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See large fish-eating birds

Osprey Watch happens July 12 at Flaming Gorge Reservoir

DUTCH JOHN — You can see ospreys, in the air and on top of their huge nests, at the annual Flaming Gorge Osprey Watch.

You can see ospreys like this one at this year's Osprey Watch.

You can see ospreys like this one at this year's Osprey Watch.

Photo by Ron Stewart

The free event will be held July 12 on the peninsula, next to the visitor center parking lot, at Flaming Gorge dam in northeastern Utah.

Viewing runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

"We hold the event in the morning because the birds are usually more active then," says Ron Stewart, regional conservation outreach manager for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. "In the afternoon, the temperature climbs, the wind starts to blow, and the birds become less active."

Stewart says the osprey watch is always a fun event. "Osprey are usually visible all morning long," he says. "That gives us an opportunity to introduce people to these unique birds of prey. It's also fun to talk with visitors and hear stories about osprey in other areas."

Stewart says Flaming Gorge draws osprey like a magnet — the largest breeding osprey colony in Utah, and one of the largest osprey populations in the interior part of the western United States, is found at the reservoir.

"Osprey return to Flaming Gorge every year to breed and raise their young," Stewart says. "A breeding pair will build on the same nest year after year, so a 10-foot tall nest is a fairly common sight at the Gorge. We'll aim spotting scopes at a couple of the nests so you can see the females and their young."

In addition to the spotting scopes, displays will be available that will teach you more about the life history of these unusual fish-eating birds.

"Often," Stewart says, "visitors get to see a male bring a fish in so the female can feed its chicks. In past years, a few visitors have even been treated to the sight of an osprey catching a fish.

"Besides the ospreys, other birds of prey, including golden eagles, turkey vultures and American kestrels, are frequently spotted."

For more information, call the DWR's Northeastern Region office at 435-781-9453.

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