Utah Winter Raptors
Trip Dates: February 7 - 11, 2018
Fee: $2500, does not include meals or lodging
From: Provo, Utah
Leaders: John Crawley, Matthew Studebaker
Target Group Size: 4 photographers
Utah hosts a higher raptor density in the winter than anywhere I have ever seen by far. It's common to find over a hundred raptors per day, representing 10+ species. Drive the agricultural fields beneath the mountains and explore the canyons as we search for photo opportunities with these amazing birds.
Travel considerations: Fly to Salt Lake City
Equipment: I recommend bringing a digital SLR with matching lens. On this photo tour, you will want a camera with a high frame rate and fast focusing ability. Although sometimes the birds come close enough for something as short as a 300mm, most of the time they feel more comfortable when photographers use something in the 500mm range. We don't recommend this trip to new photographers, or people who aren't very comfortable with flight photography. This is a photo tour for the "advanced" photographer.
Likely Species on the trip. Species in bold will be the easiest/most common -
- Bald Eagle
- Northern Harrier
- Cooper's Hawk
- Red-tailed Hawk
- Ferruginous Hawk
- Rough-legged Hawk
- American Kestrel
- Prairie Falcon
- Western Screech-Owl
- Northern Pygmy-Owl
- Long-eared Owl
- Barn Owl
What to pack
- Warm winter boots
- Jacket for cold weather
- Hat and gloves and something to protect your neck and face from wind
Camera Gear. Bring your longest lens, a landscape lens, and if you have room something in the 200 – 400mm range as well.
Cell Phones and Internet: The hotels all have wifi. We should also have phone reception most of the time in the field.
Weather and Schedule:
Be prepared for temperatures between 5 and 45 degrees Fahrenheit. We will use as much photograph-able light as we can each day, shooting sunrise through 10am, and 3pm to sunset, and also use mid-day light during overcast conditions.
Sunrise approx. 7:35am
Sunset approx 5:45pm
Transportation: We will drive as a group in a full-sized van.
More information to be provided about where to stay upon signing up for the trip. Hotel costs are not included in the photo tour fee.
Meals: This trip takes place near civilization so we'll have plenty of restaurant options.
As long as you dress warmly and are comfortable handholding medium telephoto lenses, there shouldn't be any excessive physical demands on this trip.
This trip will have a heavy emphasis on raptors in flight, but many perched shots will be possible as well. We will feed the raptors mice to entice them closer and anyone on this trip must be 100% comfortable with using mice. Our goal is that each participant will walk away with several high quality images each day, and that by the end of the trip each participant will have excellent images of 6 - 8 species of raptors.
Wintering raptors gather in numbers and gladly take our mice during a typical Utah winter. If for some reason there was a really unusual warm snap or other chance of nature, we STRONGLY recommend that you book trip insurance. Every once in a while an especially warm winter will prevent the raptors from gathering where we need them, and also make them less likely to need to take mice from us. If this were to happen, we would notify each of you as early as possible and refund any money you have paid to us. That being said, we don't expect any of that to happen, and in any normal year we should have excellent conditions.
About the trip leader John Crawley:
John Crawley graduated with a degree in Zoology with an emphasis in raptor biology. He did research for the DNR and NFS on Osprey and helped take care of endangered raptors at BYU as they transitioned to the Peregrine Fund. He has lived in the Provo, UT area for most of his life so he knows the raptors and land intimately. All images on this page were taken by John.