Now’s the time to see sandhill cranes at Ogden Bay

(LYNN CHAMBERLAIN/Utah Division of Wildlife Resources)
You can see and hear sandhill cranes at this year’s Sandhill Crane Day,...
Story by Standard-Examiner staff
March 28, 2012
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HOOPER — Sandhill cranes are in Northern Utah in good numbers right now, and opportunities to see and hear the giant birds abound — but they won’t be around too much longer.

The sandhill, the most common of all cranes, is most easily found in Utah during spring, when the birds are going through mating rituals. Migratory subspecies of sandhill cranes breed in the Northern U.S., Canada, Alaska, and Siberia. Each winter they undertake long southern journeys to wintering grounds in Florida, Texas, Utah, Mexico, and California.

With a wingspan of nearly seven feet, sandhills are one of the largest birds that can be found in Utah. Birding enthusiasts are drawn to them not only because of their size, but also their colorful and loud courtship rituals that take place this time of year. They hop and dance around, wings flapping, as they strive to attract a mate. They also have a very distinct call that can carry more than a mile.

One of the best places to experience sandhill cranes is the Ogden Bay Waterfowl Management Area west of Hooper. On Saturday, the Division of Wildlife Resources and the Wild About Birds store in Layton are teaming up to hold a special Sandhill Crane Day at Ogden Bay.

The event is free and open to the public. It should be a prime opportunity to see sandhill cranes and hear their calls echo across the landscape.

Those interested in participating should meet at 10 a.m. at the Wild About Birds store in Layton, located at 1860 Woodland Park Drive, just north of the Barnes & Noble Booksellers store.

From there, expert birder Bill Fenimore and DWR regional conservation outreach manager Phil Douglass will lead the group to Ogden Bay. The event will provide a unique opportunity to go behind the gates at the WMA to see cranes and other water birds, Douglass said.

He said sandhill cranes were once a rare sight in the United States, but they’ve made a strong comeback thanks to habitat protection and other conservation work.

He said it’s especially fitting that Ogden Bay be the place to celebrate the comeback of the crane. Ogden Bay is the first federally funded bird refuge in the country. It was started in 1937 using funding from the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration Act.

“Since 1937,” Douglass said, “Ogden Bay has provided critical habitats for millions of birds. The refuge has also helped recover endangered species, including the peregrine falcon and the American bald eagle.”

For more information about Saturday’s event, call Wild About Birds at 801-525-8400.

GSL Nature Center seeking volunteers

Do the birds, plants and wetlands around the Great Salt Lake interest you? Would you like to learn more about them and then share what you learn with school kids? If so, the Great Salt Lake Nature Center wants you as a volunteer naturalist.

“Our spring field trip season is coming up fast,” said Diana Vos, director of the center. “We’re looking for people to help us run field trips and nature tours.”

Activities happen during the day, and “they’re a lot of fun,” Vos said.

She is also looking for volunteers to staff the nature center on the weekends.

If you’d like to volunteer, contact Vos at 801-589-2373 or dianavos@utah.gov. The Great Salt Lake Nature Center is located at 1700 W. Glover Lane in Farmington, just north of the Farmington Bay Waterfowl Management Area.

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OGDEN NATURE CENTER

The Ogden Nature Center is located at 966 W. 12th St. in Ogden. For more information, visit www.ogdennaturecenter.org or call 801-621-7595.

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