Wild About Utah

Wild About Utah is a weekly nature series produced by Utah Public Radio in cooperation with Stokes Nature Center, Bridgerland Audubon Society, Quinney College of Natural Resources, Cache Valley Wildlife Association, Utah State University and Utah Master Naturalist Program - USU Extension. More about Wild About Utah can be found here.

Utah is a state endowed with many natural wonders from red rock formations to salt flats. And from desert wetlands to columns of mountains forming the basin and range region. When we look closer, nature is everywhere including just outside our door.

Hear the wonders of Utah: plants, animals, geologic formations; ancient, present; terrestrial, avian and aquatic. Brought to you by the Moab Area Travel Council

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In The Eyes Of A Bear On Wild About Utah

Jul 31, 2020
Patrick Kelly


We call him Old Ephraim up here in Cache Valley. He’s a tale known by just about everyone: one of the last brown bears in Utah, shot and killed by Frank Clark, in August of 1923.

Mary Heers

 

I first caught sight of the eight pelicans swimming in a straight line towards the water’s edge, looking a lot like a tank division in an old WWII movie. I slammed on the brakes just in time to see them all dip their bills into the water, come up spilling water and cock their heads back and then, gulp! Fish slid down their throats.

Sego Lillies

Jul 14, 2020


With pioneer Day’s a few weeks away, it’s time to honor a very special plant that saved many Utah pioneers.

 

Beaver In Utah’s Desert Rivers

Jul 7, 2020
Emma Doden

 

The Price and San Rafael rivers flow through some of Utah’s driest areas. Both are tributaries of the Green River. These rivers are essential to sustain the wildlife, riparian vegetation, native and endangered fish populations, and livestock that live in Utah’s eastern desert.

Beavers, native to both rivers, have far-reaching impacts on these waterways because of their ability to build dams that hold the water on the arid landscape – they are nature’s aquatic engineers. 

A Moral Dilemma

Jun 29, 2020
Rob Soto

I had a moral dilemma.

 

I was driving home from work on a small back road as I usually do to avoid traffic. As I was heading north, two juvenile robins swooped down across the road, as they normally do, in the path of an oncoming red truck. The first robin managed to cut upwards fast enough to dodge the truck’s hood, but the second broadsided the truck, hitting its door, and fell to the ground crumpled.

Wild About Nature Journaling

Jun 22, 2020
Shannon Rhodes

 

As a youth living minutes from the canyons east of Salt Lake City, I spent many Saturdays with my father carrying a backpack with sandwiches and his worn field guide to North American mushrooms.

A Look Into The World Of Dragonflies

Jun 16, 2020
Pixabay

A few days ago a friend invited me to join him on a dragonfly odyssey high on a ridge in a canyon east of Smithfield, Utah. What we observed can only be described as a natural phenomenon.

Finding The Black Rosy-Finch

Jun 8, 2020
Courtesy of Kim Savides

High in the snow-covered mountains of Northern Utah, Kim Savides, a graduate student in the Department of Wildland Resources at Utah State University waits for the daily avalanche report during winter months. If favorable, she ventures out to remote bird feeders in hopes of finding black rosy-finches.

A Pretty Decent Salve

Jun 1, 2020
Rob Soto

 

I saw a bird miss the line the other day. I had never seen that before. Truth is, birds sticking the landing was so ingrained in my very concept of a bird that I had not even considered it before. It was pretty funny.

 

Social Distancing Outside As Summer Arrives

May 28, 2020
NPS/Matt Turner

Snow is melting down from the high country. The rivers, creeks and streams are swollen with runoff and sediment. Wildflower blooms are hitting their stride and schools are officially offline. 

Bears In Utah

May 19, 2020
Mary Heers

 

As I hopped out of my car to take a short hike up Cache Valley’s Dry Canyon Trail I was surprised to see the Utah Department of Wildlife Resources had posted a picture of a black bear. “Bear Country,” it said. “Store food safely and keep campsites clean.” I’ve never seen a black bear in Utah but a quick check of the DNR website confirmed that as of last count, July of last year, there were 4,000 black bears in Utah. In winter the bears stay out of site. But by May they are coming out of hibernation looking for food and very hungry.

Evening Grosbeaks

May 11, 2020
George Gentry / US FWS

The stunningly beautiful evening grosbeaks are mystery birds that come pouring from the canyons to invade our urban areas on a daily cycle- an eruptive population here in Cache Valley. I always hear their loud chirp notes high above, often beyond sight. They alight in towering trees where they feed and converse with chirps and trills all the while. Highly social, evening grosbeaks are unlike their four solitary grosbeak cousins.

Rae Robinson stands in the wetlands at Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area
Rae Robinson

The Great Salt Lake provides approximately 75% of Utah’s wetlands, and is a resting area along the Pacific- Americas flyway.   Migratory birds rely on the lake as a stopping spot for rest and nutrition which they obtain from the variety of native plant communities.  These communities are at constant risk from the invasive reed Phragmites australis which is taking over native wetland plant communities.

Spring's Way

Apr 29, 2020
mountain river with melting snow
pixabay.com

 

Springtime in Cache Valley is marked by many events. It is a seasonal turn full of unrelenting life. The signs and the emotions they revive are marked by the beauty found in every hour of the day, from the day’s first bird songs reviving the world from slumber to their last evening’s lullaby.

 

You Too Can Teach Outside

Apr 20, 2020
children exploring outside
Josh Boling

 

 A few months ago, I shared a piece on this program called “Why I Teach Outside.” In it, I discussed the academic research and my personal anecdotes that reaffirm the education community’s movement toward experiential learning and learning beyond the four walls of a classroom. 

Nature Sings To Assuage Our COVID-19 Fears

Apr 17, 2020

 

 

Robins, house finch, and lesser goldfinch singing with gusto! Dippers on the stream blasting their melodious notes from watery perches on Summit Creek. An eastern bluejay bopps out to wish me good morning in a nearby Park, its rarity always a treat, instantly teleporting me back to earlier days in Michigan. Meadowlarks reveal their hearts in song in fields below as I work my way up a canyon ridge. A fox sparrow with ear shattering song competes for “America’s Got Talent”.

A family enjoying the Logan River
Frank Howe

 


In 2011, extensive flooding in Cache Valley caused widespread damage to both buildings and land along the Logan River.  This led to the formation of the Logan River Task Force; this group of Utah State University scientists and other experts in riparian and river restoration worked with Logan City and Bio-West, Inc. (a local consulting firm) to develop a long-term restoration plan that prevented flooding while balancing both social and ecological values of the river.  

 

Hope

Apr 1, 2020
Pixabay

It feels odd to be denning in the spring. Our usual season to escape back into the out of doors has shifted radically for society at-large. It is odd because all the world around us is still warming, flying a little further each day, and here we are, humanity, digging in. It is for the best, for our own survival, but it is still not easy to go against the natural grain.

A Nuthatch In Three Varieties

Mar 24, 2020
A red-breasted nuthatch hangs on a tree
National Audubon Society

This episode of Wild About Utah originally aired in March 2019.

Inverted woodpecker, a phrase I use to describe the feeding habits of the amazing nut hatch family. I first became aware of this lovely little songbird growing up in Michigan, where the white-breasted nut hatch was common fare in the north woods. Their little laughing notes were most welcome as I sat on my deer stand where I would watch them search bark crevices for yummy morsels of grubs, insect eggs or seeds they had wedged in for tomorrow's snack.

Imaginary Wanderings

Mar 18, 2020
Mountains in Utah with blue sky and clouds
Josh Boling

 


I’ve fancied a certain type of wandering lately—to grab my pack and boots and walk the lines of Utah’s political border—a trail made not of dirt and stone, but of imaginary lines of latitude and longitude. But, as of yet, I haven’t found the time or resources to do so beyond my own imagination and the 3 or 4 minutes I have with you now. Come join me in a stroll around Utah, at least the way I’ve imagined it. 

 

 

 

Eating Crow: The Gray Crown Rosy Finch

Mar 10, 2020
A gray crown rosy finch in the snow
Jack Binch

Eating the “humble crow”! Not literally- I hear they are rather tough and stringy. In my last reading titled “Wren Love”, I was confused by a flock of birds acting much like canyon wrens, but exhibiting a most unusual communal behavior. A later visit to the same ice covered cliff, only this time with optics, revealed them to be the gray crown rosy finch. I apologize for my carelessness!

As recompense, I must give this beautiful finch its due and to repay you, dear listener!

Logan River’s Evolving Geomorphology

Mar 4, 2020

 


Logan River’s geomorphology, or landform, has changed very little over the past 150 years in the mountain canyons.  But where the river leaves the mountains and drops down onto Cache Valley’s floor, its geomorphology has changed dramatically.

Bird TV

Feb 24, 2020
Pixabay

There are some days that I just don’t have it in me to get outside. Maybe it’s the winter blues; maybe it’s exhaustion from a full day’s work. Either way, there are days where all I want to do is sit in the shelter of my home next to the heat ducts, or under the shade of a porch, and just exhale for hours. Sometimes, getting into the thick or exploring one of the many unmapped nooks of Utah’s majesty just isn’t happening.

Winter Adaptations On Wild About Utah

Feb 24, 2020
pxfuel

 


 

 

“No, no, no! Don’t try to help me up yet,” I instructed, choking back laughter through a face full of snow. 

 

Third graders teetered in their snowshoes on the edge of the tree as well with mixed emotions written on their faces—equal parts concern and confusion. I was sunk to my armpits in snow, insisting that they not help me out of it. The learning had begun. 

 

A Love Letter To Wrens

Feb 24, 2020
A picture of a Pacific Wren.
Eleanor Briccetti

 

 


 

With Valentine ’s Day imminent, I must profess my love for wrens.   

 

A recent snowshoe slog with friends in a nearby canyon brought us face to face with a glorious panel of 30-foot ice colonnades running down quartzite cliffs. We stood in awe of their crystalline beauty. Near the ice wall, small birds were flitting in and out of vertical crevices. I began counting- a dozen or more. 

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