North American Birds

Colorado & Wyoming2021-03-22T16:58:35-04:00

Colorado & Wyoming

Dean Shoup and Matthew Fraker, Regional Report Compilers

Generally speaking, this region is dominated by montane habitats in the west and the Great Plains in the east. More specifically, habitats found here include shortgrass prairie, desert shrubland, pinyon-juniper shrubland, montane forest, pine-oak woodland, deciduous forest, alpine tundra, and riparian groves. Breeding specialties include White-tailed Ptarmigan, Greater and Gunnison sage-grouse, Greater and Lesser prairie-chickens, Dusky Grouse, Mountain Plover, Boreal Owl, American Three-toed, Black-backed, and Lewis’s woodpeckers, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Pinyon Jay, Thick-billed and Chestnut-collared longspurs, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, and Baird’s Sparrow.

Dry grassland in the southeastern portion of Colorado is home to Greater Roadrunner and Scaled Quail, while pine-oak woodlands in the southwestern portion of the state provide habitat for Grace’s Warbler, Hepatic Tanager, and Acorn Woodpecker. The southernmost reaches of the Northern Rockies descends into Wyoming’s rough and oftentimes remote northwestern corner. Here, Harlequin Duck, Great Gray Owl, Pacific Wren, and Black Rosy-Finch breed. In Wyoming’s northeastern corner, the geologically unique Black Hills and its associated Bear Lodge Mountains spill in from the east. Red-eyed Vireo, American Redstart, Gray Catbird, and Veery are common in the mesic birch-aspen-box-elder woodlands here. Dry juniper scrubland, used by Black-throated Sparrow, Scott’s Oriole, Bewick’s Wren, and Juniper Titmouse, extends across western Colorado and north into southwestern Wyoming. Colorado is famous for migrant traps, especially on the Great Plains. Exceptional vagrants to the state in recent years have included Pink-footed Goose, Yellow-green Vireo, Long-billed Thrasher, Tropical Parula, and Golden-crowned Warbler. Wetlands in southeastern Colorado provide habitat for migrant waterfowl and even breeding Black Rails.

Alfred M. Bailey and Robert J. Niedrach contributed a significant body of work via the two-volume Birds of Colorado (1965). Robert Andrews and Robert Righter updated the knowledge of Colorado’s avifauna with Colorado Birds in 1992. Colorado boosts a statewide list of 513 species; 263 are confirmed breeders as of the second (2007–2012) breeding atlas project. The first was conducted 1987–1995. Lynn E. Wickersham and Hugh Kingery, respectively, oversaw these two ambitious projects. The Dakota Ridge Hawk Watch near Denver surveys northbound migrating raptors. Since Douglas Faulkner’s Birds of Wyoming (2010), 12 species have been added to the state’s list, which stands at 453. These additions include some species both desperately expected (Black Swift) and insanely unexpected (California Condor). ABA’s A Birder’s Guide to Wyoming (1993) was parochially and amusingly authored by a true cowboy birder, Oliver Scott. The combination of rich and diverse ecosystems with a small birding community has made Wyoming an under-birded region full of discoveries yet to be made, so every birdwatcher of any skill level can contribute to the general understanding of Wyoming’s bird life, especially by using tools such as eBird.

The ABA gratefully acknowledges the contributions of Colorado & Wyoming Regional Report Compilers Dean Shoup and Matthew Fraker to promoting knowledge and understanding about the birdlife of the continent.


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