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May is a great time to watch birds

Utah offers beginning birders great resources and great birds to watch

May is the time of year when many birds display colorful plumage, some funky dance moves and fighting as they court potential mates.

Hummingbirds are among the birds you can see in Utah right now.

Hummingbirds are among the birds you can see in Utah right now.

Photo by Scott Root

If you've been thinking about getting into birding, now is the perfect time to get started. Birds that have migrated for thousands of miles are in Utah right now.

Getting started

Scott Root, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, says if you've ever looked at and admired a bird, you've already gotten started in birding. To take that interest and turn it into a hobby, a pair of binoculars, a bird identification book and perhaps a knowledgeable birding friend are helpful. Providing bird feeders, water and shelter (trees, bushes, bird houses, etc.) are great ways to bring birds to your yard.

"Many resources are available for beginning birders in Utah," Root says. "Birding groups, such as the Utah County Birders and Wasatch Audubon, and events like the Great Salt Lake Bird Festival and the St. George Winter Bird Festival, are great ways to get connected with the birding community."

You can also attend the DWR's wildlife watching events. The free events are listed at wildlife.utah.gov/calendar.

Local birding websites, including utahbirds.org, post information about bird sightings. They also offer printable checklists for birders who want to venture out on their own.

Where to find birds

More than 400 bird species visit or live in Utah each year. Several of them can be seen in your backyard or within a few minutes of your home.

In addition to having so many bird species, much of Utah — 70 percent of the state — is public land. That land offers lots of diverse habitat for birders to explore. You can travel to forests, wetlands, rivers and deserts and see the diverse birds that live in each.

"With the help of a knowledgeable birder," Root says, "you can find more than 100 bird species in only a day or two of birding in Utah. And all of those birds can be found on public land."

Root says a special treat is arriving in Utah right now: Hummingbirds.

"You can make your backyard much more colorful and interesting by placing a hummingbird feeder next to a seed feeder," he says. "That will draw hummingbirds into your yard."

More information about hummingbirds, including additional tips to draw them into your yard, are available in a blog post on the DWR website.

Free posters

To help get you started in birding, Root is offering free "Birds of Utah" checklist posters. The posters will be available through May at the front counters at two DWR offices: the Salt Lake City office and the Springville office.

The Salt Lake City office is at 1594 W. North Temple. The Springville office is at 1115 N. Main St.

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