Winter Birding Brings Warm Smiles

Birds of Winter Camp

Program recap by Stacey Monahan, Camp and Family Programs Coordinator

The winter landscape always presents amazing and memorable opportunities to learn about nature.

This year at Birds of Winter Camp, our campers learned about the 7 simple actions to help birds, and focused on what they could do to make a difference! They learned how to ID birds, why it matters, and why we count the number and species of birds we see during the day.

Campers enjoyed being the first to use our new handheld digital tablets to explore the Merlin Bird ID app and learn how to input their observations into eBird. We planted native sunflower seeds and brainstormed different ways to help our planet by reducing the use of plastics, including upcycling, using reusable bags, recycling, and picking up trash. They also learned how everyone—no matter what age—can contribute as a community scientist to help make a difference in the world of birds!

Our budding birders boarded the Eagle Express and we explored all over Barr Lake State Park in search of the seasonal avian visitors. Everyone was ecstatic when they identified a Greater White-fronted Goose and Snow Geese in a large flock of Canada Geese!  Juvenile and adult Bald Eagles soared over the lake and we even spotted them perched in trees and in their nest. We also saw Northern Pintails, Common Mergansers, Red-tailed Hawks, Kestrels, and so many more birds!

Our campers even got to be a first-hand witness to nature drama. While sitting at the picnic tables having lunch, one of our campers hollered, “Something big just fell from the tree!” Of course, everyone ran over, and what did we find…but the wing of a large bird!  Our campers immediately went into scientist mode, speculating on what happened. The consensus was that it was from a bird that had been partially eaten by an eagle up in the tree. A strong wind had jostled it loose to fall to the ground. You just never know what you will find while you’re exploring Barr Lake!


Christmas Bird Count

Event recap by Tyler Cash, Environmental Educator

Bird Conservancy of the Rockies finished 2019 in style with Audubon’s 120th Christmas Bird Count (CBC). Eight teams of hardy birders scoured the 15 mile diameter centered at Barr Lake State Park and the county roads surrounding it with one goal in mind; identify and count all the birds we see.

We were greeted with a sunny—albeit chilly—morning that turned into a beautiful, bright winter day with temps in the high 30’s. While we did not see any rare birds or add new birds to our historical CBC list, we did observe increased numbers of certain species. One group at Barr Lake counted 7,123 Common Mergansers!  Meanwhile, another team observing near Denver International Airport counted a total of 6,694 Horned Larks. We had another high count of American White Pelicans overwintering at Barr Lake, with 46 individuals counted. We ended the day compiling all the checklists and reliving our adventures. In the end, we observed 68 species and a total of 27,449 individual birds. After seven hours of counting birds, you can safely say we birded our faces off.

Bird counts like this are a great way to introduce birding to newcomers, alongside experienced birders who can share tips and guide the way. Community Science (aka Citizen Science) programs are also a vital tool for collecting data that helps scientists understand population trends over time.  Thank you to all of the group leaders, participants, and Bird Conservancy staff that made this event possible!

Upcoming Programs

Join us for our next birding adventure at the Great Backyard Bird Count on February 15, 2020!  We also have many opportunities for kids and their families to spend some time outdoors with us, including Birding by Bike and Birding by Canoe, and the upcoming Great Backyard Bird Count.  Registration for our popular Bird Camp programs are now open. Until March 2, take advantage of the 15% Early Bird Discount! All ability levels are welcome and encouraged!

Bird Conservancy’s educational programs are made possible in part through the generous support of: