Bird preserve adds amenities with $1.9 million renovation

On their way to warmer climates, more than 250 species of birds take a moment to rest their wings by making the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve a pit stop on their migratory highway.

Like any resting place, the city of Henderson made sure the rest stop is as accommodating as possible with several ponds and forms of plant life.

“We are a rest stop for so many species,” said Kim Becker, communications and marketing supervisor for the city’s parks and recreation department. “Some of the birds are year-round, but some might take off after spring.”

From avocets to geese, various birds are currently at the preserve.

But it is not just the birds that enjoy the area. Avid bird-watchers make frequent stops at the preserve, 350 E. Galleria Drive, to take a glimpse of their favorite feathered creatures.

Becker said people can walk around the preserve or take a tour in a passenger cart with the staff as their bird guide. “Our staff is really knowledgeable of the birds out there,” Becker said. “They might be able to provide a lot of good insight.”

The preserve includes several ponds and habitats where regional, local and migratory birds can make a home.

When moving to Las Vegas, Randy Michal and his wife chose Henderson specifically because of the preserve .

“The preserve makes it so easy (to watch birds) that even the most casual birder will easily see lots of different birds,” Michal said.

Michal has been a bird-watcher since 2000, when he lived in Florida, and noticed just how many birds there were.

“We try to come out in the afternoon two or three times a week,” Michal said. “Because of shortened hours and summer heat, we will try to wake up early to come out Saturday. We don’t live too far from the preserve, so it makes it easy.”

Becker said the preserve has undergone some renovations during the past few months.

“Renovations were $1.9 million, with all but $100,000 coming via grant from the Bureau of Land Management through the sale of public lands as authorized by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act,” Becker said. “The remaining $100,000 was funded by the city’s department of utility services.”

Becker said bird blinds were installed to provide a concealed place for people to watch birds without being noticed .

“You can sit there for a while and watch the birds,” Michal said. “They don’t notice you, so they get closer.”

Becker said a lot of the birds are people-shy and tend to disappear if they know humans are around.

The preserve also built observation decks that allows guests to watch the birds and take photos from a different angle.

“One of the observation decks looks over four different ponds ,” Michal said. “It’s a great vantage point.”

Even without the improvements, Becker said, the preserve has had a lot of visitors.

“We have a very active bird community,” Becker said.

The preserve has even piqued Becker’s curiosity.

“When I moved here, I said, ‘I want to see a roadrunner,’ ” Becker said, adding that the roadrunner is one of the more common birds at the preserve.

Michal has seen rare birds, including a cackling goose, which often is mistaken for a Canada goose .

“We once saw a juvenile bald eagle and a red-tailed hawk,” Michal said. “They were soaring around each other. It was an unusual sight to see.”

Michal hopes that one day he will see a California condor at the preserve.

“It hasn’t happened yet,” Michal said.

Becker said the preserve’s most prominent new feature, which is still under construction, is the access road off Sunset Road.

Becker said the old access road was shared by the water reclamation facility, which is a secured area that required visitors to be buzzed in to be allowed access.

Becker added that the new drive is designed to make it easier for visitors because they can drive right in during open hours .

“We are hoping it will be open in a month or so,” Becker said.

Other new features include an outdoor classroom.

“It serves as an opportunity to have more learning experiences,” Becker said.

The preserve’s summer hours are 6 a.m. to noon daily June through August.

For more information, visit cityofhenderson.com or call 267-4180.

Contact Henderson and Anthem View reporter Michael Lyle at mlyle@viewnews.com or 387-5201.

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