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Get look at big birds before they fly away

There are a lot of big birds in Utah right now.

This would include hundreds of eagles, a few thousand tundra swans and several thousand snow geese.

On cue, most of them will leave and fly north, ending their winter migration and eager to start summer living.

Until then, though, they are on stage, performing their daily routines.

And while they can be seen any day over the next six or so weeks, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources has set up special viewing days for the public.

The idea is not only to see the birds up close, to see them in their natural environment, but to learn from bird experts about their habits, their diets, their families, their migrations.

Bald Eagle Day will be Saturday and again on Feb. 13.

Snow Goose Days, in conjunction with the Snow Goose Festival in Delta, will run Feb. 19-21.

Tundra Swan Day will be March 13.

Bald Eagle Day

On Saturday, viewing will take place at sites in central and southwestern Utah. On Feb. 13, Utah Bald Eagle Day will be at three sites.

There is no cost. Viewing times are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. except at the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area site, where viewing will take place from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

On Saturday, viewing will take place at the Fountain Green fish hatchery, located about 1 mile before the city of Fountain Green. A sign will point to an access road that leads to the hatchery. Once there, visitors will receive a map that highlights the best viewing areas. They will also receive literature and see displays.

The second site will be at the Rush Lake Ranch, located on the Minersville highway about 12 miles north of Cedar City.

Sites on Feb. 13 will be at Salt Creek and Farmington Bay waterfowl management areas and at Split Mountain/Green River.

Salt Creek is located about 10 miles northwest of Corinne.

Farmington Bay is located west of Farmington at 1325 W. Glover Lane (925 South). There will also be additional activities at the Great Salt Lake Nature Center at the north end of the management area.

The Split Mountain/Green River site is located north of Jensen below the Dinosaur Quarry in Dinosaur National Monument.

"We'll set spotting scopes up at each viewing site so you can get a good look at the eagles," said Bob Walters, watchable wildlife coordinator for the DWR. "Biologists and volunteers will also be on hand to help you spot the eagles and to answer any questions you have."

Information about bald eagles, wildlife watching and birding opportunities in Utah will be available at each location. The materials will be available for free or for a small cost.

Walters said late morning and early afternoon are the best times to see the eagles.

Those attending should wear warm clothes and waterproof boots and bring binoculars or a spotting scope and water.

For more detailed information, call Walters at 801-538-4771 or contact DWR offices in Ogden, Springville, Vernal or Cedar City.

Snow Goose Festival

The festival will be held in Delta and at the Gunnison Bend Reservoir near the town.

Activities will include a skeet shoot, wild goose chase, "Piece in the Valley" quilt show and Mother Goose Art Craft Fair.

The chase will be a 5- and 10-kilometer race on Feb. 20.

The art and craft fair will be Feb. 19 and 20.

The DWR viewing site will be set up Feb. 21.

Thousands of the white geese use the fields and waters around Delta as a resting stop on their northern migration.

They start their migration from Southern California, then in February move north into the Delta area. By mid-March, they will have moved north.

The geese spend mornings and evenings feeding in fields and move back to waters midafternoon.

On Feb. 21, DWR staff and volunteers with the Great Salt Lake Audubon will be at the reservoir with information, scopes and binoculars, along with fact sheets.

For more information visit www.deltagoosefestival.info and MillardCountyTravel.com.

Tundra Swan Day

There will be viewing sites at the Great Salt Lake at Salt Creek and Farmington Bay waterfowl management areas on March 13.

Here again, DWR biologists and bird experts will be on hand at the two locations to offer help and information.

The birds are unique not only for their size and long, elegant necks, but for their sounds. It is described as a rich, mellow bugling call.

It was also once called the "whistling swan" because of the sound made by the beating of its wings. Passing flocks can also be heard making a high-pitched whistling sound.

Swans move into Utah at the start of winter and will stay until they begin their spring migration to the north. Other swans coming from southern areas will stop and rest in Utah. At times, there are several thousand resting on Utah's marshes.

For information, contact the DWR's Northern Region office at 801-476-2740.