Enjoy bird-watching? Help biologists gather information during 2022–23 Christmas Bird Count
Vernal — If you've ever watched birds, you know how unique and interesting they can be. Whether you've just started bird-watching or you are an advanced "birder," consider heading outdoors over the next few weeks to help gather important data about birds during the 123rd annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
The Christmas Bird Count runs nationwide from Dec. 14, 2022 to Jan. 5, 2023. 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.
As part of the annual nationwide bird count, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is hosting a few counts throughout the state. Because some of the events require a specific level of experience with bird-watching, make sure you RSVP to the organizer of each count to coordinate in advance.
The DWR is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Audubon Society for the 18th time to host a bird count at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge at 19001 E. Wildlife Refuge Road in Randlett, Uintah County, on Saturday, Dec. 17 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"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 a good chance that you will also see porcupines scattered throughout the refuge.
"I've been a birder since I was 9 years old, and this will be my 24th 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. I recommend looking for a Christmas Bird Count near you and experiencing it for yourself!"
Participants should meet at 8 a.m. at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge visitor's office parking lot. If possible, you should bring your 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 is free, participants are asked to register in advance on Eventbrite.