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 to help gather important data about birds during the 120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count.
As part of the annual nationwide bird count, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to host their 15th local bird count at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge at 19001 E. Wildlife Refuge Road in Randlett, Uintah County, on Saturday, Dec. 14 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. DWR will also be partnering with the Moab Bird Club to conduct a bird count near Moab that same day from 8 a.m. to noon.
Volunteers who participate in the bird count may see a variety of birds, such as this Canada goose. Photo courtesy Getty Images.
Each bird count takes place in an established 15-mile wide 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. Beginners will be paired with an advanced birder who can help them identify different species.
"During these annual counts, we've collected more than 100 years of information about birds. We're using that 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 to 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.
"I've been a birder since I was 9 years old, and this will be my 20th year participating in a Christmas Bird Count," Kieffer-Selby said. "All birds are unique, which makes this a challenging and fun event."
Participants at either event should bring a pair of binoculars, and volunteers attending the Randlett event should also bring a breakfast snack for the morning potluck. DWR will also have binoculars on site for volunteers to use. 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 events are free, participants are asked to register in advance on Eventbrite for the Randlett event. If you are interested in attending the Moab event, reach out to DWR biologist Scott Gibson at 435-820-6249 for details.
Audubon's 120th Christmas Bird Count will be conducted nationwide between the dates of Dec. 14 and Jan. 5, 2020.