Before I get to the avian life of the island I'd like to provide a link from UtahBirds.org that has a checklist of the birds of Antelope Island that is downloadable. If you need ID help for the birds found on the island UtahBirds.org has a great photo gallery of the various species put together by the wonderful Milt Moody that are contributed by local bird photographers that can assist in ID.
Upland Game Birds:
|Feeding Chukar (Alectoris chukar) - Nikon D200, f8, 1/1250, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
Other upland game birds that can be seen on the island are Ring-necked Pheasants, California Quail, Gray Partridges and I've seen Sharp-tailed Grouse there as well. Thankfully the birds on Antelope Island are not hunted.
|California Gull (Larus californicus) chasing brine flies - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1500, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
I believe that although gulls are common they can be uncommonly beautiful photographed in the right light, in a great pose or interesting habitat.
|Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) on a rock - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/320, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
|Willet (Tringa semipalmata) wing lift - Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/750, ISO 400, 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
Willets are another species of the shorebirds that nest on the island, prior to breeding season they can be seen quite often along the causeway but when they are nesting they can be seen in the grasses and on the rocks along the road. They let their presence be known by loud calling and wing displays. The bird above was displaying because another Willet was nearby and they don't seem to care for intruders on their territory.
|Male Long-billed Curlew (Numenius americanus) - Nikon D200, f5.6, 1/640, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
In the summer the calls of American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts can easily be heard along the causeway and their numbers are in the thousands (and thousands). There are just so many shorebirds present at times I can't post a photo of them all but the checklist I linked to above shows all of the species.
|Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) on nest - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 500, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR at 380mm|
|Common Raven (Corvus corax) with nesting material - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1500, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
|Male Brewer's Blackbird (Euphagus cyanocephalus) displaying on sagebrush - Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x Tc at 400mm|
|Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta) singing in early spring (low light) - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/160, ISO 400, +1.0 Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
|Male Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
|Sage Thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus) juvenile - Nikon D200, f9, 1/500, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
|Perched Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus) in low light - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, +0.7 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
There are sparrows, doves, warbler, wrens, vireos, tanagers and many more perching birds that live on or visit Antelope Island, it is such a bird magnet!
|American White Pelicans (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos) in flight - Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/1000, ISO 250, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
Their cousins; the Double-crested Cormorants, are also seen in flight over the island from about March until late fall.
Ducks and Grebes:
|Green-winged Teal (Anas crecca) with Northern Shovelers (Anas clypeata) in the surf of the Great Salt Lake - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
For my Florida friends: yes, we actually get surf on the Great Salt Lake when the winds are strong and our ducks seem to enjoy surfing!
Other water birds that can be sen on the lake are five species of Grebes, American Coots and occasionally Common Loons.
Hawks, Eagles and Falcons:
|Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus) male in flight - Nikon D300, f9, 1/1000, ISO 640, +1.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, not baited|
Osprey are seen flying over the island during migration, they don't fish in the Great Salt Lake because it is too saline for fish to live in but they do fish in the surrounding freshwater marshes and ponds.
|Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) in flight - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2500, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 285mm, not baited|
Other hawks that are found on the island include Sharp-shinned, Cooper's, Red-tailed and Swainson's Hawks.
|American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) male - Nikon D200, f7.1, 1/350, ISO 400, +1.0 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, not baited|
|Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) on prey in low light - Nikon D300, f7.1, 1/200, ISO 640, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, not baited|
|Juvenile Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus) in early morning light - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 640, +0.3 EV, Nikkor 200-400mm at 400mm, not baited|
Merlins are seen during the winter on the island and the causeway, I'm still working on getting some images of them from the Antelope Island area.
|Adult Barn Owl (Tyto alba) in flight - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/640, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x tc at 400mm, not baited|
|Great Horned Owl (Bubo virginianus) adult - Nikon D300, f6.3, 1/1000, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm, not baited|
Great Horned Owls can be seen and photographed in several locations on the island and are permanent residents. Since I was a child I have always been fascinated by Great Horned Owls so I am always thrilled to have an opportunity to photograph them.
|Juvenile Burrowing Owl (Athene cunicularia) flapping its wings - Nikon D200, f6.3, 1/1600, ISO 400, Nikkor 200-400mm VR with 1.4x TC at 400mm|
Other Owls that are seen on Antelope Island are Short-eared and Long-eared Owls. Northern Saw-whet Owls have also been seen and this winter there was a Snowy Owl reported along the causeway which turned out to be "A One day Wonder", I would have loved to have a few images of that visitor from the Great White North. Maybe another year.
There are other birds of the island whose images aren't here, there are simply too many for a blog post. No matter what time of the year the birds of Antelope Island are fascinating!
* If you are in the Great Salt Lake Area from May 17th through the 21st (2012) you may want to consider visiting the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival which includes events on Antelope Island State Park. For more information please click here.