Spot rare birds with Utah DWR’s holiday event this weekend

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VERNAL, Utah (ABC4) – Looking for a fun outdoor activity this holiday?

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) is hosting an annual holiday bird count this Saturday Dec. 18 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The DWR is partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Audubon Society to take part in the annual nationwide bird count. Utahns interested in participating can head to Ouray National Wildlife Refuge at 19001 E. Wildlife Refuge Road in Randlett, Uintah County.

Each bird count takes place in an established 15-mile diameter circle. Volunteers will be driving and hiking through specific routes and counting every bird they see or hear during the trek. 

Visitors may be spotting a wide variety of birds including robins, shrikes, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, bald and golden eagles, waterfowl, and sometimes even a rare species. There’s a likely chance to spot porcupines scattered throughout the refuge, as well. The count will last all day to provide the most accurate bird total in the area.

“During these annual counts, we’ve collected more than 100 years of information about birds,” says DWR Regional Conservation Outreach Manager Tonya Kieffer-Selby. “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. 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.”

“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 are encouraged to bring their own binoculars, pack launch, and dress warmly for the event. 

The event is free, but participants are asked to register in advance on Eventbrite.

The Christmas Bird Count runs from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5, 2022 nationwide.

For more information on the event and to register, click here. For all planned bird counts around Utah, click here.

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