Focus on Nevada Photo Contest Baird's Sandpiper

I Won! Focus on Nevada Photo Competition

This year I decided to enter Focus On Nevada’s annual photography contest. I submitted several photos on the wildlife category and I won FIRST PRIZE in the Nature Category with my image of a Baird’s Sandpiper. Another one of my photos, Desert Bighorn Sheep also received Honorable Mention.

I feel very thankful to be acknowledge for my wildlife photography.  From the moment I captured the image of the Baird’s Sandpiper, I knew it was a powerful image and it was nice to have others feel the same way. A few Baird Sandpipers pass through the Las Vegas region each spring and fall, during migration. These slightly larger than sparrow-sized birds fly almost 4000 miles from their wintering grounds at the bottom of South America to their nesting areas above the Arctic Circle. The majority of the population migrates up the center of the country. However, some of the Baird’s Sandpipers follow the Colorado River and end up stopping over in Las Vegas to refuel. They are considered a “rare” bird and local bird watchers are always excited to see them.

But why Vegas? The answer parallels, to some degree, why we are in Las Vegas, water, food and shelter. In the past, few Baird’s Sandpipers would have stopped in the Las Vegas area due to the lack of suitable habitat. In the 1930s, the building of the Hoover Dam and the formation of Lake Mead provided a new resource for these birds. As Las Vegas grew, the City and County implemented a state-of-the-art water treatment program. Each day over 150,000 million gallons of reclaimed water flows into the Las Vegas Wash and eventually into Lake Mead. This water is rich with organic material that supports insects and other invertebrates Baird’s Sandpipers and other migrating shorebirds rely on for food during migration. The outflow of the Las Vegas Wash into Lake Mead is a broad shallow plain, a perfect place for the shorebirds to eat and watch out for potential predations like Peregrine Falcons.
Baird’s Sandpipers are also gamblers. They are gambling that Lake Mead will continue to exist and their habitat will not disappear with the shrinking lake levels. Many people think of wild animals and people as separate creatures, but the reality is everything humans do impacts the natural world. Some creatures, like the Baird’s Sandpipers, slowly adapt their behavior to the human made changes in environment. We all share this earth and I hope some Baird’s Sandpipers will be able to continue their biannual vacations in Las Vegas.
Focus on Nevada Photo Contest Baird's Sandpiper
desert big horn sheep

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