Tooele County is a birder’s paradise with its wide-open vistas, habitats that range from thick sub-alpine forests to marshlands, and an arid climate that drives birds to flock together at watering holes.
A large portion of the Great Salt Lake—which is one of the most ecologically important sites in the Northern Hemisphere for seasonal avian migrations—lies in Tooele County. The remote Fish Springs National Wildlife refuge, with its five major warm springs that feed a 10,000-acre marsh system and hosts as many as 6,000 wintering birds, is one of the premier birding locations in the West.
For a taste of birding in wide-open sagebrush rangelands, birders can drive “Raptor Loop,” which follows Highway 36 the length of Tooele Valley before heading through Rush Valley on Highway 73 and back around to Lehi. Owls, hawks, eagles, prairie falcons, ospreys, crows and ravens can all be spotted in the area.
In the upper reaches of verdant South Willow Canyon, pines and aspens dominate, and forest birds flit from limb to limb. Delicate flycatchers, thrushes, jays, bluebirds and warblers are common, if not always visible, in the area. There are also more conspicuous hummingbirds and woodpeckers.