Early results positive in annual winter raptor survey
Birders and other outdoor enthusiasts will find Southern Nevada winters to be a great time for spotting raptors. This is the time when raptors, or birds of prey, that aren't usually in Southern Nevada spend time here. These birds fly in from the north and join other raptor species that are year-long residents
The wintering birds are not breeding at this time. Instead, they spend most of their time looking for food. That means they are not tending to nests, so they can often be spotted on ridge tops, power lines, tall trees and other high spots in the rural areas. Biologists with the Nevada Department of Wildlife take advantage of this to perform their winter raptor survey, usually between December and February.
"The main purpose of the winter raptor survey is to document the distribution and determine the composition (the different species) of raptors utilizing the habitats and resources in Nevada during the nonbreeding winter months," said Christy Klinger, NDOW diversity biologist. "Several species that do not breed or nest in Nevada migrate through and/or spend their winters here, thus it's important to keep tabs on these guys in order to detect potential changes in population and migration trends. Healthy, intact winter raptor habitat and resources are critical to ensuring stable raptor populations."
Generally, the survey is a collaborative effort with other agencies and organizations such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service and the Great Basin Bird Observatory. Much of the actual survey work can be completed by vehicle with the aid of binoculars and spotting scopes. Survey locations might include areas along major thoroughfares, within sight of contiguous power lines, and with access to cliffs, agriculture and water.
Lincoln County is a favored area for driving surveys because it is comprised primarily of open rural areas where raptors can hunt small animals that are not in hibernation, such as voles and rabbits.
Surveyors who completed a January driving survey along the Great Basin Highway in Lincoln County found red-tailed hawks and northern Harrier hawks as well as bald and golden eagles.
NDOW offers introductory fly-fishing course Feb. 26
The Nevada Department of Wildlife will have a free introductory fly-fishing class Feb. 26 at the agency's Las Vegas office located at 4747 Vegas Drive. The class is organized into two parts, a classroom section that begins at 9 a.m. and a field section that will cover casting skills after the first section at a nearby park. This section should end at about 1:30 p.m.
During the classroom section of the class, participants will learn terminology, knot-tying skills and discuss equipment selection. This class is recommended for those anglers who are 12 years of age or older who would like a hands-on learning experience. Space is limited, so registration is required. For more information contact Ivy Santee, 486-5127, ext. 3503. Registration begins at 8 a.m. Monday.