A Field Guides Birding Tours Report

Colorado Grouse 2024

April 12-23, 2024 with Micah Riegner & Megan Edwards Crewe guiding

Field Guides Birding Tours
This male Sharp-tailed Grouse was accompanied by another 20 or so males at the lek near Craig. Photo by tour participant Meg Barron.

We’re excited to report yet another successful run of our Colorado tour. This year was rather unconventional since we started in the mountains and then went east to the prairies, but that didn’t stop us from cleaning up on the Colorado “chickens” and seeing some other fabulous avifauna and megafauna along the way!

Our first day we drove from Denver to Silverthorne and were treated to great views of Black, Gray-crowned and Brown-capped Rosy-Finches. Getting all three in one fell swoop doesn’t happen every year; in fact, last year we only saw one species during the entire tour! We then drove to Loveland Pass at 12,000 feet in elevation, where we scoped a White-tailed Ptarmigan, a white lump on a white background, before we continued toward Craig with stops for Golden Eagles and Yellow-bellied Marmots along the way.

Based out of Craig, we visited a fabulous Sharp-tailed Grouse lek. There were over 20 males in a foot-stomping frenzy right outside our van doors! Just spectacular! The Greater Sage-Grouse also put on quite a show thrusting their ochre air sacs into the air to produce a bubbly sound. Working our way south we had a couple fun days of birding around Grand Junction and Montrose where we picked up Sagebrush Sparrow, and Brewer’s Sparrow at the Utah state line in addition to a pair of Long-billed Curlews in a display flight. We made a run up Black Canyon of the Gunnison and, thanks to Megan for pulling over, we saw a female Dusky Grouse as it scuttled away into the brush! What a huge relief to see it so soon. Other birds we encountered around the Montrose area included White-throated Swift, Slate-colored Fox Sparrow, Spotted Towhee and a surprise Northern Pygmy-Owl, a super cooperative Williamson’s Sapsucker drilling its nest hole, several Lewis’s Woodpecker, Evening Grosbeaks, Red Crossbills and a close American Dipper. The American Three-toed Woodpecker at Monarch Pass was another highlight.

Working our way east through Colorado Springs into the grasslands, we picked up Clark’s, Western, Horned and Eared Grebes at Big Johnson Reservoir, then Mountain Plover at Hannover Road. Around Pueblo we saw Wood Duck, several migrant Audubon’s and Myrtle Warbler, a Cooper’s Hawk picking apart a Starling and a flock of Scaled Quail in a residential area. Continuing into Kansas we hit several more reservoirs where we saw big flocks of migrant Franklin’s Gulls and the inland breeding Snowy Plovers. The reason we came all the way out to Scott City, Kansas, was to see the dance of the Lesser Prairie-Chicken. From our chilly blinds and still in total darkness at Smoky Valley Ranch, we could hear the males beginning to perform. They shuffled their feet and made a strange popping sound with their air sacks. As the pink sunrise illuminated the lek, we were treated to a rare jaw-dropping display, one of the last of its kind. Sadly, Lesser Prairie-Chickens continue to decline, but thanks to ranchers cooperating with The Nature Conservancy to preserve their native prairie, their population in central Kansas is stable.

From Kansas we returned to Colorado to see our final lek of the tour: the lek of the Greater Prairie-Chicken. For this we paid a visit to Bob Bledsoe, a cattle rancher who graciously lets us visit his lek every year. After an enjoyable morning watching the prairie-chickens, which were accompanied by Burrowing Owls, we drove out to the Pawnee Grasslands where we found a Short-eared Owl on a sunflower stalk and a beautiful male Thick-billed Longspur that flew in and landed right in front of us, an appropriate closure to our time in Colorado.

Megan and I would like to thank you all for joining us on this road trip. We look forward to birding with you again soon!


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

Anatidae (Ducks, Geese, and Waterfowl)

CANADA GOOSE (Branta canadensis)

Abundant throughout the tour.

Check out this video that both Micah and Megan filmed during their time in the Colorado mountains and plains.

WOOD DUCK (Aix sponsa)

We saw a pair near Pueblo Reservoir. Also seen at Holbrook Reservoir.

BLUE-WINGED TEAL (Spatula discors)

CINNAMON TEAL (Spatula cyanoptera)

NORTHERN SHOVELER (Spatula clypeata)

GADWALL (Mareca strepera)

AMERICAN WIGEON (Mareca americana)

MALLARD (Anas platyrhynchos)

GREEN-WINGED TEAL (AMERICAN) (Anas crecca carolinensis)

CANVASBACK (Aythya valisineria)

Yvon spotted one at Blue Mesa Reservoir.

REDHEAD (Aythya americana)

We saw a male at Goodland Water Treatment Plant.

RING-NECKED DUCK (Aythya collaris)

LESSER SCAUP (Aythya affinis)

BUFFLEHEAD (Bucephala albeola)

COMMON GOLDENEYE (Bucephala clangula)

We saw a flock on the lake near Montrose.

COMMON MERGANSER (Mergus merganser)

Several were on Sweitzer Lake.


There was a pair on Big Johnson Reservoir.

RUDDY DUCK (Oxyura jamaicensis)

Odontophoridae (New World Quail)

NORTHERN BOBWHITE (Colinus virginianus)

We flushed a pair out near Wray, Colorado. They flew right over us and into the brush.

SCALED QUAIL (Callipepla squamata)

We now have a very reliable spot for these quail in Pueblo Colorado. We had great views of them this time around.

GAMBEL'S QUAIL (Callipepla gambelii)

Thanks to Carol and Paul Ortenzio for letting us stop by to see the Gambel's Quail in the yard!

This video shows the dramas that unfolded at the Sharp-tailed Grouse lek near Craig, Colorado. Filmed and edited by guide Micah Riegner.
Phasianidae (Pheasants, Grouse, and Allies)

WILD TURKEY (Meleagris gallopavo)

Ellen was our turkey spotter for the tour. She spotted several along the many drives.

GREATER SAGE-GROUSE (Centrocercus urophasianus)

The birds were flushed by a harrier initially, but thankfully they returned to the lek and resumed their display. We were so close we could hear the popping sound made by their air sacs.

GUNNISON SAGE-GROUSE (Centrocercus minimus)

We had distant views of this threatened Sage-Grouse of southern Colorado.

DUSKY GROUSE (Dendragapus obscurus obscurus)

We were driving along the road at Black Canyon when Megan pulled over to let someone past and in doing so, she flushed a female Dusky Grouse that was right at the edge of the road! The following day we stumbled upon a male that was displaying in pre-dawn gloom. This can be the trickiest grouse to see on a tour, so seeing two is extremely lucky!

SHARP-TAILED GROUSE (Tympanuchus phasianellus columbianus)

The Sharp-tailed lek outside of Craig was among the favorite leks of the tour. There were at least 24 males in a foot-stomping frenzy, just a 20 or so yards away. Check out the video I made to get a sense of what it was like.

GREATER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN (PINNATUS) (Tympanuchus cupido pinnatus)

We visited Bob Bledsoe's Greater Prairie-Chicken lek on the final day of the tour. Several males were out giving their mournful hooting as the sun warmed the prairie.

LESSER PRAIRIE-CHICKEN (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus)

The Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek at Smoky Valley Ranch was among the most energetic we had seen. Lots of males were out stomping around in that gorgeous parcel of native prairie in western Kansas.

WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN (Lagopus leucura altipetens)

It didn't take long before we had one of these pure white ptarmigans in the scope at Loveland Pass. Sometimes we miss it the first time and have to go back for a second look.

RING-NECKED PHEASANT (Phasianus colchicus) [I]

Ubiquitous along the roads especially in Kansas.

Podicipedidae (Grebes)

PIED-BILLED GREBE (Podilymbus podiceps)

HORNED GREBE (Podiceps auritus)

We saw one in breeding plumage at Big Johnson Reservoir.

EARED GREBE (Podiceps nigricollis)

These too were in breeding plumage.

The nex lek we saw was the Greater Sage-Grouse lek. Video by guide Micah Riegner.

WESTERN GREBE (Aechmophorus occidentalis)

The common Aechmophorus of the tour. We watched a pair doing their courtship routine at Sweitzer Lake.

CLARK'S GREBE (Aechmophorus clarkii)

We scoped one that was fairly close to shore at Big Johnson Reservoir. We could see its bright orange bill and white feathering around the eye.

Columbidae (Pigeons and Doves)

ROCK PIGEON (Columba livia) [I]

EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE (Streptopelia decaocto)

WHITE-WINGED DOVE (Zenaida asiatica)

Folks in Megan's van saw one go past the road at Pueblo. This is another species expanding its range due to climate change.

MOURNING DOVE (Zenaida macroura)

Apodidae (Swifts)

WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Aeronautes saxatalis)

It was fun to watch these from above at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

Trochilidae (Hummingbirds)

BROAD-TAILED HUMMINGBIRD (Selasphorus platycercus)

We saw a recently arrived male at Carol Ortenzio's yard near Grand Junction.

Rallidae (Rails, Gallinules, and Coots)

AMERICAN COOT (Fulica americana)

Gruidae (Cranes)

SANDHILL CRANE (Antigone canadensis)

Seen at various sites throughout the tour. They were particularly common around Craig.

Recurvirostridae (Stilts and Avocets)

BLACK-NECKED STILT (Himantopus mexicanus)

We saw one at Sweitzer Lake.

Perhaps the most energetic display of the tour was that of the Lesser Prairie-Chickens at Smoky Valley Ranch in Kansas. What a show they gave us! Filmed and edited by guide Micah Riegner.

AMERICAN AVOCET (Recurvirostra americana)

Seen at Sweitzer Lake and Holbrook Reservoir.

Charadriidae (Plovers and Lapwings)

BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER (Pluvialis squatarola)

One flew over us at Neenoshe Reservoir.

KILLDEER (Charadrius vociferus)

MOUNTAIN PLOVER (Anarhynchus montanus)

We scoped one that was out in a field near Hannover Road.

SNOWY PLOVER (Anarhynchus nivosus)

There were five of these inland-breeding Snowy Plovers along the shoreline at Cheraw Lake.

Scolopacidae (Sandpipers and Allies)

LONG-BILLED CURLEW (Numenius americanus)

We watched a pair our in a field near the Colorado/Utah border. What an elegant bird!

MARBLED GODWIT (Limosa fedoa)

There were quite a few lined up at the Goodland Sewage Treatment Plant.

WILSON'S SNIPE (Gallinago delicata)

We scoped one that was at Holbrook Reservoir.

WILSON'S PHALAROPE (Phalaropus tricolor)

These were in breeding plumage. Seen at Goodland Sewage Treatment Plant.

SPOTTED SANDPIPER (Actitis macularius)

LESSER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa flavipes)

Seen at Fruit Growers Reservoir.

WILLET (WESTERN) (Tringa semipalmata inornata)

One was mixed in with the Marbled Godwits at Goodland Sewage Treatment Plant.

GREATER YELLOWLEGS (Tringa melanoleuca)

Seen at various reservoirs throughout the tour.

LEAST SANDPIPER (Calidris minutilla)

Our best views were at Holbrook Reservoir.

We had an amazing time watching this Williamson's Sapsucker working on its nest cavity near Montrose. Video by guide Micah Riegner.
Laridae (Gulls, Terns, and Skimmers)

BONAPARTE'S GULL (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)

We saw a couple distant birds mixed in with the Franklin's Gulls at Holbrook Reservoir.

FRANKLIN'S GULL (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

It was nice to see good numbers of these migrants passing through the plains. Seen at Big Johnson Reservoir and Holbrook Reservoir.

RING-BILLED GULL (Larus delawarensis)

CALIFORNIA GULL (Larus californicus)

We scoped a few at Big Johnson Reservoir.

FORSTER'S TERN (Sterna forsteri)

One flew past us at Holbrook Reservoir.

Gaviidae (Loons)

COMMON LOON (Gavia immer)

Shuming spotted one at Blue Mesa Reservoir. We then found another nearby.

Phalacrocoracidae (Cormorants and Shags)

DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT (Nannopterum auritum)

Pelecanidae (Pelicans)

AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Seen at various bodies of water throughout the tour.

Ardeidae (Herons, Egrets, and Bitterns)

SNOWY EGRET (Egretta thula)

One flew past us at Holbrook Reservoir.

GREAT BLUE HERON (Ardea herodias)

Cathartidae (New World Vultures)

TURKEY VULTURE (Cathartes aura)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our group birding at the Colorado/Utah border where we saw Sagebrush and Brewer's Sparrows on their breeding territories. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Pandionidae (Osprey)

OSPREY (Pandion haliaetus)

We watched one dip down and catch a fish near Montrose.

Accipitridae (Hawks, Eagles, and Kites)

GOLDEN EAGLE (Aquila chrysaetos)

I lost count of how many Golden Eagles we saw! Our closest view was of one sitting on a telephone pole right off the highway near Scott City.

NORTHERN HARRIER (Circus hudsonius)

We saw numerous throughout the tour. We were a bit concerned when one flushed the Greater Sage-Grouse off their lek, but the birds eventually came back.

SHARP-SHINNED HAWK (Accipiter striatus)

We saw one perched on a low branch at Clear Springs Ranch.

COOPER'S HAWK (Accipiter cooperii)

We watched one picking apart a starling near Pueblo Reservoir.

BALD EAGLE (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

A number of these majestic eagles were seen throughout the tour.

SWAINSON'S HAWK (Buteo swainsoni)

Swainson's Hawks were quite common, especially out on the prairies.

RED-TAILED HAWK (Buteo jamaicensis)

Strigidae (Owls)

GREAT HORNED OWL (Bubo virginianus)

We saw one in the rocks over the highway near Meeker, then Keith spotted a nest near Pueblo Reservoir and then at Wray Fish Hatchery.

NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (ROCKY MTS.) (Glaucidium gnoma pinicola)

We were pleasantly surprised to find one at Black Canyon, a scarce bird in Colorado. After a couple minutes of scanning, we managed to pick it out at the top of a pine.

BURROWING OWL (Athene cunicularia)

Seen at Hannover Road, Bob Bledsoe's lek and at the Goodland Sewage Treatment Plant.

SHORT-EARED OWL (Asio flammeus)

Megan spotted one sitting on a sunflower stalk at the Pawnee Grasslands. This is another owl we typically don't see on the tour.

Alcedinidae (Kingfishers)

BELTED KINGFISHER (Megaceryle alcyon)

We saw a male perched above the Yampa River near Craig.

Field Guides Birding Tours
This Thick-billed Longspur on the Pawnee Grasslands was one of the final birds of the tour. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.
Picidae (Woodpeckers)

WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus thyroideus)

Some folks voted this the bird of the trip. We had outstanding views of a male working on a nest cavity near Montrose.

RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)

Seen at Grand Mesa and near Montrose.

LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (Melanerpes lewis)

Another spiffy woodpecker we saw near Montrose. We even heard them vocalize.

RED-BELLIED WOODPECKER (Melanerpes carolinus)

We typically don't see these on the tour, but this year we did! Seen at the Wray Fish Hatchery.

AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER (ROCKY MTS.) (Picoides dorsalis dorsalis)

After multiple stops along the highway we found a male at Monarch Pass. This is another tough bird to get on the tour. Yip yip!

DOWNY WOODPECKER (Dryobates pubescens)


We saw one along the IL Road. This is another woodpecker we typically don't get on the tour.

HAIRY WOODPECKER (Dryobates villosus)

NORTHERN FLICKER (RED-SHAFTED) (Colaptes auratus cafer)

The only flickers we saw on the tour were the Red-shafted type.

Falconidae (Falcons and Caracaras)

AMERICAN KESTREL (Falco sparverius)

Tyrannidae (Tyrant Flycatchers)

GRAY FLYCATCHER (Empidonax wrightii)

Shuming saw one on the way up to Black Canyon.

EASTERN PHOEBE (Sayornis phoebe)

We saw one singing from high in a cottonwood near Pueblo.

SAY'S PHOEBE (Sayornis saya)

Common in the open country.

WESTERN KINGBIRD (Tyrannus verticalis)

Laniidae (Shrikes)

LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE (Lanius ludovicianus)

We had our best looks at one along the Colorado/Utah border.

Corvidae (Crows, Jays, and Magpies)

PINYON JAY (Gymnorhinus cyanocephalus)

Seen especially well at Cedar Mountain outside of Craig.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Tour participant Meg Barron skillfully photographed this Gunnison's Sage-Grouse as it shot past us!

STELLER'S JAY (SOUTHWEST INTERIOR) (Cyanocitta stelleri macrolopha)

We had our first Steller's Jays at Silverthorne, then seen periodically throughout the mountains. Once we got out to the plains we saw Blue Jays instead.

BLUE JAY (Cyanocitta cristata)

WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAY (Aphelocoma woodhouseii)

Seen at Colorado National Monument and at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.


CLARK'S NUTCRACKER (Nucifraga columbiana)

We ran into a few of these nomadic corvids up in the mountains.

AMERICAN CROW (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

COMMON RAVEN (Corvus corax)

Paridae (Tits, Chickadees, and Titmice)

BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (Poecile atricapillus)

We had nice looks at a pair at Clear Spring Ranch.

MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE (Poecile gambeli)

The common chickadee we saw in the mountains. We had great looks at Silverthorne.

JUNIPER TITMOUSE (Baeolophus ridgwayi)

We had great looks at one at Cedar Mountain near Craig.

Alaudidae (Larks)

HORNED LARK (Eremophila alpestris)

We found no shortage of these out in the prairies!

Hirundinidae (Swallows)

TREE SWALLOW (Tachycineta bicolor)

The most common swallow we encountered. Especially prevalent along the rivers.

VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW (Tachycineta thalassina)

Some were seen on Big Johnson Reservoir.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Northern Pygmy-Owl is a tough bird to see on this tour. We got incredibly lucky to find one at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Photo by guide Micah Riegner.

PURPLE MARTIN (Progne subis)

A female flew past us at Goodland.

NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)

BARN SWALLOW (Hirundo rustica)

CLIFF SWALLOW (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)

Aegithalidae (Long-tailed Tits)

BUSHTIT (INTERIOR) (Psaltriparus minimus plumbeus)

We surrounded a pair in a bush at Pueblo Reservoir.

Regulidae (Kinglets)

RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET (Corthylio calendula) [*]

Sittidae (Nuthatches)

WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH (INTERIOR WEST) (Sitta carolinensis nelsoni)

Seen at multiple sites throughout the mountains.

PYGMY NUTHATCH (Sitta pygmaea)

We saw some in Silverthorne and also near Montrose.

RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH (Sitta canadensis)

Seen near Montrose.

Troglodytidae (Wrens)

ROCK WREN (Salpinctes obsoletus)

I'm always surprised to see these out in the grasslands. We saw one at the Lesser Prairie-Chicken lek in Kansas and one at the Pawnee Grasslands.

CANYON WREN (Catherpes mexicanus) [*]

Heard way down the canyon at Colorado National Monument.

HOUSE WREN (Troglodytes aedon)

MARSH WREN (PLESIUS GROUP) (Cistothorus palustris plesius)

Seen along the Yampa River near Craig and at Sweitzer Lake State Park,

Cinclidae (Dippers)

AMERICAN DIPPER (Cinclus mexicanus)

We had a close encounter with a dipper near Montrose. We watched it from a bridge as it foraged in the fast-moving water.

Field Guides Birding Tours
These two Greater Sage-Grouse were facing off at the lek. Photo by tour participant Meg Barron.
Sturnidae (Starlings)

EUROPEAN STARLING (Sturnus vulgaris) [I]

Mimidae (Mockingbirds and Thrashers)

CURVE-BILLED THRASHER (CURVIROSTRE GROUP) (Toxostoma curvirostre oberholseri)

We saw a couple near Pueblo. Always a fun bird to see.

SAGE THRASHER (Oreoscoptes montanus)

I was delighted to find these out at Ken's place near Craig, a new location for the tour.

NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD (Mimus polyglottos)

Turdidae (Thrushes and Allies)

EASTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia sialis)

Megan found us some at the Wray Fish Hatchery,. Through the scope we could see their rusty throats, separating them from Western Bluebird.

WESTERN BLUEBIRD (Sialia mexicana)

We had nice looks at some near Montrose.

MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD (Sialia currucoides)

A regular roadside bird, especially during our time in the Rockies.

TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE (Myadestes townsendi)

We saw one our first morning near Silverthorne. Always a fun bird to see.

AMERICAN ROBIN (Turdus migratorius)

Bombycillidae (Waxwings)

CEDAR WAXWING (Bombycilla cedrorum)

These were right around the corner from our hotel in Craig.

Passeridae (Old World Sparrows)

HOUSE SPARROW (Passer domesticus) [I]

Fringillidae (Finches, Euphonias, and Allies)

EVENING GROSBEAK (Coccothraustes vespertinus brooksi)

We saw big flocks of these handsome finches out near Montrose.

Field Guides Birding Tours
Our group at dinner in Wray, Colorado. Photo by the waiter.

PINE GROSBEAK (ROCKY MTS.) (Pinicola enucleator montana)

Seen briefly with the jumble of finches near Montrose.

GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH (GRAY-CROWNED) (Leucosticte tephrocotis tephrocotis)

Getting all three Rosy-Finches on our first morning was exceptionally lucky, especially considering we only saw one last year!

BLACK ROSY-FINCH (Leucosticte atrata)

Black Rosy-Finch can be a tough one to track down, but we found one our first day near Silverthorne.

BROWN-CAPPED ROSY-FINCH (Leucosticte australis)

HOUSE FINCH (Haemorhous mexicanus)

CASSIN'S FINCH (Haemorhous cassinii)

We had nice scope studies of both males and females throughout the tour, finding ways to tell them apart from House Finch.

RED CROSSBILL (Loxia curvirostra)

Excellent views near Montrose. These were the Ponderosa type 2 crossbills.

PINE SISKIN (Spinus pinus)

LESSER GOLDFINCH (Spinus psaltria)


Calcariidae (Longspurs and Snow Buntings)

THICK-BILLED LONGSPUR (Rhynchophanes mccownii)

We nailed Thick-billed Longspur right at the 11th hour before we had to leave for Denver. We were able to call in a male and it landed maybe 40 feet away giving us great looks. Gorgeous bird!

Passerellidae (New World Sparrows)

GRASSHOPPER SPARROW (Ammodramus savannarum)

Seen on a couple occasions, once out at Smoky Valley Ranch and also at the Pawnee Grasslands.

CHIPPING SPARROW (Spizella passerina)

We scoped one along the drive up to Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

BREWER'S SPARROW (Spizella breweri)

We made a special trip out to the Utah border to see both Brewer's and Sagebrush Sparrows in their breeding habitat. We had great looks at both!

LARK SPARROW (Chondestes grammacus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Displaying Lesser Prairie-Chickens at the Smoky Valley Ranch lek. Photo by tour participant Meg Barron.

FOX SPARROW (SLATE-COLORED) (Passerella iliaca schistacea)

We had great looks at one singing from the oaks at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

DARK-EYED JUNCO (GRAY-HEADED) (Junco hyemalis caniceps)

Pretty much all the juncos we found were Gray-headed.

WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW (GAMBEL'S) (Zonotrichia leucophrys gambelii)

SAGEBRUSH SPARROW (Artemisiospiza nevadensis)

We had a successful morning watching Sagebrush Sparrows out at the Utah border.

VESPER SPARROW (Pooecetes gramineus)

Certainly one of the more common sparrow species we saw both in the rockies and out in the prairies.

SAVANNAH SPARROW (Passerculus sandwichensis)

SONG SPARROW (Melospiza melodia)

LINCOLN'S SPARROW (Melospiza lincolnii)

CANYON TOWHEE (Melozone fusca)

We watched an extremely cooperative pair at our lunch spot at Pueblo Reservoir.

GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (Pipilo chlorurus)

A scarce winter bird in Colorado. We saw one along the IL Road, then at the Goodland Water Treatment Plant.

SPOTTED TOWHEE (Pipilo maculatus)

A handsome male sat out right in front of us at Black Canyon.

Icteridae (Troupials and Allies)

YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus)

It's always a treat to see these flocks around the Reservoirs.

WESTERN MEADOWLARK (Sturnella neglecta)

Ubiquitous throughout the tour.

RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD (Agelaius phoeniceus)


We saw a few out in Kansas. There were certainly plenty of cows for them out there!

BREWER'S BLACKBIRD (Euphagus cyanocephalus)

We saw a few, mostly in flight.

COMMON GRACKLE (BRONZED) (Quiscalus quiscula versicolor)

Field Guides Birding Tours
We saw some great woodpeckers on the tour! From left to right: Lewis's Woodpecker by tour participant Meg Barron, Williamson's Sapsucker by guide Micah Riegner and American Three-toed Woodpecker by Meg Barron.

GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE (Quiscalus mexicanus)

Parulidae (New World Warblers)

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (MYRTLE) (Setophaga coronata coronata)

It was cool to see migrant flocks with both Myrtle and Audubon's Warblers. We had one such flock near Pueblo.

YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER (AUDUBON'S) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)

Cardinalidae (Cardinals and Allies)

NORTHERN CARDINAL (Cardinalis cardinalis)

One shot over as we were driving through Wray.



The cottontails we saw out near Montrose.

DESERT COTTONTAIL (Sylvilagus audubonii)

These were the cottontails around Grand Junction, Pueblo and Denver.

SNOWSHOE HARE (Lepus americanus)

We missed hitting one by a hair as we meandered down from Grand Mesa in the snow.


BLACK-TAILED JACKRABBIT (Lepus californicus)

We saw a pair out in the Pawnee Grasslands.

LEAST CHIPMUNK (Tamias minimus)

The chipmunks seen around Montrose.

HOPI CHIPMUNK (Tamias rufus)

We saw several at the visitor center at Colorado National Monument.

YELLOW-BELLIED MARMOT (Marmota flaviventris)

These charismatic rodents were along the roadsides especially around Craig.

WHITE-TAILED ANTELOPE SQUIRREL (Ammospermophilus leucurus)

We watched one go into a burrow near Fruit Growers Reservoir.

WYOMING GROUND SQUIRREL (Urocitellus elegans)

These are like mini prairie dogs. They were common around Craig and Gunnison.

THIRTEEN-LINED GROUND SQUIRREL (Spermophilus tridecemlineatus)

Megan spotted one at one of our restroom stops near Goodland, Kansas. It turned out to be the only one we saw on the tour!

ROCK SQUIRREL (Spermophilus variegatus)

Field Guides Birding Tours
Tour participant Meg Barron photographed this Greater Sage-Grouse in action!


These beautiful squirrels look like big chipmunks. We saw them at Black Canyon of the Gunnison.

BLACK-TAILED PRAIRIE DOG (Cynomys ludovicianus)

These were the prairie dogs we saw around Denver and Pueblo.


We saw one along the drive near the Utah border.

GUNNISON PRAIRIE DOG (Cynomys gunnisoni)

We saw a few along the roads around Gunnison.

FOX SQUIRREL (Sciurus niger)

Seen in the woods around Pueblo.

RED SQUIRREL (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus)

We saw some our first morning around Silverthorne.

RED FOX (Vulpes vulpes)

One crossed the road early one morning.

COYOTE (Canis latrans)

We had great looks at one on the way back from Crested Butte.

ELK (Cervus canadensis)

We saw huge herds especially around Gunnison.

MULE DEER (Odocoileus hemionus)

PRONGHORN (Antilocapra americana)

We encountered Pronghorn almost daily. It's good to see their numbers are doing okay in Colorado.

BIGHORN SHEEP (Ovis canadensis)

We pulled over to see some at Blue Mesa Reservoir near Gunnison. It was a herd of females.

Totals for the tour: 173 bird taxa and 24 mammal taxa