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State of Colorado

Lark Bunting
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys ©Nick Varvel - Creative Commons

Birding Colorado

Many first-time visitors to Colorado anticipate seeing a state consisting mostly of mountains. This impression is understandable; it is the eighth largest state, at 104,247 square miles, with 54 mountain peaks over 14,000 feet and over 1,000 exceeding 10,000 feet. However, one of its most striking features is its vast complex of plains and prairies. In fact, the eastern plains of Colorado comprise 42% of the state's area. Because of its wide variety of habitats, and its unique location in the center of the continent with respect to migration routes, Colorado is a premier birding destination.

Those intending to bird throughout the state should plan on doing a lot of driving; it is about 276 miles from Wyoming to the north to New Mexico to the south, and 387 miles from Kansas and Nebraska to the east to Utah to the west. In recent years, Colorado's birds and other wildlife have come under increasing pressure as the population has increased by more than 50% in the past thirty years to over 5 million.

Colorado is best visualized as consisting of three distinct geographic subdivisions. Within these three general areas there are literally hundreds of good birding localities. Consequently, it is highly recommended that birders unfamiliar with Colorado utilize A Birder's Guide to Colorado, [see below] to clarify the details of particular localities.

The Eastern Prairies - The eastern part of the state is made up of c.43,000 square miles of rolling prairies. Most of this area was once short-grass prairie habitat, but agricultural use now dominates the landscape. This part of the state features two major drainage systems. The South Platte River emerges from the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains at Waterton Canyon, south of Denver, and flows northeast to Nebraska. The Arkansas River leaves the mountains at the Royal Gorge, at Canon City, and flows east into Kansas. Along the courses of both rivers are many large lakes and reservoirs; some of the best birding destinations in this part of the state.

The capitol city of Denver is situated on the western edge of the plains, adjacent to the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains. There is plenty of good birding in the Denver area, including Chatfield Reservoir, Cherry Creek Reservoir and Castlewood Canyon State Parks. Exiting Denver to the northeast, Interstate 76 follows the South Platte River across the plains. North of the South Platte River lies the vast (193,000 acres) expanse of the Pawnee National Grasslands, a popular destination for viewing prairie bird species such as Mountain Plover and Chestnut-sided and McCown's Longspurs. Crow Valley Campground on the Pawnee Grasslands is one of many migrant traps found on the plains where lakes and moist drainages enable stands of trees to survive on the otherwise treeless prairie.

Other prime birding locations along the I-76 corridor include Barr Lake and Jackson Lake (known for its extensive mudflats and large shorebird populations in the fall) State Parks, Canfield Park in Fort Morgan, and Brush, Prewitt Reservoir, Tamarack Ranch, Red Lion and Jumbo Reservoir State Wildlife Areas.

To the south and east, along the Kansas state line, are the town of Wray, known for its Greater Prairie-chicken leks, and Bonny Reservoir State Park, another excellent migrant trap. There is equally good birding along the Lower Arkansas Valley between Pueblo and Lamar. Popular birding spots include Lakes Henry, Meredith, Cheraw and Holbrook, Rocky Ford State Wildlife Area, and the Comanche National Grasslands, south of La Junta. Found adjacent to these grasslands are the Picket Wire Canyon-lands and the Purgotoire River. In addition to the specialty birds of the area, such as Curve-billed Thrasher, Cassin's Kingbird, Black-throated and Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Golden Eagle and Canyon Wren, here one can see the most extensive exposed set of dinosaur tracks in North America.

Near the New Mexico/Oklahoma border is Cottonwood Canyon, where such south-western species as Greater Roadrunner, Painted Bunting and Ladder-backed Woodpecker may be found. East of Cottonwood is Campo, one of the few dependable Colorado locations for Lesser Prairie-chicken. Further downstream along the Arkansas River are additional excellent birding localities: John Martin Reservoir, the Fort Lyon Wildlife Easement, the Indian reservoirs of Nee So Pah, Nee Noshe, Nee Gronde and Nee Skah, and the Lamar Community College woodlands.

The West-central Mountains - The west-central part of Colorado is its most mountainous area. The Continental Divide passes along the crests of several of the many mountain ranges that make up this part of the state, and divides the state into the eastern slope and western slope.

On the eastern slope is Rocky Mountain National Park, famous for its variety of mountain species including Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Three-toed Woodpecker and White-tailed Ptarmigan. Guanella Pass, near the old silver mining town of Georgetown, is another well-known locality for the ptarmigan. Enclosed within the numerous mountain ranges that make up the backbone of the Rocky Mountains are four high valleys, or parks. The northernmost of these, North Park, includes Arapahoe National Wildlife Refuge, and much of the best habitat for several of Colorado's much-sought-after grouse species, including Sage and Dusky Grouse. To the south are Middle Park, South Park, and the San Luis Valley. Hard against the east side of this valley, at the foot of the majestic Sangre de Cristo Mountains is found the spectacular Great Sand Dunes National Park. Just east of the Dunes are the Alamosa and Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuges, where the Gray's Lake Sandhill Cranes congregate to rest and feed on their northward migration every March. Farther west in this mountainous central region is the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, a good area to see Dusky and Gunnison Sage-grouse.

Western Plateaus, Mesas and Canyons - The western third of Colorado is made up of plateaus, mesas and canyons. Geologically, it lies partially on the Colorado Plateau, and closely resembles the canyon country of Utah. The incursion of arid habitat and desert topography into the west and northwest parts of the state results in the presence of many desert bird species not found at corresponding latitudes in the eastern part of the state. In the northwest corner of Colorado is the fantastic canyon complex of Dinosaur National Monument, along the Yampa River, a great place to see Ferruginous Hawk, Golden Eagle, Prairie and Peregrine Falcons, and other raptors. A few miles to the east, near Craig and Hayden, are leks where Sharp-tailed and Sage Grouse may be seen. In west-central Colorado, the Colorado River joins the Gunnison River at Grand Junction, and forms the mighty river system, which carved the Grand Canyon of Arizona and eventually finds its way to the Gulf of Mexico. Southwest of Grand Junction is Colorado National Monument, a maze of chasms home to desert specialties such as Gambel's Quail, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Scott's Oriole, Gray Vireo, Gray Flycatcher and Pinyon Jay. Nearby is Grand Mesa, known for its variety of owls.

Moving to the southwest corner of the state, adjacent to the magnificent and historic San Juan Mountains, we find Mesa Verde National Park. In this park and other nearby areas are found Black-throated Gray and Grace's Warblers, and Black Swift.

Birding in Colorado - Birding in Colorado is excellent year-round. The variety of terrains and habitats is virtually unlimited, from the arid canyons of the west to the lush wetlands of the mountain parks, and from the short-grass prairies of the east to the rocky tors high above the timberline. The birds are as varied as the landscapes, and almost anything is possible. Come prepared for the extremes of weather at all seasons, and you will have a truly memorable experience!

Top Sites

Arapahoe NWR

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Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), situated at an elevation of 8,200 feet, is located in an intermountain glacial basin in north-central Colorado. The Refuge offers several ways to enjoy the area, including activities such as fishing, hunting, wildlife observation, and photography…

Chatfield State Park

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Three hundred and five bird species frequent Chatfield either as permanent residents or migrators: the Chatfield Bird List is available for birdwatchers. From south of the Denver metro area Santa Fe (Highway 85) to Titan Parkway (approximately 14.6 miles north of Castle Rock). West on Titan to Roxborough Park Road. Take a right on Roxborough Park Road which leads directly into Chatfield State Park…

Cherry Creek State Park

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Mention Arapahoe County to almost any birder in Colorado, and this is the site that comes to mind. It has a well-deserved place among the triumvirate of metro area reservoirs (along with Barr Lake and Chatfield). Cherry Creek's main strength seems to be gulls. Just about every species reported in the state has been seen here, many of them more than once. Large flocks of waterbirds often grace the lake, and uncommon and rare species such as Long-tailed Duck, all three scoters, Red-throated Loon and Red-necked Grebe occur with some frequency. Super rarities that Cherry Creek has to its name include Arctic Loon, Iceland, Little, Glaucous-winged, and Great Black-backed Gulls, and Golden-crowned Sparrow…

Colorado National Monument

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Close to the western boundary of the state. For millions of years, erosion has cut into the edge of the Uncompahgre Plateau, creating corridor-like canyons. These canyons are lined by sheer cliffs and towering monoliths and separated by pinyon-juniper mesas. This rugged terrain, along with the arid, semi-desert climate, provides a highly varied habitat for birdlife found in the Monument…

John Martin Reservoir & Lake Hasty

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A prime birdwatching location (Bent County, southeast Colorado has been documented to have over 400 different species of birds…

Jumbo and Red Lion Reservoirs

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(far northeast)

Pawnee National Grasslands & Crow Valley Campground

Information

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Pawnee National Grassland is located in northeastern Colorado, near the town of Briggsdale in northeast Colorado. This is one of the main breeding grounds in the world for Mountain Plovers. The Chalk Bluffs area is habitat for many raptor species…

Prewitt Reservoir State Wildlife Area (northeast)

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In the northeast corner of the state - this is one of the very few State Wildlife Areas that charge an entrance fee. The SWA is comprised of two basic habitats: the extensive riparian habitat below the dam, and the reservoir with its associated mudflats.

Rocky Mountain National Park (north central)

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Plan your visit and come experience this priceless jewel, Rocky Mountain National Park in northern, central Colorado. Catch the glint of Rocky's many facets: the brief morning alpenglow on a peak, a glimpse of a wary wild creature in the brush, the sun sparkling in a stream, the glory of a mountain sunset, the solitude of a trail less traveled, the splendor of the starscape free of man-made light, the exhilaration of looking over the clouds, the uplift of birdsong from the branches, the haunting night music of howling coyotes and bugling elk…

San Luis Valley & Great Sand Dunes National Park

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On the eastern side of the remote, high-mountain San Luis Valley, between the Blanca Massif and Crestone Needle, are the Great Sand Dunes, the tallest sand dunes in North America. The dunes cover approximately 39 square miles and rise to almost 750' above the valley floor…

Tamarack Ranch State Wildlife Area (northeast)

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This enormous and varied SWA is probably among the top ten SWAs in Colorado, and certainly not a spot to be missed during the summertime. Tamarack can be frustrating to bird thoroughly, especially the eastern portion where there are multiple large hedgerows that take a lot of time to check, and any of which could be hopping or dead. Northern Cardinal has been seen here, and White-throated and Harris's Sparrows are possible during the winter. Ring-necked Pheasant, Bell's Vireo, Yellow-breasted Chat, Blue Grosbeak, Field Sparrow (especially in the surrounding grassland) and Baltimore Oriole are possible during the breeding season…

Contributor

Norm Lewis

Bird Guide - Denver Museum of Nature & Science

Lakewood, CO

Migrant44@aol.com

Number of Species

Number of bird species: 501

(As at October 2018)

State Bird - Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys

Useful Reading

ABA Field Guide to the Birds of Colorado

Ted Floyd & Brian E Small | Scott & Nix, Inc | 2014 | Paperback | 281 pages, colour photos |

ISBN: 9781935622437

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birding Colorado

By Hugh Kingery | Pequot Press | 2007 | Paperback | 320 pages, B/w photos & maps |

ISBN: 9780762739608

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Birds of Colorado

By Todd Telander | Falcon Guides | 2012 | Paperback | 94 pages, colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9780762774180

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Colorado Birds: A Folding Pocket Guide to Familiar Species

By James R Kavanagh & Raymond Leung | Waterford Press | 2014 | Unbound | colour illustrations |

ISBN: 9781583550687

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas

Edited By: Hugh E Kingery | Colorado Wildlife Heritage Foundation | 1999 | Paperback | 648 pages, 16 pp col photos, b/w illus, charts, figs, tabs, 255 dist maps |

ISBN: #100604

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Compact Guide to Colorado Birds

By Michael Roedel & Gregory Kennedy | Lone Pine Publishing | 2007 | Paperback |

ISBN: 9789768200228

Buy this book from NHBS.com

National Geographic Field Guide to Birds: Colorado

Edited by Jonathan Alderfer | National Geographic Society | 2006 | Paperback | 272 pages, maps, photos, drawings |

ISBN: 0792255615

Buy this book from NHBS.com

The Guide to Colorado Birds

By Mary Taylor Young | Westcliffe Publishers | 1998 | Paperback | 256 pages, colour photos |

ISBN: 1565792831

Buy this book from NHBS.com

Organisations

Aiken Audubon Society

Website

Aiken Audubon Society, named for naturalist Charles Aiken (1850-1936), began in April 1950 as the Aiken Ornithological Society. This Society mainly studied birds and their habitats, wrote papers which are now housed in the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, and had a series of Wildlife Film-Lectures as a community activity. Aiken Ornithological Society became a chapter of the National Audubon Society in May 1971.

Arkansas Valley Audubon Society

Website

Due to its unusually large geographic expanse which encompasses several altitudinal life zones and a great variety of habitats, the AVAS chapter area offers outstanding birding opportunities. An example would be the grouse species which range from the high altitued White-tailed Ptarmigan to the Lesser Prairie Chicken of the southeastern plains. Our checklist for the Pueblo area alone contains over 400 species, over a fourth of which may be seen at any time during the year.

Audubon Rockies

Website

The regional office of the National Audubon Society for Wyoming and Colorado.

Audubon Society in Colorado

Webpage

Offices & Chapters; Centers & Sanctuaries etc.

Audubon Society of Greater Denver

Website

We advocate for the environment, connecting people with nature through education, conservation, and research. For over 49 years, the Audubon Society of Greater Denver (ASGD) has educated and provided high quality programs for over 100,000 children and adults, accomplished major conservation efforts to protect birds, other wildlife, and habitats, and funded 48 research projects for non-game wildlife.

Birds-of-Prey Foundation

Website

The Birds of Prey Foundation’s humble beginnings took place in 1979, when Sigrid Ueblacker, the founder of the Birds of Prey Foundation, was brought an orphaned starling by her daughter, Elke. After raising it, Elke presented her mother with two newly hatched Poorwills that Sigrid raised to adulthood and released at their place of recovery. Later that summer, neighbor children arrived with three nestling Barn Swallows, which were also raised and released. In 1981, Sigrid began to take classes and continued to receive injured and orphaned birds. She was one of the first individuals in the Denver region to be granted a rehabilitation permit by the Colorado Division of Wildlife. On Halloween day of 1981, the first owl arrived.

Black Canyon Audubon Society

Website

Black Canyon Audubon Society was formed in 1990 and is one of 11 National Audubon Society chapters in Colorado. The BCAS is committed to the conservation of natural resources through our birding, conservation, and educational activities. The region covered by the Black Canyon Audubon society encompasses nearly 8,300 square miles and includes Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, San Miguel and Ouray counties. Within this region, elevations vary from 4,695 to 14,309 feet above sea level. Rainfall ranges from less than 8 inches per year in the lower valleys to more than 50 on the higher peaks. Vegetation varies from desert scrub to boreal forest and alpine tundra.

Boulder County Audubon Society

Website

The Boulder County Audubon Society is a voice for birds and wildlife conservation through habitat protection, advocacy, and nature education. Through a wide variety of activities, Boulder County Audubon Society provides a platform for local action, education to generations young and old, and camaraderie for members interested in birds and wildlife conservation and observation. The Boulder County Audubon Society is an all-volunteer, nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation.

Colorado Bird Records Committee

Website

Birding anecdotes are great fun, but like any oral history, they disappear over time. By providing details of rare bird sightings in an archival documentation, birders contribute to a collective body of knowledge that spans generations. The intent of the Colorado Bird Records Committee's peer review process is NOT to validate an individual's sighting or personal list, rather it is to establish a standard for which rare bird reports can be used as scientific-quality data.

Colorado Field Ornithologists

Website

Colorado Field Ornithologists exists to: promote the field study, conservation and enjoyment of Colorado birds; review sightings of rare birds through the Colorado Bird Records Committee; maintain the authoritative list of Colorado birds; publish the Journal of the Colorado Field Ornithologists; conduct field trips and workshops, and hold annual conventions.

Denver Field Ornithologists

Website

Bringing Birders Together in the Denver Metro Area through outstanding field trips and programs - Mission - to promote interest in the study and preservation of birds and their habitats. Members are encouraged (through meeting presentations and field trips) to learn about birds in the field, noting species and numbers, while familiarizing themselves with their songs and calls, as well as habits and habitats.

Evergreen Naturalists Audubon Society

Website

Evergreen Audubon is the local chapter of the National Audubon Society with the mission to conserve wildlife and natural ecosystems, provide citizen science experiences, and inspire and educate our community to benefit people and diversity.

Foothills Audubon

Website

The purpose of the Foothills Audubon Club shall be to extend hospitality to wild birds, to acquire greater knowledge of the bird life in this area and throughout the world, to create a greater public sentiment in favor of bird study, and to increase bird habitat and reasonable bird protection. Foothills Audubon club meets on the first Monday (or second Monday in September) of each month (Sept.-May) at the Berthoud Community Center, 248 Welch Avenue, Berthoud, Colorado for a program featuring either a guest speaker or film on subjects relating to bird behavior, conservation, habitats and, of course, bird watching.

Fort Collins Audubon Society

Website

The Fort Collins Audubon Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to nature appreciation, environmental education, and conservation activities. Our mission is to promote the appreciation, conservation, and restoration of ecosystems, focusing on birds and other wildlife, through education, participation, stewardship, and advocacy.

Grand Valley Audubon Society

Website

Whether you're an experienced birder, or just want to learn more about the amazing wildlife and important habitats in the Grand Valley and Mesa County, we're glad you stopped by! Grand Valley Audubon strives to provide information, education, and activities to help everyone get outside and connect with the spectacular natural area we call home.

Nature Conservancy in Colorado

Webpage

Colorado’s challenges require far-sighted solutions that combine science and creativity. By working together, we can chart Colorado’s future and inspire people to take action.

Platte & Prairie Audubon Society

30 South Freemont Ave. Johnstown, CO 80534, 970-587-2844 - Kathy Sharpe, President

Roaring Fork Audubon Society

Website

Our mission is to promote the enjoyment, conservation and understanding of birds, other wildlife, and their habitats, through birding, education, advocacy and fellowship. Roaring Fork Audubon encourages all birders to read and follow the ABA's Birding Code of Ethics.

Weminuche Audubon Society

Website

The Weminuche Audubon Society (WAS) was formed in 2007 as a non-profit organization. It is affiliated with the National Audubon Society and headquartered in Pagosa Springs, Colorado. WAS promotes conservation of bird and wildlife habitat. Educational presentations, field trips and activities are scheduled throughout the year in southwest Colorado. All events are open to the public. Also see our Facebook page.

Reserves

Abbreviations Key

IBA Comanche National Grassland

Webpage

Satellite View

This site contains more than 25% of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken population in Colorado, and possibly greater than 5% of the total population of Lesser Prairie-Chickens. This species is considered Threatened in Colorado. The site also provides important breeding habitat for grassland bird species.

IBA Gunnison Basin

Webpage

Satellite View

The site provides breeding, nesting, brood, and winter habitat for approximately 2,500 Gunnison Sage-Grouse, out of a total worldwide population of 4,000. It is the site of the only known secure population of the species. The American Ornithological Union recognized the Gunnison Sage-Grouse as a new species in their 2000 checklist.

IBA Pawnee National Grasslands

Information

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The Pawnee National Grassland lies 35 miles east of Fort Collins and 25 miles northeast of Greeley in Weld County. Contained within the 30-by-60 mile area are 193,060 acres managed by the Pawnee National Grassland. The rest of the land is a checkerboard of private land, State of Colorado ownership and the Central Plains Experimental Range.

NP Colorado National Monument

Webpage

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Colorado National Monument preserves one of the grand landscapes of the American West. But this treasure is much more than a monument. Towering monoliths exist within a vast plateau and canyon panorama. You can experience sheer-walled, red rock canyons along the twists and turns of Rim Rock Drive, where you may spy bighorn sheep and soaring eagles.

NP Great Sand Dunes

Information

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The park contains the tallest sand dunes in North America. The dunes cover an area of about 30 sq mi (78 km2) and are estimated to contain over 5 billion cubic meters of sand.ver 200 species of birds are found throughout the park. From higher to lower elevations and dependent on season, some of the bird species include the brown-capped rosy finch, white-tailed ptarmigan, red-breasted nuthatch, peregrine falcon, mountain bluebird, northern pygmy owl, dusky grouse, hummingbird (four species), western tanager, burrowing owl, bald eagle, golden eagle, sandhill crane, American avocet, and great blue heron.

NP Rocky Mountain

Website

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With majestic mountains, tundra wildflowers, abundant wildlife, Trail Ridge Road (the highest paved road in the US), and over 350 miles of trails, Rocky Mountain National Park is spectacular! From flat easy hikes around a mountain lake to challenging multiday backpack trips and climbs, Rocky Mountain National Park offers trails for hikers of every level. Find the best ways to take in the majesty and serenity of the park.

NWR Alamosa

Webpage

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The Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge is located four miles past Alamosa on Hwy. 160, then two miles south on El Rancho Lane, approximately 50 miles from the town of South Fork. When visiting the refuge remember to bring your binoculars, since it encompasses 11,168 acres bordered by the Rio Grande. The refuge provides a habitat for a diverse group of species. Careful watchers will spot high flying hawks, eagles, geese, ducks and the occasional whooping crane…

NWR Arapaho

Webpage

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Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge supports diverse wildlife habitats, including sagebrush steppe uplands, grassland meadows, willow riparian areas, and wetlands. This 23,464-acre Refuge was established in 1967 primarily to provide suitable nesting and rearing habitat for migratory birds.

NWR Baca

Information

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The Baca National Wildlife Refuge is a 78,697-acre (31,848 ha) United States National Wildlife Refuge located in southern Colorado. It is within the Sangre de Cristo National Heritage Area. Many bird species such as the kestrel, great horned owl, northern flicker, robin, yellow warbler, and Bullock's oriole roam in the riparian areas of this refuge. Waterfowl that inhabit here include mallard, pintail, teal, Canada goose, avocet, killdeer, white-faced ibis, egret, and heron.

NWR Browns Park

Information

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The primary purpose of the refuge is to provide high quality nesting and migration habitat for the Great Basin Canada goose, ducks and other migratory birds. Before the construction of Flaming Gorge Dam in 1962, the Green River flooded annually, creating excellent waterfowl nesting, feeding and resting marshes in the backwater sloughs and old stream meanders. The dam stopped the flooding, eliminating much of this waterfowl habitat.

NWR Monte Vista

Webpage

Satellite View

Some once believed that migrating cranes carried the souls of the dead on their backs to faraway heavens. One thing is for sure - to prepare for such a journey, one would need plenty of food and rest along the way. The Rocky Mountain sandhill cranes probably think they've found a bit of those heavens when they settle onto the 14,189 acre wetlands of Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge, in south-central Colorado. As they fly in from the southern refuge of Bosque del Apache, New Mexico in the spring, or the northern Grays Lake NWR, Idaho in the fall, they see a valley 50 miles wide and 100 miles long cupped between two snow-capped mountain ranges: the San Juan range to the west, and the Sangre de Cristo mountains to the east.

NWR Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Webpage

Satellite View

Located just northeast of Denver, the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a 15,000-acre expanse of prairie, wetland and woodland habitat. The land has a unique story - it has survived the test of time and transitioned from farmland, to war-time manufacturing site, to wildlife sanctuary. It may be one of the finest conservation success stories in history and a place where wildlife thrives. It is a sanctuary for more than 330 species of animals, including bison, black-footed ferrets, deer, coyotes, bald eagles and burrowing owls.

NWR Two Ponds

Information

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Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge is the smallest urban unit of the National Wildlife Refuge System. The refuge is located in the City of Arvada, Jefferson County, Colorado, United States. The refuge consists of 72.2 acres (29.2 ha) of land, including 63.2 acres (25.6 ha) of uplands, 9.0 acres (3.6 ha) of wetlands, and three small ponds.

SP Chatfield

Webpage

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Two hundred twelve bird species frequent Chatfield, either as permanent residents or migrators: the Chatfield Bird List is available for birdwatchers and can also be picked up at the park headquarters. The Bald Eagle, White Pelican and elusive Burrowing Owl may be observed either as migrants, winter, or summer residents.

SP Cherry Creek

Webpage

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A scenic oasis in the Denver area offering a wide variety of water and land activities for outdoor enthusiasts. The 4,000-acre park and modern campground are open year-round. View birds and wildlife, recreate or relax with the majestic Rocky Mountains as a backdrop.

SP John Martin Reservoir

Webpage

Satellite View

The park offers fishing, wildlife viewing, hiking, bike riding and boating. Features 109 electrical campsites and 104 non-electric sites, which can accommodate RVs, trailers and tents. Wildlife properties also surround the reservoir.

SWA Prewitt Reservoir

Webpage

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Prewitt Reservoir is nestled in a vibrant ecosystem in Northeast Colorado. The lake is around 2,400 acres when full and offers year round recreation. The parks sits on about 3,047 acres, a mix of grasslands, wetlands and lake. Amenities include a boat ramp, picnic areas, primitive restrooms, and hiking trails.

SWA San Luis

Information

Satellite View

A variety of wildlife makes its home in the area, including coyotes, kangaroo rats, rabbits, elk, various kinds of songbirds, raptors, reptiles and amphibians.

SWA Tamarack Ranch

Webpage

Satellite View

While you won’t see many tamarack trees here, this large SWA is the best spot in northeastern Colorado to search for the full suite of northeastern specialties. Search particularly in the denser riparian habitat to the north of the road and south of the river for Northern Cardinal; Baltimore Oriole (as well as hybrids of all sorts); Eastern, Spotted, and everything-in-between Towhees; Red-bellied Woodpecker; and Bell’s Vireo. The more open country to the east of CO 63 could have Field Sparrow, Red-headed Woodpecker, and Upland Sandpiper. In the winter months, flocks of sparrows might include Harris’s Sparrow, and Rough-legged Hawks are sometimes found hanging out in the area. Hunting occurs on this property, so be sure to check for seasonal restrictions before heading out.

WS Lucy Ferril Ela Wildlife Sanctuary

Information

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The Lucy Ferril Ela Wildlife Sanctuary is a small parcel of nature situated along the Colorado River, just east of the Connected Lakes Area of the Colorado River State Park. This small wildlife sanctuary is beautiful and peaceful, especially in the late afternoon/early evening.

Forums & Mailing Lists

COBirds

Forum

Blan

Discussion forum of birds in Colorado

Guides & Tour Operators

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

Aerie Adventures

Facebook Page

We are a small family-owned birding tour outfit based out of Lakewood, Colorado Aerie does not presume to compete with the many large and better-known tour companies. Instead, our mission is to occupy a small but important niche, where serious birding meets serious fun…

Birding Ecotours

Tour Operator

Birding Ecotours, a leader in small group and custom-made birding adventures worldwide, offers an amazing tour to the Rocky Mountains in Colorado for lekking grouse, including Sage, Sharp-tailed, and Dusky Grouse!

Colorado Birding Adventures

Tour Operator

We offer custom individual and small-group birding tours in Colorado with a focus on the Northern Front Range and other key birding hot spots around the state.

Trip Reports

Click on WAND for tours, guides, lodges and more…

CloudBirders

Trip Report Repository

CloudBirders was created by a group of Belgian world birding enthusiasts and went live on 21st of March 2013. They provide a large and growing database of birding trip reports, complemented with extensive search, voting and statistical features.

2011 [04 April] - Chuck Bell

Report

One of our all-time favorite places to bird in Colorado is out in Weld County, including in the Pawnee National Grasslands. It is at its very best the first couple of weeks of May, when all of the short-grass prairie breeders are present and active, and the woods at Crow Valley Campground – which acts like an island of trees in a sea of grass – is a wonderful migrant trap. This year, we pushed the season a bit and went out there on April 17…

2011 [05 May] - Andrew Spencer

PDF Report

Colorado is a land of contrasts. Wind-swept, wide-open prairies cover the eastern third of the state; the spine of the Rocky Mountains runs down the center, and deep, weathered red-rock canyons permeate the western part. The weather can go from unbearably hot and sunny one day to snowy and windy the next. Birds from the east meet birds from the west in an ornithological melting pot unmatched on most of the continent…

2012 [04 April] - Vaughan & Svetlana Ashby

PDF Report

…En route, we saw our first of many American Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds and Common Grackles, a few Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels, a couple of Swainson’s Hawks and a single Lark Bunting. We made a brief roadside stop at a lake where we added more common species including Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Canada Goose, Mallard and Ring-necked Duck…

2013 [04 April] - Dan Lane & Pepe Rojas

Report

After several years living in the United States and having traveled extensively up and down both coasts, I had always been curious about Colorado. Friends and acquaintances were always saying great things, and I was very interested in birding the area myself to see what all the hype was about. And really, who can resist the possibility of seeing seven out of twelve grouse species that occur in North America…

2013 [04 April] - Mike Watson - Colorado & Kansas

PDF Report

Our 2013 ‘Ultimate Grousequest’ to the Rocky Mountains and High Plains of Colorado (and neighbouring Kansas) was another success with our fifth clean sweep in a row of the ‘magnificent seven’: the pure white White-tailed Ptarmigan (we did it again!); the extrovert Greater and Lesser Prairie Chickens; the super-bold Dusky Grouse; foot-stomping Sharp-tailed Grouse and the two big boomers – Gunnison’s and Sage Grouse. This was some achievement (but also a little lucky) in the worst spring weather we have experienced on this tour so far and at the same time we also reached a new Birdquest highest bird species total of 180 (ABA), or, depending on taxonomy, as many as 190 bird taxa…

2013 [06 June] - Petri Hottola

PDF Report

…A circle trip to a number of birding sites in Utah, Colorado and Kansas followed, before a return in Denver on the 28th. The idea was to look for eight target species/subspecies: White-tailed Ptarmigan, Greater Sage Grouse, Gunnison’s Sage Grouse, Dusky Grouse, Lesser Prairie-Chicken, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Black Rosy-Finch and Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. For Greater Prairie-Chicken there was not enough time, June not being the easiest season for neither this species nor for some of the listed ones. I did, however, eventually score with all the eight, some more easily than some others…

2015 [04 April] - Chris Benesh & Tom Johnson - Colorado Grouse I

Report

...We were out early the next morning to settle in to the state-run Gunnison Sage-Grouse blind at Wuanita Hot Springs; though the grouse were fairly far away from the blind, we had good scope views, and also enjoyed warming up with the rising sun here. Later in the morning, we found Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, and four different American Three-toed Woodpeckers at Monarch Pass. In the afternoon, we took a leisurely expedition up to Crested Butte, finding American Dippers en route.

2015 [04 April] - Eric Hynes & Jesse Fagan - Colorado Grouse II

Report

...Our first lek experience was with the scarce and declining Lesser Prairie-Chicken at dawn on Day Three. We had a particularly cozy viewing situation thanks to a double-booking snafu made by the local operator, but it worked out fine in the end. Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists were on hand trying to trap chickens, but it didn't seem to disturb the birds in any way. Our journey north to Wray was marked by countless Horned Larks and Western Meadowlarks, an odd concentration of Swainson's Hawks standing in a field, and an intentional detour through Simmons State Wildlife Area where we scoped a nesting Great Horned Owl.

2015 [04 April] - Eva Andreu & Raphaël Lebrun - Colorado & California

PDF Report

Diary & site reports etc

2016 [04 April] - Andrew Spencer

PDF Report

2016 [04 April] - Chris Benesh & Tom Johnson

Report

April marks one of the most interesting birding months of the year in Colorado, and we were there to see a LOT of it. On this giant figure eight of the state (plus the two unexpected, bonus states of Kansas and Nebraska), we became acquainted with five species of lekking grouse and found plenty of the region's specialty resident and migrant species along the way.

2016 [04 April] - Dick Filby

PDF Report

A very successful trip despite a driving snowstorm, that, on the first day, dumped up to four feet of wet heavy snow in the Denver area. All the leks bar one provided good, even excellent displays, plus Dusky Grouse and White-tailed Ptarmigan gave excellent views too.

2016 [04 April] - Eric Hynes & Pepe Rojas

Report

Thanks so much for choosing Field Guides for your Colorado Grouse adventure. Pepe and I had a blast showing you so much of the state and a little bit of Kansas too. We pulled off the clean sweep of targeted grouse, vanquished a number of your nemesis birds, and encountered over two dozen mammal species along the way.

2017 [04 April] - Chris Benesh

Report

April weather in Colorado is always a bit of a gamble every year, and we drew a couple of less-than-stellar hands on this trip with occasional rain, fog, snow, and icy roads interspersed with long bouts of excellent weather and road conditions across this gorgeous state. Regardless of the weather, what a wonderful trip we had together after all 2400 miles were driven!

2017 [04 April] - Dick Filby

PDF Report

I am very pleased to report yet another very successful tour, with all the major target species (and many more) seen very well. The grouse-leks were spectacular as always, and wherever possible we were, again on private land and the only people present!

2017 [04 April] - Kern Behrens

PDF Report

Some of the most difficult-to-find birds in North America are grouse and quail (“chickens”). Even birders who have made extensive travels across the continent often find most of these birds still missing from their lists. That is the reason for the existence of this very popular tour. Colorado offers an unmatched diversity of chickens, and early spring, when they are displaying and become much easier to find, is the time to pursue them. Although chickens dictate the overall flow of this tour, it also offers much more: beautiful Rocky Mountain and High Plains scenery, and a diverse set of other sought-after birds.

2017 [04 April] - Max Berlijn

PDF Report

Annotated list

2017 [04 April] - Mike Watson

PDF Report

Our 2017 ‘Ultimate Grousequest’ to the Rocky Mountains and High Plains of Colorado (plus a detour into each of neighbouring Kansas, Oklahoma and Utah) marked our seventh clean sweep in a row of the ‘magnifcent seven’: White-tailed Ptarmigan (I still haven’t missed it yet!); Greater and Lesser Prairie Chickens; Dusky Grouse; Sharp-tailed, Gunnison and Sage Grouse...

2018 [04 April] - Mike Neale

PDF Report

Find the Grouse – Some 3000 Miles driven in search of these birds -from snowy blizzard in the Rockies to the Dried dessert plains of Mesas Valleys. 6 of the big 7 were seen with the exception of the ptarmigan which was difficult to see due to blizzard conditions. Many thanks to the Field Guide Tours folks including the great Guides.

Festivals

Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival

Festival

Proceeds from the Ute Mountain Mesa Verde Birding Festival will be donated to the Cortez Cultural Center, a non-profit community organization whose mission is to provide a forum for the community’s educational, cultural, artistic and scientific interests. We are a catalyst for cultural respect, continuity and innovation.Cortez Cultural Center…

Observatories

Bird Conservancy of the Rockies (was Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory)

Observatory

Satellite View

Our mission is to conserve birds and their habitats through an integrated approach of science, education and land stewardship. We envision a future where birds are forever abundant, contributing to healthy landscapes and inspiring human curiosity and love of nature. Our work radiates from the Rockies to the Great Plains...

Blogs

Beverley - Rural Chatter

BLOG

Last updated March 2014 - Rural chatter from la veta…nestled against the southern rockies; a blog dedicated to the natural world…particularly birding and native gardening to attract birds, bees & butterflies…

Chuck Bell - Images of Nature From Around the World

BLOG

Exploring the world with binoculars and camera from this birder in Livermore, CO

Daniel McAdams - Bird Spy

BLOG

Last update 2012 - I am 20 years old and have been birding since I was 14. My dad got me into this wonderful pursuit when we were in Simi Valley, CA and a magnificent Say's Phoebe flew into the yard. He challenged me to identify it and upon failing, I was determined to never fail an identification challenge again.

Nathan Pieplow & Andrew Spencer - Earbirding

BLOG

Recording, Identifying, And Interpreting Bird Sounds

SeEtta Moss - Birds and Nature

BLOG

Dedicated to the enjoyment and conservation of birds and nature from Canon City.

Other Links

Best Colorado Bird Watching Sites

Information

Explore the most popular birding trails in Colorado with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Birding Opportunities

Website

Due to its unusually large geographic expanse which encompasses several altitudinal life zones and a great variety of habitats, the AVAS chapter area offers outstanding birding opportunities. An example would be the grouse species, which range from the high altitude White-tailed Ptarmigan to the Lesser Prairie Chicken of the southeastern plains. Our checklist for the Pueblo area alone contains over 400 species, over a fourth of which may be seen at any time during the year…

Birding Spots by County

Website

An interactive birding map of Colorado's counties

Colorado County Birding

Website

Welcome to Colorado County Birding -- a website by the birders of Colorado, for the birders of Colorado --as well as for birders visiting from elsewhere. Here you'll find site descriptions and checklists for every county, plus information on habitats, hazards, access to sites and specialty species. Whether you are a native or a visitor, we hope this site will help you plan trips to find the birds you are looking for. More importantly, we hope it will encourage you to explore new corners of this marvelous state, to add to our existing knowledge of Colorado birds and their distributions, and to support rural economies.

Wild Store on LIne

Website

Store for feeders, birdhouses, feed and everything associated with birding…

Photographers & Artists

Photographer - Carol Blackard

Gallery

I am a passionate nature photographer living in Colorado with a special interest in birds. If you have questions, special requests, or just want to hang out, please drop me a line! Follow Carol for email notification of new posts.

Photographer - Don Getty

Gallery

…featuring wildlife and nature photography from my favorite locations around the world…

Photographer - Robb Hinds - Colorado Bird Photography

Gallery

Excellent bird images…

Photographer - Spates Photography

Gallery

Name’s Dave. Hi. Born and raised in Florida. Without the help of Captain Obvious, you can probably tell I like photography, hence the site. Other than shooting kick ass photos I like to work out and stay fit, I follow strength building work outs and count calories and get results, and being an obnoxious photographer I like to take selfies while drinking beer. True Floridian, born in Fort Myers, moved to Denver, Colorado, 4 years ago.

Webcam - Elkstreet Webcam

Gallery

Pictures are updated every 30 minutes during daylight hours. Weather data is updated hourly throughout the day.