This earthen berm that winds around the Provo airport is a great place to find waterfowl, raptors, shorebirds, and passerines.
By Keeli Marvel | Published: 12/17/2013
In an ornithology course in college, my fellow students and I were required to identify and document 200 bird species. The Provo Airport Dike is where my life list — and my passion for birding — began.
It’s an easy 15-minute drive from my house, so I can chase a rare bird for an hour or spend half a day, making my way slowly around the entire dike. It’s a good spot all year and a fun place to mark the changing of the seasons by the presence of different species. Pullouts along the road make it easy to park your car and bird on foot.
In winter, I go for ducks and geese, Bald Eagles, and Rough-legged Hawks. When the lake freezes, I comb through flocks of gulls for local rarities. A Northern Shrike might turn up any time from October through March.
The dike is also one of my favorite places in spring, when the orioles, gnatcatchers, warblers, and other migrants return and the air is filled with swallows and birdsong. In summer, the local breeders include Black-necked Stilt, Spotted Sandpiper, Eastern and Western Kingbirds, Common Yellowthroat, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. — Keeli Marvel
Keeli Marvel is a biologist for the Department of Defense at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground, southwest of Salt Lake City, and is the president of the Utah County Birders.
At a Glance
Click on the coordinates below to view location:
Marsh, mudflats, lake, riparian areas, agricultural fields.
Flat. Mostly unpaved road with parking pullouts. Not wheelchair-accessible.
Year-round: Marsh Wren, Black-capped Chickadee, Northern Harrier, Great Blue Heron, Ring-billed Gull, Gadwall, American Goldfinch, Belted Kingfisher, Ring-necked Pheasant, Song Sparrow, Red-winged, Yellow-headed, and Brewer’s Blackbirds. Winter: Northern Pintail, Ring-necked Duck, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye, Redhead, Canvasback, Common Merganser, Bald Eagle, Rough-legged Hawk, Great Horned Owl, American Tree Sparrow. Spring through fall: Osprey, Bullock’s Oriole, Sora, Virginia Rail, American White Pelican, Caspian and Forster’s Terns, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Sandhill Crane, Western, Clark’s, and Eared Grebes, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, shorebirds, teal, kingbirds, ibis, warblers. Rarities: Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, Tropical Kingbird, Red Knot, American Redstart, Red-eyed Vireo, Blackpoll Warbler.
When to go
Year-round. Best on spring mornings.
None. Restrooms, picnic tables, and visitor center available at nearby Utah Lake State Park.
Municipal airport. No fees. Dike road is open year-round.
Scope needed for finding birds on mudflats and open water. Bring insect repellant during spring and summer.
For more info
Utah Lake State Park
Just north of the dike at the west end of W. Center St. Good for waterfowl, shorebirds, and raptors.
Lincoln Beach Boat Harbor and Lincoln Point
Southwest of Provo at 4700 S. Lincoln Beach Rd., Spanish Fork. Shorebirds, wintering gulls, and nesting Snowy Plover.