CFO T-shirt  
2010 Convention Art by Saraiya Ruano


Photos and Text by Marcel and Joel Such


The Colorado Field Ornithologists annual convention is a much awaited social and educational birding event with numerous field trips to well-known hotspots, as well as to unexplored birding locales and otherwise inaccessible private holdings.  As one would expect, when large numbers of birders from across the state are condensed into a single city, at least a few rarities are found each day.  This year the CFO convention was held in Fort Collins at the intersection of mountains, plains, and a variety of habitats in between.  With field trips to both the high mountains of Rocky Mountain National Park and the short-grass prairie of the Pawnee National Grasslands, and as far afield as Wyoming’s Hereford Ranch, Fort Collins proved a perfect place for this year’s convention. 


Illinois River 
Illinois River, North Park, CO 


Ted Floyd’s “bare-naked birding” was a smash hit in which participants were banned from bringing binoculars.  Somehow they managed to find and observe Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Orchard Oriole at close range.  There was also a field trip led by former state entomologist Dave Leatherman in which we searched for rampaging mountain pine beetles and their associated avian fauna.  Our parents opted for this trip and thoroughly enjoyed themselves.


Pine Beetle 
Pine Beetle Larvae


American Three-toed Woodpecker 
American Three-toed Woodpecker Feeding on Pine Beetle Larvae


Friday night, we were part of the popular event “Stump the Chumps,” where the “expert” panel (consisting of Ted Floyd, Peter Gent, Tim Smart, and ourselves) was subjected to a humbling Powerpoint presentation of horrifying bird photographs and dumb-founding sound recordings which we were asked to identify.  We stumbled through the presentation with many laughs.  On Saturday night, key note speaker Craig Benkman of the University of Wyoming shared his expertise and extensive research on the Red Crossbill.

As mentioned previously, many rarities were found on the field trips – highlights included Little Blue Heron, Glossy Ibis, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Alder Flycatcher, Yellow-throated Vireo, Northern Parula, Palm Warbler, Northern Cardinal, Baltimore Oriole, and White-winged Crossbill!  We thoroughly enjoyed our chosen field trips, which included North Park, The Nature Conservancy’s Phantom Canyon Preserve, northern Larimer County, Meadow Springs Ranch, and the Pawnee National Grasslands.

Phantom Canyon 
Hiking and Birding the Nature Conservancy’s Phantom Canyon


Mountain Plover 
Mountain Plover, Meadow Springs Ranch


On the last day of the convention we got up with other brave souls for Ted Floyd’s insane “Insomniac Special.”  We quietly slipped out of our room for the 2:55 AM departure to the Pawnee Grasslands to listen for nocturnal migrant flight calls.  We stopped on a high rise at Murphy’s Pasture in the Pawnee and stepped out onto the dirt road.  Over the constant ramblings of Horned Larks and occasional outbursts of the meadowlark’s song, we detected the flight calls of migrating birds such as Swainson’s Thrush and Lark Sparrow.  As the sky began to lighten, Lark Buntings began to sing and Common Nighthawks boomed.  It was an exhausting, yet exhilarating way to end four days of birding fun!