May is for the Birds

Celebrating May as Month of the Bird in Utah during 2018 Year of the Bird
Lark Sparrow In A Cottonwood Tree

Audubon would like to thank Governor Gary Herbert for calling attention to the importance of birds and the places they need by declaring May as Month of the Bird in Utah. May is the height of spring bird migration and Great Salt Lake and its wetlands serve as an important crossroads for millions of migratory birds each year. The Governor’s Declaration recognizes Utah’s remarkable lands and water in urban and rural environments as important habitat, the centennial of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act, and the many long-standing Great Salt Lake and bird-related events that occur in May.

Conservation of Great Salt Lake requires partnership from many entities and partnership requires good relationships. Fortunately Audubon chapters and many other local conservation organizations, businesses and academics, along with National Audubon Society have been working for decades to protect birds and important habitats, such as Great Salt Lake. Building upon that strong foundation and history, Audubon’s Saline Lakes Program will work towards balanced water solutions and policies so that people, birds, and wildlife in the arid west can thrive together.

Every Bird Counts

Members of the Utah Audubon Council, a coalition of the four Audubon chapters in the state, met at Ouray National Wildlife Refuge the weekend of May 5-6 for their biannual meeting. Since Audubon’s Western Rivers Bird Count launched the same weekend, the council added an early morning bird count before their business meeting. The group split up and completed two walking surveys in opposite directions along the western bank of the Green River. In a short 30 minutes, the two groups collectively recorded over 100 individual birds representing 24 different species (including a Cooper’s Hawk nest!) Staff at the wildlife refuge conduct bi-weekly waterbird surveys, however they have limited data and surveys on migratory songbirds so they were thankful for the riparian bird count data. 

Help us keep counting! The Western Rivers Bird Count continues through the end of June.

Great Salt Lake Issues Forum

Every two years, FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake hosts the Great Salt Lake Issues Forum with the goal of encouraging constructive dialogue about the future of the lake’s ecosystem and its resources. The 2018 forum was held May 9-11 in Salt Lake City and Karyn Stockdale, senior director for Audubon’s Western Water Program presented highlights from the Water and Birds in the Arid West: Habitats in Decline report as one of the keynote speakers. Stockdale highlighted the importance of saline lakes in the Intermountain West as a network of interconnected habitats for millions of migratory birds that rely on them during their annual lifecycle. National Audubon Society helped sponsor video archiving for this year’s forum. Presentations and recordings from all three days will soon be available on the FRIENDS of Great Salt Lake website at

Inaugural Bird Tour in West Box Elder County

On May 11-12 Bridgerland, Great Salt Lake, and Wasatch Audubon chapters joined forces with the West Box Elder Coordinated Resource Management (CRM) group to launch the first World Migratory Bird Day celebration and bird tour in Grouse Creek, Utah. Hosted by Jay and Diane Tanner of Box C Ranch, the event included a ranch dinner, cowboy poetry, bird watching, and a tour of sagebrush and riparian habitat restoration projects. Since 2011, the West Box Elder CRM group–comprised of landowners, scientists, and local, state, and Federal agencies–has been working together to implement conservation practices that benefit Greater Sage-Grouse and the sagebrush steppe ecosystem.  The tour was a success and the CRM hopes to make this an annual event for all conservation enthusiasts.

Audubon in the News

Ella Sorensen, manager of Audubon's Gillmor Sanctuary on the south shore of Great Salt Lake talks about birds in Utah on Good4Utah's Morning Show, May 11, 2018.