SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Pinyon-juniper birds and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest pic

There are extensive pinyon-juniper forests in SE Colorado including large areas in Fremont County. Many of these areas are on public lands that are open to the public including the following in Fremont Co: Red Canyon Park, a park owned by Canon City that is located 8 miles north of town; Temple Canyon Park, another park owned by Canon City but located about 8 miles west of town; Royal Gorge park (near but not including the Royal Gorge bridge area which costs $21/adults), also owned by Canon City and located about 15 miles west of town; Bureau of Land Management areas including Beaver Creek Wildlife Study Area, Grape Creek Wildlife Study Area, and Texas Creek Recreation Area (an ATV and dirt bike play area, but can be birded during less used times).

These pinyon-juniper habitat areas are breeding areas for a number of species including Blue-gray Gnatcatcher which nests far more in this type of habitat than any other in Colorado. I was delighted to find the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher nest in this photo (view from below). Though there were no nestlings nor even eggs in it (after checking from above further up the hill and finding no nestlings, I carefully pulled the tree limb down enough to glance inside), the female also pictured here was zealously guarding her nest.

I saw several Western Tanagers,including fledglings that were pursuing adult birds to beg to be fed. Though this species nests in a variety of habitats in Colorado, they are most often found in pinyon-juniper habitat in this area. Another pinyon-juniper associated species is the Pinyon Jay, a bird that is considered an indicator of healthy pinyon-juniper forests. As raucous as this species is usually, they were even louder as the adults were being chased by fledglings begging vociferously to be fed. I saw a total of 60-80 of both adults and immature Pinyon Jays.

There were several Cassin's Kingbirds, a bird rarely found almost exclusively in the southeast area in Colorado. Other birds seen were an Ash-throated Flycatcher, a female Black-throated Gray Warbler, and lots of Chipping Sparrows and Mourning Doves.


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