Black-necked Stilt And My Concerns About The Future Of The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

/, Birds, Black-necked Stilts, Box Elder County, Utah/Black-necked Stilt And My Concerns About The Future Of The Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge

A juvenile Black-necked Stilt foraging in the Bear RiverA juvenile Black-necked Stilt foraging in the Bear River – Nikon D810, f6.3, 1/2000, ISO 400, -0.3 EV, Nikkor 500mm VR with 1.4x TC, natural light

It was pretty birdy yesterday morning at Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and Black-necked Stilts are every where. In the July Waterbird Survey for the refuge Black-necked Stilts numbers were at 12,452 which made them the most numerous shorebirds on the refuge at the time the survey was completed. Some of the water has been been lowered on the refuge and this young stilt was taking advantage of that by feeding in a section of the Bear River that typically has higher water.

But even while I am taking images of these fascinating birds and enjoying the spectacular scenery I have concerns about the future of Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the life within it.

The Bear River is extremely important not just for the birds and wildlife on the refuge but also for the health of the Great Salt Lake. I came across this video a few days ago and wanted to share it with all of you who would like to know more about the Great Salt Lake ecosystem and climate change. There is a proposal to dam the Bear River upstream that could cause a negative effect by reducing the flow of water to the refuge and the Great Salt Lake. It has happened before.

The marshes could dry up just like they did in the early 1900’s when large quantities of water were diverted for settlements and farms. By 1920 only a few thousand acres of wetlands remained which seriously affected the survival of migrating birds. In 1928 thousands upon thousands of birds died from avian botulism and when the public took action Congress passed an act that created the Bear River National Wildlife Refuge. Dikes and water control methods were created and the refuge began to flourish once more.

If the Bear River is dammed upstream I have to wonder if we will see history repeating itself but made even worse by climate change, reduced snow pack and rising temperatures and how that will impact the refuge.

I hate to be so glum on a Monday morning but I am concerned.



  1. Jane Chesebrough August 12, 2015 at 12:04 am

    ya. It sounds grim. Is anyone listening?

  2. Elephant's Child August 10, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    How I wish more of us would realise that it isn’t (and shouldn’t be) all about us.
    Hiss and spit.

  3. Johanna van de Woestijne August 10, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Thank you for raising some awareness about the plans for a dam. Please post information on any action items that might be available, such as petitions or letter writing. It is wonderful that you offer a beautiful wildlife photo as well as background information. It is gently enlightening.

  4. Patty Chadwick August 10, 2015 at 8:47 am

    I have no comment, just a sick, sinking feeling…I have little faith in human wisdom,foresight and integrity at this point….

  5. Jorge H. Oliveira August 10, 2015 at 7:06 am

    Humans never learn … until it is too late !!! and even so …

    Thank you for the warning.

Comments are closed.