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A Greater Sage-Grouse flies over its lek on our final morning of the tour, with some of the beautiful landscape of North Park in the background. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
Colorado is a spectacular place, so it was only fitting that one of our first tours back from the long pandemic-caused hiatus was to this land of endless plains, resplendent mountains, and funky chicken dances. Our route took us in a figure eight around Colorado, into Kansas, through Nebraska, and even featured a brief dip into Utah.
Starting out in Denver, we made our way south, stopping at Prospect Lake in Colorado Springs, which was chock full of migrant waterbirds. We also had excellent close-up views of Western Bluebirds around the lake edge, and our first views of migrating Franklin’s Gulls on their way from southern South America to their breeding territories in the plains of the American and Canadian west. Our final birding of the evening was focused on the globally rare Mountain Plover, but also featured bonus birds such as a staggeringly close Golden Eagle. We started out our next morning by heading east from Pueblo, stopping for southwestern species like Curve-billed Thrasher and Canyon Towhee. Moving on towards the complex of lakes near Ordway, we had fantastic comparisons of Western and Clark’s grebes, Burrowing Owl, more Franklin’s Gulls, two separate Ferruginous Hawk sightings, and several Snowy Plovers, and this was before we made it to Lake Cheraw. Lake Cheraw had another barrage of interesting birds, from out-of-habitat Townsend’s Solitaire and Western Scrub-Jays, to a scarce migrant Whimbrel making its way north to the tundra. A large flock of ~250 Yellow-headed Blackbirds was making an unforgettable cacophony as we made our way out of the lake. From here, we set our sights on Kansas, having roadside experiences with a pair of Chihuahuan Ravens and a Rough-legged Hawk along the way.
The reason we were heading all the way to Kansas wasn’t just to add another state to our list, it was in order to see the declining and range restricted Lesser Prairie-Chicken. Our first lek experience of the tour was an interesting one, with a spurt of gorgeous sunshine early on before the clouds from the impending weather system arrived and the wind picked up. We then made our way up to the NW and back into Colorado, where we would visit the Lessers’ larger cousins on a lek outside Wray. The unseasonal blizzard overnight laid down a carpet of snow over the lek. The Greater Prairie-Chickens were a little bit late in getting their gregarious displays started, but eventually they did get down to their dancing in the winter wonderland-scape. We then made our way west through the Pawnee National Grasslands, coming upon a mega flock of around a THOUSAND Thick-billed Longspurs on our way down to Denver.
The next day was devoted to making our way from Denver through the mountains and down into the Gunnison Basin, but we jammed in a lot of birding on this day, with perhaps the most impressive single day list of fancy target species of the trip. We started out at a windy, foggy Loveland Pass, just under 12,000 feet in elevation. We were here to search for the challenging White-tailed Ptarmigan, and we eventually pulled a couple out, despite their incredible white-on-white camouflage. From here, we headed over to a finch fiesta in Silverthorne, with a flock of 300 Rosy-finches of 4 taxa coming to feeders, as well as Red Crossbill and Pine Grosbeak. We then dropped down in elevation and headed into the town of Buena Vista for a delightful lunch. For dessert, we went searching for the pink-faced, crow-like Lewis’s Woodpecker, but we got waylaid by a juvenile Northern Goshawk on the way to seeing a pair of these woodpeckers. We still had time to search for another specialty woodpecker, and at Monarch Pass we connected with an American Three-toed Woodpecker, as a great cap to a fantastic day. The next morning was our lek viewing opportunity for the very range restricted Gunnison Sage-Grouse, which we had some reasonable views of, especially considering the Golden Eagles that were causing a ruckus in the area. An afternoon trip to the awe-inspiring Black Canyon of the Gunnison not only produced awe, but a wonderfully confiding and amusing Dusky Grouse. Black Canyon was good enough for another visit in the morning light the next day, which awarded us singing Slate-colored Fox Sparrow, Juniper Titmouse, and excellent light on the gorgeous geology.
It was then off to the Northwest, and to the lower elevations of Mesa County. Highline Lake State Park had a fun combination of shorebirds, waterbirds, and gulls, and the sage-brush desert had some more Sage Thrashers as well as a fancy Long-nosed Leopard-Lizard. The main event here though, was another impressive geologic feature - Colorado National Monument. Our journey through the monument and nearby neighborhoods (including feeders of some friends of Field Guides) produced Gambel’s Quail, Virginia’s Warbler, Mountain Bluebirds building a great nest in a rock wall, and three of only a few hundred Desert Bighorn Sheep in the state. In addition to these great sightings, we got to enjoy the wonderful scenery along the 26 mile-long park road before heading north back into the snowy mountains of the north.
From Steamboat Springs we made a morning excursion in search of Sharp-tailed Grouse, and found several at a very entertaining dispersed lek, through which a troop of three Coyotes marauded at one point. A male Dusky Grouse was even taking in the scene from an adjacent hill side, several Swainson’s Hawks were around, and Sandhill Cranes were displaying along the road as well. On our way out, we also found a couple of Yellow-bellied Marmots in the vicinity of some truly impressive Beaver handiwork. Then over Rabbit Ears Pass it was, picking up an inquisitive Canada Jay along the way, and down into North Park for our stay in the town of Walden. While in North Park, we saw Least Chipmunks, several Moose, and White-tailed Jackrabbit, but of course, the main events here were avian. Some of the group came out for a nocturnal excursion, and in addition to a couple of Red Foxes, we were treated to astonishingly good views of the usually secretive Boreal Owl- amazing! Our final lekking experience dark and early the next morning was that of the huge Greater Sage-Grouse, and we were treated to a good show by these alien-like breeding males and their inflatable lemon yellow air sacs, royal white ruffs, and spiky tails.
Even our drive back to Denver was productive on the avian front, as we added Barrow’s Goldeneye and a drop-dead gorgeous Williamson’s Sapsucker on the way into town. The final dinner provided a great way to re-live the many high points of our adventure, and both Tom and I (and seemingly everyone in the group) agreed that we couldn’t have hoped for a more considerate, fun, and interesting group, despite the various challenges of being on a tour while there were still many pandemic-related restrictions around. On behalf of Tom, and all of us at Field Guides, thanks for joining us for this whirlwind tour through one of our favorite regions in the country, and we sincerely hope to see you in the field again soon.
KEYS FOR THIS LIST
One of the following keys may be shown in brackets for individual species as appropriate: * = heard only, I = introduced, E = endemic, N = nesting, a = austral migrant, b = boreal migrant
The willow-lined stream valleys of North Park were afire with reds and yellows as we made our way into and out of Walden on our exploration of this high elevation bowl surrounded by snow-capped peaks. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld
Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)
SNOW GOOSE (Anser caerulescens caerulescens)
CACKLING GOOSE (Branta hutchinsii)
CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)
TUNDRA SWAN (WHISTLING) (Cygnus columbianus columbianus)
WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)
BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)
Lake Henry provided excellent up-close-and-personal comparisons of the two very similar species of Aechmophorus grebes. Here check out the more extensive dark on the head of the Western on the right, along with the duskier, less vibrant bill. The two Clark’s have extensive pale gray coming up the rear of the flanks, and their eyes are isolated in white. They also have more restricted black on the backs of their necks. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.
CINNAMON TEAL (Spatula cyanoptera)
NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)
GADWALL (Mareca strepera)
AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)
MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)
NORTHERN PINTAIL (Anas acuta)
One big goal bird for several folks was American Three-toed Woodpecker. We had limited time to look for it at Monarch Pass, but found this sociable male just as time expired! Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)
CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria)
REDHEAD (Aythya americana)
RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)
GREATER SCAUP (Aythya marila)
LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis)
We pulled off alongside a bridge at a river that looked good for American Dipper, and sure enough, there was one on the rocks beneath the bridge. After the dipper disappeared towards the bridge itself, further investigation revealed this great scene, with the adult looking out from its inaccessible-to-predators nest built into the supports under the bridge. Dippers are surely one of our coolest species on the American continent! Henry was particularly taken with this scene, as dippers were the birds that really got him into birding lo those many years ago. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
BUFFLEHEAD (Bucephala albeola)
COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)
BARROW'S GOLDENEYE (Bucephala islandica)
COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)
RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Odontophoridae (New World Quail)
GAMBEL'S QUAIL (Callipepla gambelii)
Amazing beasts are the Greater Sage-Grouse. We saved their lek until the final morning, and it really was the cherry on top of this great tour experience. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)
RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) [I]
GREATER SAGE-GROUSE (Centrocercus urophasianus)
GUNNISON SAGE-GROUSE (Centrocercus minimus)
WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN (Lagopus leucura altipetens)
DUSKY GROUSE (Dendragapus obscurus obscurus)
SHARP-TAILED GROUSE (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus)
GREATER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN (PINNATUS) (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus)
What’s that shape waving at us from the snowy ridge? Is it sasquatch? No! It’s our fearless and indefatigable guide Tom Johnson, and he’s just found a couple of incredibly well-camouflaged White-tailed Ptarmigans! Photo by participant Stan Lilley
LESSER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)
WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)
PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)
HORNED GREBE (Podiceps auritus)
EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)
WESTERN GREBE (Aechmophorus occidentalis)
The Moose Visitor Center was covered in birds during our visit, but there were a few Least Chipmunks patrolling the backyard as well, including this excited one! Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.
CLARK'S GREBE (Aechmophorus clarkii)
Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)
ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]
EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)
MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)
WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis)
BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD (Archilochus alexandri)
There truly is no blue like Mountain Bluebird blue! Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus)
Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)
AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)
SANDHILL CRANE (Antigone canadensis)
Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)
BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)
AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)
Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)
SNOWY PLOVER (NIVOSUS) (Charadrius nivosus nivosus)
Several folks opted to climb down to the riverbank to see an American Dipper face and bill peering out of its super cool nest. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER (Charadrius semipalmatus)
KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)
MOUNTAIN PLOVER (Charadrius montanus)
Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)
WHIMBREL (HUDSONIAN) (Numenius phaeopus hudsonicus)
LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus)
MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa)
This tree was completely illuminated by Yellow-headed Blackbirds thicker than ornaments on a Christmas Tree. The cacophony created by these birds was a sound to behold as well! Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER (Calidris bairdii)
LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)
SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER (Calidris pusilla)
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata)
WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor)
This Gambel’s Quail found itself at home on top of someone else’s home in the shadow of Colorado National Monument. Photo by guide Doug Gochfeld.
SOLITARY SANDPIPER (Tringa solitaria)
GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)
WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata)
LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)
BONAPARTE'S GULL (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)
FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)
North Park is the Moose-viewing capital of Colorado, and we found out why, with at least three encounters with five individuals. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.
RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)
CALIFORNIA GULL (Larus californicus)
HERRING GULL (Larus argentatus)
COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)
Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Phalacrocorax auritus)
AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)
We saw them over and over, but it’s impossible to complain about seeing a bird as snappy looking as this breeding plumage Eared Grebe, even after the tenth time. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)
GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)
BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Threskiornithidae (Ibises and Spoonbills)
WHITE-FACED IBIS (Plegadis chihi)
Cathartidae (New World Vultures)
TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)
OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)
Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)
GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos)
Bob spotted this Great Horned Owl hunkering down in a rock crevice during high winds as we birded a roadside pond in Meeker. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)
COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)
NORTHERN GOSHAWK (Accipiter gentilis)
BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)
The scene as we started out our White-tailed Ptarmigan quest at the high elevation of snowy Loveland Pass. Photo by participant Stan Lilley.
RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (Buteo lagopus)
FERRUGINOUS HAWK (Buteo regalis)
GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)
BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)
BOREAL OWL (RICHARDSON'S) (Aegolius funereus richardsoni)
Perhaps our most intimate experience with any grouse was with this male Dusky Grouse relentlessly defending its roadside territory at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. More is written about our memorable encounter with this individual in the species accounts and introduction. Photo by participant Stan Lilley.
BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)
WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)
RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)
LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes lewis)
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (ROCKY MTS.) (Picoides dorsalis dorsalis)
DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)
We found this wonderfully inquisitive Canada Jay coming in to check out a ruckus that a group of Mountain Chickadees were making up atop Rabbit Ears Pass. Photo by participant Jeanette Shores.
HAIRY WOODPECKER (ROCKY MTS.) (Dryobates villosus orius)
NORTHERN FLICKER (Colaptes auratus)
NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus cafer)
Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)
AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)
MERLIN (Falco columbarius)
Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)
BLACK PHOEBE (Sayornis nigricans)
Steller’s Jay could be renamed Stellar Jay and the name would fit just fine. We encountered these denizens of montane conifer habitat on a couple of our visits to those habitats along the way. What a bird! Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)
SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)
LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)
Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)
CANADA JAY (ROCKY MTS.) (Perisoreus canadensis capitalis)
STELLER'S JAY (INTERIOR) (Cyanocitta stelleri macrolopha)
WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)
BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE (Pica hudsonia)
AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)
This Sharp-tailed Grouse flew by us while we were watching the nearby animated dance offs between other Sharp-tailed Grouse lekking in the valley below us, and this great photo gives us a close up view of why it’s named the way it is. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
CHIHUAHUAN RAVEN (Corvus cryptoleucus)
COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)
Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus)
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)
JUNIPER TITMOUSE (Baeolophus ridgwayi)
HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)
NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)
TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)
We saw both Black-tailed Jackrabbit and White-tailed Jackrabbit. White-tailed Jackrabbit is the larger of the two, and this unusually cooperative one gave us some really stellar and prolonged views in North Park on our final day, after we had enjoyed the Greater Sage-Grouse lek. Photo by participant Stan Lilley.
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)
BANK SWALLOW (Riparia riparia)
BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)
CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)
Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)
BUSHTIT (INTERIOR) (Psaltriparus minimus plumbeus)
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Regulus calendula) [*]
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)
Williamson’s Sapsucker was the final species we added to the triplist, and what a bird it was! This cracking male around a very well-used utility pole was a fitting end to a fantastic tour. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis nelsoni)
PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea)
BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER (Polioptila caerulea)
CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus)
AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus)
EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]
Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)
CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (CURVIROSTRE GROUP) (Toxostoma curvirostre oberholseri)
SAGE THRASHER (Oreoscoptes montanus)
We had a really good trip for finches, and saw several great species. It would be hard to argue against Evening Grosbeak as the headliner, especially after views like these. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)
WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)
MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (Sialia currucoides)
TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi)
AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)
CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)
Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)
HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]
Motacillidae (Wagtails and Pipits)
AMERICAN PIPIT (Anthus rubescens)
The Greater Prairie-Chickens seem less inclined than Lesser Prairie-chickens to take to the air during their displays, but this Greater Prairie-chicken was certainly not averse to some aerialism during our visit to their idyllic snow-covered lek. Photo by participant Kevin Watson.
Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)
EVENING GROSBEAK (Coccothraustes vespertinus)
PINE GROSBEAK (ROCKY MTS.) (Pinicola enucleator montana)
GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH (HEPBURN'S) (Leucosticte tephrocotis littoralis)
GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH (GRAY-CROWNED) (Leucosticte tephrocotis tephrocotis)
BLACK ROSY-FINCH (Leucosticte atrata)
BROWN-CAPPED ROSY-FINCH (Leucosticte australis)
HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)
CASSIN'S FINCH (Haemorhous cassinii)
After searching and searching through the Pawnee Grasslands, we finally came across a flock of the artist formerly known as McCown’s. A bit further along the road after our first encounter, we found a mega flock of these fantastic plains dwellers, which have been newly christened Thick-billed Longspurs. Here’s a great view of a male in breeding plumage, which was, interestingly, what 99% of the birds in this huge flock were. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)
PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH (Spinus tristis)
Calcariidae (Longspurs and Snow Buntings)
CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR (Calcarius ornatus)
MCCOWN'S LONGSPUR (Rhynchophanes mccownii)
Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)
FIELD SPARROW (Spizella pusilla arenacea)
BREWER'S SPARROW (Spizella breweri)
The Black Canyon of the Gunnison is surely one of the most awe-inspiring canyons on the continent, and we made two trips there to enjoy the breathtaking scenery as well as a few special birds. Photo by participant Stan Lilley.
BLACK-THROATED SPARROW (Amphispiza bilineata)
FOX SPARROW (SLATE-COLORED) (Passerella iliaca schistacea)
DARK-EYED JUNCO (SLATE-COLORED) (Junco hyemalis hyemalis)
DARK-EYED JUNCO (OREGON) (Junco hyemalis oreganus)
DARK-EYED JUNCO (PINK-SIDED) (Junco hyemalis mearnsi)
DARK-EYED JUNCO (GRAY-HEADED) (Junco hyemalis caniceps)
Perhaps no animal is more iconic of the modern-day open spaces of the American West than the Pronghorn. Are they an antelope? Are they a goat? The last surviving member of the Antilocapridae, the closest extant relative of these unique inhabitants of the plains and deserts is the Giraffe. We had quite a few encounters with them as we wound through the lower elevations of the tour. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (ORIANTHA) (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha)
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (GAMBEL'S) (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii)
VESPER SPARROW (Pooecetes gramineus)
SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)
CANYON TOWHEE (Melozone fusca)
GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (Pipilo chlorurus) [*]
SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)
Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)
YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)
A perfect experience with this Boreal Owl was the perfect payoff for those who braved the realms of sleep deprivation and chose to come out on our nocturnal expedition into the mountains surrounding North Park. It was the best nocturnal experience any of us had had with this secretive owl of the Northwoods. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
WESTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella neglecta)
RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)
BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD (Molothrus ater)
BREWER'S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus)
COMMON GRACKLE (BRONZED) (Quiscalus quiscula versicolor)
GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)
Parulidae (New World Warblers)
VIRGINIA'S WARBLER (Leiothlypis virginiae)
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)
Most of our tour route is too cold for lizards at this season, but we did find this Long-nosed Leopard-Lizard during our foray out into the sagebrush desert along the Colorado/Utah border. Photo by guide Tom Johnson.
BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER (Setophaga nigrescens)
NUTTALL'S (MOUNTAIN) COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus nuttalli)
DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii)
WHITE-TAILED JACKRABBIT (Lepus townsendi)
BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT (Lepus californicus)
LEAST CHIPMUNK (Tamias minimus)
YELLOW-BELLIED MARMOT (Marmota flaviventris)
In Buena Vista, we had one of the most surprising finds of the tour, when we got out of the vans to see this scene: A young Northern Goshawk being aerially assaulted by this American Crow. Not only do we very rarely see Northern Goshawks on the tour, but it’s a bold crow that would test a goshawks tolerance for corvids. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
WYOMING GROUND SQUIRREL (Urocitellus elegans)
THIRTEEN-LINED GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus)
ROCK SQUIRREL (Spermophilus variegatus)
GOLDEN-MANTLED GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus lateralis)
BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG (Cynomys ludovicianus)
WHITE-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG (Cynomys leucurus)
GUNNISON PRAIRIE DOG (Cynomys gunnisoni)
Two of the three Coyotes that caused a ruckus when they strolled through our Sharp-tailed Grouse lek. They took some lunges at the chickens, but they weren’t even close to being successful. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger)
RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)
BEAVER (Castor canadensis)
RED FOX (Vulpes vulpes)
COYOTE (Canis latrans)
AMERICAN MINK (Mustela vison)
ELK (Cervus canadensis)
Prairie Dogs were one of our constant companions throughout this tour. Gunnison Prairie Dogs, like the ones pictured here, are restricted to montane valleys and high plateaus of the southern Rockies, and we saw these in the Gunnison Basin as well as the next basin to the west. Photo by participant Henry Schaefer.
MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)
WHITE-TAILED DEER (Odocoileus virginianus)
MOOSE (Alces alces)
PRONGHORN (Antilocapra americana)
AMERICAN BISON (Bison bison)
BIGHORN SHEEP (ROCKY MOUNTAINS) (Ovis canadensis canadensis)
BIGHORN SHEEP (DESERT) (Ovis canadensis mexicana/nelsoni)
This young Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep graced us with its roadside presence as we made our way west through the rockies. Photo by participant Stan Lilley.
LONG-NOSED LEOPARD LIZARD (Gambelia wislizenii)
Totals for the tour: 179 bird taxa and 27 mammal taxa