Spend spring break with the birds

The Flamingo. Red Robin. Grey Goose.

There are other birds in Las Vegas. Spot them during the Birding Celebration at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, a two-day Mardi Gras for bird-watchers featuring walks, classes and activities for the hatchlings.

“We have a lot of dedicated birders in our community,” says Jennifer Magby, outdoor recreation supervisor for the city of Henderson. “But a lot of folks who live in the valley aren’t even aware that there are opportunities to interact with nature in their own backyard.”

The Birding Celebration on Friday and Saturday marks both Earth Day and (as if you didn’t already know) International Migratory Bird Day.

“It is exciting,” Magby insists. “Birds are unlike other animals. They transcend states. They move from country to country.”

Birding Celebration attendees are likely to sight migratory birds such as moorhens and ruddy ducks, which fly up from points south to summer in the valley.

“The water keeps them cool,” Magby explains, “just like it does for us.”

Other common avian tourists, such as northern shovelers and wood ducks, are Canadians who stop briefly in Southern Nevada on their way back north. (For them, not unlike spring-breakers, breeding and drinking is a priority — although how long they stay depends more on instinct than whether they still think winning their money back is a possibility.)

“The shovelers are a big one,” Magby says. “We get them by the hundreds.”

Plenty of local birds will be around, too, such as Gambel’s quail and roadrunners. It’s difficult to distinguish local birds from migratory ones, save for their lack of travel (and a preference for locals casinos).

If you’re really lucky, you might spot rarer feathered friends such as the black-bellied plover (last documented here last week), the ocean duck (AWOL for two years), or a Las Vegas showgirl.

The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve features nine ponds covering 100 acres. Added during the past year are four bird lines (camouflaging structures with viewing holes), a two-story elevated viewing platform and a boardwalk traversing one of the ponds.

Contact reporter Corey Levitan at clevitan@review journal.com or 702-383-0456.

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