Update: DWR has canceled the public viewing events at the Eccles center and Salt Creek in response to Gov. Herbert's recommendation to limit public gatherings. Herbert announced the recommendation Thursday in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Humans aren’t the only species that need a pit stop during a road trip.
For the next month, thousands of tundra swans — many of them on their way from Southern California up to Canada and the Arctic to nest — are stopping at Farmington Bay to refuel during their journey, said Billy Fenimore, biologist with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources’ Eccles Wildlife Education Center in Farmington.
“It’s kind of like taking a family trip on the highway,” Fenimore said. “You pull off to the rest area to stop, eat some snacks and drink some water and so forth before you continue on. So it’s a real vital ... stopover point in migration for a variety of birds, not just the swans.”
They stay for two to four weeks while putting on the fat they need to survive their migration north, he said.
In honor of the swans’ visit, DWR is hosting a swan viewing day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 14, at the Eccles Wildlife Education Center, 1157 S. Waterfowl Way in Farmington — and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. the same day at Compton’s Knoll, a hill on the northeast side of the Salt Creek Waterfowl Management Area, which is northwest of Corinne in Box Elder County (detailed directions to the site are available on DWR’s website).
A similar event is being hosted from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge, 2155 W. Forest St., in Brigham City, run by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
This viewing day is being held at the peak of the swans’ visit, Fenimore said.
Spotting scopes will be available for use at both DWR sites, according to the DWR website, and the Eccles center will also have binoculars, Fenimore said.
However, visitors are encouraged to bring their own binoculars or spotting scopes if they have them.
Visitors to Farmington Bay can park at and visit the Eccles center, where they will be pointed toward areas where spotting scopes are set up, Fenimore said.
At the Farmington event, there will also be two presentations on the migrating swans as well as crafts for kids. Representatives from the Audubon Society will be available to share more about their work with anyone who is interested, Fenimore said.
The Salt Creek event, while farther from many visitors’ homes, offers the chance to see the birds at closer range, said Faith Heaton Jolley, spokesperson for DWR.
“It’s just a great opportunity for people to see these ... beautiful birds in the wild. This is a species that a lot of people maybe haven’t seen before in person,” Jolley said. “...That’s why we hold these wildlife viewing events — is just to give different people that opportunity to ... have that experience that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise.”
“We are just a stone’s throw away for folks to get involved in nature — to be able to ... turn their back and look west, and you’re looking at the wetlands,” Fenimore said, describing the Eccles center. “... It’s a key hole into the natural world, our wetlands. ... It’s just an invaluable resource that we have here.”