My Birding Story by Jenny Barnes

Henderson Birding Area

Last May we visited a birding gem only fifteen minutes away from central Las Vegas in Henderson, Nevada. We had heard about the Henderson Birding Area, and my husband Rob and I went out to explore something different from the usual hustle and bustle of the Las Vegas area. We were surprised to find a nice visitor center and grounds with helpful volunteers and employees. They even had a weekly bird list on a white board and life history information about a bird of the week. That week it was the Clark’s Grebe.

Henderson Birding Area

Being in the Mojave Desert midday, I didn’t expect to see much. This was the case but it was nice to get out to walk on the main trail and do the one-mile loop. The Birding Area does get numerous migratory waterfowl and desert birds. There are at least nine ponds on about 100 acres. The birds that I saw were brilliant in the bright sunlight. A Ruddy Duck’s stunning blue bill stood out as it floated near me. A “Birdmobilie” golf-like cart went by with people who wanted to sit in the shade and listen to a guided tour. I found there were enough trees near the trail to provide the shade that I needed.

Halfway around the loop, a Park District employee asked me if I wanted to view the landscape from up in a blind. He explained that Las Vegas is surrounded by mountains, and I could see snow on a few peaks still in mid-May. The next surprise was seeing a pair of nesting Avocets near each other on the ground near the water. The Preserve had put caution tape around the area. There were several light brown eggs with brown markings, about the size of chicken eggs. They were lying in a very shallow depression in an area of twigs.

Back at the Visitor Center, it was nice to share with other visitors in the air conditioning and drink cold water while eating ice cream. Through a window, a volunteer showed me a female Costa’s Hummingbird on its nest on top of a fence post, a life bird for me. And this was the first time I’d seen a nesting hummingbird. The nest was detailed and cuplike, so opposite of what I had seen with the Avocets. Even though I hadn’t seen many bird species, it had been an enjoyable experience to observe nesting behavior and talk to other birders in the middle of a busy urban area.

Jenny Barnes  


A note from Kay Hawklee:

How has COVID affected your life as a birder? Please share with us your story of how you used the time of social distancing to increase your love of birds.  Has it been a time to increase your knowledge and “take comfort in an activity you love?”  You might have found that birding alone offers a distinct kind of pleasure?  You might share a story while birding, a new birding spot or a simple wish for well-being. We want to open up the lines of communication since we can’t be together. Send your story to naaspub@gmail.com