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The 9th Pikes Peak Birding & Nature Festival

Early Bird registration will open on Saturday, March 23, 2024 at 10:00 am MDT.

As the Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival heads into 2024, birders can look forward to another amazing array of bird species. The festival motto is “prairie to peak” and it lives up to that billing.

Spring migration along Colorado’s Front Range is often full of surprises and the festival weekend is peak migration time. The Pikes Peak region has much to offer, with the short-grass prairie rising to meet the forested foothills and deep canyons of the southern Front Range, and rich, riparian forests providing for countless birds, insects, and other wildlife.

Over the course of the first eight festivals, the field trips have seen, heard, and identified an amazing 264 species of birds. To put that into perspective, during one weekend each May, festival participants have recorded just over half (actually 51%) of the 520 species of birds ever recorded in all of Colorado throughout the year! In 2023 there were 216 species recorded, 81.8% of our 264 eight-year total, and the festival checklist grew by 15 species including Purple Finch, Baltimore Oriole, Stilt Sandpiper, Great Egret, Yellow-throated Vireo, and Blue-winged Warbler. In fact, we have now seen 31 warbler species to date!

All-time Festival rarities include White Ibis, Summer Tanager, Hepatic Tanager, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Flammulated Owl, Canada Jay, Scissor-tailed Flycatcher and Field Sparrow. But please remember these species are rare for the Front Range and are not seen each year.

A May visit to the Pikes Peak Birding & Nature Festival can be very special for visitors and locals alike. We have recorded 10 out of 12 woodpecker species which regularly occur in Colorado. And there have been over 15 species of flycatchers and shorebirds, 20 species of sparrows, and that one lone White Ibis.

Please join us in 2024, and maybe you will be the one to spot our 265th festival species!

UPDATES LEADING UP TO THE 2024 FESTIVAL:

This year we are expanding our field trip opportunities, raising the total offered to 62, along with 14 seminars (5 of these are virtual only), 4 workshops and our signature “Birds, Brews and Bites” get-together.

And the best part? Fully 90% of all festival activities are covered in your low, low registration fee.

2023 Big Sit at Chico Basin Ranch

Virtually, we are offering a “Birds of the Pikes Peak Region” presentation, a talk about Pinyon Jays, and “Bird Friendly Coffee.” Also, this year we will again have the popular “Mountain Lion: Apex Predator” talk followed by a hike the next day looking for these elusive predators—or at least signs of them. If a more leisurely style of birding interests you, we have three Big Sits planned this year. Bring a chair, food and drinks, and enjoy waiting for the birds to come to you.

Fountain Creek, an oasis on the plains, offers essential food and stopover sites for many resident birds and those migrating through the area. Walk the land where ornithologist Charles Aiken raised his sheep and see which bird species live there today. Observe which bird species thrive in our regional parks or learn about the geology of the renowned Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods City Park. Enjoy a lunch with ranch hands at a working cattle ranch and scour the open range for Burrowing Owls and Curve-billed Thrashers.

There will be live Birds of Prey from the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center and two workshops on how to use eBird. Enjoy a trip to Corral Bluffs or Jimmy Camp Creek, two sites generally off-limits to the public. Corral Bluffs is the location discussed in a NOVA presentation and contains fossils from the first million years following the demise of dinosaurs and the rise of mammals. The fossil record found in the property is fascinating and our leader is featured in this NOVA episode.

Sand Lily

Visit a Colorado State Park to learn which flowers bloom on the Front Range, where to find Ovenbirds, and hopefully see a Canada Jay. Choose to attend seminars on bird feeding, and which native plants will attract birds to your own backyard. Or, spend time with the Mile High Bug Club, look closer and discover the magnificent insects that inhabit this region. This year they will be doing a bug walkabout as well as insect black lighting in the evening.

Hummingbird banding is one of our most popular events, and we are so happy Fred and Tena Engelman are able to join us for another year. Hummingbird banding requires a special federal permit, and Fred and Tena have been banding these diminutive birds for years. Experience the excitement of seeing a hummingbird “in the hand” while it is being banded.

We have again added to our list of field trips, seminars and workshops. Festival participants may want to sign up for new field trips to Burnt Mill Road, Rainbow Gulch, Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site, Kohl’s to the Mule Farm trail along Fountain Creek, or Pronghorns and birds at Big Johnson/Bluestem Prairie Open Space. Other new field trips include a bird drive up Pikes Peak Highway, a “Past & Present Tour” at the Paint Mines Interpretive Park, and a tour of the Orchard House at Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. We continue offering other popular trips to local birding hotspots led by experienced leaders. We do ask if you have already attended one of the more popular trips, you choose a different trip this year so everyone has the chance to enjoy the location.

Tidal Breeze Jazz at Birds, Brews & Bites

On Saturday evening, join us for the all-the-rage “Birds, Brews, and Bites” event with food, drinks, beer from our partners at Phantom Canyon Brewery, and live music by Tidal Breeze Jazz. Find the list of birds which have been seen or heard during the festival and get a chance to share stories with other participants. Meet our wonderful partners and sponsors. Bid on the festival artwork and maybe your ticket will be chosen for a great door prize.

Look over the festival website for festival information, registration, speaker/leader bios, and field trip descriptions to help you decide how to spend your weekend in and around the Pikes Peak Region. There are events for everyone. We hope you will join us in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 16 – 19, 2024 for dynamic field trips and fun and educational seminars and workshops.

 

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