DEQ prepares for winter bird count

Kyle Knox
Gila River Indian News



On Saturday, Jan. 25, the Gila River Indian Community’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) will host the 21st Annual Winter Bird Count. The event tasks Community members of all ages to venture out to lesser-known areas, observe habitats of birds that reside in the Community, and assist DEQ with the counting of those birds.


Tison Gill, Environmental Education & Outreach Specialist at DEQ, said, “The bird count is a multifaceted activity that brings together the Community (youth and elders), promotes cultural awareness, teaches environmental science, and monitors the environmental health of the Community.”


The annual event is a chance to learn about the environment and species of birds that inhabit the Community. Community members of all ages are welcome, though a parent or guardian must accompany children. Participants can expect to view numerous birds of varied species, including Bald Eagles, Red Tail Hawks, sparrows, doves, ducks, and more.


The event starts at 7 a.m. at various staging areas to meet and receive “assignments.” Those staging areas are at District 5 Casa Blanca Chevron Station, District 6 Komatke Chevron Station, and the District 7 Service Center. From there, teams spread out to designated counting sites to observe and count birds in the area. DEQ employees and volunteers from Audubon’s around the valley will lead the groups.


It’s important to know that DEQ will not provide transportation for the outings, so plan to transport yourself to and from the various sites. Also, if you decide to attend, Mr. Gill suggests bringing binoculars if you have them, wear comfortable walking shoes, wear cold-weather attire, and a learning attitude.


By 10 a.m., the bird count will conclude, and participants can attend the closing at the MAR-5 Interpretive Trail for a meal, guest speaker presentations, and cultural activities. If you are interested in participating this year, please contact the GRIC DEQ at (520) 562-2234.