Hikers joined a previous First Day Hike at Dead Horse Point State Park. Scott Chandler, the park’s naturalist, will guide people into the new year with another hike on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018. [Courtesy photo]

Wintertime is a good time to get outside at Dead Horse Point State Park – where two events will take place, one on Saturday, Dec. 30. and the other on Monday, Jan. 1, 2018.

Organizers of the Dec. 30 Christmas Bird Count invite participants to one of the longest ongoing citizen science events in the country.

Across the nation, bird lovers get together around Christmastime to count as many species and individual birds as they can spot on one particular day. The information is then tallied and sent to the National Audubon Society.

The free Christmas Bird Count at Dead Horse Point has been taking place since 2010, although in other areas of Moab the event has gone on for much longer, Interim Park Manager Crystal White said.

“We try and cover as much of the park as possible,” White said. “We’re one of the official circles for the National Audubon Society.”

From dawn to dusk – regardless of the weather – participants will identify different species and their numbers. Group leaders will make note of the birds seen – with some people bringing their own notebooks to keep personal track of their findings.

Participants should be prepared to commit to a half day, if not all day, to complete at least one route, White said. The shortest route is four-and-a-half miles.

“It’s not a fast-paced hike,” she noted. “We’re looking for birds.”

Both experienced and new birders are welcome to attend. White tries to pair inexperienced birders with experienced bird watchers so that they can learn to identify birds and their sounds – so let her know your level of experience.

Participants should bring their own binoculars and dress in layers to be prepared for cold temperatures. Comfortable shoes – particularly waterproof boots for snow conditions – are also recommended.

During past years’ bird counts, participants have spotted pinyon jays, Woodhouse’s scrub-jays, common ravens, juniper titmouse, rock wrens and dark-eyed juncos.

“One year we saw the (rare) Northern goshawk,” White said. “We’ve also seen peregrine falcons and downy woodpeckers. It’s an exciting day. You never know what you will find. And you can’t beat the views.”

After tallying the results, White enters the data into the National Audubon website – where the organization uses the information to study bird health, migration patterns, and any other changes noted in bird populations.

To sign up for the bird count, email or call White.

First Day Hike

On Jan. 1, park naturalist Scott Chandler will guide people into the new year with a hike at Dead Horse Point State Park. Hikers will meet at the Visitor Center at 9 a.m. for this one-to-two hour hike.

Depending on snow, Chandler said he plans to take people either on the East Rim, or the Big Horn Overlook trail.

“People can ask anything about the Colorado Plateau,” he said. “I encourage people to bring binoculars. We will bird as much as possible.”

Like the Christmas Bird Count, Chandler recommends people be prepared for cold weather conditions. Plus, participants should bring a couple of liters of drinking water.

“I recommend people come out even if it’s cold and snowy,” Chandler said. “We’ll celebrate the coming of the new year with a bunch of good company. It’ll be a fun time.”

What: 118th annual national Christmas Bird Count

Where: Dead Horse Point State Park, state Route 313

When: Saturday, Dec. 30, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Cost: Free to participants

Information: crystalwhite@utah.gov, or 435-259-2614

What: First Day Hike

Where: Dead Horse Point State Park, state Route 313

When: Monday, Jan. 1, 2018, 9 a.m.

Cost: Entrance fees apply; $15 per car, or $10 for seniors 62 and older.

Information: crystalwhite@utah.gov, or 435-259-2614

Park to host Christmas Bird Count, First Day Hike

To reach the park, drive about 9 miles north of downtown Moab on U.S. Highway 191. Turn left at the intersection with state Route 313, and continue southwest on 313 for about 23 miles to the end of the road. Park admission is $15 per vehicle with up to eight passengers, or $10 for Utah seniors 62 and older. Day-use fees are valid for three days.