The 121st Christmas Bird Count in Colorado

A total of 49 Christmas Bird Counts were completed this past winter in Colorado.  A total of 199 species, plus six others seen only during week.  Some counts had more people than usual, spread out in smaller parties and a couple of counts only had one party for the whole circle.  Luckily, most Colorado Christmas Bird Counts happened this winter, thanks to all the compilers and participants.  Pueblo Reservoir led the way with 121 species on count day, John Martin Reservoir with 109, Grand Junction with 108, Fort Collins and Loveland with 101, Pueblo and Boulder with 100.  Six other counts were in 90s.  The Eastern plains counts of John Martin Reservoir 65,878, Crook 59,226, and Greeley 53,423 were the counts with over 50,000 birds counted in their circles.  The places with the fewest birds were Great Sand Dunes N.P. 284, Fairplay 436, and Westcliffe 519.
A total of 22 Greater White-fronted Geese were found on six counts, Penrose’s 12 being the most.  Crook in northeast Colorado had the largest number of white geese, 41,890 Snow Geese and 2525 Ross’s Geese.  The only western slope Ross’s Goose was at Montrose.  Longmont counted 23,160 Cackling Geese and Greeley counted the most Canada Geese 45,881.  Hybrid geese reports were one Snow x Cackling Goose on the Denver (Urban) CBC, and single Ross’s x Cackling Geese at Fort Collins and Loveland.

Two feral and non-countable Mute Swans were at Greeley.  Feral resident Trumpeter Swan were the one at Pagosa Springs and 10 at Roaring Fork River Valley.  Considered wild Trumpeter Swans appeared also, with two at Boulder, five at Fort Collins, one at Rawhide Energy Station, and count week at Longmont.  Tundra Swans were more numerous too, with 19 at Boulder, nine at Rawhide Energy Station, and count week at Penrose.  Swan species were seen during count week at Colorado Springs (likely were Tundra Swans as well).  

A count week Eurasian Wigeon was at Penrose.  Single Mexican Ducks were seen at Montrose and Penrose.  Five counts reported a total of 12 Greater Scaup, six at Rocky Ford were the most.  Durango in southwest Colorado had most of the scoters, two White-winged and one Black scoters on count day.  Loveland also reported White-winged.  Three counts found Long-tailed Ducks, two at John Martin Reservoir, five at Loveland, and three at Pueblo Reservoir.  Statewide 116 Barrow’s Goldeneyes were count, 56 at Roaring Fork River Valley and 35 at Salida were the largest numbers.

Quail, Pheasants, Grouse:
Seemed like lower numbers of Scaled Quail, only 86 at Pueblo Reservoir, also seen at Fountain Creek, John Martin Reservoir, and Penrose.  Weldona-Fort Morgan in northeast Colorado reported the only countable Northern Bobwhite (10).  A recent introduction of Northern Bobwhite was two seen at Loveland.  The highest number of Ring-necked Pheasants were 51 at Bonny Reservoir in far eastern Colorado.  For the first time, Greater Sage-Grouse were found on the Granby CBC, 14 of them.  Hard to find in the winter, like the other sage grouse, a Gunnison Sage-Grouse was found at Gunnison.  Aspen found count week White-tailed Ptarmigan.  The counts in Weld County, found some Sharp-tailed Grouse, one at Nunn, one at Pawnee Buttes, ten at Pawnee National Grasslands-East, also a regular location Steamboat Springs found 44.  Bonny Reservoir was site of the only Greater Prairie-Chickens (45).  The largest number of Wild Turkeys were 328 at Weldona-Fort Morgan.    

Loons and Grebes:
A Red-throated Loon was at Pueblo Reservoir.  Of the eight Common Loons, half were found at Cortez in southwest Colorado.  A count week Yellow-billed Loon at John Martin Reservoir.  Of the 135 Pied-billed Grebes, 36 at Pueblo Reservoir and 23 at North JeffCo were the most.  Sixty-three Horned Grebes were found including five in southwest Colorado in Durango; Pueblo Reservoir counted the most (36).  Three Red-necked Grebes were at Pueblo Reservoir.  A total of 465 Eared Grebes were found, 451 of them at Pueblo Reservoir; two at Durango and three at Cortez were the only ones in western Colorado.  All the 156 Western Grebes were found in eastern Colorado, with 148 at Pueblo Reservoir being the most.  A count week Clark’s Grebe was also at Pueblo Reservoir, as well as a Western x Clark’s Grebe hybrid on count day.

Cormorants, Pelicans, Herons:
Six counts found Double-crested Cormorants, only 11 total, which seemed lower than normal.  Also, six counts found lingering American White Pelicans, with a total of 247 birds.  There were 238 Great Blue Herons on 29 counts.  The only, Black-crowned Night-Herons were the 15 on the Denver (Urban) count.

Quite rare in winter, an Osprey was at Hotchkiss.  There were 11 Northern Goshawks found on nine counts.  Always rare in Colorado, a Krider’s Red-tailed Hawk was reported from one count, though no details were provided (photos would be best to confirm any reports of this subspecies in Colorado).

Rails, Coots, Cranes:
There were 132 Virginia Rails on 19 counts and only three Soras on three counts.  Six counts found Sandhill Cranes.

The only unexpected shorebirds were Spotted Sandpipers at Grand Junction (four) and Hotchkiss (one), both west slope counts.  A count week Dunlin was at Loveland.

Single Bonaparte’s Gulls were found for the first time on the Crook and Pueblo counts, more normal were 181 at Pueblo Reservoir and four at John Martin Reservoir.  The only Mew Gull was an adult at Pueblo Reservoir.  Five counts found Iceland (Thayer’s Gulls) on count day, Loveland’s four were the most, with five others counted.  Iceland (Kumlieni) Gulls were found count week at John Martin Reservoir (photographed) and Loveland.  Six counts found a total of 20 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, not surprisingly the most were the eight at Pueblo Reservoir.  Rare in Colorado, a single Glaucous-winged Gull was reported from Loveland, and a count week bird was at John Martin Reservoir.  Loveland reported a hybrid Herring x Glaucous Gull during count week.  Great Black-backed Gull returned to Pueblo Reservoir again, plus one at Rawhide Energy Station, and a count week bird at John Martin Reservoir, were more than usual.

Pigeons, Doves, Roadrunner:
Ten counts found White-winged Dove, no counts found over 100 this winter, 90 at Pueblo Reservoir were the most.  The western slope counts found more than usual, 45 at Grand Junction, singles at Cortez and Durango, plus count week at Pagosa Springs.  The only Greater Roadrunner was at Pueblo Reservoir.  

Here are the owl totals, three Barns, 93 Western Screech-, 34 Eastern Screech, 239 Great Horned, 17 Northern Pygmy, 11 Long-eared, five Short-eared, and nine Northern Saw-whet.

Three counts found a total of six Red-bellied Woodpeckers.  Surprisingly after the last few years, where more have been found, the only Williamson's Sapsucker was at Pueblo, and was a first found that count.  Six counts found a total of seven Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, plus three counts found them during count week, making a good showing for them.  Three counts found a total of four Red-naped Sapsuckers, which are usually rare in Colorado in the winter.  Only three counts found Ladder-backed Woodpeckers, and five counts found American Three-toed Woodpeckers.

Four counts found a total of five Peregrine Falcons.

The phoebe counts this winter, eight Black (three counts), one Eastern (at Fort Collins), and 39 Say’s Phoebes (12 counts).

It was an interesting winter for corvids; Pinyon, Steller’s, and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays were wandering into the lowlands in good numbers and Blue Jays were found on a couple counts for the first time.  Seven counts found Chihuahuan Ravens.

Chickadees through Kinglets:
Mountain Chickadees were also wandering around in good numbers in the lowlands.  Juniper Titmouse were found on 17 counts and were new for two counts.  Four counts found a total of 26 “Eastern” White-breasted Nuthatches.  Four counts found Rock Wrens, seven found Canyon Wrens, five found Winter Wrens, and a Carolina Wren was at John Martin Reservoir.  The only Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were at Grand Junction.  

Bluebirds through Waxwings:
Bluebirds weren’t in large numbers at all, 159 Eastern, 295 Western, and 1053 Mountain.  Pretty expected in winter in Colorado in low numbers, six counts found 11 Hermit Thrush.  Totally unexpected was Colorado’s 2nd CBC record, of Wood Thrush at Pueblo, which was photographed.  A Varied Thrush was at North Jeff Co.  Rocky Ford was where the only count day Gray Catbird appeared.  Six counts found a total of 46 Curve-billed Thrashers.  A pretty good total of 11 Brown Thrashers were more than recent years.  The only Sage Thrasher was at Hotchkiss in western Colorado.  A total of nine Northern Mockingbirds was also a nice total.  As usual, the only count finding Bohemian Waxwings was Steamboat Springs, this year they found 214.  We are overdue for a big irruption throughout the state.

A well photographed Snow Bunting was at Granby.

This winters warbler show was slow.  Two Orange-crowned Warblers at Grand Junction, a Common Yellowthroat at Boulder, and a Pine Warbler at Longmont were the highlights.  Only 174 Yellow-rumped Warblers, seemed low as well.

There were some surprises among the sparrows found.  A count week Clay-colored Sparrow at Longmont was quite unusual.  A Field Sparrow was at Colorado Springs and was well described.  A “Sooty” Fox Sparrow was at Boulder, a Slate-colored at Roaring Fork, and a Red was at John Martin Reservoir during count week.  The Sooty Fox Sparrow in Boulder is likely the first of that subspecies ever in Colorado.  A Golden-crowned Sparrow was at Grand Junction.  Only nine Harris’s Sparrows and eight White-throated Sparrows were counted.  Three Vesper Sparrows is more than expected.  A total of 14 Lincoln’s and 19 Swamp sparrows were about average numbers.  Two counts found Rufous-crowned Sparrows.

Cardinals through Blackbirds:
Six counts found a total of 17 Northern Cardinals.  The only Yellow-headed and Rusty blackbirds were at John Martin Reservoir.  A total of 96 Common Grackles and 681 Great-tailed Grackles were counted.  

The rosy-finch totals: 900 Gray-crowned, 46 Black, and 571 Brown-capped.  Two Purple Finches were at John Martin Reservoir.  Three Common Redpolls were found.  Lesser Goldfinches continue to be found more in Colorado in winter, a total of 155 were found on 43 counts.

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