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Birders invited to watch osprey July 15 at Flaming Gorge

The annual Flaming Gorge Osprey Watch is set for Saturday, July 15, 2017.
The annual Flaming Gorge Osprey Watch is set for Saturday, July 15, 2017.
Scott Root, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

DUTCH JOHN, Daggett County — Birding enthusiasts can see ospreys in the air and on top of their nests at the annual Flaming Gorge Osprey Watch.

The free, family-friendly event will be held Saturday, July 15, at an area next to the parking lot at Flaming Gorge Dam Visitor Center.

The viewing runs from 9 a.m. to noon.

"The birds are super active this time of year, especially during the morning hours," Tonya Kieffer, a regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, said in a statement. "In the afternoon, the temperature climbs, the wind starts to blow and the birds become less active."

In addition to seeing osprey through spotting scopes, biologists and displays will be available so bird-watchers can learn more about the life history of these unusual fish-eating birds.

"If you're lucky," Kieffer said, "you might be watching right at the moment an osprey decides to dive feet first into the nearby water, only to emerge with a fish in its powerful talons. After capturing the fish, it will carry the fish back to its perch or nest and share it with its mate and young."

In addition to ospreys, Kieffer says other birds of prey, including golden eagles, turkey vultures and American kestrels, are frequently spotted at the annual event.

Osprey are fairly easy to recognize due to their distinct white heads with a brown stripe that runs through their bright, yellow eye.

Kieffer said osprey return to Flaming Gorge every year to breed and raise their young.

"A breeding pair will build on the same nest year after year," she said, "so a nest that's 10 feet tall is a fairly common sight at the gorge."