Important Bird Areas

Provo Bay - Utah Lake UT06

Utah

Provo Bay is a shallow bay characterized by emergent vegetation such as bulrushes, cattails and phragmites. The water elevation of Provo Bay varies considerably. The Bay transitions from shallow water to mudflats depending on lake levels.

Ornithological Summary

Note: These numbers are for the entire Bay. And only about three-tenths of the bay is being nominated at this point in time. Since survey data is for the entire Bay, the bird numbers for the currently nominated area are about 30% of the numbers included above.

Criterion UT-1: Sites important to endangered, threatened or species of special concern in Utah.
There are significant numbers of American White Pelicans that use the area for foraging and loafing. Numbers are under 4(b) below. Caspian Terns nest in the area, and Long-billed Curlews use the area, but survey data is not available.

Criterion UT-2: Utah Partners in Flight Priority Species.
There are significant numbers of American Avocets and Black-necked Stilts mentioned under 4(d) below. American White Pelicans use the area as already mentioned.

Criterion UT-4(a): Sites with significant numbers of waterfowl. (Explain below).
Thousands of waterfowl migrate through Provo Bay during spring and fall. Survey numbers show counts of 12,200+ Mallards, 3,800+ Northern Pintail, 14,600+ Green-winged Teal, 1,300+ Northern Shoveler and 3,800+ Cinnamon Teal as well as 400 Canada Geese.

Criterion UT-4(b): Sites with significant numbers of wading birds.
Wading bird survey numbers show counts of 600+ American White Pelicans, 6,200+ White-faced Ibis and 120+ Snowy Egrets.

Criterion UT-4(c): Sites with significant numbers of gulls or terns.
Survey numbers show a count of 1,500+ California Gulls.

Criterion UT-4(d): Sites with significant numbers of shorebirds.
There is significant shorebird use. Survey numbers show counts of 4,000+ American Avocets, 1,000+ Black-necked Stilts and 600 Wilson?s Phalaropes.

Thousands of swallows of all species forage on the bay during migration. The one survey count provided is of Tree Swallows in 2002. With additional survey information, the criteria for land bird should be easily met.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has started to do more comprehensive surveys of Provo Bay. Hopefully, this data collection will continue.

There are field trips to Provo Bay from local schools as well as by Utah County Birders. At this point there is nothing provided in a consistent, organized manner.

Provo Bay is a ?Nursery? for fish-eating birds. It is a foraging area for migrating birds, especially waterfowl and shorebirds. Also, there are riparian species associated with the Provo River and Hobble Creek drainages.

The following statement regarding Provo and Goshen Bay was made by Tom Aldrich, Waterfowl Program Coordinator, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources in July 2003:

Utah Lake is one of the most important wetland systems in Utah for waterfowl and shorebird populations in terms of actual bird use. However, not all of the lake is equally important. Approximately 90-95% of lake use occurs in both the Provo and Goshen Bays depending on lake levels. Shorebirds and migratory birds seek flat, shallow ponds on which to feed, rest, and breed. Therefore, when lake levels are high the birds tend towards Goshen Bay. However, when levels are low, as they currently are and have been in recent years, Provo Bay provides the most valuable habitat for shorebirds and migratory birds. The health of both bays is necessary in order to respond to fluctuating lake levels and provide the necessary habitat. The two greatest threats to these areas are lost upland and shoreland habitat from encroaching development, and water quality in the lake. If shorebirds and migratory birds are to succeed in their current population numbers, the bays of Utah Lake are critical to their survival.