Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) was established in 1959 as a refuge and breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife. Refuge habitats include salt grass uplands, desert shrub, mudflats and spring fed saline marsh impoundments. The refuge provides 10,000 acres of critical wetlands habitat in a very arid desert region.

European settlers first entered the region when famed explorer Jedediah Strong Smith, visited the springs en route from California to central Utah. Both the Overland Stage and the Pony Express maintained way stations at Fish Springs, and the first transcontinental telegraph, which replaced the Pony Express in 1861, crossed the Fish Springs marsh. Early in the 20th century, the nation?s first transcontinental automobile road, the Lincoln Highway, cut its way through what is now the refuge. Segments of the original road are still visible.

Ornithological Summary

Criterion UT-1: Sites important to endangered, threatened or species of special concern in Utah. (Explain below).
State Endangered Species:
American Peregrine Falcon- uses the refuge during fall migration. Sightings are becoming more common.
State Threatened Species:
Bald Eagle- frequents the refuge during migration and winter. Eagles roost in cottonwoods and spend time on ice feeding on waterfowl.
State Sensitive Species:
Caspian Tern- 2-3 pairs nest on the refuge every year.
Black Tern- 1 documented nesting pair. Flocks migrate through the refuge every year.
Burrowing Owl- documented nesting, frequent observations.
Common Yellow Throat- breed every year in abundant numbers.
Short-Eared Owl- sightings every year.
Osprey- seen every year since 1989.
American White Pelican- birds use the refuge daily in the summer, probably coming from the GSL colonies to feed.
Long-billed Curlew- 6-10 pairs breed every year in addition to non-breeding birds.
Lewis Woodpecker- seen in migration
Blue Grosbeak- seen in migration, banded in spring.

X Criterion UT-2: Utah Partners in Flight Priority Species. (Explain below).
UT Priority Species:
American Avocet- 50 breeding pairs each year. 300-400 individuals use the refuge in spring. 500 individuals is highest count in May.
American White Pelican- non-breeding, use refuge to forage in summer.
Long-billed Curlew- 6-10 pairs breed every year in addition to 20-30 non-breeding birds.
Black-necked Stilt- 75 breeders each year. 200-300 individuals use the refuge in spring. 1,164 highest count in July.
Broad-tailed Hummingbird- use refuge every summer, breeding population is unknown.
Sage Sparrow- sightings occur every year.

X Criterion UT-3: Site containing species assemblages associated with a representative, rare or threatened natural community in Utah. (Explain below).
The refuge is approximately 18,000 acres, of that 10,000 acres are considered marsh type habitat. This includes emergent, submergent, open water, wet meadow and managed mud flat habitat. Avian assemblages associated with the marsh and mud flat are documented in the previous and following Criterion. The refuge and the unique habitat it offers are very rare in the near proximity of the refuge. The closest spring fed marsh ecosystem is located approximately 100 miles to the NW (Blue Lake). The remaining habitat of the refuge can be classified as low desert shrub (2,500 acres), playa (5,000 acres) and rock (500acres).

Fish Springs NWR is the only significant wetland in over 50 miles, its vertical vegetation defines it from the surrounding area attracting migrating birds. The refuge serves as a vital stopping point for migrant birds and is well known among birders as a location for unusual bird sightings. The refuge has documented 275 bird species using the refuge.

Fish Springs NWR has collected bird observation data for the International Shorebird Survey (ISS) since 1994. This effort is made to provide surveys so a U.S. shorebird Atlas can be developed and for helping provide observations for the U.S. Shorebird Conservation Plan. The refuge has recently agreed to participate in a USGS plan for monitoring shorebirds during the non-breeding season.

In the spring the refuge traps and bands passerine birds caught in mist nets. Approximately 600 individual birds (41 species) are banded each May. Do to the presence and frequency of unusual/rare bird species at the refuge in spring, indicates the importance of the refuge as a location for the birds to rest and feed during migration to their final destination.
Unusual/rare birds include:
Blue Grosbeak
Varied Thrush
Summer Tanager
Lucy Warbler
Magnolia Warbler
Blackpoll Warbler
Black-and-White Warbler
American Redstart

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