where, when, and what to find

Little Cottonwood Canyon -- Alta

posted by Tim Avery at
on Tuesday, March 4, 2014 

Alta By-Pass Road photo by Tim Avery

Includes the Alta Ski Resort, town of Alta and the by-pass road. After 3/4 of a mile drive through Snowbird Resort, a 1/2 mile of road loops back to the main canyon road.  The entire stretch has houses and condos and various side streets.  There are feeders all along here, but you have to do a little looking. Powder Ridge Drive off of the by-pass road is often a good street to check.  Mixed Conifer and Aspen forest dominate the mountains around the building here.  Be mindful of where you park--the entire area is private property and we don't want to upset any owners and residents. In the winter of 2014-15 feederswere added at the Alta Town Offices off the main road next to Our Lady of the Snow Church.  The feeders have been very productive for rosy-finches.

The by-pass road has long been known as a spot to look for Rosy-Finches during the winter months until the addition of the feeders at the town offices.  Historically a home along the road called the Ben Hame Home had been the go to spot.  But in recent years the feeders here have been left empty, and this hasn't been reliable--but check when you visit as in 2015 the feeders were stocked nicely.  Other houses in the area have feeders, as do some of the large condos.  Finding birds here takes some luck, but days following storms are often a good time to look.    You can drive the road slowly or find a place to park out of the way and walk looking for activity.  aside form both BLACK ROSY-FINCH and GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH, you can also see PINE GROSBEAK, RED CROSSBILL, siskins, finches, jays, chickadees, and other mountain birds here most of the winter.

Screen Grab form Feeder Cam on 1/29/15 showing Rosy-Finch Flock

In the winter of 2014-15 at least 2 BROWN-CAPPED ROSY-FINCHES were found here, representing the furthest west this species has been recorded, and only the 2nd and 3rd sightings for Utah. The by-pass road doesn't get mentioned much during other times of year, but the birding is probably similar to nearby mountain locations.  At the town offices there are several feeders that can be watched from a few feet away.  A live cam was put in place in January 2015 and can be viewed below:

From exit 295 on I-15 head east along 9000 South.  9000 south turns into 9400 south and continues all the way into Little Cottonwood Canyon.  From I-215 east side belt route, take Exit 6 east onto Wasatch Blvd heading south.  Follow Wasatch Blvd till it Y's.  At the Y go left to head up the canyon.  Once in the canyon, from either direction continue east.  From the parking lot at the bottom of the canyon it is 6.8 miles to Snowbird Resort, and the Alta By-Pass Road.  For the by-pass road,take a right onto the by-pass road and follow it as it loops for 1.25 miles back to the main canyon road. You can also continue straight 1.2 miles and will hit the town offices on your right slightly up hill to the right of the church.

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Blogger Tim Avery said...

My Wife and I drove up to Alta this afternoon to see what the finch situation was. We drove the By-Pass Road to the Ben Hame home which for the first time in I can't remember how many winters had a number of feeders fully stocked. This has historically been the go-to place for Rosy-Finches but in recent years other feeders around Alta have picked up the slack.

Unfortunately I didn't get to look ay what birds were actually at the feeders because a half dozen people were on the deck of the house hopping in the hot tub. Let's just say I didn't want to deal with that confrontation. So instead we drove up to the turn off to Powder Ridge--the next street from the Ben Hame home on the right as you get towards the end of the By-Pass Road. The feeders here had some activity but not much. A CLARK'S NUTCRACKER was hopping around with the jays and siskin. Down canyon you could hear several PINE GROSBEAK singing. I spotted at least 3 males perched atop the conifers. There were also a pair of CASSIN'S FINCH here making a racket.

20 GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES flew from the north over the house s here and then veered west towards the Ben Hame home but continued past... Perhaps to The View or some of the condos with feeders there .

It was beautiful and 39° when we left to come back to the valley.

The Ben Hame Home had a tiny placard on the front with the name of the house. It's the only house after the condos along the southside of the road with feeders before you turn back towards Little Cittonwood Canyon Road. This I believe is the same area where folks reported rosy-Finches last week.

March 8, 2014 at 5:42 PM  
Blogger Tim Avery said...

Here is a photo of one of the 2 Brown-capped Rosy-Finches found this winter at alta.

January 29, 2015 at 8:04 AM  

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