In the pre-predawn haze on a northwest Colorado prairie, every dark spot, smudge or blot you see is a greater sage-grouse — until the gathering light proves they’re not. As sunrise approaches, the “sage-grouse” become the rocks, sagebrush and clumps of dirt they actually are. But you know the birds are there because you hear them — everywhere. It’s not the distinct call of a western meadowlark (also heard in the mix) or other prairie bird, but much more otherworldly. It’s like the sounds the exotic-cute indigenous critters would make as they surround the Zachary Quinto version of Spock on some far-off planet in a Star Trek movie. Whether we know it it or not, the occupants of Mick and Nancy Sommer’s 4Runner are in a contest to see the first real greater sage-grouse. I end up taking bronze. Read more
Category Archives: Outdoor Adventure
By 6 a.m. most mornings from mid-March through mid-May, Nate Seward is sitting on cold ground – or snow, or mud ‒ peering through a spotting scope watching Gunnison sage-grouse perform their annual dance. But he’s not just bird-watching for fun. He’s counting the birds at areas known as “leks”, where males gather to establish their dominance and where females gather to choose a mate. The daily work by Seward is an essential component in the long-term conservation effort by Colorado Parks and Wildlife to sustain this iconic species of the American West. Read more
A spring snowstorm pounded the roadways for most of my white-knuckle drive to Barr Lake State Park the morning of April 21, while my 13-year-old daughter, Natalie, slept peacefully in the passenger seat. I had awakened her early in the morning with the promise of live raptors and kite flying at the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies’ 30th-anniversary celebration. The weather caused the Kite Festival celebration to be canceled, but plenty of birders still showed up at Barr Lake to check out some raptors and support 30 years of work by the Bird Conservancy Read more
The City Nature Challenge is coming to Colorado! Thousands of people around the world will compete to see which city can find the most species outside in nature! Results will be announced on Friday, May 4th. Let’s make a city in Colorado the winner!
In order to understand the health of an ecosystem on the ground, wildlife biologists often look to the skies. Top predators like raptors are sensitive to changes in the environment and can serve as an indicator of environmental health. That’s why Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s Raptor Monitoring Volunteer Program is so important.
On Thursday, April 5, I had the privilege of joining CPW volunteers from the Colorado Springs area to learn more about the Raptor Monitoring Volunteer Program and discover some of the rewards and challenges volunteers face. Read more
Under a blanket of trees, snow glistened on the hillsides of Golden Gate Canyon State Park. As chickadees fluttered through the branches, squirrels chattered above and the wind swept gracefully through the forest. Planted safely on the ground, eager families delighted at the wide variety of animal tracks meandering through the snow. With big smiles and rosy cheeks, they left their own tracks as well— ones just slightly larger than a typical human footprint. Read more
Were you one of more than 14 million visitors to a Colorado State Park in 2017? People have been flocking to our parks in record numbers over the last few years. And there are good reasons. Our state parks are located in some of Colorado’s most spectacular landscapes and they host a plethora of recreational activities, ranging from fishing and hunting to hiking, biking, kayaking and climbing. The increased popularity is a reassuring sign of people’s interest in the outdoors; however, the popularity brings with it the dynamic challenge of balancing recreation and the human impact on the ecosystem. Colorado Parks and Wildlife staff is tasked with identifying methods to monitor and strike a balance between nature and human interaction so that the park system remains healthy and available for generations to come. Read more
The brown-capped rosy-finch goes by a delicate name, but it is one tough little bird that lives year-round in Colorado’s high country. While biologists don’t have much information about the brown-capped rosy-finch, there is concern that the population might be declining. Colorado Parks and Wildlife researchers, along with other collaborators, have started a project to learn more about the species and are inviting the state’s bird watchers to help gather information.
In CPW’s State Wildlife Action Plan, the brown-capped rosy-finch is identified as one of the 55 tier 1 “Species of Greatest Conservation Need (SGCN)” in Colorado. Based on anecdotal evidence from the National Audubon Society’s Annual Christmas Bird Count, numbers of brown-capped rosy-finches are down, raising concern among scientists that climate change could be affecting the finch’s high-altitude habitat. Read more
With temperatures reaching into the 60s, planning a winter adventure may not be at the top of your “to do” list. But, with 2018 zipping by, February is the perfect time to strap on some snowshoes or cross-country skis and head out into a snow-filled state park. Whether you’re looking to try something new or merely squeeze in a few more days of your favorite winter activities, these four state parks offer everything a winter adventurer could desire. Read more
The application deadline for the 2018 big-game seasons is fast approaching! If you plan on hunting this fall, you need to be aware of some important changes that affect the upcoming seasons. Read more