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Fall a busy season at Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve

Fall’s soundtrack is on full blast, its rhythms provided by the wind rattling through the trees, its choruses voiced by some chatty ducks.

It’s a gusty, sun-kissed Friday afternoon, and we’re on the path of the pied-billed grebe.

The small waterfowl is common to the eight ponds at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, 350 E. Galleria Drive. It’s one of 180 species of birds that have been spotted at the preserve, inhabiting a verdant maze of milkweed and cattails spanning more than 100 acres.

The preserve is a hidden oasis, a splash of green among so much dusty desert.

It’s easy to pass an afternoon here, walking the paths that snake through the foliage, climbing viewing towers, wandering across wooden bridges.

Technically, you’re still in the city, and yet you feel far removed from it.

“It’s an undisturbed area. It’s beautiful,” said Chuck Ashby, the outdoor recreation supervisor for the city of Henderson.

“It has water, trees, plants. Right now we have 102 species of birds that are actually on premises.”

The preserve came about almost by happenstance.

“Those ponds are actually a part of our water reclamation facility,” said Kathy Blaha, Henderson’s marketing information officer.

Those facilities predated the preserve, but as the third-largest body of water in Southern Nevada, they naturally drew an abundance of winged visitors.

Birders eventually took note and began flocking to the area to see Northern harriers, Western sandpipers and American bitterns and dozens of other species.

In 1996, representatives of the Red Rock Audubon Society met with Henderson officials and the firm that did much of the facility’s engineering to devise plans for a preserve. It was dedicated in May 1998.

The preserve serves an educational function as well, hosting school field trips and offering programs catering to a range of learners, such as preschoolers and die-hard birders.

The wildlife isn’t limited to the feathered set, as Tino the turtle also calls the place home.

Today, he’s chilling out.

It’s the thing to do here.

“It’s very peaceful, very calm,” Ashby said. “It’s a great place to see nature in its entirety.”

Contact Jason Bracelin at jbracelin@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0476. Follow @JasonBracelin on Twitter.

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