Trip report: Colorado (April-May 2011) by Tropical Birding

Guided by Andrew Spencer. This was a custom tour.

Colorado is a land of contrasts. Wind-swept, wide-open prairies cover the eastern third of the state; the spine of the Rocky Mountains runs down the center, and deep, weathered red-rock canyons permeate the western part. The weather can go from unbearably hot and sunny one day to snowy and windy the next. Birds from the east meet birds from the west in an ornithological melting pot unmatched on most of the continent.

Ask most birders what really sets Colorado apart, and they will say it is the grouse. This large, square state is home to more species than anywhere else on the continent, and each spring they all display in ritualized mating dances that surely ranks among the premiere sights in the avian world.

All in all we enjoyed a very successful tour; both Sam and Nick got memorable sightings and superb photos of all the grouse we targeted and I got some excellent sound recordings of some of the bizarre noises these “chickens” make when in the throws of full display. Seeing how well we did on this abridged version of our Colorado tour I can’t wait to run the full tour for Colorado’s Chickens next spring!

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