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Birding Around the Overton Wildlife Management Area
Birding Around Las Vegas, Lake Mead Area
Birding Around the Overton Wildlife Management Area
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Nevada Dept. of Wildlife
Overton Wildlife Management Area entrance sign

Description

The Overton Wildlife Management Area (WMA) is located in the historic Lake Mead delta region where the Muddy and Virgin rivers once flowed into the lake. Now the rivers supply water to the WMA, but Lake Mead waters lie far to the south. The WMA has extensive, seasonally flooded marshes, saltcedar and willow thickets, honey mesquite and screwbean mesquite thickets, a few big cottonwood trees, grassy fields, and several ponds with different water depths. Much of the time spent birding here will involve slinking quietly along pond edges or trying to get little birds, hiding in the dense shrub thickets, to show themselves.

Link to Entrance Area Map.

Overton Wildlife Management Area

The WMA is closed to birding on duck hunting days, otherwise it is always open, but not always open to vehicles (see Hours, below). It probably is worth a call to the WMA to check on flooding, hunting, and driving conditions before driving out to Overton. Once there, be careful driving on the dirt roads: if a road looks wet, get out and walk it to see if it is safe to continue driving. The soils are sandy silt, and they get surprisingly soft and sticky when wet: better to have muddy shoes than a vehicle stuck in the mud.

There is a free campground on the WMA entrance road, so birders can get a late start from Las Vegas, camp outside the gate, and hike into the WMA before dawn to do a little early-morning birding. Bring your own water. An outhouse is located just inside the gate past the hunter check station on the right.

Overton Wildlife Management Area

Location

Overton WMA is located about 1.25 hours northeast of Las Vegas. The easiest way to get there from town is to drive north on Interstate-15 to the Logandale exit (Exit 93). Turn right onto Highway 169 and drive south through the towns of Logandale and Overton where gas, food, and other supplies are available. About 1.5 miles south of the Lost City Museum (south end of Overton), turn left onto Waterfowl Road (Table 1, Site 0447) and pass under the Overton Wildlife Management Area entrance sign. Follow the dirt road south for about 0.3 miles to the parking area by the check station (Site 0665).

Overton Wildlife Management Area

If the white gate next to the check station is closed, blocking the bridge over a canal, park under the big cottonwood trees on the right. Bird the trees and the mesquite thickets around the parking area, then walk around the gate, over the canal, and into the WMA.

If the gate is open and it is the right time of year (see Hours, below), drive across the canal (be sure to stop at the check station if anyone is there). From there, several dirt roads diverge and lead into the WMA. A nice 2-mile loop can be driven or walked on the road that starts behind the check station outhouse and leads eastward to grassy fields, canals, ponds, and thickets. The road southward from the outhouse leads to thickets and a large pond.

Overton Wildlife Management Area

Hours

Birders can walk into the WMA at any time of day or night during the non-hunting season and on non-duck-hunting days; it is not a day-use area. Birders can drive into the area when WMA personnel are on duty, except not during the general hunting season. On hunt days, the WMA is closed to everyone except permitted hunters.

Access to the WMA is a bit confusing and differs, with good reason, during the hunting and non-hunting seasons:

Overton Wildlife Management Area
Swans and ducks
  • During the non-hunting season (most of the year), the WMA is open to foot traffic 24/7 (i.e., all of the time). Vehicle access is restricted to times when WMA personnel are on duty (basically Monday through Friday from about 7:00 am to 3:30 pm).
  • During the entire general hunting season (about September to early February), the WMA is closed to vehicles. Birders can walk in, but understand that hunters will be afield with shotguns.
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Canada Geese working the stubble
  • During the waterfowl hunting season, the refuge is staffed for long days. Waterfowl hunting is conducted every other day during the season, and depending on the year, hunting is on even-numbered days or odd-numbered days. On hunt days, the WMA is closed to birding. On non-hunt days, the refuge is open for birding. During 2014-2015, birding is on even-numbered days.

It probably is worth a call to the WMA to check on flooding, hunting, and driving conditions before driving out to Overton.

Fees

None.

Overton Wildlife Management Area
Evening glow on the hills

Specialties

This is the easiest place in Southern Nevada to see Wild Turkeys, and it is a great place to see waterfowl and wading birds in season.

Birding is good on the WMA. Look for waterbirds (e.g., American Coot, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Gadwall, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Redhead, Northern Shoveler, Canada Goose, Tundra Swan, and Eared Grebe, plus gulls and terns); hawks and similar species (e.g., Northern Harrier, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Turkey Vulture, Bald Eagle), Sandhill Cranes; resident and migrant passerines (e.g., Brewer's Blackbird and Red-winged Blackbird; Gray Flycatcher; Western Kingbird; Say's Phoebe and Black Phoebe; Black-tailed Gnatcatcher and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher; Lesser Goldfinch; Western Meadowlark; Western Scrub-Jay; Townsend's Solitaire; Northern Rough-winged Swallow and Tree Swallow; Brewer's Sparrow, Song Sparrow, and White-crowned Sparrow; Abert's Towhee; Yellow-rumped Warbler; and Marsh Wren).

Overton Wildlife Management Area
Wild Turkey in old field

Also look for migrant shorebirds (e.g., American Avocet, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Least Sandpiper), and wading birds (e.g., Great Egret, Snowy Egret, and Great Blue Heron). In the upland areas, such as around the hunter check station, look for Black-tailed Gnatcatcher, Phainopepla, Northern Mockingbirds, Gambel's Quail, Mourning Doves, House Finches, Rock Pigeon, and migrant sparrows.

Odd species show up too. Always keep half an eye out for Trumpeter Swan (Jan 2013), Common Crane (Jan 2013), Yuma Clapper Rail, Thick-billed Kingbird (Nov 2014), and Ruddy Ground-Dove (Nov 2014).

Keep an eye out for dragonflies too.

Birding Overton Wildlife Management Area
Wild Turkey in a new field

For More Information

Call the WMA at (702) 397-2142 or write to the Wildlife Area Supervisor; Overton Wildlife Management Area; P.O. Box 400; Overton, NV 89040.

Overton Wildlife Management Area
Entrance sign along Highway 169 (northbound from Lake Mead)
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Entrance gate along Highway 169 (view E)
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Entrance gate (view E)
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Campground sign
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Campsite
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Entrance road
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Entrance station (view S)
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Entrance station (view E)
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Information Sign in parking area (view S)
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Entrance gate (no vehicles past here during hunts)
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Walking past "no driving beyond this point" sign
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Interior road and typical sign
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Maintenance area
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Typical directional signs
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Toilets shortly inside gate
Overton Wildlife Management Area
Growing crops for duck food
Overton Wildlife Management Area Overton Wildlife Management Area
Overton Wildlife Management Area Overton Wildlife Management Area
Overton Wildlife Management Area Overton Wildlife Management Area

Table 1. GPS Coordinates for Highway Locations (NAD27; UTM Zone 11S). Download Highway GPS Waypoints (*.gpx) file.

Site # Location Latitude (°N) Longitude (°W) UTM Easting UTM Northing Elevation (feet) Verified
0447 Overton WMA entrance 36.5165 114.4241 730666 4044118 1,227 Yes
0665 Overton WMA, Hunter Check Station 36.5133 114.4213 730925 4043778 1,227 Yes
0666 Overton WMA staff housing 36.5216 114.4245 730612 4044684 1,237 Yes

Happy birding! All distances, elevations, and other facts are approximate.
© 2014 Jim Boone; Last updated 141112

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