Important Bird Areas

Upper Strawberry Watershed UT12

Utah

The upper Strawberry River drains into Strawberry Reservoir, which has provided water for agricultural and municipal uses in Utah County since the early 1900s. Strawberry Reservoir also supports high recreational use, primarily fishing.

Ornithological Summary

The Upper Strawberry Watershed is recognized as a Globally Important Bird Area.

Criterion UT-1: Sites important to endangered, threatened or species of special concern in Utah.
Strawberry Valley provides critical habitat for an at-risk population of Greater Sage-grouse. Strawberry Reservoir provides habitat for approximately 200 summer resident American White Pelicans. Three-toed Woodpeckers are known to breed in spruce-fir stands within the upper Strawberry watershed. Greater Sage-grouse, American White Pelican, and Three-toed Woodpecker are classified as Species of Concern by the state of Utah.
Criterion UT-2: Utah Partners in Flight Priority Species.
The following PIF Priority Species are known to nest or regularly occur in Strawberry Valley: Greater
Sage-grouse, American White Pelican, Brewer?s Sparrow, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, and Three-toed
Woodpecker.
Criterion UT-3: Site containing species assemblages associated with a representative, rare or threatened natural community in Utah.
The upper Strawberry watershed contains a rich assemblage of natural vegetation community types, several of
which are threatened or important to Utah birds (Utah PIF Avian Conservation Strategy). Vegetation
community types include: mountain riparian, wetland, wet meadow, shrubsteppe, mountain shrub, sub-alpine
conifer, and aspen.
Criterion UT-4(b): Sites with significant numbers of wading birds.
There is a summer resident population of American White Pelicans on Strawberry Reservoir (see Criterion UT-1). However, this species is not known to nest at the reservoir. A minimum of 5-7 pairs of Sandhill Cranes are known to breed in Strawberry Valley.
Criterion UT-4(c): Sites with significant numbers of gulls or terns.
Strawberry Reservoir supports approximately 60 Caspian Terns (See table of ornithological importance.) The aquatic birds observed on Strawberry Reservoir from July 1-3, 2003 also included 25 California Gulls and 7 Ring-billed gulls.
Criterion UT-4(f): Sites with significant numbers of migratory land birds.
Because of the wide variety of non-forested and forested habitat types, a wide variety of migratory land birds are known to nest in the upper Strawberry watershed (see attached BBS results table). Fifty to 60 species of birds are regularly detected along the Coop Creek BBS route that partially occurs within the upper watershed. Purple Martins are also known to nest in aspen stands within the watershed.
Criterion UT-4(g): Sites with significant numbers of single species concentrations.
1,200 Western Grebes and 100 Clark?s Grebe have been counted on Strawberry Reservoir. These numbers approximate 1% of the total North American population for these species. Specifically, the estimated population of Western Grebes in North America is estimated to be greater than 110,000 breeders and the population of Clark?s Grebes is estimated to be between 10,000 to 20,000 individuals. Source: Waterbird Conservation for the Americas, North American Waterbird Conservation Plan, Version 1Waterbird Conservation for the Americas, Washington, DC, U.S.A. Website www.waterbirdconservation.org

Dr. Jerran Flinders of Brigham Young University has been conducting research on the Strawberry Valley
population of Greater Sage-grouse since 1998. Other researchers have studied the Sage-grouse
population dating back to 1937, when Lynn Griner first conducted research on the population.

There are excellent bird-specific educational opportunities in Strawberry Valley. There is a Forest Service
visitor center located in the valley, along with boardwalks through riparian habitat along Strawberry
River. There are excellent educational opportunities at the Strawberry Wildlife Festival, which is held
every September. Last year Merrill Webb and Jeff Waters led a bird walk during the Festival, and Audubon
Society, Tracy Aviary, and HawkWatch International have made presentations at the Festival in past years.
Over 2 million people visit Strawberry Valley annually, so educational opportunities are significant.

Strawberry Valley is an important battleground in statewide and regional efforts to prevent further loss of Greater Sage-grouse populations. Although the current population is small (estimated 100-150 birds) compared to other populations in the state and compared to historical population size (estimated to have been 3,500 birds in 1938), loss of this population would be a significant blow to regional efforts to conserve Sage-grouse. Conversely, success in recovering the Strawberry Valley Greater
Sage-grouse population, which is entirely possible, would be a significant victory in sage-grouse conservation
efforts. A 2008 update included in the book on IBAs - There are now an estimated 500 Greater Sage-Grouse in the Upper Strawberry Watershed