Rich B Young


Big Cottonwood Park POND

Holladay, UT.

as it looked in early

Spring, 1997


The year was 1997, and the Park was graced with a newly developed

pond, with additional water features on the north end where the water exited.

The water features (small decorative ponds and rivulets) were artistically crafted to blend into the Children's Play

ground area.

The extensive Redwood decks that spanned over the west side of the pond provided the view seen above.

The pond was stocked with warm-water fishes (bluegills) that provided fun fishing.

During the first Autumns and Winters, the pond and its wetlands to the east provided temporary home for literally hundreds of migrating wild ducks and geese.

I was drawn to the Park in the Autumn Season to witness large flocks of wild Mallards

in flight... an amazing spectacle!






The Park serves as a "Bird Magnet", where even exotic species are occasionally seen!


This page represents an ongoing, chronologically organized list/images

of mostly birds that I am photo-documenting in the Park, including its extension park (Creekside Park) to the south, across Murray-Holladay Road.


The Park is on the "Radar" of Utah Birders, and has gained a well-respected reputation among them!



This series has been primarily created for the "non-birders" who frequent the park, to assist them in identifying many of the birds found there.



A Few Highlight BIRDS from Big Cottonwood Park...


Bohemian Waxwing



Male Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker





White-throated Sparrow





Tennesee Warbler





Evening Grosbeaks









Juvenile Virginia Rail ...




Male Black-headed Grosbeak




Brown Creeper




Western Screech Owl




male Wood Duck









Enjoy the following images and explanations from the park, beginning on

April 8, 2012

with the newest posts at the end of this page!





April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday

Big Cottonwood Park.



Spring Arrives!

A Mother Mallard has graced the pond with

newborn ducklings!



Foxes are known to inhabit this park.

My first sighting was back in 1998.

Here is a more recent photo... the east side (corral) location:



An all-white "Mallard" discovered at the pond there...

Provides a lesson



Our cameras fail to simultaneously capture detail in extreme whites

and dark areas (in direct sun).




The all-white Mallard, with its female Mallard mate are difficult subjects for even the best cameras in bright sunlight.

The white duck loses detail; and the female is too dark!

By 'rolling over' the image with your mouse, notice the detail improvement

when the image has been edited with Adobe Photoshop!



The best alternative is to find:

A naturally occurring shaded area with its 'flat light'.

This provides good detail in both birds at the same time, as seen below.




People ask me what kind of bird this is...

There is only one on the entire pond.

It is an "American Coot".




A closeup-front view shows its unique head




A few other birds from this day at Big Cottonwood Park include,

A handsome male American Kestrel




Redwing Blackbird males are a prominent feature at Big Cottonwood Park pond, especially in the Springtime.



These birds have a melodic song that announces Spring.




The female Redwing blackbird is quite different in appearance..




Here we see a direct comparison between male and female




Here the male Redwing blackbird really 'struts his stuff'!

This "puffing up" action coincides with its call.



Not an easy subject to capture with camera!



Yellow-rumped Warblers make their presence known throughout the seasons.




I add this image to demonstrate where they got their name,




Black-Capped Chickadees blend so well against the tree bark.



The Chickadees enjoy eating emergent foliage on the trees.



The Red-tailed Hawk enjoys eating birds!



Red-tailed Hawk in Flight



A Downy Woodpecker is a distinct challenge to photograph!



This species exist there year 'round.


April 15, 2012

Big Cottonwood Park

A few images of Ruby-crowned Kinglets!

This little bird was too close for me to capture its entire body!

Very friendly! Notice the red point on its head... giving it its name.



Shallow Depth of Field (open aperture) separates this bird from its surroundings



April 16, 2012

Cottonwood Park Pond


White Mallard and Mate in Flight!


Such a beautiful Spring Day at Cottonwood Park Pond.

White Mallard and mate circling the pond for exercise.




The birds lifted off the pond as I exited my car, and provided me with numerous photos

as they circled 3 times before landing again.




This duck fascinates me...

I believe it is one of a select few white Mallards that can fly.

I have only seen 2 of them in my lifetime!




April 24, 2012


I suceeded in photographing a SORA at Big Cottonwood Park!

These birds are exceedingly difficult to view, in my experience at the park.




A Cedar Waxwing from Sunday, 4-29

Big Cottonwood Park


Cottonwood Park

Lesser Goldfinch pair



April 25... evening

Just shy of 8:00 P.M., I walked at Big Cottonwood Park

And, again, heard the Soras.

Camera always handy, I photographed this bird in the waning light of evening.

Other birders were present; and it was concluded that there were

at least 4 Soras around the periphery of the pond at that time!


Cottonwood Park, April 25...

Success again with the Sora today!

These birds are likely my greatest photo-challenge...

Difficult to locate... difficult to get a clear shot!

This is likely the best I'll ever get!




May 5, 2012

I'm still focusing (pun) on birds at

Big Cottonwood Park, Murray-Holladay area.

Those of you who frequent the park, watch

for this colorful bird... Western Tanager Male!




The park is also hosting a few of these migrant birds,

Black Headed Grosbeaks!




A 3rd colorful bird to look for is:

Bullock's Oriole.



Another migrant that is showing up (likely due to the proximity

of the horse corrals), is the Brown-Headed Cowbird!


Brown-Headed Cowbird pair



May 15, 2012

Black-headed Grosbeak, Big Cottonwood Park




May 16, 2012

First images of the Virginia Rail occurred on an overcast day




Another view of an adult Virginia Rail when lighting was marginal



The image of a Juvenile Virginia Rail is less than ideal in poor light!




May 17, 2012

A handsome Cooper's Hawk provided this and other nice images


Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.


May 17, 2012

Morning Sunshine assists in lighting up the

adult Virginia Rail


May 18, 2012

The 3rd time to Successfully Photograph the Big Cottonwood

Virginia Rails provided me conditions that have a

"Painterly" appearance.









May 20, 2012

Finally, a decent image of a Juvenile Virginia Rail from Big Cottonwood.




September 12, 2012

Big Cottonwood Park yielded a mixed bag of photos...

Beginning with 2 cool little hummingbirds.






American crows mingled with more Black-billed magpies than I've ever seen at one time!




The above and below images only show a tiny fraction of Magpie/Crow mix gathered here, allowing me to position myself under their

circle of activity!






Here, Crows are gorging on Russian Olive fruit.



The Crows would swoop close to my head as they gathered in a circular fashion in Cottonwood trees surrounding me, with Magpies also present.

They all presented 'easy pickins' as subjects for my camera.



Moving to another location in the Park, I found this noisy character...




And these 2 not-so-noisy characters high up in a tree,

making for fascinating offbeat image captures.



October 12, 2012

A visit to Big Cottonwood Park in Holladay, UT.

produced this Virginia Rail!

I had photographed them in May; but I assumed they had left the area!

Yesterday, Oct. 11





October 20, 2012

A brief visit to Big Cottonwood Park purchased me my first "Marsh Wren"!




Difficult target!




The shooting session was over in a matter of seconds!




With the world's largest lighting diffuser (clouds!), I couldn't pass up this Northern Flicker although there are many others on this page already!











October 29, 2012

A Repeat Performance with a Cooper's Hawk at Big Cottonwood Park,

Holladay, Ut.

Approximately once a week, I encounter the same bird, on the same perch, at the same time (evening)...




This evening the bird provided me both back and frontal positions


November 4, 2012

Late Autumn Colors


Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.




another view...




On a cloudy day, another Cooper's Hawk (an adult bird)

appeared there...



On the same day, two Northern Flickers created a lovely scene

while feasting of Russian Olive Fruit.

Female Northern Red-shafted Flicker (L); Male (R)



On a subsequent sunny day, I finally had access

to a cooperative Marsh Wren!




The Wren began vocalizing here...




Alternative 'poses'...







My first Bohemian Waxwing image!

Dec. 9, 2012

Talk about a needle in a haystack... trying to ferret out a Bohemian from literally hundreds of Cedar Waxwings...




Same Bohemian Waxwing...




Compare this Cedar Waxwing,

photographed moments before...













They were foraging on Russian Olives...



December 11, 2012

Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.

had its own share of Evening Grosbeaks and other fun birds...

Male Evening Grosbeak


Female Evening Grosbeak




Downy Woodpecker




American Goldfinch, winter plumage...



Tons of Juncos

Dark Eyed...







My 6th Red X Yellow Shafted Northern Flicker intergrade in 12 months!



I can't pass up photographing American Kestrels!




December 15, 2012

Catching up with images from Big Cottonwood/Creekside Parks:

I'll begin with this female Downy Woodpecker, to complement the male seen further below


Brown Creeper...


Again, Brown Creeper

in more detail


Screech Owl, being mobbed by Black-capped Chickadees!




And a 3rd image of the diminutive Western Screech Owl.


Adult Cooper's Hawk





I discovered Evening Grosbeaks again, this time across the road to the north, at Big Cottonwood Park


Since I have so many other Evening Grosbeak images, I included this one for its novel "pose"!


"Rock Doves" (pigeons) are apparently fond of Russian Olives also...


I tried to locate other Bohemian Waxwings to no avail... only Cedar Waxwings were to be seen.




The resident American Kestrel at Big Cottonwood Park...


And, a handsome Juvenile Cooper's hawk who emerged from a small tree on the pond, and posed on the deck/fence!


With this image, the bird bade me adieu...

topping off a memorable day with Jeff Cooper.

See Jeff's rendition of the day BY CLICKING HERE

December 17, 2012

A Yellow-Shafted Northern Flicker Male!

(a good find!)

Creekside Park, Holladay, UT.


Below: a common Red-Shafted Northern Flicker Male from today for comparison!




Here is a Red-Shafted X Yellow-Shafted

Intergrade male (L) I discovered at the same location, in the company of a

Cedar Waxwing




Here is the Northern Yellow-Shafted Flicker!










Another view showing the "yellow shaft" (tail) coloration





This view shows: red neck stripe; black malar; yellow 'shaft'





The Flicker went to ground here:







Its beak is coated with mud here, due to it foraging in the grass.





This image shows one side of the red neck stripe...





And this image shows the neck stripe in its entirety





My 2nd Bohemian Waxwing, also from Creekside Park




December 19, 2012



Looking for Yellow-Shafted Flickers again today, I had a chance meeting with Steve Carr, who asked me the location of my first Yellow-Shafted, 2 days earlier. I told him it was where we were standing.

Moments later, he exclaimed there was a Yellow-Shafted flicker in flight in front of us. I saw it as it landed and captured some diagnostic images (see below)




Another image showing the red crest, and a bit of yellow




Also, today, Dec. 19, I happened onto

15 Evening Grosbeaks

across the street from Creekside, in Big Cottonwood Park; and this time I had blue sky (and sub-freezing temps!)



But the most fun, and colorful of all...

A willing Spotted Towhee.




Shifting position with a little wing-power




Lots of fine detail here...



A side view ends the sequence.


JANUARY 1, 2013


Handsome Redtailed Hawk




American Kestrel




Spotted Towhee



Evening Grosbeaks are back!




My 3rd Bohemian Waxwing!




Northern Red-Shafted Flicker male




Yesterday marked the 9th Northern Red X Yellow Shafted Flicker Intergrade for me within the time span of 12 months!


Regarding my Yellow-shafted Flicker, one birder responded privately saying, "Not only enjoyed your great photos, but also appreciated the details outlining how to I.D a Yellow-shafted Flicker. Thanks!"


I wonder if some might not know what to look for on intergrades!

I've circled the red crescent on the back of this bird's neck, characteristic of an intergrade!



January 14, 2013

Cedar Waxwings,

Having a community-bath in Creekside Park/Big Cottonwood Creek

Recently, I had an opportunity to capture images of Cedar Waxwings en masse,

in Big Cottonwood Creek.

There were dozens of them, thoroughly enjoying themselves!

And, so was I, given this exceptional opportunity, with the birds totally ignoring my presence!


I must say, the experience of watching these birds was


Photoshop to the rescue to improve these birds' appearance, like I saw them!


Roll your 'mouse' over the image to reveal the outcome... Before and After


January 15, 2013

Single Digit Temperatures Dampen Bird Activities


Robins cluster at a tiny patch of open water, moving slowly while drinking




In spite of the extreme cold, even Song sparrows must drink




Mourning Doves that decided to overwinter here, tolerate me being close while taking my walk in the calm, extremely cold evening




Among the more active birds is the Yellow-Rumped warbler



Russian olives constitute their diets this day




The lovely Cedar Waxwings were also flitting about...




Searching for a Bohemian among them was fruitless this evening


January 16, 2013

Another Rare bird, along with some other nice birds from Big Cottonwood Park

a "White-Throated Sparrow"

Today, I succeeded in adding its images to my portfolio!


White Throated sparrow...




Another view...





And a 3rd image...





Some glimpses of the resident Virginia Rail still present in sub-freezing weather...



Another view,

"Deedee" and I encountered a cluster of Evening Grosbeaks at this time also...





And, last but not least, another lovely and rare Bohemian Waxwing!






Bohemian Waxwing with a Russian olive



Another view...




JANUARY 21, 2013


Below, we see the White-throated Sparrow, images like others have posted of this rare bird.








Now we depart from the typical static images of this bird, to observe it

taking a bath in sub-freezing conditions!

















Now to another special bird, the Bohemian Waxwings!





In Flight!!!









Such a lovely species!





Up Close and Personal!





Digressing for a moment to view the ubiquitous Cedar Waxwing,

lovely in its own right...





I have been collecting images of various species

Eating Snow,

such as these 2 Cedar Waxwings!





Also, this Bohemian Waxwing is seen eating snow.





For any who aren't bird-savvy, such as many of the people walking their dogs at the park, notice the difference between the Bohemian (top) and the Cedar (bottom) Waxwing species.


Below are numerous images of a White-throated Sparrow...

Why? Because it is rare here!


JANUARY 22, 2013

As of today, I've succeeded in locating the White-throated Sparrow at Big Cottonwood Park 6 consecutive times, the most recent provided another 'action' series where the bird collected Russian Olives for food!


The Sparrow as of 2:30 P.M., 1/21/13:





The bird was foraging, thus moving around a bit...









Here, the bird flew/jumped to snatch a Russian Olive.





Successful with the olive, the bird promptly flew out of sight.





There were 2 Cooper's Hawks in the same area...

Here's the first one...





And the 2nd one! Most of the other birds vacated the area, making it easier for me to spot the above White-throated Sparrow.


January 25, 2013

Foul Air, Fog, Ice keep me inside these days!

This gives me a moment to say to Big Cottonwood/Creekside patrons who read my site, are usually curious, but not savvy about birds:

Below are some very common birds seen at this time of year, starting with

a Song Sparrow,

puffed up against sub-freezing temps.





Male House Finch,

its bright colors contrasting against the cold winter sky



Yellow-rumped Warbler,

who decided to overwinter here.




Spotted Towhee,

a bird common year around, stays hidden in the underbrush.




An adult White-crowned Sparrow...




Contrasted against this Juvenile White-crowned Sparrow!

April 12, 2013

For those of you who frequent Big Cottonwood Park, be on the lookout for a

male Wood duck on the pond.



August 9, 2013

Walking in Holladay's Big Cottonwood Park, off Murray-Holladay Rd.,

I located a female Belted Kingfisher, determined to take one of the many goldfish there...




On an overcast day, I located my first Western Kingbird


Big Cottonwood Park.




Along with a stealthy juvenile Black-headed Grosbeak...




But, the bird that provided the most fun was

this juvenile female American Kestrel yesterday (8-17)




She seemed curious, and would fly short distances to a new perch...




providing me with this gratifying BIF


image as she left...


August 21, 2013

The only bird of significance was a single male

Western Tanager

at Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, Ut.


Under overcast skies it provided several nice images, seen below












September 1, 2013

Such a Hot Summer!

Birding has been difficult these days!


Below is an example of an American Kestrel that was stressed to the point that it perched with mouth agape, and wings held a distance away from her body!



Another angle...



A bit closer...


September 23, 2013


Taking advantage to photograph migrant birds at

Big Cottonwood Park, Holladay, UT.,

over a span of 2 weeks or so, I have a sizeable number to post.


This post is for all those people (mostly with dogs) that

greet me during my multiple visits to the park.

These people are, for the most part not birders; but who have a genuine love of Nature.


I begin this post with images of the most talked-about, stealthy creatures that live there!




(Notice, these are 2 separate foxes, with one having a white-tipped tail)










I've talked about the "water snakes" seen at Big Cottonwood Park,

saying that there are no "true" water snakes in Utah...

only one of 3 species of Garter snakes that frequent water,

such as this one, living in the pond with the goldfish...














Let's move on to the current bird population!

I begin with pairs of birds not commonly seen together...

2 American Kestrels...




2 Belted Kingfishers,

conducting aerial acrobatics above the pond...

(What are the odds of capturing a frame that has 2 of these birds

in flight

at the same time?!)




The 'Resident'

Belted Kingfisher

in a tree west of the pond...





2 Cooper's Hawks...

on a cloudy day.




Close up of one of the Cooper's Hawks that lingered in the tree...




Overcast skies diminished the colors of these birds a bit...







Moving on to other bird species...

Here is a tiny Wilson's Warbler, curious about my camera.








A new bird for me, a MacGillivray's Warbler




another MacGillivray's...




There are plenty of these Nashville Warblers currently in the park...



Another Nashville...




Along with Orange-crowned Warblers such as this...




Another view...




And a view on an overcast day.





Another bright Warbler is this

Yellow Warbler!














Still another 'showy' Warbler is this Audubon's

Yellow-rumped Warbler!




Another Yellow-rumped...

(I would have named it, 'Yellow-throated Warbler!)




I was able to get another striking specimen of the

Audubon's Yellow-rumped Warbler

(these birds have been nicknamed, "Butter-Butts" by birders)




Another pose...





Finally on this sunny day, I was successful in getting this bird

showing its 'yellow' rump... (2nd image below).












All the above images are Audubon's Yellow-rump Warblers.

This Yellow-rump is a "Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warbler" distinguished by a white throat patch and other coloration.




As is this bird...





On to other bird species,

Big Cottonwood Park has been alive with many female

Western Tanagers...

but absolutely NO males!




Here, a female Western Tanager is in a mid-jump!




I post this male Western Tanager from August for a comparison between the sexes. No males are around at present!




I was surprised to discover a Warbling Vireo at the park.




Another view of the Warbling Vireo



And still a 3rd view...




On another evening, with light fading quickly, I encountered another

Warbling Vireo.

This time, lighting and surroundings provided a

"painterly" result!




A sure sign of fall migration is the appearance of White-crowned Sparrows, like this adult male...




another view...




Here is an example of a juvenile White-crowned Sparrow, taken a day later at the same location.


Here is another sparrow, a

Chipping Sparrow,

not often seen in this park.



Another migrant sparrow I discovered there is a

(I hope I got it right! )

Brewer's Sparrow,




Another, for diagnostic purposes,




And a 3rd image, for the Experts to hopefully verify as a

"Brewer's Sparrow"




A Downy Woodpecker male was seen also




Sunflowers and Teasels are typical foliage seen in the park...




With Black-capped Chickadees

exploiting the sunflowers...











also 'home in' on the sunflowers...













Several species of


are migrating through the area...










With one Flycatcher occupying the same territory as a









Lots of Hummingbirds, such as this

Black-chinned Hummingbird

are still in the Park...




One day recently, I spotted a 'Hummer' on a twig, focused my camera on it, to have the bird go airborne.

I followed its antics with my lens, to see later that it was feasting on tiny flying insects!

Note the tiny black dots surrounding the bird in the following sequence!




Here, the "Hummer" homes in on a particular airborne fly!






Fun to shoot such a series!




Big Cottonwood Park now has seen its first


that are making inroads throughout the United States, and beyond!



Northern Red-Shafted Flickers

are now returning to the park,

and many will overwinter here,

such as this male, vocalizing at the time of the image.




These birds spend lots of time on the ground, searching for insects...




But also forage in the trees...




Looks like this male

House Finch

is mimicking a

"Bird with an Olive Branch"...!




And is far different in appearance from its mate, the

Female House Finch

seen here!



September 27, 2013

To those of you who frequent Big Cottonwood Park in Holladay, where we occasional meet and enjoy conversation about birds and such.

My discovery of a Tennessee Warbler in the park

is a 'big deal' in the Utah birding world.

I almost immediately began to receive emails from distinguished bird experts after I posted my images, such as this:


"You have a very nice set of photos of a first-fall Tennessee Warbler. That's a great find - they're quite rare in Utah"


Another highly respected responder said:


Clearly a Tennesee Warbler... Please submit this gem to the

Records Committee"


I did follow the advice of the latter expert; and my "Utah Bird Records Committee Report, Unusual Sight Record" has been duly filed








I've only kept a few images of the Tennessee Warbler here,









September 29, 2013

Although I've seen the foxes many times in Big Cottonwood Regional Park, they were most often running away, and ducking into the thickets.

Last evening I surprised the fox (with the white-tipped tail) and it began to dive into the thicket.

I spoke loudly to the animal, saying to stop, which, it did,




long enough for me to get a fine image of it!!




October 2, 2013

I'm still concentrating on birds in

Big Cottonwood Regional Park

Yesterday and today I discovered a

CASSIN'S VIREO, so I have images in direct sunlight (yesterday)

and indirect (overcast) light (today).


Yesterday's Cassin's Vireo




Today's images, under diffuse (cloudy) skies helps create a

"Painterly" image.




Another Cassin's Vireo from today.





October 7, 2013

Talk about "Backyard-Birding",

Big Cottonwood Regional Park

certainly provides it for me!

Here are some recent 'discoveries', this time,

In Action


Visitors at the Park love to discuss sightings of these elusive creatures!




So, I accomodate by posting my most recent images of

Red Foxes




Now for birds...

A cute, tiny Townsend's Warbler, the 1st one I've seen there!




Another tiny, cute bird, a

Ruby-Crowned Kinglet in deep shadows,

that's about to 'move up in the world'...




Here's another Ruby-Crowned Kinglet in direct sun...





Here's an ultra-close view... notice the detail!




And this bird erupts into flight also...




Black-capped Chickadees

are true acrobats!




A side-view, with a mouthfull of sunflower seeds before takeoff...







Off he goes!




Black-capped Chickadee

before takeoff...




In flight...




No question as to what this bird is, their yellow rump is

quite obvious while in flight.




I've been seeng large flocks of

Black-Billed Magpies...




So, I captured a few with my camera while they were in flight







This bird was eyeing me closely as it passed overhead...




Finally, let's look at an


evidenced by a telltale red crescent showing on the back of it's head.



OCT. 18, 2013

(The consensus regarding the bird below is:

Female Common Yellowthroat)

discovered in Big Cottonwood Park, 9-17-13














More to come....