There’s never been a better time to start birdwatching. No, really.
We’re all practicing social distancing, which means lots of hiking, cycling, running and long walks. You can easily incorporate birding into any of these activities, or set out for a birding-focused walk at these locations in Boulder County.
What do you need to get started? Well, your eyes and ears to start. A pair of binoculars can be helpful but they’re not totally necessary. Bug spray, sunscreen, plenty of water and sturdy shoes are also a must. If you’re not familiar with Boulder County’s birds, consider buying a field guide or downloading a mobile bird identification app, like the Merlin Bird ID app.
Though our list is by no means exhaustive, it should serve as a good jumping-off point if you’re new to birdwatching and not sure where to go in Boulder County.
You don’t have to go far to be able to see some incredible bird species in Boulder County. Head to Walden Ponds Wildlife Habitat east of Boulder for a chance to glimpse hundreds of birds. The county even has a handy birding checklist for Walden Ponds and neighboring Sawhill Ponds, which you can print out and bring with you.
In the summer, you’re like to see yellow-headed blackbirds, spotted sandpipers, cinnamon teals, eastern screech-owls and even bald eagles. A birder once recorded 75 species in a single morning in the spring! Now that’s diversity.
Head to Longmont for a morning of birding at Lagerman Agricultural Preserve. As you might expect, you’ll be able to see a variety of ducks, waterbirds and shorebirds here, as well as several species of birds of prey. Bald eagles, kestrels, osprey, red-tailed hawks and Swainson’s hawks have all been spotted here.
Keep your eyes peeled and you might also spot some other wildlife, including red foxes and coyotes!
In the foothills southwest of Boulder, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to see birds at Walker Ranch. Beautiful mountain bluebirds, several species of sparrows, grosbeaks and finches and an array of warblers call Walker Ranch home at various parts of the year. The county has a handy birding checklist for Walker Ranch, too.
Sandstone Ranch is truly a hidden gem in Longmont. This 313-acre spot is home to sandstone cliffs, where you can spot nesting great horned owls and barn owls. Stop by the visitor’s center, where the city offers beginning birding classes and guided bird walks (they’re postponed until further notice because of the pandemic, but keep the page bookmarked for later!). Other birds you might spot here include the lark sparrow, bullock’s oriole, warbling vireo and say’s phoebe.
This hiking trail near Nederland is a great mountain birding getaway from Boulder. It’s an easy/moderate trail, but since you’re hiking at more than 10,300 feet in elevation, prepare to stop and catch your breath a few times (the highest part of the trail is 11,442 feet!).
Here you’ll want to keep an eye out for Clark’s nutcrackers, ruby-crowned kinglets, hermit thrushes, pine grosbeaks, white-crowned sparrows and rosy finches, among many other species.
Boulder County Osprey Cam
And if you’re not quite ready to get outside and birdwatch, or you just can’t step away from your desk at work often enough, you can always enjoy one of Boulder County’s many osprey nests from the comfort of your own home. The county live-streams the nest at the Boulder County Fairgrounds from two different angles.
Look closely and you’ll be able to see the osprey parents feeding their new chick on the nest!
What are your favorite birding spots around Boulder County? Know of one we missed? We’d love to hear from you!