Colorado Chicken Run
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Dates: Apr 20-30, 2017 (Filled!)
Apr 19-29, 2018
Colorado is one of the most diverse states in the Union. It holds deserts, high and cool—or low and warm—prairies, deciduous, pine and stunted tree-line forests, 14,000 foot peaks with alpine tundra and every habitat in between. With such marvelous variety of habitats, Colorado has something to capture everyone’s attention.
April-May is an exceptional time to visit Colorado. Winter and Spring co-mingle with breathtaking results. Winter still reigns atop striking snow-capped mountains providing a magnificent backdrop to Spring’s first blossoms appearing along river banks and prairies. Like the landscape, avifaunas are also mingled. Winter residents linger across the brightening landscape and thawing lakes harbor new Spring migrants and more summer residents arrive each passing day. This is also the best month to view grouse gathering at their communal leks
Five species are to be found on these leks (traditional display or ‘dancing’ arenas) in full display. An extraordinary set of histrionics—tail-raising, wing-fanning, foot-stomping, air-sac inflating, moaning, groaning, cackling, hooting, pacing, spinning and jumping—that has to be seen to be believed. Greater and Gunnison Sage-Grouse, Lesser and Greater Prairie-Chicken and Sharp-tailed Grouse are the lek performing headliners, but we’ll also search for Dusky Grouse and the charming White-tailed Ptarmigan (still garbed in elegant white) as we crisscross the state. Our Colorado ‘Chicken Run’ offers participants the opportunity to see these highly sought, charismatic and often hard to find grouse and prairie-chickens while enjoying our journey across the state…
In addition to those wonderful ‘chickens,’ we’ll search for many of Colorado’s special birds: Clark’s Nutcracker, Brown-capped, Gray-crowned and Black Rosy-Finches and Boreal Owl (after dark) in the mountains; Swainson’s and Ferruginous Hawks, Mountain Plover, Long-billed Curlew and Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspurs on the prairies; Lewis’s Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker and Mountain and Western Bluebirds in the foothills and Chukar, Scaled Quail, Greater Roadrunner, Curve-billed Thrasher, Canyon Towhee and Sage, Rufous-crowned and Black-throated Sparrows in the desert. Many other western species and early spring birds will be found along the way and early migration is a good time to turn up something unusual or out of place. Examples from recent tours include Vermilion Flycatcher, Summer Tanager, Northern Parula, Golden-crowned, White-throated, Black-chinned and ‘Eastern’ Fox Sparrow along with a first confirmed record of Cactus Wren!
Interesting mammals are plentiful: prairie landscapes bustle with captivating Black-tailed Prairie Dogs and scurrying ground-squirrels. Elsewhere we should encounter a nice assortment of larger mammals with Pronghorn, Bighorn Sheep, Elk, Mule and White-tailed Deer, Moose, Coyote, Red and Swift Fox being found on previous tours. With a bit of good fortune something rare, like Bobcat or Mountain Lion, may be spotted.
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