The Great Backyard Bird Count awaits this weekend

Wildlife enthusiasts from across the country are cooperating in the Eighth Annual Great Backyard Bird count this weekend through Mon. Feb. 21. Organized by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and sponsored by the Wild Bird Center, families, scouting groups and individuals are invited to participate in one of the nation's largest volunteer bird counts.

Everyone is encouraged to count birds in their backyards and report them over the Internet. In addition to its value as a research study, the GBBC allows people of all ages and backgrounds to celebrate birds and provide vital information about North America's birds. It is a Citizen Science effort that is free, yet incredibly valuable information is gathered on the distribution of bird species across America.

This year's theme, "North America's Great Backyard," was chosen as a way to celebrate the beauty of birds found across the continent. People are encouraged to enjoy the birds around them by going out into the "Great Backyard" during any or all of the count days and keeping track of the highest numbers of each bird species they see. People then report their sightings over the Internet at

It is called the Great Backyard Bird Count to emphasize the fact that anyone and everyone can participate. The "Backyard" can be anywhere you happen to be, a schoolyard, a local park, the balcony of a high rise apartment or a wildlife refuge. No matter where you go you're almost certain to find birds in all their beauty. By participating in the Great Backyard Bird Count, you can help researchers better understand bird population numbers and distribution across the continent.

Preparation tips are offered for participants on Cornell's web site, including information on bird feeding; how to use binoculars; how to make your yard bird-friendly; and how to identify birds, especially those tricky, similar-looking species. There are even tips on how to be a bird-friendly family. The Layton, Wild Bird Center staff is ready to assist with free pamphlets on the Great Backyard bird Count available, along with a variety of Bird information and bird/nature related products. The Wild Bird Center is located in the Layton, Market Place, across the parking lot from Barnes & Noble.

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a terrific way to nurture a child's inborn curiosity about birds and nature. Educators and parents alike will find the bibliography, vocabulary, and geography sections shown on the web site useful and handy, and there are suggestions on how to conduct the count with groups of children.

Researchers at Cornell hope that by learning more about the birds and habitats in their own backyards, families will decide to become part of Cornell's Project FeederWatch, also sponsored by the Wild Bird Center. It is a winter long survey of birds that visit feeders. FeederWatch data has been instrumental in scientific analyses of winter finch movements and Varied Thrush cycles, and have even helped researchers discover a new avian disease, mycoplasmal conjunctivitis, or House Finch eye disease. These findings were possible thanks to dedicated FeederWatchers.

Participation in the Great Backyard Bird Count takes as little or as much time as participants wish. The important thing is to simply take part, count for the birds, and enjoy North America's Great Backyard. Instructions for participating can be found at There's no fee or registration. Those who would like to participate but are without web access can try their local library. " Libraries, businesses, nature clubs, Scout troops, and other community organizations interested in getting involved can contact the Cornell Lab of Ornithology at (800) 843-2473, 159 Sapsucker Woods Road, Ithaca, New York 14850.

Help Nongame Wildlife though Tax Checkoff

Utah residents who care about songbirds, river otters and other nongame wildlife, can help them while preparing their 2004 Income Taxes. Participation is simple as filling in the proper code and a donation amount on the 2004 Utah State Income Tax form for the Utah Nongame Wildlife Fund.

The code for the fund is 01 and may be written on any line between 23c - 23f on the tax form along with a dollar amount to be donated. Greg Sheehan, Administrative Services Section chief for the Division of Wildlife Resources, commented, "Most Utahns don't realize it, but hunters and anglers provide almost all of the funding to manage wildlife in Utah. They provide this funding when they purchase hunting and fishing licenses and pay special taxes on hunting and fishing equipment. Because most of the money we receive comes from sportsmen, it's used almost entirely to benefit wildlife that people can hunt or fish for."

Sheehan says the money received through the nongame tax checkoff is used entirely to help wildlife for which people don't hunt or fish. "For people who care about nongame wildlife, the tax checkoff is a convenient and easy way to help," he added.

Last year, Utah taxpayers gave $57,758 to the Utah Nongame Wildlife Fund, which supported several important programs that benefit nongame wildlife. The DWR's nongame avian program uses the money to fund surveys of raptor and songbird populations in Utah. Management decisions biologists make, through the information they obtain, helps ensure rare and common birds, including yellow warblers, American robins, peregrine falcons and yellow-billed cuckoos, will thrive for years to come.

Biologists in the DWR's nongame mammals program also use these contributions to help endangered and sensitive species. Through their work, river otters now live in southern Utah, a black-footed ferret population is being established in the northeastern part of the state and important information is being gathered about pygmy rabbits and prairie dogs.

"We appreciate every dollar we receive from Utah taxpayers," said Kevin Bunnell, mammals coordinator for the DWR. "The more funding we receive, the more we can do to help these animals."

If you've already filed your taxes, there's still a way to help. The DWR accepts donations for nongame wildlife throughout the year. These donations can be sent to Division of Wildlife Resources, P.O. Box 146301, Salt Lake City, Utah, 84114-6301. Please indicate, either on the check or on a note attached to the check, that the money is for Utah's Nongame Wildlife Fund.

"We encourage everyone who wants to help Utah's nongame wildlife to donate," Sheehan said. "It's a great way to get a good feeling during tax time or anytime during the year."

40th Annual Utah Sportsmen's, Vacation and RV Show awaits Feb. 17 - 20

According to the Outdoor Recreation Participation and Spending Study, Utah is third in the nation for outdoor recreation. The report states that in Utah within a year 1,306,000 people participated in outdoor recreation, 629,821 went camping with a vehicle, 180,634 people went backpacking and 110,299 people enjoyed camping without a vehicle.

The Utah Sportsmen's, Vacation and RV Show is the perfect place for outdoor enthusiasts of all ages, where visitors may view the new 2005 campers, motor homes, travel and fifth-wheel trailers. In addition they can learn about summer destinations and the newest innovations to hit the camping and outdoor industries.

Jon Greenband, show manager, reported, "Clinics will be offered by the U. S. Forest Service on camping and white-water rafting opportunities in the state. Hunting and horseback seminars will also be offered. Travel councils from South Dakota, Idaho, Arizona, Colorado, Utah and Nevada will be available to plan exciting RV vacations."

Recently, six of Utah parks were named America's "Top 100 Family Campgrounds", by ReserveAmerica, the largest reservation management group in the country. Ranking campgrounds included Antelope Island, Bear Lake, Dead Horse Point, Red Fleet, Wasatch Mountain and Willard Bay.

New to the show this year is Reptile Adventures with Danny Conner, one of the most impressive reptile exhibits and shows in the U. S. The show will feature 75 different species of reptiles, including giant snakes, massive lizards, huge turtles and a myriad of crocodilians. Show times are Thurs., 4 p.m. & 7 p.m.; Fri., 2 p.m., 5 p.m.& 7:30 p.m.; Sat., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. & 7 p.m. and Sun., 1 p.m. & 4 p.m.

Back by popular demand are several International Dutch Oven Society champions, who will demonstrate cooking techniques and provide mouthwatering recipes for delicious Dutch oven dishes. Show visitors will be able to register to win the "Fishing and Hunting Trip of a Lifetime,"which includes two days of guided fishing on the Kanai River in Alaska for salmon and one day of halibut fishing. This trip is courtesy of R.W.'s Fishing Lodge and The Utah Sportsmen's, Vacation and RV Show.

The 40th Annual Sportsmen's, Vacation and RV Show, awaiting at the South Towne Expo Center, 9572 South State Street, will be open Thurs., Feb. 17 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.; Fri., Feb. 18, noon to 10 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 19, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sun., Feb. 20, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Ticket prices are $7 for adults, $6 for seniors and $4 for juniors (7-12). Children under 6 are free. Discount coupons are available at all Utah 7-Eleven stores. For more information, call (801) 485-7399 or visit the event's web site at
Winter Programs offered at Wasatch Mountain

Two winter programs await at Wasatch Mountain State Park near Midway. On Feb. 19, a park naturalist will offer a "Discovering Glaciers" snowshoe program. From 10 a.m. to noon, this presentation awaits at the visitor center for a short indoor discussion on park geology. Following the discussion, participants may strap on a pair of snowshoes for a ninety-minute walk to discover signs of glacial activity along the Nature Trail.

On Feb. 26 park naturalists will discuss snowshoeing benefits from 10 a.m. to noon at the visitor center. Following the short indoor discussion on snowshoeing basics, visitors will try on a pair for an hour walk to discover the joys of winter recreation. For more information on either of these programs, call (435) 654-1791.
Snow Geese should turn Sky White at Annual Festival

The sights and sounds of thousands of pure white snow geese flying and feeding will be enjoyed at the Eighth Annual Snow Goose Festival. Snow geese may be viewed at and near Gunnison Bend Reservoir, west of Delta, scheduled Feb. 25, 26 and 27, and March 4 and 5.
Admission is free.

Bob Walters, Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the DWR, reported, "Spotting scopes will be set up so participants can get a close view of the geese, and Division of Wildlife Resources personnel will be available to answer any questions they have."

Free wildlife-related workshops, and arts and crafts and photography exhibits, will also be offered on Feb. 25 and 26, and March 4 and 5. Walters encourages visitors to view the geese with binoculars or spotting scopes. "People who get too close to the geese will probably scare them away, and that will spoil the viewing experience for everyone," he said.

When viewing from roadways, visitors are strongly encouraged to use caution and to watch for vehicles. Walters also advises participants to prepare for cold or wet weather by wearing the proper clothes. Areas where people may see geese will vary according to the time of day. "The geese usually feed in fields that surround the reservoir early in the morning and then fly back to the reservoir before 10:30 a.m.," Walters said. "They normally leave the reservoir between 4 and 6 p.m. and fly out to the fields again to feed." Walters indicates that DWR personnel will watch which fields the geese fly to and will direct visitors, who arrive after the geese have left the reservoir, to the proper fields.

For more information about the 2005 Snow Goose Festival call Walters at (801) 538-4771; the Division of Wildlife Resources' Southern Region office at (435) 865-6100; the Delta Area Chamber of Commerce at (800) 864-0345; or visit the Millard County Web site at
Registration Deadline set for Women's Shotgun Clinics

Ladies who would like to learn more about shotgunning basics are invited to attend a series of women's shotgun clinics beginning in March. Registration deadlines are soon approaching for these classes, scheduled 9:30 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. every Saturday from March 5th through April 9th.

Hosting the event, the LeeKay Center, located at 6000 W. 2100 S. in West Valley, will cover instruction, clay targets, loaner guns and lunch for a fee of $25 each Saturday. Participants must provide their own ammo. Winchester AA light loads are recommended, which can be purchased at any sporting goods store for approximately $5 per box of 25 shotgun shells. Participants should bring 2 boxes on the first day of the clinic.

Class size is limited and those interested can register before Feb. 28th by calling Gene Ekenstam at (435) 882-4767.