"Some birds double their weight while they are here," Brown said, adding that a corn field is in danger of being lost because of the highway.
"We planted it for the sandhill cranes, but is a big cafe for a lot of birds," he said.
Brown worries about the inevitable impacts that will come from not only the freeway, but the noise, light, vibrations and pollution. All will have some carryover effect to the winged guests and entrenched feathered residents.
Both Brown and Montague want the transportation agency to accept their survey late this summer and use all available information to make sound decisions on reducing those impacts.
Examples could include protecting areas not in the preserve, restoring areas that need help or purchasing much-needed water for The Nature Conservancy. Water is a major component in the organization's conservation efforts, and at this preserve, five man-made ponds provide liquid respite for their guests.
During this count at a pond and adjacent area being done by LeBlanc, the Herriman resident documents two adult Canadian geese and 22 young chicks. It is unusual for this species to have that many young, so LeBlanc muses it is a communal group.
"Those two are taking care of all the young for the others," she said. "They're baby-sitting."
To witness such stories in nature is part of what propelled LeBlanc to get into birding and to volunteer for this survey, she said.
LeBlanc doesn't mind that it means standing and intense scrutiny for hours at a time, listening with a trained ear and using cameras to capture the image of a rare bird that stops in.
"I love birds," she said. "I've been doing birding for decades."
The volunteers are paired up and set loose at six randomly picked sites that are a quarter mile in radius. They commit to spend four to five hours a week through late summer to document the species that come to the preserve.
They pick the morning hours and methodically take notes.
With cows and quiet as companions, LeBlanc said she looks forward to her volunteer work with The Nature Conservancy.
"These days we are so stressed out and spread so thin, it is nice to come out and be in nature and spiritually connect," she said.
As farm fields inevitably give way to homes and other development in the coming decades, LeBlanc and her companions at The Nature Conservancy feel the preserve will be the last big chunk of open space that remains in Davis County.
And that, they say, should matter on some level.
"As a society, we have to make a decision," she said. "Do we leave some of these areas alone? Once this is paved over, it will never go away."
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