Author Archives: Ranger Crystal
With fall winding down, it’s time to begin preparations for winter here at Dead Horse Point State Park. Time to begin checking our snow removal equipment, turn the heaters on in the facilities and prepare the vehicles for colder temperatures. As humans, we have made it relatively easy to confront the coming winter weather. For all other life within the park, a decision to confront, migrate, hibernate, or expire must be made.
For plant and animals that confront winter extremes, special adaptations are a must. Pinyon pines fill their stomata (the pores used for gas exchange) with waxy plugs and flush their needles with sugars to lower the freezing point, preventing cellular damage and avoiding death. Black-capped Chickadee emerges from a cavity in a tree trunk each day to search for larvae and pupae of insects buried in trees. It will cache as much food as possible during the day and will return later to reclaim these caches as needed. This small bird relies on it’s fat reserves and the ability to lower its temperature 10-12 0 C below its normal daytime temperature to endure the long winter nights.
Without the ability to sprout legs and migrate to another location,… Read the rest
Common Raven, Corvus corax, is known to be a remarkable, intelligent bird. While working at Dead Horse Point State Park, I have witnessed this species of bird perform barrel rolls while soaring along the cliff edge. In the winter, it will cover the solar light sensor panel with its wing to simulate darkness and triggering the light to turn on. The light then provides just the right amount of heat to ease the pain of winter. When an unkindness of ravens are clearing food out of a campsite, there will be one bird on point to warn of approaching humans. After hearing the alert, the intruder will be surrounded by a sea of black feathers and squawking.
Okay, here is the quiz. Apparently ravens have also learned how to perform for tourists. What do you think this raven is mimicing? It is a sound that is common place if you live in the city.
Please note that it is very dangerous to feed wild animals our processed foods. Their bodies are not able to process these foods the same way human bodies do. The raven diet consists of carrion (dead animals) and other bits of decaying organic matter.
Do you love hiking with your best friend? Bring your furry friend to Dead Horse Point State Park and explore nine miles of scenic vistas along the dog-friendly trails.
Sweeping views of the Colorado River and the canyons below await you both. Along the way, you may see many types of desert animals (e.g. chipmunks, squirrels, lizards, snakes, rabbits, hares, fox, deer). In the spring, the trails are bordered with delicate desert wildflowers adding color to the rugged landscape.
A few things to know before your visit to the park:
- Sandstone tends to be very rough on city dog pads, so you may want to bring some pad salve or booties along to prevent cracks, abrasions or gashes.
- Check your dog’s pads often since they may not let you know they’re hurt with all of the new smells around.
- Be sure to bring plenty of water for you both, there is little shade along the trails.
- For safety reasons, dogs are not allowed on the Intrepid Bike Trail.
Protect the park’s wildlife and keep your pet safe by keeping your dog leashed (no longer than six feet) and under your control at all times. Dog supplies are available in the… Read the rest