A total of 201 species were found on the 47 Colorado CBCs that were held during the 115th Christmas Bird Count season.
Seven counts found Greater White-fronted Geese, with a total of 36 tallied. A blue morph Ross’s Goose was at John Martin Reservoir. A Snow Goose (blue morph) x Cackling Goose (hybrid) was at Loveland. Mute Swans were at Greeley and two feral Trumpeter Swans were at Pagosa Springs. Singe Tundra Swans were at Boulder, Grand Mesa, and Pueblo. A Mexican Duck was at Durango and a Mottled Duck x Mallard (hybrid) was at Pueblo Reservoir. A Redhead x Ring-necked Duck (hybrid) was at Pueblo Reservoir. Eight counts found Greater Scaup with a total of 34 statewide (all from expected eastern slope counts). Three White-winged Scoters were at Colorado Springs, one at Loveland, and a sighting during count week at Longmont were more than normal for this species. A Long-tailed Duck was at Pueblo and two were at Sterling. Six counts found Barrow’s Goldeneye, with a total of 23 birds.
Established populations of Chukar in Colorado only occur in western Colorado, where both Grand Junction and Grand Mesa found them. Single feral Chukars appeared at Barr Lake and Fort Collins, likely released from hunting clubs. The only Gunnison Sage-Grouse found was a single bird at Gunnison. White-tailed Ptarmigan were found during count week at Aspen and Dusky Grouse were found during count week at Steamboat Springs. Steamboat Springs also tallied the only Sharp-tailed Grouse in the state, a nice total of 93. Greater Prairie-Chickens were found at both Bonny Reservoir (five) and Sterling (two). Northern Bobwhites are only possible on eastern plains CBCs, and they were only found at Weldona-Fort Morgan, 24 in total.
A count week Pacific Loon was at Longmont. Common Loons graced three CBCs, two at Denver, two at Durango, and seven at Pueblo Reservoir. A juvenile Yellow-billed Loon was at Denver. Several counts found grebes: 34 Horned (six counts); count week Red-necked at Denver; 1281 Eared (ten counts); 90 Western (15 counts); and three Clark’s (two at Pueblo and one at Pueblo Reservoir). Thirty-six American White Pelicans were found on five Colorado CBCs. Double-crested Cormorants were found on 11 counts, with a total of 41 found, which is more than usual.
Very rare in winter in Colorado, a Green Heron was at Penrose. Three counts found Black-crowned Night-Herons; four at Boulder, one at Denver, and seven at Denver (urban). A much unexpected Osprey was at Grand Junction. Nine counts found Northern Goshawks, with a total of 11 birds found. Six Peregrine Falcons were found on four counts. Six Soras were found on five counts. Six counts found Sandhill Cranes, with a total of 1421 tallied.
Rare shorebirds included two Spotted Sandpipers at Grand Junction and three Greater Yellowlegs at Rocky Ford. Nine species of gulls were found. The rarer ones included: 33 Bonaparte’s (four counts); one Mew at Pueblo Reservoir; 48 California (six counts); seven Thayer’s (four counts); a possible Iceland Gull at Longmont during count week (Colorado Birds Records Committee will make the final decision about this bird); 21 Lesser Black-backed (on six counts); a Glaucous-winged x Herring (hybrid), and a Great Black-backed at Pueblo Reservoir.
Forty-three of the 47 Colorado CBCs found Eurasian Collared-Doves, an amazing 22,382 birds in total. White-winged Doves were found on seven counts, with a 170 birds tallied. One Greater Roadrunner was at John Martin Reservoir, and count week at Penrose. Owl totals were good, thanks to some major owling efforts on some counts. Nine Barn Owls on six counts; 113 Western Screech on six counts (with 99 of them at Grand Junction – they make a special effort to check all their owl boxes in the circle on count day); 37 Eastern Screech on ten counts; 311 Great Horned on 35 counts; ten Northern Pygmy on six counts; 31 Long-eared on six counts; five Short-eared on three counts; and 13 Northern Saw-whet on four counts (with eight of them at Lake Isabel).
Probably the rarest bird of this year’s counts in Colorado would be the female Costa’s Hummingbird at Grand Junction. Photos were submitted and reviewed by expert birders, and all agreed with the identification. Acorn Woodpeckers were found again at both Colorado Springs (one bird) and Lake Isabel (two birds). Four counts found Red-bellied Woodpeckers, with a total of 24 found. Single Williamson’s Sapsuckers were found at Denver and Pueblo Reservoir, and two were at Penrose. Eight Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers were found on five counts, and likely another Yellow-bellied was at Boulder, counted as a Yellow-bellied/Red-naped Sapsucker, as the bird wasn’t seen well enough to be sure of species. A surprising Red-naped x Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (hybrid) was photographed at Penrose. Ten Ladder-backed Woodpeckers were found on five counts. The only American Three-toed Woodpeckers were singles at Colorado Springs (a first for the count, perhaps there as a result of the forest fires in the area in 2012) and at Rocky Mountain National Park, where they are more likely.
Black Phoebes are now showing up in winter in both western and eastern Colorado; four were at Grand Junction, two at Penrose, and one at Pueblo Reservoir. Very rare in winter, an Eastern Phoebe was found at Pueblo Reservoir, a photo was provided. Say’s Phoebes are only expected on some southern and western slope CBCs in Colorado, though this season the northern counts found them too. Ten counts and 30 birds statewide are more than the usual. A total of 35 Chihuahuan Ravens were found on five Colorado CBCs. A Black-capped x Mountain Chickadee (hybrid) was at Penrose. A total of 16 Rock Wrens were found on five CBCs. Nine Winter Wrens were found on six counts and a Pacific Wren was photographed on the Penrose CBC. Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were found on the west slope at Delta (one) and Grand Junction (three).
Bluebird totals were Eastern (114 total on 8 Colorado CBCs), Western (415 total on 17 Colorado CBCs) and Mountain (4197 total on 18 Colorado CBCs). Five Hermit Thrushes were found on five counts. A count week Varied Thrush was at Loveland. Six Northern Mockingbirds were found on five counts. A good juniper berry crop helped Sage Thrashers around this winter; a single bird was at Penrose and 17 were at Pueblo Reservoir. Brown Thrashers found were two at Bonny Reservoir, one at John Martin Reservoir, one at Lake Isabel, and count week bird at Boulder. Forty-two Curve-billed Thrashers were found on five counts, including one at Colorado Springs for the first time. A total of 61 American Pipits were found on four counts. The only Bohemian Waxwing reports were 33 at Rocky Mountain N.P., and count week at Steamboat Springs.
Two Orange-crowned Warblers were at Grand Junction. Male Pine Warblers were photographed at John Martin Reservoir and Pueblo. A Yellow-breasted Chat was photographed at Gunnison, a much unexpected bird species for Colorado in winter. A Green-tailed Towhee was photographed at Steamboat Springs. Eastern Towhees were at Boulder and Crook and an Eastern Towhee x Spotted Towhee (hybrid) was at Pueblo Reservoir. Three Rufous-crowned Sparrows were at Penrose, where they seem to be now regular. A Chipping Sparrow was thankfully photographed at Grand Mesa; this species always requires a photo for it to be accepted in Colorado in winter. A Field Sparrow was at Bonny Reservoir. Quite rare in winter in Colorado, a Lark Sparrow was photographed at Spanish Peaks. The only Fox Sparrow reports were a (Red) one at Denver and a (Slate-colored) one at Durango. Four counts found a total of seven Lincoln’s Sparrows. Sixteen Swamp Sparrows were found on nine counts. Eleven counts found a total of 23 White-throated Sparrows, and 30 Harris’s Sparrows were found on 15 counts. A Golden-crowned Sparrow was photographed at Denver. A low total of 120 Lapland Longspurs was found on 12 counts, and a Chestnut-collared Longspur was at Flagler. A Snow Bunting was at Rawhide Energy Station, and a count week bird was at Sterling. Seven Northern Cardinals were found on four counts. An immature male Indigo Bunting was photographed—and was a surprise—at Rocky Ford.
Single Yellow-headed Blackbirds were found on four counts. Eight Rusty Blackbirds were at Denver and one at Pueblo, the only ones that were found in the state. Thirteen counts found Common Grackles, with a total of 32 tallied. The more common grackle in winter in Colorado is Great-tailed, and there 1472 counted in ten circles. Seventy Brown-headed Cowbirds were found on six counts. The break down on Rosy-Finches on counts was 964 Gray-crowned, 33 Black, 608 Brown-capped, 227 rosy-finch sp. Single Purple Finches were at Longmont, Rawhide Energy Station, and photographed at Rocky Ford. Low numbers of Common Redpolls were reported this winter, five at Douglas County, two at Greeley, and count week at Evergreen-Idaho Springs. And 87 Lesser Goldfinches were found on eight counts.
Thanks to all the compilers, counters, and landowners who let people count birds on their properties for Colorado Christmas Bird Counts.