Help Biologists Gather Info During 2023-24 Christmas Bird Count


Photo courtesy of the Utah DWR

DWR News Release

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 124th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count.

The Christmas Bird Count runs nationwide from Dec. 14, 2023 to Jan. 5, 2024. 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.

“These annual counts are incredibly important because we use 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 three 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.”

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.

Southern Utah

The DWR is hosting a bird count in areas near Cedar City on Friday, Dec. 15. Contact DWR Wildlife Biologist Danielle Finlayson at (801) 231-1911 or to RSVP and to receive an assigned area to survey.

Northeastern Utah

The DWR is again partnering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Audubon Society to host a bird count at the Ouray National Wildlife Refuge at 19001 East Wildlife Refuge Road in Randlett, Uintah County, on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8 a.m.

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 nine years old, and have participated in the Christmas Bird Count for over 25 years,” 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!”

To join in the northeastern Utah bird count, 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.

Central Utah

The DWR is also partnering to host a bird count near City Creek in Salt Lake City as well. That count will take place on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 8 a.m. Contact DWR Wildlife Biologist Shawn Pladas at (385) 321-3289 or to RSVP. There may be snow during the count, so wear boots and dress warmly.

Other areas of Utah

Information about the other 28 Christmas Bird Counts taking place across Utah can be found on the Utah Birds website and on the Audubon website.

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