Saratoga Springs - Eagle Mountain - Lehi - Fairfield - Cedar Fort - Cedar Hills - American Fork - Highland - Alpine
The Crossroads Journal

Lake Mountain a popular area for bird watching

By Mike Kieffer
Between Eagle Mountain and Saratoga Springs lies Lake Mountain. This northern Utah County mountain is home to a wide variety of wildlife. That wildlife includes a wide range of birds. With Eagle Mountain's open spaces and green space policies, there are plenty of locations for bird watching. Jeff Cooper, an avid birder as well as blog author at www.neovistabirding.blogspot.com and nature photographer, talked about his experiences in birding around Lake Mountain.

"My interest in birding around Eagle Mountain and other Cedar Valley areas was sparked by the abundance of wintering raptors I noticed the first time I drove through the area. I've always been interested in birds of prey and the Eagle Mountain area provided lots of opportunities to observe, study and photograph them. The open spaces, nearby mountains and sagebrush habitat are perfect for eagles, hawks and falcons. They are also great therapy for people who love to discover the outdoors. I learned very quickly during subsequent birding trips that the area becomes home to different bird species with the changing seasons. "

Cooper has spent many hours walking the hills around Soldiers Pass, Manning Canyon, Eagle Mountain, Fairfield, Cedar Fort and Lake Mountain. He has seen a lot of different species of birds. Cooper explained some of his birding tricks and experiences.

"While Golden Eagles hunt the sagebrush expanses year round and nest in the local canyons, it is only during the winter months that Bald Eagles will be seen. Ferruginous Hawks and Prairie Falcons nest in remote areas during the spring and summer breeding seasons, but they are regularly seen around the Eagle Mountain area during the fall and winter months. Rough-legged Hawks and Merlins are regular winter visitors to the area as well. They come to the valley from as far away as Alaska and Northern Canada. Few people have ever seen Burrowing Owls, but I can locate them in the Cedar Valley using my knowledge of their habitat and behaviors. The Juniper Titmouse is a little-known bird that can regularly be found in the juniper habitat in the nearby mountains and canyons. During the spring and summer months, we can find relatively rare northern Utah desert birds such as Northern Mockingbird, Gray Vireo, Black-throated Sparrow, Sagebrush Sparrow, Gray Flycatcher and Ash-throated Flycatcher along the south end of Lake Mountain and Soldiers Pass. Many Utah birders look long and hard for Pinyon Jays. We actually see them regularly in places like Manning Canyon and Solders Pass. I also enjoy the mammals and reptiles I encounter while birding the Cedar Valley. With spring at our door, we can expect Swainson's Hawks to return for another breeding season."

Eagle Mountain is also the home to a large population of American Kestrels. Last year, Eagle Mountain residents and other bird enthusiasts participated in the Eagle Mountain Kestrel Project. The project continues this year, their second year with a live webcam. The EMKP has teamed up with HawkWatch International. HWI had this to say about the EMKP: "Eagle Mountain is a wonderful example of a community embracing conservation efforts at home and being part of research at a broader scale. It is exactly what we hope for when growing our efforts and partnerships to new areas .... In Eagle Mountain, this starts with tremendous support from Mayor Pengra and the city, a local organizer and driving-force in the form of Shon Reed and an engaged group of citizen scientists. HawkWatch International is thrilled to have Eagle Mountain as a partner in our Kestrel research efforts and looks forward to future collaboration on this and other raptor studies."

The EMKP has started its second year in Eagle Mountain. A few nest boxes have been added and a couple have been relocated to make way for park improvements and development. Bird watchers have reported positive signs this year, and the project is confident that they will again see the majority of their boxes being used by Kestrels this year. Last year, the EMKP and HWI joined forces and were able to band 45 chicks from nest boxes located in Eagle Mountain. Two birds, male and female from different nests, were spotted by their colored leg bands in Syracuse, 70 miles north of Eagle Mountain.

Lydia Ripplinger, also an avid birder and nature photographer, discussed why she likes birding around Lake Mountain and Eagle Mountain. "Eagle Mountain is an amazing place to watch and photograph birds, especially birds of prey. In Eagle Mountain, you'll encounter many species of hawks, owls, eagles and falcons, including a good number of kestrels, the smallest and, in my opinion, most beautiful falcons in North America. Though I don't live in Eagle Mountain, I find myself visiting the area multiple times a month to observe the raptors and to participate in the growing Kestrel conservation project being carried out in the area. Eagle Mountain is a beautiful, unique and valuable place for bird enthusiasts of all types." Ripplinger has also gone with the EMKP to check boxes and has helped with that community effort.
The community news source for Eagle Mountain Utah, Saratoga Springs Utah, Lehi Utah, American Fork Utah, Highland Utah, Alpine Utah, and The Cedar Valley, including Cedar Fort Utah and Fairfield Utah. Copyright 2017 The Crossroads Journal LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 





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