June 8-13, 2018 - $1800 per person double occupancy - includes lodging, meals and ground transport

Join Carl Bendorf and Christian Hagenlocher on a fantastic five-day birding tour with two goals:  find the summer specialty birds that make Colorado a premier destination for birders and tally at least 160 species. Our small group (maximum of 10) will travel in comfortable 7-passenger mini-vans. Tour price includes all meals and lodging. AND you can expect spectacular scenery, great birds, and a fun, shared adventure!

See TABS below for all the details

We will focus on the target species that most visiting birders want to find—how many of these have YOU seen?

Cinnamon Teal, Greater Sage-Grouse, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Dusky Grouse, Eared, Western, & Clark's Grebe, White-faced Ibis, Golden Eagle, Swainson's & Ferruginous Hawk, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocet, Mountain Plover, Wilson's Snipe, California Gull, Band-tailed Pigeon, Burrowing Owl, Common Poorwill, Black Swift,  White-throated Swift,  Black-chinned Hummingbird, Williamson's & Red-naped Sapsucker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Prairie Falcon, Hammond's, Dusky, & Cordilleran Flycatcher, Say's Phoebe, Loggerhead Shrike, Plumbeous Vireo, Gray Jay, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Bushtit, Pygmy Nuthatch, Rock & Canyon Wren, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Sage Thrasher, Chestnut-collared & McCown's Longspur, Virginia's & MacGillivray's Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Cassin's & Brewer's Sparrow, Lark Bunting, Green-tailed Towhee, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Lazuli Bunting, Brewer's Blackbird, Great-tailed Grackle, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, Pine Grosbeak, Cassin's Finch, and Red Crossbill. We’ll try to see all 60 in five days!!

Join our small group of like-minded fellow birders as we fill in those holes on your life or year list. This tour will truly be a birding bonanza!


Our Plan (link to our map)

Colorado is a big state and our route will maximize our birding in varied habitats while minimizing our driving time.  North-central Colorado offers birding from the short-grass prairies to the alpine tundra and majesty of Rocky Mountain National Park to the high basin of North Park.  

DAY 1 - FRIDAY, JUNE 8 -- Fort Collins Foothills.  Our adventure starts mid-afternoon when we'll head ½ hour west from our Ft. Collins hotel into the foothills where the vast Great Plains prairie meets the Rocky Mountains.  We'll visit several birding hotspots for typical species including Golden Eagle, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, White-throated Swift, 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—the time when the Common Poorwills start their plaintive calls from the rocky hillsides, and we'll try to see one hunting along the roadside. Night in Ft. Collins.

Pawnee Grasslands By Chris Light via Wikimedia Commons
Pawnee Grasslands By Chris Light via Wikimedia Commons

DAY 2 - SATURDAY, JUNE 9 -- Pawnee National Grasslands.  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 an unforgettable experience for any birder.  We will have roughly ¾ million 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 visit 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. Night in Ft. Collins.

DAY 3 - SUNDAY, JUNE 10 - Foothills around Fort Collins and Boulder. In the morning we will make several forays into the foothills west and south of Ft. Collins to pick up birds missed on our first evening, including Lazuli Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay (recently split from the Western Scrub-Jay), Pygmy Nuthatch, Canyon Wren, Bushtit, and Black-headed Grosbeak. After lunch we will visit Allenspark, a small mountain town where numerous hummingbird feeders host hordes of Broad-tailed Hummingbirds with a possible Black-chinned Hummingbird joining the mix.  Finally, we’ll explore Wild Basin in the southeast corner of Rocky Mountain National Park. Night in Ft. Collins.

Clark's Nutcracker
Clark's Nutcracker by Carl Bendorf

DAY 4 - MONDAY, JUNE 11 - Rocky Mountain National Park.  We will enter Rocky Mountain National Park from the east and drive directly to the top of Trail Ridge Road (12,183 feet).  Here we will be well above treeline where the highest continuously paved road in the U.S. traverses the breeding habitat of Brown-capped Rosy-Finch and White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Both are relatively common but very difficult to locate. We’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the spectacular scenery amidst the abundant nesting Horned Larks and displaying American Pipits.  

Later in the morning, we’ll work our way back down east slope through the sub-alpine (10,000-11,500’) and montane (8,000-10,000’) life zones which each have their own distinct mix of birds.  Here we will find Williamson’s and Red-naped Sapsuckers, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Steller’s Jay, Green-tailed Towhee, and Western Tanager.  Night in Ft. Collins.

White-tailed Ptarmigan by Carl Bendorf

DAY 5 - TUESDAY, JUNE 12 - Rocky Mountain National Park.  If necessary, we’ll start again in the alpine tundra for a second chance at the rosy-finch and ptarmigan. Otherwise, we will be focused on finding more mountain species including Dusky Grouse, Band-tailed Pigeon, American Dipper, MacGillivray’s Warbler, and Cassin’s Finch.   Of course, RMNP is also a great place for spotting Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep and a plethora of smaller mammals.

In the afternoon, we’ll bird our way down the west slope of the park (including our first crossing of the Continental Divide) and head toward our overnight in Walden set in scenic North Park.  Night in Walden.

DAY 6 - WEDNESDAY, JUNE 13 -  North Park. We’ll start out early driving the back roads through the sagebrush country that blankets North Park (one of Colorado’s large high mountain valleys), making it one of the best places in the state to look for Greater Sage-Grouse outside of the spring lekking season Other birds we may encounter in the Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge include Cinnamon Teal, American Avocet, Mountain Bluebird, Sage Thrasher, and Brewer’s Sparrow.  California Gulls and Eared Grebes nest on nearby Walden Reservoir.  North Park is also one of the best spots in the state to see Moose. In the afternoon, we will re-cross the Continental Divide at Cameron Pass (10,276 feet),  bird our way down the scenic Cache la Poudre River to Ft. Collins and conclude our tour after a final group dinner.  

Note: Your lodging on the night of June 13 is NOT included in your registration fee giving you the option to pick up your cars and continue on your journey or stay overnight on your own in Fort Collins or near the airport for your morning flights.


Carl Bendorf, a native Iowan and Colorado transplant, 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, founder of Iowa Young Birders, and was recently elected to his third term as a member of the American Birding Association Board of Directors.  He founded Colorado Birding Adventures in 2016.

Christian Hagenlocher has had a passion for birds since an early age. In 2016, Christian tallied 752 species in the ABA area, becoming the youngest person to break the 700-mark in a single year. He has birded in all 50 states, and led several trips around the world, from Central America to the Middle East.  Currently living in Buena Vista, CO, Christian teaches Science at the Link School. Read more about Christian at The Birding Project.

Carl and Christian’s expertise,  friendly and relaxed style, attention to detail and exceptional customer service will make your Colorado birding adventure a memorable experience.


Click on image to explore

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.  See this link for the eBird bar graph for June in the six Colorado counties encompassing our 2018 Colorado Birding Bonanza:  eBird Checklist for June in our target counties


“The tremendous appeal of birding in the satisfying mix of eastern, western, northern, and southern species…” Harold Holt, A Birder’s Guide to Colorado

Click on the image to see a detailed bar graph of species reported to eBird during June in the area of our Colorado Birding Bonanza:

Tour Conditions

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.  In mid-June, sunrise is approximately 5:30 a.m. and sunset is 8:30 p.m.  Our daily schedule will vary. A more detailed schedule will be provided to participants.  We will travel in regular size mini-vans; 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 June 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 suggested packing list will be provided to participants.

Altitude, Mobility, and Stamina

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 Days 4-6.    Ultraviolet exposure increases about 4 percent for every 1,000 feet above sea level.  A brimmed hat and good sunscreen are vital.  Our days will be active and filled with multiple walks on level roads or on trails with some rocky sections.  Most walks are filled with pauses to observe birds.  This tour is not recommended for birders who have significant mobility issues, or who have difficulty getting in and out of vans.  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.


Breakfasts will be as provided by the hotel or simple cold breakfasts we bring along on early mornings.  To maximize our time in the field, we’ll offer simple, delicious picnic lunches on most days. Dinners will be one picnic dinner and casual dining at restaurants in Ft. Collins or Walden.  Non-alcoholic beverages will be included with your meals. We cannot offer credit or a refund for any included meals a participant chooses to skip. Drinking lots of water is vital at high altitude and we will have a large water cooler with us during the day.  

Food Allergies / Requirements:   We will do our best to accommodate specific food allergies but we can’t guarantee that all restaurants can meet every need.   Please notify us well in advance of specific needs or requirements so we can work with you to be prepared.

Your tour cost is $1,800 per person, double occupancy. Registration deadline is May 1, 2018 and a $250 deposit per person is required to confirm registration.  Balance must be received prior to May 15.  REGISTER WITH A DEPOSIT BY MARCH 15 FOR AN EARLY-BIRD DISCOUNT OF $150 PER PERSON!

Our tour begins on Friday, June 8 at 3 p.m. in Ft. Collins and ends after dinner on Wednesday, June 13 in Ft. Collins. The tour includes 5 ½ days of birding and five nights of lodging.  All meals during the tour are included (dinner on June 8 through dinner on June 13. Travelers with flights to and from Denver International Airport (DIA) should arrange for their own round-trip ground transportation/shuttle to Ft. Collins.  

Our first four nights will be at the Quality Inn & Suites University (rated #2 of 31 hotels in Ft. Collins), a perfect base of operations for our birding.  Our fifth night will be at the North Park Inn & Suites, the newest lodging in Walden, CO.  Overnight lodging is NOT included on our last birding day (June 13) as some participants will want to stay overnight near the airport and others will be departing by personal car.  If desired, we can help you select accommodations for this night.

The single occupancy supplement of $375 will offer a single room throughout the tour (pending availability.) 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.

This tour is limited to no more than 10 participants.  If only one space is remaining and two persons wish to register together, both will be placed on a waiting list.

Terms and Conditions

Please review the Participant Agreement that can be found on our Terms & Conditions page at  All participants will be required to review and sign our Participant Agreement (see the downloadable agreement on the Terms & Conditions page.)

  • 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 May 1, all deposits and payments will be refunded less a $100 administrative charge per registration.
  • If written notice of cancellation is received before June 1, all payments (but not the initial $250 deposit per registration) will be refunded.
  • Cancellations received beginning June 1 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 insufficient number of participants will be made on May 1.
  • We recommend participants purchase travel insurance to cover non-refundable costs resulting from a trip cancellation.

If you have any questions or would like additional information, please don't hesitate to contact us!   Just use the form below and we will respond quickly by email, phone, or text (select your preference in the form.)

You can also reach us by phone at (720) 588-9667.


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