This year’s spotlight bird at the 13th annual Great Salt Lake Bird Festival is not easy to spot in the state of Utah. One of the last migrating species to reach the lake’s shores in the spring, the Western Tanager spends most of its time either south of the border in Mexico and Central America or in its nesting ground in much cooler and higher elevations amid conifer forests.
It should also be noted that even though the male Western Tanager has rather colorful plumage with a yellow and black body and a brilliantly bright red head (pictured), it’s also often hard to catch a glimpse of the elusive birds as they flit about the edge of the water foraging for flying insects.
So why make it the spotlight bird?
It’s a good question to ask Bill Thompson III, this year’s festival keynote speaker and longtime editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, a family-owned passion since 1978. Ever since taking over the roost, Thompson has provided his own spin on the bird-watching pastime with his podcast, This Birding Life, and his widely read blog, Bill of the Birds, where he tackles all sorts of issues such as the impact of wind turbines on bird populations.
The annual festival also offers the opportunity to take guided tours, join birding classes and enjoy social gatherings where birders are encouraged to up their bird counts and flock together. Just try to not ruffle any feathers.
Great Salt Lake Bird Festival @ Davis County Legacy Events Center, 151 S. 1100 West, Farmington, 801-451-3286, May 12-16, times vary. Visit GreatSaltLakeBirdFest.com for pricing and the complete schedule of workshops and field trips