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Box Elder County fills the expanse of land that is northwestern Utah. Located north of the Great Salt Lake, the county is a crossroads of natural & historic wonders. The lake & the open spaces around it have attracted birds for thousands of years, while in more modern times, the area has seen many events of historic importance take place.

Birding in Box Elder County

It’s a fact that where you find water, you’ll find birds. The Great Salt Lake and its feeder rivers help form a perfect corridor for migratory birds as part of the Pacific and Central Flyway of North America. This flyway has been an important migratory path since long before humans arrived. Land is now being protected in order to preserve this vital habitat. The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is one of the natural gems of Box Elder County. The refuge is where the Bear River and its tributaries and bays meet the northern part of the Great Salt Lake. These mudflats and marshes make for great refuges for birds, giving them necessary food sources and safe resting places.

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Long-billed Curlew by Roland Jordahl

Over 270 different species of birds have been spotted at Bear River, including 75 that nest there. Some of the many birds you can find at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge include bald eagles, tundra swans, white-faced ibises, American white pelicans, snowy plovers, black-necked stilts, cinnamon teals, and many more. A full list is available on the refuge’s website, and for the most up-to-date data on which birds are currently in the area, check out eBird.

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American Avocet by Judd Patterson

As a result of these waters, Box Elder County and the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge are a paradise for birding. There are year-round opportunities for spotting birds. Spring and fall are of course prime migration seasons, with birds arriving by the thousands. Some stay and nest through the summer. While the winter months are quieter, there are still plenty of resident birds such as hawks and falcons to be found.

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Birdwatching in Bear River Bird Refuge – by Matt Morgan

While the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is a perfect place to go birding, the rest of the county is great for birding as well. The lands here are wide open and inspiring.

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History and Art in Box Elder County

Lands like Box Elder County that are filled with natural wonders are inspiration for artists. Nature photographers will love taking photos of the area’s birds and the landscape. Other artists have also taken their cues from the land. The most famous pieces in the area are Robert Smithson’s “Spiral Jetty” and Nancy Holt’s “Sun Tunnels”.

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While Box Elder County is an important transit route for birds, it’s also an important transit route for humans. The county is home to the Promontory Summit, where the two sides of the First Transcontinental Railroad connected the United States. It was at this point that a Golden Spike was driven, thus changing the history of the country forever. Today, visitors can go to the Golden Spike National Historic Site and see reenactments of that event.

Box Elder County, Utah is a crossroads for birds and humans alike. It’s an area of great natural beauty, making it the perfect place to relax and get away from it all while enjoying nature.

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