Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve
350 E. Galleria Dr.
(at Moser Drive)
Henderson, NV 89011
Last entry 30 minutes before closing.
- March, April & May: 6:00am-2:00pm
- June, July & August: 6:00am-Noon
- September, October & November: 6:00am-2:00pm
- December, January & February: 7:00am-2:00pm
About the Preserve
Named "Best Place For Bird Watching" in Desert Companion's 3rd Annual Best of the City
The preserve is located at 350 E. Galleria Dr., near the intersection of Galleria Drive and Boulder Highway (look for signs in the medians). It is located within the Water Reclamation Facility and sits on approximately 140 acres.
What to Expect During Your Visit
It is home to thousands of migratory waterfowl as well as numerous resident desert birds. There are nine ponds available for birding, surrounded by both paved and soft surfaces. The paved path is approximately 3/4 of a mile long and is accessible by wheelchair. The soft surfaces are mostly level and allow for easy walking.
When you visit, expect to do a lot of walking and allow yourself adequate time to visit the area. We also recommend that you wear appropriate clothing and comfortable, sturdy shoes. Bring water, a hat, and wear sunscreen. If you do not have binoculars, we have some available for loan.
Please do not feed the birds or wildlife. The Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve is located on the eastern edge of the Pacific Migratory Flyway and many of the birds that come here are temporary visitors. Feeding wildlife disrupts natural feeding behaviors and encourages an unhealthy association with humans. Pets are not permitted at this facility.
Resources for Your Visit
While you're here, be sure to stop by our gift shop. We have a nice selection of souvenirs, educational materials, and gifts for every bird lover.
We also offer events, guided tours and educational programs for all ages. Please refer to Henderson Happenings for current information.
Students from C. T. Sewell Elementary School and author Carolyn Ahern took part in a celebration on October 11, 2017, welcoming a tortoise named Tino to his new home at the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve. Ms. Ahern raised Tino from about the age of 6 months and has written books featuring him as the main character, including Tino the Tortoise: Adventures in the Grand Canyon.
Tino is about 10 years old and super friendly. He enjoys people and is very curious about the world around him. He is expected to go to into hibernation (brumation) in mid- to late October and should emerge sometime in March. Watch for educational programs for people of all ages this spring centered on Tino and the life of a desert tortoise.
Summer is very hot, but you can still see lots birds here, including nesting American avocets, black-necked stilts and plenty of native waterfowl such as mallards and ruddy ducks. Of course, resident desert birds such as verdin, Abert's towhee, crissal thrasher, and roadrunners make our facility their home year round.
During the fall you can expect to see large numbers of migratory waterfowl and returning shore birds. Fall migration is an exciting time with the possibility of seeing warblers, thrushes, flycatchers, sparrows and many other passerine species.
Winter and Early Spring
During the winter and early spring, you can expect to see many species of duck such as the northern shoveler, green wing, cinnamon and blue wing teal, pintail, bufflehead, and one of the most beautiful of all North American ducks, the wood duck. Winter is also an ideal time to see geese (Canada, snow and Ross's) and returning tundra swan. The Preserve also provides habitat for a variety of raptors including peregrine falcons, northern harriers and both Cooper's and sharpshinned hawks. Desert specialties and resident species include verdin, Abert's towhee, Gambel's quail, greater roadrunner, and crissal thrasher.
For more than 20 years, local birders and nature lovers have visited the evaporating ponds at the city's Wastewater Reclamation Facility. As the third-largest body of water in Southern Nevada, the ponds proved irresistible to a wide variety of native and migratory birds. Here in the middle of a desert, birds found an undisturbed and plentiful water source.
The Wastewater Reclamation Facility, operated to treat wastewater and meet water quality standards, uses the treated water to irrigate golf courses and highway medians or discharges the treated water into the Las Vegas Wash and Lake Mead. In performing this municipal service, the City of Henderson, without design or intent, created a habitat for birds.
Birders were delighted to find such a wide variety of birds in the Las Vegas Valley. Shorebirds and migrating birds became regular visitors to the ponds. In 1967, the water reclamation site was first included in the National Audubon Society's Christmas Count. Each year, the local chapter provided information on the number of types of birds to the National Audubon Society Headquarters in New York City. The information was used to track how well different bird species were faring. Some bird species identified were migrating to the tip of South America and back each year. The ponds were also used as a part of a nationwide shorebird survey conducted by the Point Reyes Bird Observatory in northern California.
The city welcomed the birders. They were quiet and respectful of the area. City officials even printed a brochure for the birders, with a list of species sighted at the ponds. But operating a wastewater reclamation facility and providing a habitat for birds often resulted in conflicting priorities. Maintenance of the ponds included removing vegetation surrounding the ponds, thereby eliminating resting and nesting places for the birds. Routine drainage of the ponds threatened the nesting habits of certain species. Although the people who operated the ponds enjoyed the birds, they had little knowledge about bird habits and habitat.
The city listened to the bird lovers, and in 1995 decided to take steps to formalize birding at the water reclamation facility. It was an educational experience.
The city looked at changing its maintenance routines, finding that ponds could be drained in non-nesting periods, and vegetation could be left in many areas. The birders for their part recognized the city's operational needs. As discussions continued, the idea of creating an actual preserve began to take shape and the enthusiasm soon spread.
In December 1996, the first official meeting took place between representatives of the city's Department of Utility Services, Red Rock Audubon Society and Montgomery Watson Engineers, a firm that had performed much of the facility's engineering. The group discussed their vision for a bird viewing preserve. They saw an opportunity to provide the public with a venue to see and learn about birds, and to create a bird habitat that provides naturally occurring food sources for resident, migrating and nesting birds. And they saw an equally appealing opportunity to educate preserve users on wastewater treatment and ecology.
On July 15, 1997, the Mayor and City Council approved the concept for a formal bird viewing preserve at the city's Wastewater Reclamation Facility, and ground was broken for the 80-acre public preserve on March 9, 1998. On that day, Mayor Jim Gibson declared:
"This occasion has special significance, to the people who have worked so hard toward creating this preserve, our schoolchildren and members of the community who will benefit from the preserve, and to the rest of the nation as well. This public/private partnership represents a model for other facilities throughout the nation. Only a handful of municipal facilities, particularly wastewater facilities, have designed their operations to positively support our environment."
On May 20, 1998, the City of Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve was officially dedicated and became "A Place to Call Home" for more than 270 species of birds – and thousands of bird lovers.