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Pitta Nature Tours
Cassia Crossbills
& More!

First described in 2009 and formally recognized as a species in 2017, the endemic Cassia Crossbill is the newest American bird species and only found in the remote mountains of southern Idaho. This quick tour will focus on this species and a few other local specialties.

Upcoming Tour Date(s)

June 5-7, 2022 FAST BUT EASY BIRDING!

7 of 7 Spaces Available

June 4-6, 2023 FAST BUT EASY BIRDING!

7 of 7 Spaces Available

Itinerary

Itinerary subject to change due to weather, birding conditions, and other factors out of our control.

Day 1 - Sunday Arrive in SLC and transfer to Idaho for Flammulated Owl

We’ve reimagined the itinerary for 2022 to focus specifically on Idaho. Arrive in SLC by 2:00 PM, and transfer to southern Idaho and check in to our hotel. Grabbing dinner to go, we will make our way into the South Hills where we will spend the fleeting moments of daylight birding, potentially getting our first glimpse at the endemic Cassia Crossbill before dark. After the sun sets, we’ll shift our focus to another local specialty, the Flammulated Owl. With any luck we might be able to track down a Common Poorwill or even Northern Saw-whet Owl if they are having an active spring.

Night in Twin Falls, Idaho

Day 2 - Monday Cassia Crossbill and the South Hills

We will spend the first part of the morning around Twin Falls working on tracking down Gray Partridge, Barn Owl, and Burrowing Owl before heading back into the South Hills until mid-afternoon. While the focus of the morning will be to get good looks at the Cassia Crossbill, the South Hills have several other specialty species like Calliope Hummingbird and Lewis’s Woodpecker that we’ll spend some time with as well. Other possible species today include: Western Tanager, Hammond’s Flycatcher, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Fox Sparrow, Lazuli Bunting, Vesper Sparrow, Mountain Bluebird, and Cassin’s Finch. In the afternoon we’ll head back to the hotel for a break until dinner. After dinner, we will spend the remaining daylight birding the agricultural areas south of town to see what we might find.

Night in Twin Falls, Idaho

Day 3 - Tuesday Idaho Cleanup and Back to Utah

This morning is a back up for anything we might have missed. If things have gone well and our main targets have been seen, we will do some light birding before visiting Shoshone Falls Park where we might track down Canyon Wren, Rock Wren, Yellow-breasted Chat, California Quail, Bullock’s Oriole, and White-throated Swift. On our way out of Idaho we’ll visit a nearby Wildlife Refuge in hopes of tracking down Clark’s Grebe and Western Grebe, and any other waterbirds that might be present. We’ll wrap things up mid-afternoon in Salt Lake with a delicious “early” dinner at one of Utah's most popular Mexican restaurants, and dropping everyone off at the airport or nearby hotels by 5:00 PM at he latest.

End of Tour!

2022 Pricing

Single Room

You’ll have your own room for the duration of the tour.

Max Participants: 7
$1,099 per person
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Looking for another option?

Want to combine this tour with a trek for Himalayan Snowcock, more time birding in Utah and Nevada, and witness the incredible phalarope migration spectacle? Checkout our Mountain West Most Wanted Tour!

What's Included & What to Expect

What to Expect on Your Tour

On the day our tour beings we will provide pickup from Salt Lake International Airport between 1:00 and 2:00 PM.  If you arrive earlier in the day we suggest finding a good place to grab a meal at the airport until our pickup time. By 2:00 PM we will have gathered everyone to kick the tour off! At the end of the tour, we will drop you off at the airport or nearby hotels by 5:00 PM.

Transportation

Throughout the tour, we will travel in our comfortable 12-person Transit Van (aptly named Otus).  Since this tour caps at 7-people, that means each of our 3-rows in the back has just 2-people, with the 7th passenger riding shotgun.  Lots of room to stretch out with your gear and not feel like a sardine in a tin.  Throughout the tour, we'll switch up seating arrangements so everyone gets a different view day-to-day.  

We provide a step stool for easy access in and out of the van and ice-cold water is available whenever you need from the back of the van with a custom tour water bottle provided for you to keep at the beginning of the tour.

Accomodations

Accommodations are typically quite comfortable and often the best available in the vicinity.  For this tour we typically stay at the Comfort Inn Jerome, about 5 minutes from Twin Falls. But this is subject to change depending on availability.

Meals

Breakfasts will usually be boxed and eaten in the field.  Lunches will be sandwiches or picnic -style in the field.  Dinners are at our favorite local restaurants, with the exception of the night the tour starts, when we'll take a boxed dinner into the field. Water and soft drinks are included with meals, but alcoholic drinks ARE NOT.  They may be purchased on your own with meals.

Pace

The pace of the tour is fast--we cover more than 800 miles in 3-days and have early mornings and late nights to pick up our target birds. On Day 1 and Day 3 we will make 225-mile drives--first up to Twin Falls, then back to Salt Lake City--and try to do so during the hottest parts of the day so everyone can relax in the van.

Difficulty

This tour is not physically demanding. We will do numerous short outings, under 1-mile (usually much shorter), on even terrain.

Weather and Temperature

This tour provides for interesting days and nights, as we move between high elevation sites in the mountains and low elevations sites in the Great Basin.  It is not uncommon for daytime temperatures at lower elevations to reach into the high 90’s or even low 100’s.  While in the mountains daytime temps range from the 50’s to 70’s.  While owling the temperatures can dip into the low 40’s.  I recommend bring a variety of clothing, that is easily layered.  

Insects, Snakes, and Predators

Oh my!  Mosquitoes can be found at most places we will be visiting, so protective clothing or repellent is highly recommended.  While there are other biting bugs, most are not very active this time of year.  There is one species of rattlesnake in the Great Basin, but we have not encountered them on any tours.  With that being said, please be aware it is possible to encounter them.  And lastly, there are both Black Bear and Cougar in the Mountain West, but in 13 years of guiding I have never encountered either during a tour!

Non-bird Highlights

  • The Snake River Gorge
  • Shoshone Falls Park
  • Summer Sunrises & Sunsets
  • Upto 10 Possible Mammal Species
  • Summer Wildflowers & Butterflies
  • Some reallly good food!

What's Included

  • Professional Guide Service
  • Transportation from SLC
  • 2-nights Accomodations
  • Meals from Dinner Sun. to Dinner Tue.
  • Spotting Scope while Birding
  • Water for Refreshment
  • Birds—we’ll find some birds
  • Some Flammtastic Tour Swag
  • Delightful Conversation about Birds
  • A Thoroughly Enjoyable Time!
We also include SFW dad jokes, witty bird puns, and the occasional commentary on things non-bird related!

What's Not Included

  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Binoculars
  • Cameras and Lenses
  • Personal Flashlights/Headlamps
  • Bug Spray
  • Jackets or Sweaters
  • Shoes and Socks
  • Flights or Transportation to Utah
We highly recommend all of the above ;)

Still have questions? Ready to book a tour? Either way tapping the buttons below will put you in touch with us!

Past Cassia Crossbill Tours

Cassia Crossbill Tour
June 10, 2021
2021 Cassia Crossbills & More Tour Recap Read the Recap

Cassia Crossbill Tour
July 10, 2020
2020 Cassia Crossbills & More Tour Recap Read Recap

Cassia Crossbill Tour
June 22-23, 2019
2019 Cassia Crossbills & More Tour Recap See Photos

Recent Photos from this Tour

Still have questions? Ready to book a tour? Either way tapping the buttons below will put you in touch with us!

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