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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)


5 of 7 Spaces Available


7 of 7 Spaces Available


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

Day 1 - Sunday Arrive in SLC and Look for Black Swift & Flammulated Owl

Arrive in SLC by 4:00pm, do some light birding around the valley before grabbing a boxed dinner to go look for Black Swift. As dusk settles on the Wasatch Mountains, we’ll turn our efforts to Flammulated Owl and Common Poorwill before calling it a night

Night in Salt Lake City, Utah

Day 2 - Monday Juniper & Sage Specialists and Cassia Crossbill

This morning we visit a juniper woodland and shrubsteppe desert about an hour from Salt Lake. Our targets here are all the sage and juniper specialists: Gray Vireo, Gray Flycatcher, Bushtit, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Juniper Titmouse, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, Black-throated Sparrow, and Sagebrush Sparrow. Afterward, we would spend a little time looking for Chukar before continuing on to Twin Falls, Idaho (4 hr drive) to spend the late afternoon looking for Cassia Crossbill, Calliope Hummingbird, Lewis's Woodpecker, Hammond's Flycatcher, Lazuli Bunting, Fox Sparrow, Yellow-breasted Chat, and a variety of other montane species, before calling it a night.

Night in Twin Falls, Idaho

Day 3 - Tuesday Gray Partridge & The Great Salt Lake

Tuesday morning will be a backup for Cassia Crossbill. 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 into Utah where we'll visit the Great Salt Lake for Long-billed Curlew, Western Willet, and Snowy Plover. We will also attempt to track down Chukar if we missed it earlier in the trip, before enjoying dinner at one of Utah's most popular Mexican restaurants, and dropping everyone off at the airport or nearby hotels by 7:00 PM.

End of Tour!


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 3:00 and 4:00 PM.  If you arrive earlier in the day we can help you arrange a transfer to our hotel located about 25-minutes from the airport. By 4:00 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 7:00 PM on Saturday.


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.


Accommodations are typically quite comfortable and often the best available in the vicinity.  This usually means higher-end chains, usually Hilton or Marriott and their various sub-brands.


Breakfasts will usually be boxed and eaten in the field.  On Saturday, we may eat at the hotel if time permits with our itinerary.  Lunches will be sandwiches to go.  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.


The pace of the tour is fast--we cover over 750 miles in 3-days and have early mornings and late nights to pick up our target birds.  On both Friday and Saturday 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.


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 on our 2020 Tour
July 10, 2020
Cassia Crossbills & More Read Recap

June 22-23, 2019
Cassia Crossbills & More 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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