Celebrating the Great Salt Lake—A Bird Lover’s Paradise

The Great Salt Lake is used by millions of birds of over 25 different species as a nesting place or migratory stopover. It is impossible to count all of the birds because there are too many.

However, the Great Salt Late Bird Festival that took place this year praised their elegance and beauty.

The Great Salt Lake, which can be found in Northern Utah, is considered to be the epicenter of the Pacific Flyway because of its proximity to the geographic center of both Mexico and Canada.

Birdwatchers were able to get a glimple of one of the biggest staging grounds for Wilson’s Phalarope, American White Pelican, White-faced Ibis, and California Gull while attending the Festival.

Between May 5 and 13, the Festival was held at the height of the nesting season.

The Great Salt Lake is an important staging station for migratory birds, as stated by Anne Neville of the Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve. This is owing to the amount of food in the area, in addition to the fact that the region is largely undisturbed. However, during the Festival, the Inland Sea Shorebird Reserve opened its doors to pre-registered visitors for excursions, since its access to the general public is restricted.

According to Neville, those interested in birds had the opportunity to see nesting American Avocets and Long-billed Curlews. The 3,889-acre reserve is home to a variety of migratory birds, including Western Sandpipers, Snowy Plovers, Semi-golden Plovers, and Snowy Egrets.

It is not just the Inland Sea bird reserve in the Great Salt Lake region that has opened its doors for guided tours of areas that are typically off-limits to the general public. Tours were also available in the Farmington Bay and Antelope Island reserves, as well as the Gillmoor Sanctuary of the Audubon Society, the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area, the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, and the Layton Nature Conservancy.

This past year, Wasatch Audubon arranged for tour participants to take part in a Bird-a-thon. The winning group was the one that kept track of the most different species during the Festival week. There were a variety of fun activities available for birders of all experience and degrees of interest.

At a recent international dinner, the keynote address was given by Pete Dunne, an eminent ornithologist and author who is affiliated with the Cape May Bird Observatory in New Jersey. In addition to that, he was there to sign copies of his books, engage in conversation with attendees of the Festival, and lead a field excursion for novice birdwatchers.

Workshops on constructing birdhouses and providing food for birds in the backyard were held at the Davis County Fair Park. A local photographer shared some helpful hints and pointers on how to take better pictures of animals and the great outdoors. In addition, officials from the Northern Utah Animal Rehabilitation Center presented information on the care of wildlife and displayed various creatures in the process of recovery.

Lectures about the Great Salt Lake’s ecosystem, the significance of the lake to the environment, and wetland conservation were among the other events. The Festival included the presence of real birds thanks to Tracy Aviary and Hawkwatch. In addition, there was live music, and there were a variety of food sellers and artists selling their wares in Fair Park.

An event honoring the migration of birds, particularly shorebirds, who are the “marathoners” of the hemisphere’s flyways, was held on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake. Participants ran, walked, and rode bicycles around the island.

The Festival became an event that whole families were able to enjoy together as a result of the activities that were particularly designed for children. Children may participate in hands-on activities at the Ogden Nature Center, and trails were available for bird-watching hikes.

Origami, a piata shaped like a pelican, a spectrogram of the sounds of waterfowl, and the construction of birdhouses were some of the other free activities for children that were offered at the Davis County Fair Park.

For a schedule of events and information on next year’s Festival, visit www.GreatSaltLakeBirdFest.com or call Davis County Tourism at (801) 451-3286.

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