Birding opportunities exist not far from the Las Vegas Strip.

 According to the National Audubon Society, birding is the number one sport in the country, with 51.3 million birders.  Las Vegas is not all neon and concrete, and there are opportunities for birding in the area.

1. Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve 

The City of Henderson has cleverly put the water reclamation ponds at their water treatment center to a wonderful second use – they have created a Bird Viewing Preserve around nine ponds located on 140 acres within the Water Treatment Facility .  The Preserve is located at 2400 B Moser Drive (zip code 89015), near the intersection of Sunset Road and Boulder Highway.  Look for signs in the medians.  Admission is FREE.   (And as an added bonus, the Preserve is just 5 miles from the popular Ethel M Chocolate Factory.)

The Preserve is open daily from 6AM to 3PM year round – but check the website for the latest details.  As of January 2006, the facility was gated; simply press the button to announce your arrival, and the attendant will open the gate.  You must then register inside the office.  (And please sign out before you leave, and leave a bit before closing time; the attendant can't leave until everyone has signed out!)  They also may have binoculars to borrow if you’ve not packed your own, and may be able to help you identify any unfamiliar species that you encounter. 

In 2007 the website added a handy brochure, which includes a  birding checklist and map.

2. Clark County Wetlands Park

The Wetlands Nature Preserve, at 7050 Wetlands Park Lane (zip code 89122), is located at the end of East Tropicana just north of the Silver Bowl(about 8 miles east of the Strip) .  The Preserve is open daily, dawn to dusk, and the Information Center is open 9AM to 3PM – but check the website for current information before visiting.  The Preserve includes two miles of trails, a bird viewing blind, and ponds.   Admission is FREE .

See the website for maps,  a birding checklist, a bird gallery to assist in identifying those unfamiliar species, directions, and other helpful information.

There is a very large new visitors center park officials hoped to be in last summer, but now say they are sure they would be in during 2012.
The new center is approximately 30,000 square feet with an additional 15,000 square feet of decking. The decking is designed to give an elevated platform to look down on the wetlands. The areas the decks overlook have no nearby trails, so there's a good chance to observe undisturbed wildlife.

3. Other Resources

 Red Rock Audubon Society:  The Southern Nevada Chapter of the National Audubon Society.  A local environmental and educational organization dedicated to the preservation of habitat for birds and other wildlife in Nevada and the Las Vegas area.  The website contains a great section on  places to bird  as well as upcoming events and additional information (including pdfs of recent newsletters).

So when you are ready for a bit of quiet and nature in an unexpected location, head off for some bird watching.  Visitors from other parts of the country (or the world) may easily add to their Life List, and everyone can enjoy a bit of time away from the commotion of the Strip.