The Moab count circle includes most of the Moab Valley, portions of Castle Valley, Spanish Valley and stretches of the Colorado River, Moab Bird Club member Marian Eason said in a news release.
Dead Horse Point will also hold a Christmas Bird Count on Dec. 21.
Participating “citizen scientists” are divided into teams, and those teams document each individual species observed. A designated recorder for each team also tallies the total number of each species seen. A wide number of species spend their winter in the Moab area. Raptors, such as golden and bald eagles, peregrine falcons, merlins and hawks are often recorded. Songbirds are also plentiful, with large flocks of robins, red-winged blackbirds and starlings often observed.
The Christmas Bird Count is one of only two bird surveys that cover the entire U.S. and southern Canada. The other – the Breeding Bird Survey – occurs in early summer. The CBC has grown to include participants from above the Arctic Circle to the waters of Drake Passage, off Tierra del Fuego. The data collected is helping to provide an understanding of the status of bird populations in Latin America, the Caribbean and U.S. territories, according to information from the Audubon Society.
The CBC, launched in 1899, is the longest running citizen science program in the world.
The annual bird count can help researchers identify species that appear to be at risk, help to initiate conservation strategies, influence public comment and locate birds on the move due to climate change. The data collected is reviewed by an independent panel of professional scientists and is then added to a large database that enables citizens and scientists to have a better understanding of early winter bird populations and changes that might occur. Researchers are now able to extract long-term trends from the event’s database.
Last year, 12 teams counted 69 species in the Moab area. Rare birds pop up occasionally, delighting the lucky observers but not all birds are a welcome sight, according to the bird club’s news release. Locally, the Eurasian collared dove, a non-native species, has been noted as having one of the fastest growing populations among Moab-area resident birds. Originally from Asia, the dove rapidly expanded its territory and has since spread across the U.S., first showing up in the Moab Valley about 14 years ago.
“Since that time, the population has exploded from a few to the 280 recorded in the 2012 CBC. There is some concern that it will supplant the native mourning dove populations, but that has yet to be determined,” according to the news release.
CBC participants don’t need to be experts. Novices are placed with seasoned birders and all are welcome.
To participate, contact Marcy Hafner at 435-259-6197 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
A post-count potluck brunch will be held for participants at The Nature Conservancy office on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 10 a.m., where notes will be compared, and a preliminary review of count numbers will be presented.
For more information about Moab Bird Club meetings and activities, contact Nick or Marian Eason at 435-259-6447.