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Pitta Nature Tours
Boreal Owling Adventure

Several years ago we located a few reliable locations to track down Boreal Owls during the fall in northern Utah. After a practice run in 2023 we've decided to offer a handful of tours each fall to focus on this difficult to find species!

Upcoming Tour Date(s)

Sep 29 - Oct 1, 2024

6 of 7 Spaces Available

Oct 6-8, 2024

7 of 7 Spaces Available

Oct 13-15, 2024

6 of 7 Spaces Available

Oct 20-22, 2024

7 of 7 Spaces Available

Itinerary

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

Boreal Owl

Day 1 - Sunday Arrive in SLC and Search for Boreal Owl!

After arriving in SLC we will help arrange transportation to our hotel for those arriving in the morning, and offer a pickup between 2-3pm for those arriving early in the afternoon. After getting everyone settled, and having a quick meet and greet we will pick up a boxed dinner to go and start our hour drive east to the Uinta Mountains. The goal will be to make it to our final destination with some daylight remaining to check out the scenery, and see what montane species might be around. After darkness descends we’ll spend as much time needed to try and track down Boreal Owl—the main target of this adventure. While out we may also encounter Northern Saw-whet Owl as well. There is always a chance for late staying Flammulated Owl on our early October tours, but that would be a bonus!

After putting forth our best effort, we will have everyone back to the hotel by 11:00 pm to get some rest before our early Monday morning!

Night in Cottonwood Heights, UT

Northern Pygmy-Owl

Day 2 - Monday Nothern Pygmy-Owl and fall mountain birding!

This morning we will set off to visit a site in the Wasatch Mountains which tower over our hotel in Cottonwood Heights. The Wasatch represent the west edge of the Rockies and happen to represent some of the best mountain owl habitat in the west! Our goal this morning will be to see if we can manage to track down a Northern Pygmy-Owl. This species is often vocal in the fall, and while it gets easier as the season gets later, we hope to add this bonus owl to our checklist for this tour!

Being out in the morning will inevitably mean we see a few other birds. While things can be sparse this time of year, things like Mountain Chickadee, Black-billed Magpie, Spotted Towhee, Steller's Jay, and Golden Eagle are possible. Making the most of our morning we will visit a nearby reservoir and see what migrating waterbirds are around. After a light lunch we will take an afternoon break before reconvening for dinner and our 2nd night of owling. Depending on how things went on night 1, we may visit the same location as the previous night to try our luck again at Boreal Owl. If we had success on night 1 tonight we will turn our focus to Northern Saw-whet Owl. The plan will be to have everything wrapped up by 11pm again.

Night in Cottonwood Heights, UT

Great Horned Owl

Day 3 - Tuesday The Great Salt Lake + a few more Owls!

On our final morning of this tour we will reserve the finale for a visit to the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Although not the high season we should still be able to put together a nice list of lingering fall waterbird migrants, potentially a few early winter arrivals, and some of the year round species that call this unique habitat home. Aside from the waterbirds we may also track down things like Chukar, Northern Harrier, Rock Wren, and Say's Phoebe while out.

With any luck we should add Great Horned Owl to our trip list, and may turn up a Barn Owl, or even a late staying Burrowing Owl. After visiting a few locations we will wrap up our tour with lunch at Utah’s best Mexican restaurant, before dropping everyone off at nearby hotels or the airport by 1:00 pm.

End of Tour!

2024 Pricing

Single Room

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

Max Participants: 7
$1,249 per person
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Looking for another option?

We also offer private Boreal Owl Tours. Please feel free to reach out for availability. But due to the limited time of year for these tours, and number of puiblic offerings, availability is extremely limited.

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 2:00 and 3:00 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 no later than 1:00 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.  This usually means mid to higher-to-mid-end chains, usually Hilton or Choice, and their various sub-brands.

Meals

Breakfasts will usually be boxed and eaten in the field.  Some mornings we may eat at hotels if time permits with our itinerary.  Lunches and 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 slow. With several target owl species we will be biridng very deliberatley in mornings and evenings. Afternoons will be reserved to rest.

Difficulty

For the most part, the tour is not physically demanding. We will be owling at high elevations (8,500-10,500') and hiking short distances of up to 4 miles roundtrip. Due to the elevation and some uneven terrain we suggest being in good physical shape to take part in this adventure.

Weather and Temperature

This time of year the weather may be unpredictable. Day time highs at lower elevations may peak in the 80's, while night-time lows in the mountains can get into the 30's. Most of our owling will take part in the mountains in mornings and evenings, and warm layers are recommended to be prepared for anything. Snow and rain is alwasy a possibility and with the nature of this tour and we can make no guarantees that we will be able to reach our owling sites.

Insects, Snakes, and Predators

Insects shouldn't be too big of an issues. Some mosquitoes may be lingering if we have warm weather, but generally the bugs are minimal this time of year. Snakes are unlikely and we would be thrilled to come across either a Cougar or Black Bear on this tour!

Non-bird Highlights

  • Moose, Elk, Mule Deer, Mountain Goat, Pronghorn, and a handful of smaller mammals
  • The Great Salt Lake
  • Beautiful Fall Foliage
  • The Milky Way
  • Incredible Mountain Scenery

What's Included

  • Professional Guide Service
  • Transportation from SLC
  • 2-nights Accomodations
  • Meals from Dinner Day 1 through Day 3
  • Spotting Scope while Birding
  • Water for Refreshment
  • Birds—we’ll find some birds
  • Some Owltastic 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 Seasons Boreal Owling

2023 Boreal Owling Adventure
October 16-18, 2023
2023 Boreal Owling Adventure View Trip Report

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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