Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day

The Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve is home to over 200 fish, birds, amphibians, insects and mammals in the desert. Celebrate World Migratory Bird Day at the wetlands on Saturday, May 11, from 8 a.m. to noon. [Photo courtesy of Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve]

Enjoy the many sounds and sights of nature by looking up, down and around.

The Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve is home to over 200 species of birds and amphibians, as well as aquatic mammals such as the beaver, muskrat and river otter. This year, the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve will hold its World Migratory Bird Day celebration on Saturday, May 11, from 8 a.m. to noon.

Located in the northwest corner of Moab, the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve, 934 Kane Creek Blvd, is open to the public and holds events throughout the year. The World Migratory Bird Day celebration will be jointly hosted by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, The Nature Conservancy and the Moab Bird Club.

“This is the beginning of spring migration,” said Marian Eason, a longtime member of the Moab Bird Club. “We expect to see a lot of migrant birds passing through, such as shorebirds, waterfowl and songbirds. Some of these birds will probably stay. It’s a really busy time for the birds at the preserve, especially because of its location.”

Birding reports shared at utahbirds.gov show that visitors to the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve have recently seen a snow goose, golden eagles, Lincoln’s sparrows, black-billed magpies, mallard ducks and a northern flicker woodpecker.

The Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve is beneath the thousand-foot cliffs along the Colorado River. Wildlife biologists will help to identify birds and talk about migration during the World Migratory Bird Day celebration. Similar events to celebrate the day are being held nationwide.

A guided bird tour walk, which begins at 8 a.m., will give people the opportunity to learn about the different species of feathered fliers. Remember to bring your binoculars and a checklist. The preserve has dirt foot trails that lead to bird blinds for observation.

Education stations will be set up at the Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve so that visitors may learn about birds and also amphibians, mammals, aquatic insects and native fish.

The event’s organizers say that you may bring your entire family, especially your children, to celebrate World Migratory Bird Day, but please leave your bikes, dogs and other pets at home.

“Wetlands are rare along Utah’s portion of the Colorado River, and that makes Moab’s wetlands vital habitat for wildlife,” said Linda Whitham, program manager at The Nature Conservancy’s Moab office.

The Scott M. Matheson Wetlands Preserve receives its water from two sources. The Colorado River forms the western border of the wetlands and Kane Creek runs through the preserve itself. Starting in 1990, The Nature Conservancy and the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources purchased the wetlands.

“World Migratory Bird Day is an opportunity to celebrate this unique landscape and learn more about the native plants and animals that the wetlands support,” Whitham said.

The event is also an opportunity to look for other bird species ranging throughout the Southwest, such as the juniper titmouse, canyon wren and the federally endangered willow flycatcher. The University of Utah has banded these birds, and hundreds more, at its Rio Mesa Field Station in Moab.

If you’re looking for more birding activities in Utah, follow the World Migratory Bird Day celebration in Moab with a visit to the 21st annual Great Salt Lake Bird Festival on May 16-19.

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