Winter Birds of Red Butte Garden

Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)

Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum)

Last Sunday while at the Red Butte Garden annual holiday open house, I abandoned my booth for a couple of forays out into the wintery garden in hopes of seeing and photographing birds. To my surprise I saw nine different species of birds within about twenty minutes.

I'm guessing that the gardens create a rare concentration of winter food, based on my experience that bird sightings in the Salt Lake City foothills are infrequent this time of year. At least, I haven't seen that kind of variety of birds in one place at one time in any of the other locations I've gone looking this time of year.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Western Tanager

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana), Killian Canyon, Utah

The Western Tanagers are in. I just found out a few days ago, on a short hike in Killian Canyon, where I was lucky enough to capture this image. The subject is sublime, even the situation with spring green leaves and red branches of dogwood creating the backdrop is ideal. The execution leaves room for improvement, and I'm looking forward to trying.

Really the only thing wrong with this image is the blurry foreground branches cutting across and cluttering the frame. However, they're also likely what's making this bird comfortable enough to stay put for a moment at close range. The compositions in my mind may require a lot of time in the field or very cooperative birds, and quite possibly both.

Not too many weeks ago I was staring at the snowy ramparts east of Salt Lake and daydreaming about photography in the high cirques of the Wasatch. Seeing flashes of red in the greening canyon bottoms has fixated my mind on other photographic goals. Right now is the time to be in the green zone photographing brightly colored birds alighted on flowering branches, as if in an Audubon print.