St George Bird Watching
St. George, Utah is the perfect vacation spot for the avid birdwatcher. The area around St. George boasts a number of bird species found nowhere else in the state. One popular popular birding spot in southwestern Utah is the Lytle Nature Preserve just a few miles from both Nevada and Arizona. Here several birds of the Mojave Desert extend their ranges into Utah, and a small creek creates a riparian oasis in an arid landscape of shrub-dotted cliffs. From St. George, drive west on US 91 through Santa Clara; at Shivwits, continue on US 91 southwestward toward Arizona. About 7 miles [11.3 kilometers] from Shivwits, you’ll reach Utah Hill, the crest of the Beaver Dam Mountains. Gray Vireo and Black-chinned Sparrow have been found here in spring and early summer. Also watch for Western Scrub-Jay and Scott’s Oriole. In about 4 more miles [6.4 kilometers], at Cattle Cliff, turn west onto a dirt road, following signs 11 miles [17.7 kilometers] to the preserve. Reservations aren’t necessary for day visits, but if you’d like to camp here, call in advance for information and fees. Drinking water and rest rooms are available.
Some of the birds you might find include Common Black-Hawk (very rare); Gambel’s Quail; White-winged Dove; Greater Roadrunner; Costa’s Hummingbird; Ladder-backed Woodpecker; Vermilion, Ash-throated, and Brown-crested Flycatchers; Black Phoebe; Loggerhead Shrike; Bell’s Vireo; Verdin; Cactus and Bewick’s Wrens; Black-tailed Gnatcatcher; Crissal Thrasher; Lucy’s Warbler; Summer Tanager; Abert’s Towhee; Black-chinned Sparrow; Hooded and Scott’s Orioles; and Lesser Goldfinch. Several trails lead up the wash and into the low hills, passing through cottonwoods, desert scrub, and old fields and an orchard from the days when this was a working ranch. Look down occasionally, instead of always up for birds, and you might be lucky enough to spot a Gila monster, that beautiful, orange-and-black poisonous lizard of the southwestern desert.
Of course, we can’t forget to mention the great birdwatching opportunitites that await you in the nearby Zion National Park. Zion is home to 271 species of birds. A bird checklist and several books about the local birds can be obtained at the visitor centers.
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