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News & Releases
Mountain-Prairie Region


Bi-Weekly Bird Count Takes Flight on Ouray National Wildlife Refuge

July 8, 2014

White-faced ibis. Credit:  Same Stukel/USFWS
White-faced ibis. Credit: Sam Stukel/USFWS.

From White-faced ibis to Double-crested cormorant over 2,000 birds were counted during the July 2nd Ouray National Wildlife Refuge bi-weekly bird survey.  Located in Randlett, UT,  the Refuge is managed as part of the Lower Green River National Wildlife Refuge Complex and is a temporary home to thousands of birds throughout the year.  Service Biologist Diane Penttila conducts these surveys to measure water levels and identify what species are on the refuge at any time throughout the year. “I do the survey because we are primarily a wetland refuge and the survey gives us an indication of what birds use the unit at what time of year,” said Penttila

The methods are basic but the results are critical to  the management of the refuge.  “I follow a designated route and count all wetland birds to a specified distance” said Penttila. “ I also collect water level readings for each wetland unit so I can extrapolate the number of birds I counted and get an estimate for the whole unit using a water table that converts the water level I read from the gauge to the number of acres that are flooded.”

For this survey the top three most common bird species observed were Canada geese, American coot , and mallard.  In addition to water levels, the refuge also manages the units by controlling the emergent vegetation.  “Cattail is a big issue as it was not historically here, so we are always trying to reduce it,” said Penttila.  “The bird data is useful in showing changes in bird use as we manage cattail along with water levels.”

One species that Penttila was happy to see this year on another survey was the long-billed curlew. “About a month ago there were a bunch of curlews hanging out there which was exciting as we only see them occasionally.”  “Then a few days later we saw that there were four babies with them too.  It was really exciting and we watched them for about 2 weeks before they moved off. “

All throughout the year visitors can see many different species of birds on the Ouray as well as other refuges in Lower Green River Complex such as Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge near Maybell, Colorado and the Colorado River Wildlife Management Area, which is comprised of 17 parcels along the Colorado, Green, and Gunnison Rivers in Utah and Colorado.

Visitors interested in visiting this refuge as well as finding others can find more information at http://www.fws.gov/refuges/refugeLocatormaps/index.html

– FWS –

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Office of External Affairs

Mountain-Prairie Region

134 Union Blvd

Lakewood, CO 80228


303-236-3815 FAX



Office of External Affairs
(303) 236-4578

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The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with Others to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American People.
Last modified: July 08, 2014
All Images Credit to and Courtesy of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Unless Specified Otherwise.
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