WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BIRD IN WESTERN COLORADO?
I was lying awake a recent night. As I often do, I thought about potential topics for this blog. It occurred to me that most people have a favorite bird. Edward Abbey famously preferred vultures. I can think of other folks who prefer fried chicken.
So, what’s your favorite bird in Western Colorado? I suspect it won’t be a Magpie—probably the most conspicuous bird in our area. Colorado citizens have shown so much love for magpies that they have been the subject of bounties and even used in racial slurs.
(Black-billed Magpie by Jackson Trappett)
How about the state bird, the Lark Bunting? Well, although common on the Eastern Plains of our state, they are rare in Western Colorado and were supposedly selected as the state bird only because the males are black and white which saved printing costs for stationary and brochures. (Our lawmakers haven’t changed very much, have they?)
(Lark Bunting by Jackson Trappett)
Many people love hummingbirds, but here it is, early October; any additional sightings in 2015 can be considered unusual. Most don’t even arrive until May. I suggest your favorite Western Colorado bird ought to live here more than three or four months. By that criteria, I’ve now ruled out the beautiful Western Tanager and most of the warblers. (Only a few winter-drab Yellow-rumped Warblers spend the winter in Western Colorado).
How about ducks? There are many beautiful ducks. At least, they are about to be beautiful. They molt into a dull brown after breeding and are drab brown until late fall. Many can’t even fly during this period. So, ducks don’t make good candidates either.
My personal favorite is the Western Screech-owl (http://www.gjsentinel.com/blogs/birds_and_more/entry/apple-picking-in-december). Some have referred to it as the Grand Valley’s “signature bird.” The downside is they are nocturnal. We have been introducing more and more valley residents to them, but a bird that is only active in the dark seems an unlikely choice.
Our year-around residents include Black-capped Chickadees, American Robins, Bald Eagles, and several species of woodpecker, but all of these are more representative and more common in other parts of the country.
I know! The local Audubon Society! They should have an opinion on Western Colorado’s favorite bird. Grand Valley Audubon Society was formed in the 1950s in my pre-school days. The founders developed a newsletter and named it the Chukar Chatter. Chukars are a very interesting species. They are year-around residents and seem to be uniquely adapted to the harsh high desert environment near Grand Junction. But—and it is a big “BUT”—Chukars are not natives. They are natives of Eurasia and were supposedly introduced to the US from Pakistan.
(Chukar by Jackson Trapett)
I conclude there is no perfect candidate. Hmm, sounds like the presidential election.
This post provided by Nic Korte, Grand Valley Audubon Society. Send questions/comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. [To learn more and to participate in the activities of Grand Valley Audubon (and to read the latest Chukar Chatter), please see our website at audubongv.org and “like” us on Facebook!]