Important Bird Areas

Aiken Canyon Preserve

Colorado

Location: Aiken Canyon Preserve is located between Colorado Springs and Canon City, approximately 16 miles southeast of Colorado Springs, on the eastern slope of the Rampart Range.

Vegetation/natural features: The site is one of the best examples of an intact, southern Front Range ecosystem, including tallgrass prairie and pinyon-juniper woodlands. The lower elevations consist of grasslands, while the higher elevations are occupied by pinyon-juniper woodlands and deciduous shrublands transitioning into tall coniferous forests. Ephemeral streams flow out of steep canyons to form broad alluvial fans on gentle slopes. The eastern portion of the property consists of prominent red spires and cliffs of conglomerate/sandstone Fountain Formation.

Ownership: State
Private (The Nature Conservancy)

Ornithological Summary

The site provides habitat for such "species of high conservation priority" as: Common Poorwill, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Juniper Titmouse, Virginias Warbler, MacGillivrays Warbler, and Western Tanager.

Research/educational activities:
The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has operated winter and summer bird point counts from an educational field station at this site since 1995. The preserve contains a 5-mile system of trails, open Saturday through Monday dawn to dusk, on which naturalist guides conduct monthly hikes from May through September. TNC hosts numerous educational programs throughout the year, though they are most frequent during the summer. Approximately 12 school groups visit the preserve annually. Special programs/workshops are offered throughout the year. Topics are centered around issues most relevent to the preserve. Most programs are open to the public although some are designed specifically for the immediate neighbors of the preserve and/or Conservancy members. Many university groups use the preserve as a field trip and outdoor classroom destination. TNC has good relationships with local colleges, such as Colorado College, U of CO-Colorado Springs, and Pikes Peak Community College.

A much more in-depth list of species, banding data, and counts from 1989-1999 can be found in the IBA folder.

Conservation Issues

Minor threats: cowbird parasitism; disturbance to birds and habitat, in part from past wildfire suppression.

Potential threats: invasive/non-native plants; habitat conversion; residential development pressure on properties to the north and south.

Efforts to address threats: TNC is investigating the possibility of instituting prescribed fires at the site.

Management details: Aiken Canyon Preserve is a Colorado Watchable Wildlife site. The Nature Conservancy holds a 99-year conservation lease with the state on 1,100 acres of the preserve, and owns the remaining 521 acres. Land to the east is owned and managed by Fort Carson, while land to the west is owned and managed by the Bureau of Land Management as a Wilderness Study Area.

Ownership

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has operated winter and summer bird point counts from an educational field station at this site since 1995. The preserve contains a 5-mile system of trails, open Saturday through Monday dawn to dusk, on which naturalist guides conduct monthly hikes from May through September. TNC hosts numerous educational programs throughout the year, though they are most frequent during the summer. Approximately 12 school groups visit the preserve annually.

Habitat

The site is one of the best examples of an intact, southern Front Range ecosystem, including tallgrass prairie and pinyon-juniper woodlands. The lower elevations consist of grasslands, while the higher elevations are occupied by pinyon-juniper woodlands and deciduous shrublands transitioning into tall coniferous forests. Ephemeral streams flow out of steep canyons to form broad alluvial fans on gentle slopes. The eastern portion of the property consists of prominent red spires and cliffs of conglomerate/sandstone Fountain Formation.

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