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Prarie falcon perched on a snow-covered tree branch

Enjoy birdwatching? Help biologists gather information during annual bird count

Vernal — If you've ever watched birds, you know how unique and interesting they can be. Whether you've just started birdwatching or you are an advanced "birder," consider heading outdoors over the next few weeks to help gather important data about birds during the 122nd Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

Prarie falcon perched on a snow-covered tree branch

As part of the annual nationwide bird count, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Audubon Society to host their bird count at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge at 19001 E. Wildlife Refuge Road in Randlett, Uintah County, on Saturday, Dec. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The DWR is also hosting a bird count near Cedar City on Friday, Dec. 17. Contact DWR Wildlife Biologist Keith Day at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to RSVP.

Information about the other 26 Christmas Bird Counts taking place across Utah can be found on the Utah Birds website and on the Audubon website.

Each bird count takes place in an established 15-mile diameter circle, and volunteers will be given specific routes to drive and hike through the area, counting every bird they see or hear during the route. All birds will be counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds and species in the area.

"During these annual counts, we've collected more than 100 years of information about birds. We're using the data to assess the overall health of bird populations and to implement any conservation actions that may be needed for species survival," DWR Regional Conservation Outreach Manager Tonya Kieffer-Selby said. "Recent studies have shown that over 3 billion birds have been lost in North America in the last 50 years, which is why collecting this data is so important. Birds are indicators of what's happening in an environment. The data we gather about our local birds provides valuable information for conservation efforts worldwide."

Volunteers who participate in the northeastern Utah bird count may see a variety of birds, including robins, shrikes, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, bald and golden eagles, waterfowl, and sometimes, rare species. There's an even better chance that you will see porcupines scattered throughout the refuge.

"I've been a birder since I was 9 years old, and this will be my 23rd year participating in a Christmas Bird Count," Kieffer-Selby said. "All birds are unique, which makes this a challenging and fun event that I love to do year after year."

Participants should bring their own pair of binoculars to use during the count. You can attend for the whole day or for a short time, but if you plan to stay for the whole day, you should pack a lunch, bring water and dress warmly. While the event at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge is free, participants are asked to register in advance on Eventbrite.

Nationwide, the Christmas Bird Count runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, 2022.

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