Colorado Birding Trail extends to the southwest

A male and female mountain bluebird take advantage of one of the many nesting boxes erected along Colorado Highway 141 between Grand Junction and Gateway. This popular birding route is among the routes listed on the Colorado Birding Trail, which now includes trails in southwestern Colorado.

Southwest Colorado, including the south side of Grand Mesa and the San Luis Valley, now is part of the Colorado Birding Trail.

The trail, hatched in 2007 by the Colorado Division of Wildlife and numerous private and public partners, initially listed 14 birding routes in southeastern Colorado.

The newest birding addition, which includes Fruitgrowers Reservoir near Eckert, offers 13 new routes, passing through three national parks, along county roads, scenic byways and high-country trails.

“Our goals for the birding trail are to lead the public to locations where they can enjoy Colorado’s natural resources, to economically link funds spent on wildlife watching to rural Colorado communities, and to increase awareness for species and conservation efforts with the general public and private landowners,” said Jennifer Kleffner, watchable wildlife coordinator for the DOW’s southwest region.

At there is information about species you’re likely to see, habitats you’ll encounter, location maps, directions, availability of public and private facilities, latitude/longitude coordinates of sites and a general description of each site.

The website also explains techniques and etiquette for watching birds and lists resources for learning more about birds and the environment of Colorado.

An economic study in 2008 said birding trails and bird watchers play a major role in contributing to local nest eggs. According to the study, birders traveling more than a mile from home to watch birds spent more than $700 million on their pastime in Colorado.

Also, the study said birding supported almost 13,000 jobs in the state.

Southwest Colorado’s varied terrain and landscapes add greatly to the attraction the area holds for birds and birders.

“Because the habitat is so diverse, from red rock canyons and windswept sage flats to alpine tundra, there are a wide variety of birding opportunities,” Kleffner said. “The website provides valuable information for novice and experienced birders and wildlife watchers.”

The 16th annual Spring Bird Count by the Grand Valley Audubon Society on May 8 tallied 165 species, a bit down from the 179 seen last year, the most recorded.

Over the history of the local count, an average of just over 162 species have been counted each year.

Some species seen almost every year were noticeably absent during the 2010 count. These included warbling vireos and belted kingfishers, which have been seen 15 of the 16 years, and canyon wrens and Swainson’s hawks, which made 14 of the 16 counts.


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