Raptors are awesome predators and popular for birders and non-birders alike to see. Whether you’ve been bird watching for years or are just getting started, you can look for these diurnal – daytime – raptors throughout Utah County.
1. Bald Eagle: Instantly recognizable with its white head and tail against a brown body, this eagle visits Utah County during the winter. Check near water sources where fish are available, including along the Provo River and the shore of Utah Lake.
2. Golden Eagle: A year-round resident, this large eagle is brown all over with a golden sheen on the back of its neck. While rare, it can be occasionally spotted in Provo Canyon surprisingly near Bridal Veil Falls.
3. Osprey: These fish-loving birds are summer visitors recognized by their brown and white plumage and bright yellow eyes. They are often found near Utah Lake or along the Provo River, and use nesting towers in the fields along the Skipper Bay Trail.
4. Cooper’s and Sharp-Shinned Hawks: These accipiters are in Utah County all year, often visiting backyards. Both look similar, but the Cooper’s hawk has the longer tail and is larger. Both feed on backyard birds, but the Cooper’s hawk feeds on doves while the sharp-shinned hawk takes smaller birds.
5. Turkey Vulture: This summer raptor is recognizable by its black body, black and white wings, and bare pink head with a large white bill. Watch for these birds soaring near I-15 as they search for roadkill to eat, and a roost can be found on Center Street in Provo between 300 and 400 East.
6. Red-Tailed Hawk: These widespread hawks are found year-round in the county, easily recognized by the spotted band across their white bellies and their rusty-red tails. Look along I-15 and Route 189 between Provo Canyon and Heber to find them perched on poles and fences.
7. American Kestrel: The smallest hawk in Utah, these blue and rufous birds have pointed wings and often perch on signs, treetops or poles or can be seen hovering over fields looking for mice and insects. They can be found throughout the county, including in cities.
8. Swainson’s Hawk: These summer hawks have dark chests, white throats, and brown and white wings. They frequently perch on poles along I-15 or near the Provo Airport.
9. Northern Harrier: These year-round residents are gray above and pale below, with a prominent white rump. They often hover over fields to hunt, and are most easily found in open marshy areas such as near the Skipper Bay Trail or along the Jordan River Trail in Lehi.
10. Peregrine Falcon: A powerful predator, this falcon is a summer resident identified by its dark face and dark barring on light underparts. Check the open fields east of Lehi for these birds, especially near Cabela’s and Thanksgiving Point.