a white stripe in each of their long, dark wings, and a black tip on their long, wedge-shaped, orange tail.
Killdeers often fly high overhead in fast, direct flight, but we usually see them foraging on the ground. They pick insects, other small creatures, and seeds from the edges of wetlands and other, open grassy areas.
This species lays its camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields. When people and pets approach too close, they give loud calls and pretend to have a broken wing.
The Killdeer lives in large parts of Canada, the USA, Mexico and also Utah.
- Fair-sized plover with two black breast bands and a wedge-shaped orange tail with a black tip.
- Picks seeds and small creatures from open ground.
- Lays camouflaged eggs on the ground, in gravel and open fields.
- Very vocal and sounds like it says its name, “tideer, tideer, tideer, tideer”.
The Killdeer is the most common and familiar shorebird in much of its range and occurs in many open habitats. It is the only plover in North America with two black breast bands and has a longish, orange tail with a black tip. To scare cows near their nests, Killdeers fluff themselves to look bigger, raise their tail over their head, and run at the large animal.
Scientific name: Larus delawarensis
Length: 17.5 inches
Weight: 1.1 pound
Wingspan: 48 inches
The Ring-billed Gull is a medium-sized pale gray and white gull with a black ring around its yellowish beak. Males and females look the same and have yellowish legs and feet, pale eyes, and black wing tips with a few white spots.
These gulls have a direct, fairly quick flight with leisurely wing beats. Young birds have pink and black bills, a white tail with a black tip, and mottled black and gray wings.
Ring-billed Gulls are scavengers and opportunists that feed on carrion, fish, worms, small animals, grain, and other food items. They usually occur in flocks that roam lakes, rivers, urban areas, and other habitats in search of feeding opportunities.
The Ring-billed Gull breeds in colonies, often on islands, and makes a shallow stick nest on the ground.
This gull species occurs not only in Utah, but also in many parts of Canada and the USA south to Central America.
- Medium-sized pale gray and white gull with a black ring on its bill and yellow legs and feet. Juveniles have pink and black beaks.
- Forages for fish, carrion, and many other food items in wetlands and open habitats.
- Nests on the ground, in colonies.
- Ring-billed Gulls often call. In flight, they often make a high-pitched “kleea” sound. On the ground, displaying birds make a loud, laughing, “KLEE..KLEEE..kleeya,kleeya,kleeya”.
Ring-billed Gulls are pale gray and white, medium-sized gulls with a black ring around their beaks and yellow legs and feet. They are well adapted to living with people and occur around lakes, rivers, and other wetlands, parking lots, garbage dumps, and other places. This gull species is a bold bird that can snatch bits of food from unguarded picnic tables.
Scientific name: Larus californicus
Length: 21 inches
Weight: 1.3 pounds
Wingspan: 54 inches
Song: “reeeeee ga ga ga ga ga ga ga”
The California Gull is a fairly large gull with yellow-green legs and dark eyes. Adults also have a black and red tip on their yellow beak.
Both sexes look the same, are white with a gray back, and have large black tips on their long gray wings. In winter, they have brown streaks on the back of their neck and head.
Second winter birds have gray backs, dark wings, brown marks below, a white rump, and a black tail. First-year birds are mostly dark gray-brown with a black tail, pale face, and have a pink bill with a black tip.
California Gulls eat insects and other small creatures, fish, and carrion. Flocks feed in open fields, marshes, rivers, and other wetlands, in coastal habitats, and in garbage dumps.
This species is a colonial bird that nests on the ground, usually on islands. We mostly find California Gulls in western Canada and the western USA.
- Medium to large gull with extensive black wingtips on long, gray wings, dark eyes, and yellow-green legs.
- Flocks forage for insects, carrion, and other food items on the ground.
- Colonies nest on the ground, on islands.
- Makes a loud and raucous laughing call like many other large gulls, “reeeeee ga ga ga ga ga ga ga”.
The California Gull is a fair-sized gull with dark eyes, long, gray or blackish-brown wings, and yellow-green legs. It lives in open wetlands, coastal areas, and other open habitats in western North America. The California Gull is Utah’s state bird because a flock of these birds saved vital crops from being eaten by a swarm of insects in 1848.
Great Blue Heron
Scientific name: Ardea herodias
Length: 46 inches
Weight: 5.3 pounds
Wingspan: 72 inches
Song: “Grunk! Grunk!”
The Great Blue Heron is a large, gray and pale brown heron with a long neck and legs. It has a strong, yellowish beak, black and white head with a wispy black crest, and rufous thighs.
Both sexes are alike and have pale bellies and black flanks. Juveniles have streaked underparts.
In flight, they make slow, deep flaps with long, broad gray and black wings. In Southern Florida and the Caribbean, Great Blue Herons are all white and sometimes considered a separate species, the “Great White Heron.”
These powerful herons feed on fish and small animals such as rats, snakes, and birds.
Great Blue Herons build messy, stick nests and breed in colonies, often in swamps.
We find these impressive birds in and near a wide variety of wetlands in large parts of Canada, the USA, and the Caribbean.
- Huge gray and pale brown wading bird with a thick, yellowish beak and a wispy crest. In southern Florida, it is all white but still has a crest and a strong yellowish beak.
- Stalks and preys on fish and small animals.
- Builds messy stick nests and breeds in colonies.
- Great Blue Herons aren’t all that vocal. When taking flight they make a croaking sound, “Grunk! Grunk!“.
The Great Blue Heron occurs on rivers, lakes, and many other wetlands. It stands still for long periods of time while waiting for prey to come within range of its sharp beak but is also, often seen in flight. In some parts of Florida, Great Blue Herons have a gray and brown body and white neck and head.
Scientific name: Hirundo rustica
Length: 6.75 inches
Weight: .67 ounces
Wingspan: 15 inches
Barn Swallows are small to medium-sized swallows with long forked tails. They are dark, steel-blue above, peach-orange below, and have rich chestnut on the throat and above their bill. It also has some white in its tail.
Males and females look similar, but females are paler and have shorter tails. Young birds are like females, but their tails are even shorter.
The Barn Swallow is one of the most common birds in Utah. It has long, pointed wings and fast flight. When flying, they often flap their wings a few times between brief glides.
Barn Swallows live in farming areas, meadows, parks, and other open habitats. They feed on insects as they fly through the air. Although they can fly high overhead, Barn Swallows often swoop low over the ground.
This handsome swallow builds a mud nest on the wall of a barn, bridge, or other structure. Barn Swallows live in large areas of Canada, the USA, Mexico, Europe, and Asia.
- Beautiful dark blue and orange swallow with a long, forked tail.
- Forages for insects in flight over fields and other open habitats.
- Constructs a cup nest out of mud in barns and other structures.
- Often makes brief “fwip” calls in flight, and has a long, complex song, “chipchipfitfibitchipfibitfwip”.
The Barn Swallow is a common and easily species in most of its range, and the only swallow with a long, elegant tail. In summer, it is often seen flying low over the ground in open habitats. Barn Swallows are long-distance migrants and some fly 5,000 miles, all the way to Argentina!
Scientific name: Carduelis tristis
Length: 5 inches
Weight: .46 ounces
Wingspan: 9 inches
Song: “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”
The American Goldfinch is a small, sparrow-sized finch with a black and white, slightly forked tail, pale rump, and white undertail. In summer, males are bright lemon yellow with a small black cap, pale beak, and some white markings on long black wings.
Females and wintering birds have two pale wing bars and have plain gray, buff, and yellowish plumage. This species often occurs in small flocks and has bounding flight.
American Goldfinches feed on seeds. They forage by picking them from grass, thistle, other low plants, Alders, and other trees. Goldfinches are also frequent visitors to bird feeders.
The American Goldfinch uses plant matter and other soft materials to build a small, tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or a low tree.
American Goldfinches are summer residents in southern Canada, California, and the northern half of the USA, and winter in most of the USA and parts of Mexico.
- Small, bright yellow finch with a black cap, wings and tail (summer male), female and winter males are plain brown, buff, and yellowish birds with two pale wing bars.
- Feeds on seeds in low plants, trees, and at feeders.
- Makes a tightly woven cup nest high in a shrub or low tree.
- Often gives a “per chickory” call in flight and sings a short, trilled song, “swit sweet, sipsipsipchichisweetsweet”.
American Goldfinches are small, common finches that frequent weedy and brushy fields, second growth, parks, and backyards. Outside of the breeding season, they occur in small flocks and often visit feeders. Brown-headed Cowbirds that hatch in American Goldfinch nests die after a few days because they can’t survive on a diet of seeds.
Scientific name: Setophaga petechia
Length: 5 inches
Weight: .33 ounces
Wingspan: 8 inches
Song: “sweet sweet sweet swisisi sweet”
The Yellow Warbler is a small yellow bird with a sharp beak. Both sexes are yellow birds with olive-yellow upperparts, and have long wings with a hint of two yellow wing bars.
Males in breeding plumage are brighter yellow and have chestnut streaks below. Females and juveniles lack streaks and are duller. All Yellow Warblers have yellow spots in their tails.
Yellow Warblers feed on various insects and arthropods. They forage by quickly moving through vegetation and picking food from the foliage. They can also sally to catch insects in flight.
This species uses grass, bark strips, plant fiber, and other materials to make a deep cup nest. It builds it in a bush or small tree.
The Yellow Warbler breeds in a variety of second-growth habitats in Alaska, Canada, much of the western USA, and in the eastern USA south to northern Georgia. It winters in edge habitats from Mexico to northern South America.
- Small yellow bird with a sharp beak. Males have chestnut streaks below.
- Forages for insects in bushes and trees, usually in edge habitats.
- Makes a deep cup nest of bark strips and plant fibers in a bush or low tree.
- Has a sweet-sounding sound of ringing notes, “sweet sweet sweet swisisi sweet”. It also makes sharp chip calls.
The Yellow Warbler is a small, yellow bird with a sharp beak. This species is common in edge habitats and second growth, especially along waterways. Yellow Warblers are often parasitized by Brown-headed Cowbirds. If the warbler detects a cowbird egg, it usually builds a new nest right on top of the old one.
Birds of Utah: Frequently Asked Questions
What is the most common bird in Utah?
The most common bird in Utah is the American Robin. According to eBird, this thrush species has been seen more often than any other bird species in the state.
What is the largest flying bird in Utah?
The largest flying bird in Utah is the California Condor. This rare bird has a 9.1 foot wingspan, the largest of any bird in North America.
What big birds are in Utah?
Big birds in Utah include the California Condor, American White Pelican, Trumpeter Swan, Bald Eagle, and Golden Eagle.
How many species of birds are in Utah?
There are 467 species of birds in Utah.
What birds stay in Utah during winter?
Many birds stay in Utah during the winter. Some of the more common winter birds in Utah are the Black-billed Magpie, American Robin, Black-capped Chickadee, and European Starling.
Does Utah have Crows?
Yes, Utah has crows. The American Crow and the Common Raven are common species in Utah.