Southeast Colorado Birding

Colorado Birding

Southeast Colorado is home Hundreds of species of birds, several wildlife areas and prairie as far as you can see make this area a bird watcher's paradise.

You can view more than 400 of 625 regularly breeding North American bird species in Southeastern Colorado. Many of these sites are listed as "hot spots" and several tour groups frequently visit this area. Migratory songbirds can easily be found in the spring and fall and several rare species call the grasslands home.

The Comanche National Grasslands near La Junta is a perfect birding paradise. The area is home to over 200 species, including the Curve-billed Thrasher, Cassin's Kingbird, Black-throated Sparrows, Rufous-crowned Sparrows, Golden Eagles and the Canyon Wren to name a few. For easy access to the grasslands enter through Vogel Canyon.

Bent's Old Fort National Historic Site near La Junta has recorded over 135 species of birds. Lake Henry and Lake Meredith, near Ordway, are popular for Grebes, Waders, migratory songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and Gulls. John Martin Reservoir and State Park and Lake Hasty near Las Animas are two more great places for birding. Warblers, Buntings, Grosbeaks and Vireos are just a few of the 373 species that have been spotted there.

Bent's Bird Sanctuary, located behind the Bent's Fort Inn near Las Animas is an ideal setting for birding. There are five trails and feeding stations, taking you along the waterways and under the shade trees.

The sanctuary is open to the public and bird feed is available for purchase at the front desk of the hotel.

Other great viewing areas include Ryan's Ponds, two miles east of Rocky Ford on Highway 266, Cheraw Lake, just south of the town of Cheraw, Holbrook Reservoir, five miles north of Swink, and anywhere along the Arkansas River.




Resources
Bird List at John Martin Resevoir
Colorado Department of Wildlife Species Profiles
cpw.state.co.us/learn/pages/birds
Colorado Birding Trail

Colorado Birding Trail




Birding Trails

There are six exciting trails througout Southeast Colorado to fullfill your birding adventures. These trails are provided by the Colorado Department of Wildlife. For more information click on the map links or visit the CDOW website.

There are places in the Comanche National Grassland where you can stop your car by the side of the road, get out and spin 360 degrees, without seeing a single sign of human presence anywhere besides the road. And if you continue to stand there as night falls across the prairie, you likely won’t hear a single motor, nor see artificial light on the horizon. Come morning, with the Lesser Prairie-Chickens dancing and the Cassin’s Sparrows skylarking, you’ll think the shortgrass and yucca stretches on forever–until you get in your car and drive a mile down the road, to the edge of an unexpected cliff, where you’ll stand on the lip of a rimrock band and look three hundred feet down to the stream that carved this gorge out of the grasslands, where a herd of bighorn sheep might be watering. Some places on the plains are an acquired taste, but this is not one of them. This is what Southeast Colorado is all about.Comanche Trail Guide
Information Courtesy: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Visit www.coloradobirdingtrail.com.

The Arkansas River Valley is so thickly packed with top-notch places to view wildlife that it sometimes boggles the traveler’s mind. This trail is in the middle of it all, with an immense variety of destinations squeezed into a very manageable space. Around the edges are the high plains semideserts, with miles of cholla cactus and spiky yucca plants, pronghorn herds, horned lizards, Scaled Quail and even roadrunners. A little closer in are some of Colorado’s premier reservoirs, important stopover points for migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, and the isolated groves of trees where warblers and flycatchers can “fall out” in large numbers after a hard night of migration in spring or fall. Through the center of it all runs the Arkansas River, giving life to cottonwood corridors and human settlements, and making this one of the most rewarding destinations on the eastern plains still close to the beaten path.Pronghorn Trail Guide Information Courtesy: Colorado Division of Wildlife
www.coloradobirdingtrail.com for more info.



We could have called this trail by many names: the Rail Trail, after the Black, Virginia and Sora rails that live in the huge John Martin marshes; the Cottonwood Trail, after the Arkansas River and its excellent corridor of riparian forest; the Lake Trail, since this small area has more large reservoirs and playa lakes than any other part of the state; or the Old Santa Fe Trail, for its immense historical significance. But instead we call it the Plover Trail, after the Mountain Plovers that breed in the high deserts away from the river, the endangered Piping and Snowy Plovers that nest alongside Least Terns on the shores of the alkali lakes, the Semipalmated, Black-bellied and American Golden-Plovers that migrate through in spring and fall, and the Killdeers that can be found sometimes even in winter. The diversity of plovers belies a much greater diversity, of mammals, reptiles, weather patterns, natural landscapes and human cultures. We could even call this trail “the Trail that Has It All.”Plover Trail Guide
Information Courtesy: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Visit www.coloradobirdingtrail.com for more info.


“That’s funny,” first-time visitors often say when they venture south of La Junta. “I thought Eastern Colorado was supposed to be flat.” Flat it’s not, south of the Arkansas River, where the land folds in upon itself and twists into a maze of rimrock canyons filled with juniper and pinyon pine. In this arid forest is found wildlife more typical of the desert Southwest, like horned lizards, Cassin’s Kingbirds, roadrunners, rattlesnakes and Rufous-crowned Sparrows. The geography here is harsh and spectacular, and the people are far-flung but friendly. Of all the wonderful places hidden in Southeast Colorado, this trail might just run right past the most surprises.Prairie Canyons Trail Guide Information Courtesy: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Visit www.coloradobirdingtrail.com for more info.


The playa lakes and manmade reservoirs of this section of Southeast Colorado are magnets for waterbirds of every stripe. Plovers, sandpipers, cranes, egrets, grebes, gulls, terns and ducks all congregate here in huge numbers in migration, and the waterfowl (including tens of thousands of Snow and Ross’s Geese) stay all winter, to star as the main attraction in Lamar’s annual Snow Goose Festival. Summer brings breeding grassland birds like Dickcissel, Mountain Plover and Ferruginous Hawk. A Burrowing Owl might pop out of any prairie-dog burrow. Year-round residents include Ring-necked Pheasants, pronghorns and coyote. At any season of the year, the Snow Goose trail is sure to produce.Snow Goose Trail Guide
Information Courtesy: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Visit www.coloradobirdingtrail.com for more info.

Among Colorado birders, this area of Prowers and northern Baca Counties is nearly synonymous with migration. Isolated from each other by miles of high prairie, the city parks and cemeteries of Lamar, Granada and Holly, the woodlots and stream corridors of the private ranches in the area, and the magical canyon at Two Buttes State Wildlife Area are magnets for tired birds passing through in spring and fall. Add to this the prairie-chicken leks, the huge seasonal concentrations of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes, the pronghorns and the deer, and the subtle prairie scenery, and you’ve got a top-flight destination for naturalists of all kinds.Two Buttes Trail Guide

Information Courtesy: Colorado Division of Wildlife
Visit www.coloradobirdingtrail.com for more info.
for more info.