Birding the Americas Trip
and Planning Repository
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U.S.A. -- COLORADO
16 - 25 April 2001
Dan Singer, Robbie Fischer and I (all from the San Francisco,
California area) did a "Chicken Run" to Colorado two weeks ago.
Here is a brief summary of highlights.
by Joseph Morlan
April 16th - Loveland Ski Basin
- No Rosy Finches at the feeders.
April 17th - Guanella Pass - An
all-morning search produced two WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN. Many RED
CROSSBILLS were along the road up to Guanella including a few showing
narrow, but distinct, white wing-bars.
Hayden Area - We watched two adult GOLDEN EAGLES on an active
nest. A displaying WILSON'S SNIPE seemingly showed mostly white
wing linings in flight. Has anybody else noticed white
wing-linings on these birds? Is this normal in this population or
was it a light illusion?
April 18th - Hayden Area -
SHARP-TAILED GROUSE on a lek at close range. There were about 25
birds at dawn and the displays and noises were amazing. Even more
amazing is that every few minutes the entire group would
simultaneously stop motionless for about 30 seconds before starting up
again. It was as though time stopped for them. The
synchronization of the
stopping and starting was fascinating. Nearby, a male BLUE GROUSE
displayed to two females on a small snow field.
Gould - About 15 BROWN-CAPPPED ROSY-FINCHES and one BLACK ROSY-FINCH
visited the State Park visitors center feeders. We also
identified several "Pink-sided" Juncos with the many "Gray-headed"
Juncos, and a couple of birds we identified as hybrid types
April 19th - Colorado National
Monument - Two RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS may be of interest as they are not
on the checklist for the park. We also saw two PINION JAYS and a
singing male RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (shown as "rare" in the
checklist). We also saw a SAGE THRASHER west of the park.
April 20th - Gunnison -
GUNNISON SAGE GROUSE were on the Lek, but the birds left quite
early. Views were distant, not very satisfying and the viewing
area quite crowded.
Blue Mesa Reservoir - Several GREATER SCAUP among many ducks and a
Black Canyon - we had great views of at least one, probably two, male
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS along the Warner Nature Trail between
markers 8 and 11. This species is not on the bird checklist for
the park. Interestingly a HAIRY WOODPECKER was following the
Three-toed Woodpecker around apparently taking advantage of the recent
bark scaling. This is the 2nd time I've noticed this association
between these two species. The first time was in British
Columbia. TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRES were singing beautifully and a
WILD TURKEY surprised us near the parking lot.
North of Gunnison we lucked out with the GLOSSY IBIS in a flooded field
with 3 WHITE-FACED IBIS found the day before by a VENT tour.
April 21st - Gunnison - We went
back for GUNNISON SAGE-GROUSE again. Today we had much better
views. The light was better and there was less wind so we could
actually hear them and see the tail pattern. They stayed about 10
minutes later than yesterday and when they flew, they landed on the far
hillside where they were still visible. We watched as they walked
to the top of the hill where they continued to display, tossing their
full tassels until a PRAIRIE FALCON strafed them.
Pueblo - We probably walked past the Pine Warbler at Pueblo City Park,
not knowing about it at the time.
April 22nd - We found a
HARRIS'S SPARROW in a flock of White-crowned Sparrows at Rocky Ford SWA
near La Junta. Shorebirds were in abundance at Holbrook
Reservoir. We had good views of BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS and nice close
comparisons of SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPERS with WESTERN SANDPIPERS. At Lake
Cheraw, we saw two white geese at a distance that we identified as SNOW
Comanche Grasslands - We saw a nice flock of LARK BUNTINGS, two EASTERN
PHOEBES, several SCALED QUAIL and BURROWING OWLS. While enjoying the
Rock Art we found a dark-lored WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (Oriantha?). We
flushed a couple of EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES off the road just east of
Campo. As a storm was rapidly approaching, we headed to the
LESSER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN lek in the late afternoon where we saw 7 birds
aggressively displaying and calling. We used the car as a blind;
about five other cars were doing the same.
April 23rd - We opted out of
Lesser Prairie-chickens in the morning because of heavy rain and
wind. We checked Bonny Reservoir where we were treated to a
displaying pair of PEREGRINE FALCONS at the dam. Then we headed up to
Wray where we enjoyed GREATER PRAIRIE-CHICKENS at a small lek in a
April 24th - Wray - We went out
again for Greater Prairie-chickens in the morning, but the rain seemed
to keep them down. We only saw about 7 birds, and only two were
Then we headed out for Pawnee Grasslands where we enjoyed displaying
MCCOWN'S LONGSPURS, and CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPURS. The McCown's
were particularly fun as they would skylark over the grasslands,
then raise their wings up high and parachute downward with their mostly
white tail spread wide, gliding somewhat like a nighthawk. We found a
BURROWING OWL and a beautiful adult male MOUNTAIN PLOVER in a Prairie
April 25th - We found another
HARRIS'S SPARROW in a flock of White-crowned Sparrows at Beebe
Draw. Two adult BALD EAGLES flew into a nest at Barr Lake.
We also saw a GREAT HORNED OWL nest with chicks and quite a few
SOLITARY SANDPIPERS around the lake.
It was a very successful trip for us with many memorable
experiences. All target birds were seen well. Many thanks
to those who provided advice and helped facilitate access to private
property in a couple of places.
A very helpful web site which I used in planning is:
In Georgetown - Raven Hill Mining Company
In Craig - River Ridge Prime Rib and Lobster House (bring binoculars;
we saw flocks of White-faced Ibis from the dining room).