Birders keep a sharp eye out at Matheson Wetlands Preserve. [Photo courtesy of Nick Eason]

On Saturday, Dec. 14, Moab-area birders will participate in the 120th Audubon Christmas Bird Count. This will mark the 35th count to be coordinated by the Moab Bird Club. Moab’s first Christmas Bird Count was held in 1984 with twelve participants.

Volunteer citizen scientists will be out in full force, ranging through diverse habitats as they tally birds for this vital endeavor. The Moab Count area includes most of the Moab Valley, portions of Castle Valley, Spanish Valley and stretches of the Colorado River. Birders are divided into teams, and each team not only notes each species seen but a designated recorder also tallies the number of each species.

Last year, 58 birders participated in the Moab count, recording 74 species. Rare birds pop up occasionally, delighting the lucky observers. The highlights were a Greater Roadrunner, a Lincoln’s Sparrow and a Clark’s Nutcracker. Participants don’t need to be experts; novices are placed with seasoned birders. Those interested should contact Marcy Hafner at 435-259-6197 or

The Christmas Bird Count is one of only two bird surveys that cover the entire U.S. and its territories, as well as southern Canada. The other is the Breeding Bird Survey which occurs in early summer.

Recently, the data from these two bird surveys has been combined to give an even greater picture of bird populations. The numbers collected from the Moab-area count will be added to this database.

The Christmas Count is the longest-running Citizen Science program in the world. The Audubon Society hopes to engage even more citizens in collecting this important information, encourage them to take action on behalf of wildlife and their habitat, as well as foster a renewed effort on behalf of conservation.

Data collected is helping to provide an understanding of the status of bird populations in Latin America, the Caribbean and U.S. territories. Data collected is also becoming more relevant as scientists determine what impacts climate change has on bird populations, and they will use it to help guide conservation actions.

To find out about Moab Bird Club meetings and activities, contact Nick or Marian Eason at 435-259-6447.