The 123rd Christmas Bird Count in Colorado

Fifty-one Christmas Bird Counts were held this season in Colorado.  A total of 197 countable species of birds were found, plus four others for count week only (Black Scoter, Gunnison Sage-Grouse, White-tailed Ptarmigan, and Orange-crowned Warbler).  The Pueblo Reservoir count found the most species again this year, with 128 count day species and three others during count week.  The state record for Colorado is 134 count day species (Penrose).  Counts this year that reached 100+ plus count day species:  Denver (109), Boulder (107), Penrose (107), John Martin Reservoir (106), North JeffCo (103), Grand Junction (102), and Fort Collins (101).  The John Martin Reservoir counted the most birds 75,325 birds.  Colder weather in November may have moved some species further south, as Colorado Christmas Bird Counts usually find 200 species at least on count day.  The Rifle Creek count started this year and found 54 species and 2626 total birds.  Bonny Reservoir count wasn’t held this year, because of bad weather.  The Summit County count was restarted this year, after a few years not being held. 


Geese and Swans:

Geese numbers on Colorado Christmas Bird Count were way down from last winter overall; probably Avian flu was some of the cause of this.  There were only 13 Greater White-fronted Goose this winter, Boulder’s four were the most.  Numbers of Snow Geese were way down, 33,000 on the Crook count was the most, last winter they counted 95,000.  The Pinon Canyon count found 10, which were new for that count.  The John Martin Reservoir count found the most Ross’s Geese with 3711, and the North JeffCo count found their first one for that fairly new count.  The most Cackling Geese were at Fort Collins with 19,851, and Nunn found their first two.  The Longmont counted the most Canada Geese with 15,743 and the only Snow x Canada Goose (hybrid).  Two feral Mute Swans were found at Greeley, which is a regular location for escaped Mute Swans (this species is still not on the Colorado State List, as they are regular escaped birds).  An amazing number of wild Trumpeter Swans were found, seven at Rawhide Energy Station, three at Longmont, one at Fort Collins, and count week at Denver.  A year-round feral population continues at Roaring Fork River Valley, where there were six this winter.  A surprising number of counts found Tundra Swans (total of 14 birds), with three each at Longmont and Pueblo, two each at Boulder and Rawhide Energy Station, and singles at Cortez, Denver, Penrose, and Pueblo Reservoir.



Always a rarity in the state, a male Eurasian Wigeon was a first for Pueblo.  A state review species, Mexican Ducks were found more than ever before on Colorado Christmas Bird Counts, two at Cortez, one at John Martin Reservoir, and one at Pueblo Reservoir.  Quite rare in winter, a Blue-winged Teal was seen at Longmont, and thanks to the observer for providing good details.  Of the 15 Greater Scaup found on Colorado counts, only one was found in western Colorado, where rarer, at Cortez, the most were four at Rocky Ford.  Others were at Denver, John Martin Reservoir, North Jeffco, and Pueblo Reservoir.  Scoters are never regular, four White-winged Scoters were at Durango and one was seen during count week at Pueblo Reservoir and a count week Black Scoter was at Denver.  Usually a few Long-tailed Ducks turn up (six this year), two were at Denver and Loveland, and singles at Denver (urban) and Pueblo Reservoir, as well as count week at John Martin Reservoir.  Steamboat Springs found their first Barrow’s Goldeneye, and there were 110 others found statewide, with 44 at Salida, 32 at Granby, and 15 at Durango being the highest totals.  A Common Goldeneye x Hooded Merganser hybrid was at Denver (urban).


Quail and Grouse:

Five counts found Scaled Quail, though none found over 100 birds, Pueblo Reservoir’s 95 were the most.  Three west slope counts found Gambel’s Quail, 175 at Grand Junction, 59 at Delta, and 35 at Montrose.  Weldona-Fort Morgan in northeast Colorado, found the only Northern Bobwhite with a total of 24.  Only ten counts found Ring-necked Pheasant with 43 at Crook being the most, and one was found for the first time at Westcliffe.  Gunnison found Gunnison Sage-Grouse during count week, they are very hard to find in the winter.  Another hard-to-find bird on count day, White-tailed Ptarmigan were only found during count week at Aspen.  Steamboat Springs found the only Dusky Grouse on count day, with six birds.  Both Fairplay and Westcliffe reported Dusky Grouse during count week, both new for their counts.  A nice total of 78 Sharp-tailed Grouse were found at Steamboat Springs.  The only Greater Prairie-Chicken was found at Crook.  A Wild Turkey was found at Pinon Canyon for the first time, Douglas County counted the most with 338.


Loons and Grebes:

Single Red-throated Loons were at Denver and Pueblo Reservoir, and a Pacific Loon at Loveland was a first for that count.  Four counts found Common Loons, four at Pueblo Reservoir, three at Denver, two at Loveland, and one at North Jeffco.  Steamboat Springs found two Pied-billed Grebes, new for this count.  A few counts found Horned Grebes, 14 at Rawhide Energy Station, 12 at Pueblo Reservoir, five at Durango and five at North Jeffco, plus count week at Loveland.  Likely a high count for any Colorado Christmas Bird Count, four Red-necked Grebes were photographed at Stanley Lake on the North Jeffco count, and one was also at Pueblo Reservoir.  Five counts found Eared Grebes, Pueblo Reservoir as usual found the most with 135, lower numbers were Loveland (three), North Jeffco (two), Denver (one) and John Martin Reservoir (one).  Nine counts found Western Grebes, with 80 at Pueblo Reservoir being the most.  The only west slope count to find Western Grebes was Durango with six.  Two Clark’s Grebes were at Pueblo Reservoir. 


Cormorants, Pelicans, Herons:

A few Double-crested Cormorants were found on counts, 11 at Denver (urban) were the most.  Only John Martin Reservoir found American White Pelicans, with only 18.  Black-crowned Night-Herons were found on seven counts, one at Rifle Creek and two at Grand Junction were in western Colorado; in eastern Colorado, seven were found at Denver (urban) were the highest, and the one at Penrose was new for that count. 



Two single Turkey Vultures were found at Denver and Colorado Springs, neither provided photos, though the descriptions seemed reasonable for this very unexpected species in winter in Colorado.  Six counts found Northern Goshawks, two in Boulder were the most.  Of the 136 Rough-legged Hawks, 39 at Crook were a good total.  A total of 207 Ferruginous Hawks were found, 29 at John Martin Reservoir found the most.


Rails and Cranes:

Both Dotsero and Durango found their first Virginia Rails, there were surprisingly no Soras found on any counts this winter.  Sandhill Cranes are wintering in good numbers from Montrose (1739), Delta (3299) and Grand Junction (733).  Smaller numbers in southwest Colorado, 77 at Durango and count week at Pagosa Springs.  The only one reported in eastern Colorado, was one at Fort Collins, which was quite unusual this far north.



The only Spotted Sandpiper was at Grand Junction, plus Denver count week.  Both Grand Junction and John Martin Reservoir found single Greater Yellowlegs.  Unexpected was an American Woodcock at Fort Collins.



Bonaparte’s Gulls are pretty hard to come by on counts, except for Pueblo Reservoir, where there were 87.  There were three more at John Martin Reservoir, and count week at Denver and Longmont.  Short-billed Gulls were found at Pueblo Reservoir (two) and Pueblo (one).  Durango found their first California Gull.  Three counts found Iceland (Thayer’s) Gulls, one at John Martin Reservoir, one at Loveland, and three at Pueblo Reservoir.  Amazing numbers of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were found, with 27 at Pueblo Reservoir, six at Loveland, four at Boulder, three North Jeffco, and two at John Martin Reservoir.  A Herring Gull x Glaucous Gull (hybrid) was at Pueblo Reservoir.  The adult Great Black-backed Gull came back to Pueblo Reservoir again, and an adult was found during count week in Denver.


Doves and Roadrunner:

The highest number of Eurasian Collared-Doves was 1044 from Fort Collins.  A feral African Collared-Dove was reported from Flagler.  Remember when White-winged Doves were rare in Colorado in the early 1990s?  This winter 407 were found on Colorado Christmas Bird Counts, Denver (urban) and Flagler found one for the first time.  Other totals, Penrose (233), Rocky Ford (68), Grand Junction (50), Pueblo Reservoir (30), Pueblo (15), Colorado Springs (4), Fountain Creek (3), and Loveland (2).  Summit County had a Mourning Dove, their first one.  A few Greater Roadrunners turned up, singles at Lake Isabel, Pinon Canyon, and Pueblo Reservoir, as well as John Martin Reservoir for count week.



Only two Barn Owls were found, one at Boulder and one at Fort Collins, plus count week at Rocky Ford.  Grand Junction makes a special effort to check Western Screech-Owl boxes on their count, and found 101 this winter, only four other counts found them.  Six counts found Eastern Screech-Owls; the Rawhide Energy Station found their first one.  Eleven counts found Northern Pygmy-Owl (Rocky Mts.), with Fairplay finding their first one.  Six counts found Long-eared Owls, with nine at Denver (urban) being the highest total.  Four Short-eared Owls were found a Crook.  Eight counts found Northern Saw-whet Owls, with Denver finding four, which was the highest. 


Kingfishers and Woodpeckers:

The higher counts for Lewis’s Woodpeckers were from western Colorado, Hotchkiss (30), Pagosa Springs (25) and Durango (21).  Red-bellied Woodpeckers are only expected on far eastern counts; Crook found seven, unexpected were one at Pueblo, and count week at Boulder and Denver.  Montrose found the only count day Williamson’s Sapsucker, also found count week at Pagosa Springs.  Ten Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were found, one at Pagosa Springs was unusual for western Colorado.  A Red-naped Sapsucker was reported from Fairplay.  Only three counts found single Ladder-backed Woodpeckers on count day, Fountain Creek, Penrose, and Pinon Canyon, count week from John Martin Reservoir and Pueblo Reservoir.  Eleven American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found, with five at Evergreen-Idaho Springs being the most. 



Ten Peregrine Falcons were found, with four at Grand Junction being the most, and one at Eagle Valley was new for that count. 



All three species of phoebes were found.  Black Phoebes at Delta (one) was new for that count, Grand Junction (two), and Pueblo Reservoir (one).  An Eastern Phoebe was photographed and new for Denver (urban), and Loveland reported one for count week.  Seven counts found Say’s Phoebes on count day with nine at Grand Junction being the most. 


Shrikes, Corvids, and Larks:

There were 26 Loggerhead Shrikes and 123 Northern Shrikes counted statewide.  Evergreen-Idaho Springs found the most Canada Jays, with 18.  The Salida count found the most Pinyon Jays with 324.  Steller’s Jays were highest at Evergreen-Idaho Springs with 444.  A Blue Jay at Steamboat Springs was quite unusual.  In southeastern Colorado, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays wandered a bit, with three at Rocky Ford and one further east at John Martin Reservoir.  Four counts found Chihuahuan Ravens. 


Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches and Creeper:

An impressive total of 1041 Mountain Chickadees were found at Evergreen-Idaho Springs.  Nine counts found Juniper Titmouse, with 34 at Durango and 20 at Grand Junction being the highest totals.  Dotsero found 26 Bushtits, which were new for this count.  High counts for nuthatches were: 112 Red-breasted at Boulder, six Eastern White-breasted Nuthatches at both John Martin Reservoir and Weldona-Fort Morgan, 256 Rocky Mountain White-breasted Nuthatches at Boulder, and 1881 Pygmy at Evergreen-Idaho Springs.  The highest count for Brown Creeper was 22 also at Evergreen-Idaho Springs.


Wrens through Kinglets:

A surprising number of 17 Rock Wrens were reported from Grand Junction, singles were north at Boulder and Fort Collins.  Twelve counts found Canyon Wrens, with five at Colorado Springs and five at Denver being the most.  A Pacific Wren was photographed and recorded at Evergreen-Idaho Springs.  Nice counts found Winter Wrens, with four at Penrose being the most.  There was Marsh Wrens found on 20 counts, with Penrose’s eight being the highest.  Bewick’s Wrens are only found in southern and western Colorado, 24 at Pueblo Reservoir was a good total.  There were American Dippers on 30 counts, 37 at Fort Collins were the most.  Ten counts found Golden-crowned Kinglets (after only one count found them last winter), five at Fairplay were the most.  Nineteen counts found Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and the most were along the Arkansas River, Pueblo Reservoir had 27 and Penrose had 16.


Bluebirds through Waxwings:

Low numbers of bluebirds were found.  Five counts found only a total of 24 Eastern Bluebirds, with Rocky Ford’s seven being the most.  There was a total of 406 Western Bluebirds, with 114 Grand Junction and 112 at Hotchkiss being the highest.  Fourteen counts found Mountain Bluebirds, with 532 at Delta, 406 at Grand Junction, 240 at Hotchkiss, and 128 at Montrose were the highest; one was found at Nunn for the first time, and Pueblo Reservoir only found one as well, as sometimes there are many thousands wintering in this circle.  Townsend’s Solitaire seems to have a great year this winter in Colorado, 300 at Boulder, 288 at Denver, 208 at Colorado Springs, 198 at Fort Collins, 196 at Evergreen-Idaho Springs, 183 at Pueblo Reservoir, and 137 at Loveland were impressive totals.  Six counts found Hermit Thrush, four at Grand Junction were the highest, both Cortez and Pinon Canyon found their first ones for their counts.  As with solitaires, there seemed to be a lot of American Robins too, over 21,000 on count this winter, 3987 at Fort Collins and 2396 at Boulder were the most.  Five counts found single Gray Catbirds, all from eastern Colorado.  Six counts found Curve-billed Thrashers; Pueblo Reservoir found the most with 14.  Both Flagler (two) and North Jeffco (one) found Brown Thrashers for the first time, Barr Lake and John Martin Reservoir found one each.  The only Sage Thrasher was at Pueblo Reservoir.  Only two Northern Mockingbirds were found on count day, at Grand Junction and John Martin Reservoir, both Boulder and Pueblo found them count week.  The high counts for American Pipits were 48 at Pueblo Reservoir and 42 at Grand Junction.  Finally Bohemian Waxwings made an appearance on more than one count in Colorado (usually Steamboat Springs gets them), nine counts found them, 314 total (the bigger numbers hit Colorado in January after the Christmas Bird Count season was over).  Loveland found 81, Fort Collins 61, Granby 60, Weldona-Fort Morgan 41, Douglas County 37, Gunnison 30, and Crook one.  New for counts, were one at Denver (urban) and two at Flagler.  The Denver (urban) count found the most Cedar Waxwings with 187. 



Flagler as usual found the most Lapland Longspurs with 3189, and Pinon Canyon found 35, which were new for that count.  Chestnut-collared Longspurs are rarer in winter, and three were found at Flagler.  Nunn found the only Snow Bunting. 



There weren’t many warblers of interest this winter, a count week Orange-crowned at Boulder, a Nashville Warbler at Denver, and a Common Yellowthroat at Pueblo Reservoir were the highlights. 



A Chipping Sparrow was reported without details from Fort Collins.  The 51 “White-winged” Juncos at Evergreen-Idaho Springs was a nice total.  A Golden-crowned Sparrow was reported from Barr Lake.  There were 33 Harris’s Sparrows statewide, Eagle Valley found one, which was the most unusual one, since it was in the mountains.  Fewer White-throated Sparrows turned up than Harris’s, with 15 on 10 counts, a few in rarer places were one at Eagle Valley, one at Grand Junction, one at Roaring Fork River Valley, and one at Salida.  The only Savannah Sparrow was at John Martin Reservoir.  There were 13 Lincoln’s Sparrows and 32 Swamp Sparrows found.  Rufous-crowned Sparrows were found at Pinon Canyon (three) and Penrose (one), plus count week at John Martin Reservoir.


Cardinal and Blackbirds:

Eastern plains counts found most of the Northern Cardinals as usual, two at Crook, five at John Martin Reservoir, and four at Weldona-Fort Morton.  More unusual were singles at Boulder and Fort Collins.  Only three counts found single Yellow-headed Blackbirds (John Martin Reservoir, Longmont, and Monte Vista N.W.R.).  Usually a few Rusty Blackbirds are found, this season’s tally was five at Pueblo Reservoir, three at Loveland, three at Pueblo, two at Denver, and count week at Boulder.  Dotsero found their first Brewer’s Blackbird.  Usually, just a few Common Grackles winter in Colorado, six at John Martin Reservoir were the most.  Two Brown-headed Cowbirds at Steamboat Springs were new for that count. 



Rosy-finch totals were very high this winter, 111 Gray-crowned at Fairplay, one Hepburn’s at Summit County, 45 Black Rosy-Finches at Grand Mesa, and 65 Brown-capped Rosy-Finches at Fairplay were the highest totals.  The highest totals for Pine Grosbeaks were 21 at Steamboat Springs and 18 at Aspen.  A Purple Finch was in Denver.  Cassin’s Finches were widespread this winter, 33 counts found them 299 at Evergreen-Idaho Springs were the most.  Also, Evergreen-Idaho Springs found the most Red Crossbills with 159.  It wasn’t much of a winter for Common Redpolls, two at Evergreen-Idaho Springs were all that were found.  Southwest Colorado counts found the most Pine Siskins, 127 at Cortez and 126 at Pagosa Springs.  Lesser Goldfinches were found for the first time at Air Force Academy and Pinon Canyon, 69 at Grand Junction were the most.  Evening Grosbeaks were found on 34 counts, Hotchkiss found 269 and Cortez found 262.


I want to thank all the compilers, field observers, feeder watchers for helping make this past winter, a successful Christmas Bird Count season in Colorado.  Thanks to the compilers who got their results entered early.