The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources will be holding their annual Raptor Watch Day on Sept. 26. This event gives the public a unique opportunity to see birds of prey in the wild before they migrate south ahead of winter.
The Raptor Watch Day has been a yearly event for over 10 years, rain or shine. Bob Walters who is the Watchable Wildlife coordinator for the Division of Wildlife Resources believes this year will have the largest attendance yet.
Walters believes it will be a great opportunity for locals to build an understanding and appreciation for the wildlife around them. “People are so busy and this draws attention to the world we live in,” said Walters. He hopes that the event will help people to have a greater respect for the animals and head outside more this fall.
The event will be held at the Orem overlook just inside of Provo Canyon for most of the day.
The overlook offers a view of the valley and gives the public a rare opportunity to see hawks, falcons and eagles as they prepare for their yearly migration. Experts will be there to help identify birds and teach more about these animals and the purposes they play in the ecosystem.
BYU student Ryan Turner is going to the event for the first time because of his interest in bird watching. “I’ve seen a golden eagle this year in Moab and I’m hoping to see a new raptor Saturday morning,” said Turner.
Birds of prey are usually the top predator in their local environment, helping to keep populations of rodents such as mice or gophers under control. Locations that are missing these birds usually have higher populations of these animals, which can lead to damage in residential and farming areas.
These birds live all across the country and migrate to Central and South America every year to avoid the colder weather. The migration gives people a greater chance of seeing these birds.
There will also be captive birds of prey to view from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Walters was unable to confirm what type of birds would be present because they vary each year. This allows people to see these animals up close and learn more about them. There is also the possibility that a rehabilitated bird will be released into the wild but Walters was unable to confirm that fact.
The Orem overlook is located on the Squaw Peak Road just inside of Provo canyon. Once at the top of Squaw Peak Road look for the Raptor Day signs. The event is free and open to anyone from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.