Colorado: Winter 2017-18 

1 Dec–28 Feb

Dean Shoup

Recommended citation:

Shoup, D. 2020. Winter 2017-18: Colorado.  <> North American Birds.

Temperatures for the season were much above average for the west slope and above average for the eastern half. Precipitation was much below average for the southeastern quadrant, below average for the west slope and near average for the northeastern quadrant. Mild temperatures may have factored in some passerine species lingering longer than usual. A first state record Red-breasted Sapsucker was a highlight, along with a few lingering warblers.

Contributing observers (subregional editors in boldface): Coen Dexter (western-central Colorado), Frank Farrell, Dave Leatherman, Kathy Mihm Dunning (KMD), Joey Kellner, Forest Luke (northwest), Steven G. Mlodinow (SGM), Cheri Orwig, Brandon K. Percival (BKP) (Pueblo area), John Rawinksi (San Luis Valley), Dave Silverman, Jason St. Pierre (JSP).


A continuing Brant from fall was at Bar CCC Park and nearby locations in Parker, Douglas Co., 11 Nov–20 Jan (C. Phillips, m.ob.). Another was seen at Ketring Park and Lake and nearby locations in Arapahoe Co. 15–27 Feb (E. Wagner, D. Kibbe, m.ob.). A rare Barnacle Goose was picked out of the thousands of geese at Aurora Reservoir, Arapahoe Co, 9 Jan (SGM). Within the last decade, there have been at least 4 sightings of Eurasian Wigeon in the Cañon City area; one at Valco Pond in Cañon City, Fremont Co. 23 Dec– 6 Jan (R. Miller, m.ob.) was not a total surprise. With only 9 accepted records, a rare Common Gallinule was a nice find at Standley Lake, Jefferson Co. 9 Dec (ph. D. Baker). American Avocet, rare in winter, was recorded in 2 locations in La Plata Co. and Weld Co. 17– 30 Dec (D. White, R. Olson, m.ob.). Also rare in winter, a Long-billed Curlew was at Two Buttes Reservoir, Baca Co. 25 Jan (ph. DL). A Dunlin was located on the Loveland CBC, Larimer Co., 1– 2 Jan (CO, C. Sparks, m.ob.). A Long-billed Dowitcher was reported along the South Platte River in Adams Co. 28 Jan– 7 Feb (ph. G. Wiltse); this is one of only a handful of winter records for the state. For the 3rd consecutive year, an American Woodcock was seen at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area, Larimer Co., 14 Jan–25 Feb (M. Costello, m.ob.).

Single immature Black-legged Kittiwakes were found at Jumbo Reservoir, Sedgwick Co., 9 Dec (J. Vanderpoel, W. Kaempfer) and Cañon City Valco Pond, Fremont Co., 6–7 Feb (R. Miller, m.ob.). A Franklin’s Gull was found and photographed at McKay Lake, Adams Co., 23 Dec (M. Hofeditz). A Lesser Black-backed Gull away from the more usual Front Range sites was at Navajo Lake SP, Archuleta Co., 3 Feb (A. St. Pierre and JSP). Glaucous-winged Gull was found once this season at Boyd Lake, Larimer Co.., 2–10 Dec (N. Komar). A rare Yellow-billed Loon had a long stay in the Denver Metro area at Chatfield SP, Douglas/Jefferson Cos., 4 Jan+ (C. Madsen, JK, m.ob.). Gunnison Co.’s 2nd record of Yellow-billed Loon was discovered at Blue Mesa Reservoir, Gunnison Co., 13 Feb (ph. KMD), where it was associating with a Common Loon. Single Great Egrets were found in 3 counties–Delta, Otero, and Weld–from 3–18 Dec. A long-staying Harris’s Hawk found at the Running Deer and Cottonwood Natural Area near Fort Collins, Larimer Co., 10 Dec– 16 Feb (D. Wade, m.ob.) became the state’s 6th record. Snowy Owls showed strongly this season; 11 individuals were seen in 8 counties from 15 Dec–10 Feb. The 2 at Boulder Reservoir, Boulder Co., 20 Jan (ph. S. Frye, m.ob.) were quite a treat. Boreal Owl was detected twice this season: one was east of Rabbit Ears Pass, Jackson Co., 12 Feb (S. Fitzgerald), and one was at Rainbow Lakes area, Boulder Co., 26 Feb (C. Nunes).


A Red-headed Woodpecker was found at Bonny SWA, Yuma Co., 22 Dec (N. Erthal). The first state record of Red-breasted Sapsucker was discovered during a CBC scouting trip in the Broadmoor neighborhood of Colorado Springs, El Paso Co., and was seen 21 Dec–15 Feb (D. Tønnessen, m.ob.). Warm winter weather may have contributed to some less-hardy species lingering into the season. A Least Flycatcher was at Harriman Lake Park, Jefferson Co., 5 Dec (D. Suddjian), and a Hammond’s Flycatcher was at Twin Lakes in Gunbarrel, Boulder Co., 14 Nov–20 Dec (FF, M. Chavez, m.ob.). A rare Pacific Wren was documented in Pagosa Springs, La Plata Co., 20 Dec–11 Feb (R. Votta, vr. JSP). A Winter Wren in Pagosa Springs, La Plata Co., 16 Feb (KMD) was also of interest. Many reports of Golden-crowned Kinglets came in from 7 different locations in the eastern counties of Baca, Kit Carson, eastern Las Animas, Logan, Otero, and Yuma from 5 Dec–4 Jan. A Brown Thrasher in Norwood, San Miguel Co., lingered from fall through the season, (G. Steele) and another was in Nederland, Boulder Co., 7–8 Dec (D. Hyde). Varied Thrush was found in 5 counties–Douglas, El Paso, Jefferson, Larimer, and Pueblo 26 Dec–21 Feb (m.ob. ph. DL). 17 Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches in Pawnee NG 3 Dec were well east of their typical range (KMD, JK).

A Smith’s Longspur, very rare in the state, was photographed southeast of Burlington Kit Carson Co., 11 Jan (ph. M. Peterson). Golden-crowned Sparrow was found in 3 counties from 16 Dec– 4 Feb. A LeConte’s Sparrow, rare, was at Van’s Grove, Bent Co., 13–15 Dec (ph. D. Leatherman, ph. J.W. Thompson). A Black-and-white Warbler was seen at CSU Environmental Learning Center, Larimer, 25 Nov–13 Dec (D. Strommer, m.ob.). Northern Parula was found at Pueblo Reservoir Pueblo Co., 16 Dec (BKP) and at Fountain Creek Regional Park, El Paso, 16 Dec (T. Britton, D. Beatty). A Chestnut-sided Warbler was seen in Pueblo, Pueblo Co. 15 Nov–16 Dec (BKP). A Palm Warbler was found near Laporte, Larimer Co. 16–19 Dec (CO, et al.). Single Pine Warblers were recorded in 4 counties from 25 Dec–24 Jan. Yellow-throated Warbler was reported from Pueblo, Jefferson, and El Paso Cos. from 19 Nov–23 Dec. Prairie Warbler is on the state review list, so the season’s 2 reports were nice surprises. One was at Pueblo Reservoir, Pueblo Co. 5 Dec–28 Jan (BKP, m.ob.), and the other was at an urban apartment complex in Lakewood, Jefferson Co. 16–20 Dec (FF, ph. A. Shipe). A Black-throated Green Warbler was seen and photographed in Boulder, Boulder Co. 23 Dec (ph. N. Moore, ph. J. Malenich). A Wilson’s Warbler was discovered on a CBC in Delta, Delta Co. 16 Dec.

Acknowledgements: Many thanks to David Dowell for his central role in compiling sightings for the Colorado Birds Journal.

Report processed by Alison Világ, 23 Dec 2020.

Photos–Colorado: Winter 2017-18 
Hover or click on each image to read the caption.