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Pitta Nature Tours
Great Salt Lake Birding

The Great Salt Lake is home to millions of breeding waterbirds, and hosts even more during migration offering a unique look at birdlife unlike anywhere else in states. No visit to Utah is complete without a visit to the lake—“Americas Dead Sea”.

Upcoming Tour Date(s)


Up to 7 Spaces available per tour!


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

Overview Pickup from SLC and visit the lake

It goes without saying, that any visit to Utah isn't complete with going to the Great Salt Lake. By and far the most requested destination for birders visiting Utah, we have come up with a short enough tour to give any birder a nice introduction to the lake. The lake is the largest remnant of Lake Bonneville, a prehistoric pluvial lake that once covered much of western Utah. In terms of surface area, it is the largest lake in the United States that is not one of the Great Lakes.

We offer this tour option year-round and tailor each visit based on the timing.  During the winter we focus on game birds, raptors, sparrows and gulls.  During migration, a wide variety of shorebirds and waterfowl become the focus.  And in the summer we share some of the incredible breeding birds.

The Inland Sea Although it has been called "America's Dead Sea", the lake provides habitat for millions of birds.

No matter the time of year, we alwasy start things off by visiting the actual lake via the Antelope Island Causway. Despite record low water levels the past few years the causeway still provides a great intro to the birds of the Great Salt Lake. Year-round we will see the Utah State Bird--the California Gull--ask us about the history and we'll happily share the story of this uniquer state bird! During the winter birds like Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Bald Eagle, and American Kestrel hunt along the shoreline here. For spring migration a wide variety of shorebirds are possible. Birds like Snowy Plover, Long-billed Curlew, and Western Willet will be present form spring through fall migration. Perhaps the best time and reason to visit is July through August when millions of Wilson's Phalarope and Red-necked Phalarope stage on the lake and put on a shorebird spectacle like nowhere else in America. In the spring and fall, 100's of 1,000's of Eared Grebes also create a unique birding experience.

A "Desert" Island A surprise oasis on the lake.

Making our way on to Antelope Island we'll take you to some of our favorite spots for island specialties. Year round we may encounter Loggerhead Shrike, Chukar, Great Horned Owl, Western Meadowlark, Rock Wren, and Horned Lark. Once the breeders arrive on the island things like Sage Thrasher, Burrowing Owl, Grasshopper Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, and large number of CLiff Swallow and Barn Swallow provide amusement while they hunt over the arid grasslands. In the winter things are more sparse, but winter residents like Northern Shrike, American Tree Sparrow, and a variety of raptors are possible. The island itself has turned up 100's or rare birds over the years and jsut about anything is possible given its unique place in the middle of the lake.

Freshwater Fringes A boon for birds!

Leaving the island we'll head back towards Salt Lake City visiting a freshwater marsh on the edge of the lake. Here where freshwater meets salt, the brackish areas create an incredible abundance of food, and in turn an increidble number of bird speceis. In the winter Bald Eagels congregate here along wiht gulls, and numerous species of waterfowl. During migration 50-60 species of birds can be seen in a rather short period of time as waterbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, waders, and divers fuel up on their wasy north and south. In the summer, breeders like Clark's Grebe, Western Grebe, Sandhill Crane, Common Yellowthroat, and Virginia Rail are all possible. If you only have a few hours to go birding and want a taste of what the lake has to offer, this excursion is a perfect way to get acquainted.

2023 Pricing

Private Tour

You’ll have van to yourself, and up to 6 friends. Perfect for families or small groups!

Max Participants: 7
$300 + $75/person
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Looking for something else?

Want to combine this tour with a visit to the mountains? What about seeing the sage and juniper specialists of Utah's West Desert? Or an evening of Flammulated Owling? The Best of Utah Summer Tour might be perfect for you! Or check out all our Utah Tour options.

What's Included & What to Expect

What to Expect on Your Tour

On the day of our tour we will provide pickup from local hotels and/or one of our set departure locations. Depending on time of year and if you choose a morning or evening tour will determine the exact pickup time.


During 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.

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.


Morning tours include a boxed breakfast. Evening tours include a sandwich, chips, and drink with a stop at a sandwich shop.


The pace of the tour is steady. Not too fast and not too slow--just right!


This tour is not physically demanding. We may do several short strolls, but nothing requiring too much physical activity.

Weather and Temperature

Depending on time of year the weather is quite variable. Please refer to online weather sites when planning your travel to the Beehive state to see what the weather is generally like. You can also ask if you have any questions!

Insects, Snakes, and Predators

Oh my!  Mosquitoes can be found at most places we will be visiting from spring through fall, so protective clothing or repellent is highly recommended.  While there are other biting bugs, most are not problematic.  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 Great Salt Lake
  • Antelope Island State Park
  • Brine Shrimp
  • Pronghorn, Bison, & Coyote

What's Included

  • Professional Guide Service
  • Transportation from SLC
  • Boxed Breakfast or Dinner
  • 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
  • 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 Great Salt Lake Birding Tours

December 16, 2019
Great Salt Lake Birding Read Recap

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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