COLORADO BIRDING SAMPLER
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Thursday, July 6 to Monday, July 10, 2017 - Four days/four nights $1,200 per person double occupancy
In just four days, you will experience:
- Dawn chorus at the Pawnee National Grasslands--the finest remaining example of the disappearing short-grass prairie. Target birds include Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owl, Prairie Falcon, Ferruginous Hawk, and McCown's & Chestnut-collared Longspurs.
- Rocky Mountain National Park with the best mountain birding in Colorado, stunning scenery and the highest continuous paved road in the U.S. Here we will search for White-tailed Ptarmigan, Brown-capped Rosy Finch, Clark's Nutcracker, Gray Jay, Williamson's & Red-naped Sapsuckers, American Dipper, and other hard-to-find species. We might also see Bighorn Sheep, Moose, Elk, or Mountain Goat!
- The canyons and streambeds of the northern Colorado foothills--that unique upthrust of sandstone that separates the plains from the mountains and harbors Lazuli Bunting, Woodhouse's Scrub-jay, Virginia's Warbler, Golden Eagle, White-throated Swift and more.
- From the prairies to the peaks, we'll ascend more than 7,000 ft. through five distinct habitat changes--equivalent to traveling 2,100 miles north (past the Arctic Circle.) BUT here in northern Colorado, all of this is possible within 100 miles as the crow flies!
Rocky Mountain National Park - Sayamindu Dasgupta
White-tailed Ptarmigan - Carl Bendorf
Clark's Nutcracker - DFaulder
Pronghorn Antelope at Pawnee Grassland - C.L. Baker
Foothills Birding - Carl Bendorf
Rocky Mountain National Park - Carl Bendorf
Pawnee Grassland Sunrise - Peter Romero
Brown-capped Rosy-Finch - Carl Bendorf
Colorado offers fantastic summer birding, great weather and spectacular scenery. Our Colorado Sampler features:
- Experienced and attentive guiding
- Mobile and comfortable small group travel (4-6 plus guide)
- Accessible birding without long hikes or steep climbing
- Lodging in one hotel eliminates packing and moving (including optional last night near Denver airport for those with early morning flights home)
- All meals included
All nights at our hotel in Ft. Collins. For those departing from the Denver airport, your last night will be at a hotel with free shuttle van near the airport.
Our headquarters hotel is the Quality Inn & Suites, 4100 S. Mason St., Ft. Collins, offering a great combination of location, comfort, and value. (right across the street from the REI outdoor gear store!)
Thursday, July 6: Our adventure starts from our hotel in the mid-afternoon (or earlier if all have arrived) and we'll head west just minutes from Ft. Collins up into the foothills where the vast Great Plains prairie meets the Rocky Mountains. We'll visit several birding hotspots looking for Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Western Wood-Pewee, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Western Kingbird, Plumbeous Vireo, Black-billed Magpie, Violet-green Swallow, Mountain Chickadee, Bushtit, Pygmy Nuthatch, Townsend’s Solitaire, Virginia’s Warbler, Bullock’s Oriole, Spotted Towhee, and Lesser Goldfinch. After a picnic dinner, we'll continue birding until dusk when the Common Poorwills start their plaintive calls and we'll hope to see one hunting along the roadside.
Friday, July 7: We’ll Leave Ft. Collins very early to arrive in time for the spectacular dawn chorus at the Pawnee National Grasslands. Described by author/birder Pete Dunne as one of his favorite birding destinations, Pawnee is one of the most intact examples of short-grass prairie in the Great Basin and a must-see destination for any birder. We will have roughly 200,000 acres nearly to ourselves as we search for the resident breeding species including Ferruginous and Swainson’s Hawks, Golden Eagle, Prairie Falcon, Burrowing Owl, Mountain Plover, Say’s Phoebe, Rock Wren, Lark Bunting, McCown’s and Chestnut-collared Longspur, and Brewer’s and Cassin’s Sparrows. We will also see the occasional Common Nighthawk utilizing the only available day-perch in sight--a roadside fence post.
After a picnic lunch at Crow Valley Park, we’ll check several water areas on our way back to Ft. Collins for Cinnamon Teal, Western and Clark’s Grebe, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, White-faced Ibis, and Yellow-headed Blackbird. Dinner in Ft. Collins.
Saturday, July 8: Today we ascend into Rocky Mountain National Park where we will spend the day amidst spectacular scenery and fantastic birding opportunities. First thing, we will drive directly to the top of Trail Ridge Road (12,183 feet). Here we will be well above tree line on the highest continuously paved road in the U.S. and in the nesting habitat of Brown-capped Rosy-Finch and White-tailed Ptarmigan. Both are somewhat common but very difficult to locate and it’s important to look before summertime crowds flush the birds away from the trails. We will be moving slowly due to the altitude with plenty of time to enjoy the breathtaking views and the distractions of nesting Horned Larks and American Pipits calling overhead.
Next, we will work our way back down the east slope stopping at the Lava Cliffs and Rainbow Curve before enjoying our picnic lunch in Endovalley (3,500 feet below Trail Ridge Rd.) Our hoped-for birds will include Mountain Chickadee, Townsend’s Solitaire, American Dipper, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Cassin’s Finch, Williamson’s and Red-naped Sapsuckers, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Hammond’s & Dusky Flycatchers, and Clark’s Nutcracker, Steller’s Jay, Green-tailed Towhee, Pine Grosbeak, Red Crossbill, and Western Tanager. Depending on our progress, an option for the afternoon might be a hike at Wild Basin hoping for a glimpse of a Northern Pygmy-Owl, or a Black Swift soaring overhead with the White-throated Swifts. Of course, RMNP is also a great place for spotting Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, Mountain Goats, and a plethora of smaller mammals. Dinner in Ft. Collins.
Sunday, July 9: Our last day includes popular birding spots in the foothills between Ft. Collins and Boulder. This will be our second chance at foothills species including White-throated Swift, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Woodhouses’s Scrub-Jay (recently split from the Western Scrub-Jay), Pygmy Nuthatch, Canyon Wren, Bushtit, and Black-headed Grosbeak. After a final dinner we will deliver guests to their last night at the Ft. Collins hotel or Denver airport hotel.
Monday, July 10: For those staying overnight in Ft. Collins, check from hotel. For those staying near the airport, check out and use hotel shuttle to airport.
Colorado has recorded over 500 species of birds. Only Arizona and New Mexico have recorded more species among states that don't border the Atlantic or Pacific. The impressive list of birds for which birders come to Colorado in the summer includes:
Cinnamon Teal, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Dusky Grouse, Western & and Clark's Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Mountain Plover, Band-tailed Pigeon, Burrowing Owl, Common Poorwill, White-throated Swift, Black-chinned, Broad-tailed, & Rufous Hummingbirds, Lewis's Woodpecker, Williamson's and Red-Naped Sapsucker, Prairie Falcon, Western Wood-Pewee, Hammond's, Dusky, & Cordilleran Flycatchers, Say's Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Gray, Pinyon, & Steller's Jays, Black-billed Magpie, Clark's Nutcracker, Common Raven, Violet-green Swallow, Mountain Chickadee, Bushtit, Pygmy Nuthatch, Rock & Canyon Wren, American Dipper, Western & Mountain Bluebirds, Townsend's Solitaire, Sage Thrasher, Chestnut-collared & McCown's Longspurs, Virginia's and MacGillivray's Warblers, Cassin's & Brewer's Sparrows, Lark Bunting, Green-tailed and Spotted Towhee's, Western Tanager, Black-headed & Blue Grosbeaks, Lazuli Bunting, Bullock's Oriole, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, Pine Grosbeak, Cassin's Finch, Red Crossbill, Lesser Goldfinch, and Evening Grosbeak. No single trip will record all of these species but many of them are likely on our Colorado Sampler.
Click on the image to see a detailed bar graph of species reported to eBird during June in the area of our Colorado Birding Sampler:
Your tour begins mid-afternoon on Thursday, July 6 at our Ft. Collins hotel location and ends with your last night on Sunday, July 9 at either the Ft. Collins hotel or at a hotel near the Denver airport. Included in your tour cost are guiding service, all meals, transportation, and lodging (four breakfasts, three lunches, four dinners, and four nights of lodging.) Alcohol and items of personal nature are not included. Participants traveling by air should arrange for one-way transportation on July 6 to the Quality Inn in Ft. Collins; your last night will be at an airport hotel which has a free shuttle to the terminals.
The tour cost is $1,200 per person, double occupancy. Single occupancy supplement: $300.
A $200 deposit per person is required to confirm registration. Balance must be received due prior to June 15. Registration deadline is June 1.
The single occupancy supplement will offer single room throughout the tour. You will be charged a single supplement if you desire single accommodations or if you prefer to share but have no roommate and we cannot provide one for you.
To be viable, the tour requires at least 4 participants and is limited to no more than 6 participants. If only one space is remaining and two persons wish to register together, both will be placed on a waiting list.
For optimal birding, we will start early each morning with at least one morning departure from the hotel at 4:30 a.m. Our first day of birding begins in the mid-afternoon and will continue until after dark returning to our hotel by 10 p.m. Our daily schedule on Days 2 through 4 will be somewhat variable and a more detailed schedule will be provided to participants.
We will travel in a mini-van or large SUV and participants should be prepared to ride in any seat and switch seat locations each day. Depending on the size of our group and our vehicle, some seating may be in the middle of a three-person seat.
Weather conditions in Colorado in June can vary widely. Average July temperatures in Ft. Collins are highs around 80F and lows around 50F, but we will have one early morning at higher elevations in Rocky Mountain National Park where it can be quite cold and windy even in summer; a warm hat/gloves/coat may be needed. Afternoon thunderstorms are also common.
Be prepared with layers of clothing that can adapt to chilly mornings and hot, sunny afternoons. We will not be hiking in extreme rocky places and lightweight hiking boots or sturdy walking shoes will be sufficient. A windbreaker/rain jacket is recommended as well as a hat for sun protection. A more complete list of suggested things to bring will be provided to participants.
Participants should be aware of the potential effects of altitude and take steps to prepare including proper hydration. We will start our trip at lower elevations and our highest travel will be on the third day. Most of our walking will be on level roads or well-maintained trails with some rocky sections. If you have health conditions or concerns about your ability to undertake moderate activity at higher elevations, please consult with your physician prior to the trip.
Ultraviolet exposure increases about 4 percent for every 1,000 feet above sea level. A hat and good sunscreen are vital.
Breakfasts will be as provided by the hotel (continental plus) or food we bring along on early mornings. Lunches will be two picnics we bring along and one casual lunch ordered off the menu in a local café/sandwich shop. Dinners will be one picnic, two dinners at restaurants in Ft. Collins, and our closing dinner in Ft. Collins or Boulder.
Non-alcoholic beverage will be included with your meals. Drinking lots of water is important adapting to altitude and we will have a large water cooler with us during the day. We discourage the use of disposable plastic water bottles—please bring a refillable water bottle with you.
This trip is all-inclusive and we cannot offer credit or a refund for any meals a participant chooses to skip.
Food Allergies / Requirements: We will do our best to accommodate specific food allergies but we can’t guarantee that all locations can meet every need. Please notify us well in advance of specific needs or requirements so we can work with you to be prepared.
In case of cancellation by Colorado Birding Adventures, all deposits and payments will be fully refunded. If a registrant cancels (with written notice by email) prior to June 1, all deposits and payments will be refunded less a $100 administrative charge per registration. If written notice of cancellation is received before June 15, all payments (but not the initial $200 deposit per registration) will be refunded. Due to commitments we will have made, cancellations received beginning June 15 will result in a refund of all payment less a $500 charge per registration.
Any decision by Colorado Birding Adventures to cancel this trip due to number of registrations will be made on or before May 1 and existing registrants will be notified immediately. We recommend registrants purchase travel insurance to cover any costs resulting from a trip cancellation.
Terms and Conditions
For the protection and safety of all, your participation is subject to our Terms & Conditions and all participants will be required to review and sign our Participant Agreement (see the downloadable agreement on the Terms & Conditions page.)
Your driver and guide will be Carl Bendorf, a native Iowan and Colorado transplant, who is a national leader in helping young birders, families, and individuals discover the joys and benefits of birding. Carl is an experienced birding guide, past president of the Iowa Ornithologists’ Union, and a current member of the American Birding Association Board of Directors.
Carl's friendly and relaxed style and attention to detail and customer service will make your Colorado birding adventure a memorable experience.