Colorado Rocky Mountain High—Our First Western Reader Rendezvous! Enjoy Four Days of Amazing Birding in Colorado!
As a birder—no matter what part of North America you come from—you always have a longing to see the birds from the other side of the continent. BWD editor Bill Thompson, III, spent his younger years flipping through his field guide, marveling at the images of white-tailed ptarmigan and golden eagle, Bullock’s oriole, and western tanager. He dreamed of birding in the wild West!
If you still dream of birding in vast grasslands, along roaring mountain streams, and in the high altitude peaks of the majestic Rocky Mountains, why not join us for the Colorado Rocky Mountain High Reader Rendezvous, June 22–26, 2018? We’ll use Fort Collins, Colorado, as home base, with four full-day excursions out into the best birding habitat the region offers. Among our target birds are some of the West’s most exciting species, including mountain plover, McCown’s longspur, lazuli bunting, white-tailed ptarmigan, brown-capped rosy-finch, Williamson’s sapsucker, and dusky grouse, among many others.
Our local guide for this birding extravaganza is Carl Bendorf of Colorado Birding Adventures. Carl has been an avid birder all his life. He’s served multiple terms on the board of the American Birding Association. We will be in excellent hands!
Our four-day itinerary is designed to get us the maximum number of bird species while birding at a relaxed pace. Colorado’s bird list tops 500 species. The three primary regions we will be visiting are Pawnee National Grasslands, the Colorado Front Range foothills, and Rocky Mountain National Park. Due to the vastness of the region, we will spend a chunk of each day driving in large, comfortable, 15-passenger vans, to and from these birding sites. To take full advantage of the daylight hours, we’ll be getting an early start each morning from our Fort Collins hotel.
In just four days, you will experience:
- Dawn chorus at the Pawnee National Grasslands—the finest remaining example of the disappearing short-grass prairie. Target birds include mountain plover, burrowing owl, prairie falcon, ferruginous hawk, and McCown’s and chestnut-collared longspur.
- Rocky Mountain National Park—with the best mountain birding in Colorado, stunning scenery, and the highest continuous paved road in the U.S. Here we will search for white-tailed ptarmigan, brown-capped rosy finch, Clark’s nutcracker, gray jay, Williamson’s and red-naped sapsuckers, American dipper, and other hard-to-find species. We might also see bighorn sheep, moose, or elk!
- The canyons and streambeds of the northern Colorado foothills—that unique up-thrust of sandstone that separates the plains from the mountains and harbors lazuli bunting, Woodhouse’s scrub-jay, Virginia’s warbler, golden eagle, white-throated swift, and more.
- From the prairies to the peaks, we’ll ascend more than 7,000 feet through five distinct eco-zones—equivalent to traveling 2,100 miles north (past the Arctic Circle). But here in northern Colorado, all of this is possible within 100 miles, as the crow flies!
Mobility & Stamina
Participants should be aware of the potential effects of altitude and take steps to prepare, including maintaining proper hydration. Fort Collins is 5,000 feet above sea level, and we’ll work our way higher. Our highest-altitude travel will be on the third day. Most of our walking will be on level roads or well-maintained trails with some rocky sections, but always at a measured pace. Still, this Rendezvous is not recommended for birders who have significant mobility issues, or who have difficulty getting in and out of step-up vans. If you have health conditions or concerns about your ability to undertake moderate activity at higher elevations, please consult with your physician prior to the trip.