Rocky Mountain National Park

Fall Birding in Colorado

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Sep 16

Visiting birders to Colorado tend to fall into two main categories:

Many come in April for a Colorado “Chicken Tour” to enjoy the grouse, prairie-chickens, and ptarmigan.  Another major wave of birders visit in the breeding season (May-July) for the great variety of Colorado specialities.  But the fall season also offers tremendous birding opportunities. Rocky Mountain National Park Rocky Mountain National Park by Andrew E. Russell via Flickr

Cassin's Vireo

Cassin’s Vireo – An Exercise in ID

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Sep 12

Cassin’s Vireo is an interesting bird here in Colorado.  In 1997, the American Ornithologists Union determined that the former Solitary Vireo was actually three separate species and now we have Blue-headed Vireo, Plumbeous Vireo, and Cassin’s Vireo.  The default breeding species among this trio in Colorado is the Plumbeous but Cassin’s does migrate through Colorado in the spring in fall.  There are many more Colorado reports in the fall compared to the spring but definitive

Who Was Woodhouse?

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Mar 30

Nice video of Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay in Colorado by Colette Micallef

Samuel Washington Woodhouse (1821-1904)

One of the birds we typically encounter on our Colorado birding tours is Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay. But who in the heck is Woodhouse?

Samuel Washington Woodhouse was a surgeon-naturalist from Philadelphia who accompanied a U.S. Army survey expedition in the U.S. Southwest in 1849-1851. During the expedition, Woodhouse collected four species new to science, Cassin's Sparrow, Black-capped, White-throated Swift, and another bird which became known as Woodhouse's Jay. In 1931, the American Ornithologists' Union decided that Woodhouse's Jay was the same species as the Western Scrub Jay but in 2016, this decision was reversed and Woodhouse's bird is again considered a separate species and also gained a hyphen in the official name: Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay.

Some interesting tidbits:

  • Woodhouse was seriously injured at least twice during the expedition. First, Woodhouse was bitten by a rattlesnake and lost the use of one hand for months. And just a few weeks later, he was shot in the leg with an arrow by a Yavapai Indian.
  • One of the expedition members collected a falcon that Woodhouse initially identified as a Peregrine Falcon. The specimen was later re-identified as a Prairie Falcon which had by then been described for science by others; thus, Woodhouse missed out on the discovery of another new bird species!
  • Just to keep things interesting for birders, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay itself is made up of at least seven recognized sub-species!

Additional Information:

A Naturalist in Indian Territory: The Journals of S. W. Woodhouse 1849-1850

Our Disappearing Great Plains

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Jan 23
Approximate location of the Great Plains
The World Wildlife Fund issued an alarming press release this past November stating that “In 2014 the Great Plains lost more acres of grasslands than the Brazilian Amazon lost to deforestation.” According to the WWF report, 53 million acres of America’s Great Plains “have been lost since 2009, threatening important and iconic species like grassland songbirds…” Categories : Birding Colorado, Conservation News

9 Favorite Colorado Birding Resources

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Jan 13

There are many excellent resources for learning about Colorado’s great birding opportunities. Here is a list of 9 of my personal favorites. I don’t intend this to be an exhaustive list–just a sampling of the books and online resources I use most often. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention all the knowledgeable and friendly Colorado birders who have welcomed me and willingly shared their time and expertise.  Thank you all! NOTE: Although

Young Birders Make Colorado History

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Jan 07
In the middle, Jack & Ryan Bushong and their friend, Holden, during Boulder Christmas Bird Count
On December 16, 13-year-old twin young birders, Jack and Ryan Bushong discovered a Purple Sandpiper in Summit County, Colorado.  This was the first recorded occurrence of this species in Colorado.  In subsequent weeks, an estimated 400 birders braved snow and cold to get a glimpse. You can read more

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