Community members connect with nature at the 2016 Winter Bird Count
December 16, 2016
Roberto A. Jackson
Gila River Indian News
The Gila River Indian Community is home to a diverse group of birds that thrive in the natural reaches of the reservation. From bald eagles to water fowl, Mother Nature has always depended on birds to maintain the innate balance of the environment.
On Dec. 3, approximately 150 bird watchers ventured to three locations in the Community to usher in the 2016 Winter Bird Count. Community elders, youth and adults were accompanied by experts, rangers and staff from the Department of Environmental Quality and the Huhugam Heritage Center to document the local bird population.
“This is such an important job that we’re doing,” said Gov. Stephen Roe Lewis at the Huhugam Heritage Center when the bird count concluded.
The bird counts took place in District 5, District 6 and District 7. The bird counters then went to the Huhugam Heritage Center for presentations and cultural activities.
The bird count is not only an excellent way to document birds but also a way to connect Community with nature.
“The Winter Bird Count is a great way to relate the natural world to our culture,” said Althea Walker, DEQ.
Among the youth who attended was Marckie Sabori Lewis, 10, from District 6, who said his favorite part of the bird count was seeing the ducks.
Several groups participated in the event, in addition to DEQ and the Huhugam Heritage Center, including two Audobon societies, Arizona Game and Fish and Liberty Wildlife. Walker said the participation added to the success of the bird count.
Steven Prager, Important Bird Area Program Associate from Audubon Arizona, assisted with the bird count and said that birds across the Southwest are being affected by Arizona’s worsening drought conditions.
He said the bird count is a way to get resources for birds and to share expertise with Community members.