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Pitta Nature Tours
Mountain West Most Wanted

Himalayan Snowcock, Cassia Crossbill, Flammulated Owl, Black Swift, Chukar, Gray Vireo, Gray Partridge, Sagebrush Sparrow, Calliope Hummingbird, and Lewis’s Woodpecker are the Mountain West Most Wanted. And in 5 short days, you can see them all.

Upcoming Tour Dates

July 15-19, 2021 TOUR 1

SOLD OUT

August 5-9, 2021 TOUR 2

SOLD OUT

July 15-19, 2022 TOUR 1

3 of 7 Spaces Available

July 27-31, 2022 TOUR 2

7 of 7 Spaces Available

Itinerary

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

Day 1 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, UT

Day 2 Juniper & Sage Specialists and Transfer to Elko

This morning we’ll visit the desert southwest of SLC for juniper and sagebrush species like Gray Vireo, Gray Flycatcher, Juniper Titmouse, Ferruginous Hawk, and Sagebrush Sparrow, before making our way west towards Nevada. Some light birding along the way with a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Wendover, and Wells before arriving in Elko mid-afternoon. After dinner we’ll call it a night for our early day tomorrow.

Night in Elko, NV

Day 3 The Search for Himalayan Snowcock

It will be a very early morning--waking by 3:00 and departing by 3:30 am, we'll drive 45 minutes to the trailhead in the dark. The trek to the valley where we'll find Himalayan Snowcock takes about 90-120 minutes at a slow to moderate pace. We give ourselves up to 2 hours to make sure we are in place by 6:30 AM at an ideal viewing location. Then comes the hard work of scanning rugged terrain and slopes for our quarry. It's not uncommon for Black Rosy-Finch and Clark's Nutcracker to grace us with their presence while we search.

We'll spend several hours in search of our target after which we'll make our way back down the trail and back to town for lunch before taking a long afternoon break. In the evening we'll have dinner before visiting a nearby reservoir to see if any fall shorebird migrants are on the move.

Night in Elko, NV

Day 4 Transfer to Idaho for Cassia Crossbill

Saturday morning is a backup for the Snowcock if for some reason we were unable to track down the target bird on Friday. If needed our morning will follow the same itinerary as Friday, before packing up and traveling northeast to Idaho, where we'll make an evening attempt at tracking down Cassia Crossbill. If we were successful on Friday, we will go birding in the morning around Elko, before departing for Idaho, stopping to look for Canyon Wren, Grasshopper Sparrow, and Calliope Hummingbird before trying for Cassia Crossbill later in the day.

Night in Twin Falls, ID

Day 5 Gray Partridge, back to Utah and End of Tour

Sunday morning will be a 2nd chance for Cassia Crossbill. If we missed out on Saturday, we'll head back to the mountains and spend the morning checking some of the best places these birds are known to frequent, before making the 4-hour drive back to Salt Lake City, with a potential stop or 2 along the Great Salt Lake on the way. If we get the crossbill on Saturday, we will spend the morning around Twin Falls tracking down Gray Partridge, Barn Owl, and Burrowing Owl before heading into Utah where we'll visit the Great Salt Lake where 100's of 1,000's of Red-necked Phalarope and Wilson's Phalarope typically provide a shorebird spectacle unlike anywhere else in the interior United States. Long-billed Curlew, Western Willet, and Snowy Plover are usually seen as well. We will also attempt to track down Chukar to wrap up our most wanted list, before enjoying dinner at one of Utah's most popular Mexican restaurants, and dropping everyone off at the airport or nearby hotels by 6:00 PM.

End of Tour!

2021 Pricing

Single Room

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

Max Participants: 7
$2,049 per person
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Looking for another option?

We also offer standalone tours June 6-8th for Cassia Crossbill, and July 30th to August 1st for Himalayan Snowcock. Both of these tours are 3-day/2-nights, and cost 1/3 less than the 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 no later than 6:00 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 higher-end chains, usually Hilton or Marriott and their various sub-brands. In Elko, we stay at the Red Lion Casino.  Over the years we have tried most of the accommodations in town, and the rooms here are the nicest.

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 will include both sit-down restaurants, and sandwiches to go.  On the day we travel from Nevada to Idaho we provide a per diem and stop at a local grocery store to pick out food for the day.  Most 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 over 1,000 miles in 5-days and have several early mornings and late nights to pick up our target birds.  We usually reserve afternoons for travel or to relax at the hotel, but with 15-hours of sunlight in July, we often have long days. 

Difficulty

For the most part, the tour is not physically demanding, BUT on the morning we hike for Himalayan Snowcock we must do a 2-mile (each way) hike starting around 9,000' in elevation and gaining about 1,000' feet.  Most of the hike is done in the dark on a well-maintained trail but if you are not in the right physical condition you may not be able to do this portion of the trip.  During the rest of the trip we will do numerous short outings, under 1-mile (usually much shorter), on more 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, and hiking early in the morning temperatures can dip into the low 40’s.  I recommend bring a variety of clothing, that is easily layered.  On our morning hikes in the Ruby Mountains, a jacket and long pants are recommended--by afternoon in the valleys it will be very warm so lighter wear will be preferred. Rain jackets are nice to have, but we don’t see rain often on this tour, and I can provide $2 ponchos in case of an emergency downpour.  Sturdy hiking shoes with good ankle support are highly recommended for the hikes.

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 14 years of guiding I have never encountered either during a tour!

Non-bird Highlights

  • Bonneville Salt Flats
  • The dramatic Ruby Mountains
  • The Snake River Gorge
  • Shoshone Falls Park
  • Tree of Life Earth Art
  • Summer Sunrises & Sunsets
  • 10-20 Possible Mammal Species
  • Summer Wildflowers & Butterflies
  • Some reallly good food!

What's Included

  • Professional Guide Service
  • Transportation from SLC
  • 4-nights Accomodations
  • Meals from Dinner on Day 1 to Dinner Day 5
  • 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 Most Wanted Tours

August 7-10, 2020
Mini Most Wanted Read Recap

July 27 - August 1, 2020
Most Wanted Read Recap

July 25-29, 2019
Mini Most Wanted See Photos

July 17-22, 2019
Most Wanted See Photos

July 26-29, 2018
Mini Most Wanted See Photos

July 19-23, 2018
Most Wanted See Photos

July 27-31, 2017
Most Wanted See Photos

July 21-23, 2017
Mini Most Wanted 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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