Bear River MBR photo by Billings Brett
Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge is a 74,000-acre National Wildlife Refuge established in 1928. Leased by the government from private property owners, the refuge encompasses the Bear River and its delta where it flows into the northern part of the Great Salt Lake in eastern Box Elder County. It includes a variety of habitats, such as open water, mudflats, wetlands, and agricultural property. The refuge hosts millions of migratory birds each year. There are more than 41,000 acres of freshwater wetlands. There is a one-way 12 mile auto route through the Refuge, with an audio tour and map available for download through the official website.
Bird Refuge Road takes you about 10 miles from the refuge headquarters and visitor center to the beginning of the Auto Tour loop. You can look for birds on the entire drive out, and depending on time of year, and whether or not there is flooding the birding can be very good to very minimal. And there are birds to be seen year round. Some of the best birding however is spring and early summer as well as all fall. Birding the refuge is as easy as driving the auto tour loop and stopping to look at birds along the way. Pelicans, cormorants, grebes, waterfowl, raptors, sparrows, shorebirds, herons, egrets--you name it, and if it's supposed to be in a marsh you will find it here. CLARK'S GREBE, CASPIAN TERN, SORA, VIRGINIA RAIL, AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN, SNOWY PLOVER, LONG-BILLED CURLEW, and RUDDY DUCK are common breeders here. During fall shorebird migration, 1,000's of shorebirds of dozens of species show up. Flocks of WESTERN SANDPIPERS too big to count, LONG-BILLED DOWTICHERS and phalarope are all common sights. Some of the MANY notable sightings here include: BRANT, AMERICAN BLACK DUCK, LITTLE BLUE HERON, RUDDY TURNSTONE, BUFF-BREASTED SANDPIPER, YELLOW-FOOTED GULL, LEAST TERN, YELLOW-BILLED CUCKOO, MCCOWN'S LONGPSUR, and PALM WARBLER.
Take I-15 Exit 363 west bound on Forest Street for 10 miles to the beginning of the Auto Tour Route.
Labels: Box Elder County, farms, marsh, National Wildlife Refuge, ponds, river, shorebirds, waders, waterfowl, wetland
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