Tracy Aviary, The Alta Environmental Center, and Friends of Alta have partnered to conduct the first scientific survey of the species of birds and their habitats in Alta. This baseline survey will provide critical information used for habitat protection and environmental management.
These surveys take lots of funds to run, so in order to keep this program going, we created the Skiing and Birds Fundraiser! Many thanks to our lead sponsor, Alta Ski Area for supporting and encouraging this endeavor. The fundraiser was a great way to include community members in citizen science and the bird survey process. Participants were guided on ski or snowshoe tours to some of the best spots to identify rare species! We saw Pine Grosbeak, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches, Mountain Chickadees, Steller’s Jays, and even a porcupine!
Afterwards we all gathered at the Albion Grill for a great après ski mixer, with a silent auction and an opportunity drawing. Our ears were treated to the sweet melodies of cello music from Maren Askins as we walked into a room smelling of saffron tomato soup freshly crafted from Chef Carl Rudadue of the Saucey Skillet. We imbibed locally crafted beer from Red Rock Brewery, and listened to presentations from Tracy Aviary field scientists updating us on the Alta bird survey.
Following is a summary of what we learned. Alta provides unique access to high elevation habitats. The pristine yet rugged subalpine terrain is characteristically unreachable; fortunately, we have easy access through resort infrastructure. This gives us valuable insight to many high elevation bird species, some of which are endemic to Alta. The three year study not only documents species of birds, but the vegetation and habitats correlating with them. This helps us gain a greater understanding of the ecology of Alta. Currently we have recorded 4,259 individual birds, and 86 bird species, 63 documented during the nesting season. Some of the most common birds were the White-crowned Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, and Clark’s Nutcracker. The birds that we haven’t documented also indicate forest health. We saw no sign of the American Three-toed Woodpecker or the Evening Grosbeak. These species only feed on the Spruce Bark beetle and budworm. Not seeing those birds is a good sign, because it means Alta’s forest has a low population of those harmful beetles.
To get involved or learn more about this study you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Friends of Alta Bill Levitt Fellow Maya Footte
Photos by Chris Moran, email@example.com