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Bird Watching in Parks
Bird Watching in Parks


From the grassy prairie lands to the snow-covered peaks, Colorado is home to more than 400 species of birds.

​Whether you enjoy watching raptors soar through the sky, waterfowl dive for fish or songbirds flutter through the branches, you can find it at Colorado State Parks. So grab your binoculars and don’t forget your camera. 

Northeastern Colorado ​

Barr Lake State Park is one of the top birding areas in the state, with more than 350 species of resident and migratory birds. A pair of bald eagles has taken residence at the park, and visitors can watch them building their nest and raising their young. Several species of waterfowl and shorebirds use the lake as a stopover during spring and fall migration. In the summer, white pelicans, cormorant and egrets join the 200 or so pairs of nesting great blue herons. Barr Lake is also the headquarters of the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, which aims to conserve birds and their habitats through science, education and stewardship and operates a birding station at the park.

With 305 species recorded, Chatfield State Park is a primary birding spot. Nesting least flycatcher and American redstart are spotted here more regularly than at any other location in Colorado. Among the 32 species of warblers, rarities like Kentucky, worm-eating and mourning warblers have been observed. Ferruginous and Swainson’s hawks, golden eagles and prairie falcons visit in the summer, rough-legged hawks and Harlan’s hawks in the winter. 

Castlewood Canyon State Park is home to one of the largest turkey vulture populations in the state during the summer. Bluebirds and canyon wrens also call the park home. 

Birder photographing resident birds.Eleven Mile and Spinney Mountain state parks host a variety of migratory and resident birds, but catching glimpses of three rare species—bald eagles, American peregrine falcons and white pelicans—is a real treat. 

Jackson Lake State Park is home to an abundance of birds—from ferruginous and rough-legged hawks in the winter to Swainson’s hawks in the summer. Long-billed curlews, whooping cranes and northern harriers are occasionally seen, and up to 20,000 ducks visit the lake during migration.  

St. Vrain State Park is home to the largest great blue heron rookery in the state, which can be seen year-round.  

Enjoy more birding opportunities at these other northeastern Colorado state parks: Cherry Creek, Eldorado Canyon, North Sterling and Roxborough. 

Southeastern Colorado 

Canadian geese.With 373 documented species of birds in Bent County, John Martin Reservoir State Park is a premier birding area. This park is wonderful for viewing many species of birds. Two federally protected shorebirds, the least tern and the piping plover nest here in spring and summer. Many other species of birds are found including bald eagles, scaled quail, mallard ducks, and turkey vultures. 

Southwestern Colorado 

A wide variety of bird species can be found at Mancos State Park, from the vibrant indigo bunting to the majestic bald eagle. The park offers great opportunities for bird watching. During the day, one can expect to see hummingbirds buzzing around as well as the gigantic turkey vulture cruising the shoreline. At night, don’t be startled by the common nighthawk popping up from the roads, or the hooting of the great horned owl. 

If variety is what you’re looking for, Ridgway State Park’s got it. Watch for different species of waterfowl and shorebirds such as American avocets and western grebes. Winter species include nuthatches and great horned owls; in the summer you might see American dippers, mountain bluebirds and red-tailed hawks. 

Northwestern Colorado 

The National Audubon Society​ has named Highline Lake State Park an important birding area with more than 200 species here. Use a viewing scope to spot pelicans, blue herons, osprey, vermilion flycatcher, sandhill cranes and loons. 

Each spring, Steamboat Lake State Park is the nesting ground for about six pairs of sandhill cranes. Over 200 species of migratory and resident birds are known in the park including northern harrier, osprey, great blue heron, western screech owl, western bluebird, hairy and downy woodpeckers and red-winged blackbird. Located in the Pacific Flyway, the reservoir attracts many shorebirds and waterfowl.

Stagecoach State Park offers excellent opportunities for bird watching, with a variety of species including Eurasian coots, white-faced ibis, American white pelicans, blue grouse, sharp-tailed grouse, and a wide variety of songbirds, hawks and falcons.

Many migratory and resident birds are seen at Vega State Park. Rarities include the red-throated loon, American golden plover, red phalarope and Eastern Phoebe.

Sandhill cranes stage at Yampa River State Park during migratory travel and care for their young until they are ready to fly. Blue Heron rookeries co-exist with nesting bald eagles and a variety of other avian species.

Birding Events  

Eagles in a tree.Each December, State Forest State Park hosts the Audubon Christmas Bird Count for the North Park area. The CBC is vital in monitoring the status of resident and migratory birds and has become a crucial part of the federal government’s database for natural history monitoring.

Each February, Lake Pueblo State Park hosts an Eagle Day Festival. The event celebrates these magnificent animals with demonstrations, traditional dancers, and kids’ activities. Visitors can watch live eagles through blinds and telescopes as they fly around the park. 

The Fall Birding Festival is held at Barr Lake State Park in September. This celebration of fall migration includes a migratory songbird banding station, a guided talk to explore bird habitats, live raptor viewing and crafts for kids.

For more information on seasonal events, please visit our Events Calendar​.​​​​