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Avian Research Projects
Avian Research Projects
​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​ ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Learn more about research being conducted by our Avian researchers on:

​​greater sage-grouse

Greater​ Sage-grouse 

The largest grouse in North America, the greater sage-grouse is a species of state concern due to range-wide population and habitat declines. CPW is participating in a collaborative conservation effort designed to support greater sage-grouse populations and protect greater sage-grouse habitat. The Avian Research team is conducting a variety of studies to identify and evaluate different management and monitoring strategies.​

Greater Sage-grouse Research Projects:

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​​Gunnison sage-grouse

​Gunnison Sage-grouse​

Smaller than the typical sage-grouse, the ​Gunnison sage-grouse is a unique species of sage-grouse found south of the Colorado River. About 3,500 breeding Gunnison sage-grouse occur among seven separate populations throughout southwest Colorado and southeast Utah. Due to diminishing habitat, the species is of special concern in Colorado. CPW, along with landowners and other partners, has led conservation efforts for the Gunnison sage-grouse for decades. The Avian Research team aims to learn more about the Gunnison sage-grouse and how populations may respond to different conservation strategies.

Gunnison Sage-grous​e Research Projects:​

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​​​​​Columbian sharp-tailed grouse

Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse

A species of special concern in Colorado, the Columbian sharp-tailed grouse is a state game species. The sharp-tail has lost much of its habitat along its former range in North America. But in recent years, through the Conservation Reserve Program, which contracts private landowners to conserve habitat on their property, the sharp-tails have increased in density and distribution. CPW is working to further improve the habitat-suitability of the lands enrolled in this program to further progress the recovery of this important species. 

Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse Research Projects:

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mallard duck


​With the onset of fall each year, thousands of hunters begin to prep for Colorado’s upcoming waterfowl hunting seasons. Colorado Parks and Wildlife is dedicated to ensuring that all those who receive a license have a successful and satisfactory hunting experience. This involves studying the impacts of hunting management and evaluating habitat conditions and population health. 

Waterfowl ​Projects:

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burrowing owl

​Avian Response to Plague Management

Prairie dog colonies support a diverse community of species, including avian species like the burrowing owl and mountain plover. However, in recent decades, prairie dog populations have begun declining rapidly with the spread of the plague. To combat these declines, CPW began exploring and testing various plague management treatments. In order to determine the full effectiveness and effect​ of these treatments, avian researchers are looking at the impacts of these treatments on nearby avian communities.

Plague Management Research Projects:
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​​Lesser prairie-chicken

Lesser-​Prairie Chicken

A federally and state listed threatened species, the lesser-prairie chicken is found in small fragmented populations in the grasslands of southeast Colorado. In collaboration with other states and partners, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is working to conserve lesser-prairie chickens and their habitat. Current research aims to understand the factors threatening LEPC habitat and to evaluate the effectiveness of various habitat improvement treatments.

Lesser-Prairie Chicken Research Projects:

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bobwhite quail

​​​Northern Bobwhite​​

​Northern bobwhites are a game bird found in small, isolated populations in eastern Colorado. Few bobwhites are harvested each year in Colorado due to their limited distribution and declining populations. To better understand the factors limiting bobwhite populations and distributions, Colorado Parks and Wildlife is conducting research to evaluate potential habitat management strategies aimed to benefit bobwhites.   

Northern Bobwhite Research Projects:

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grassland bird eggs

​​​Grassland Birds​​

Many grassland bird species are experiencing widespread population declines. The Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) pays landowners to maintain grassland habitat on their property. With appropriate grassland management, CRP has the potential to provide quality habitat for many grassland bird species. However, little information exists on how specific grassland management practices affect birds in Colorado. ​Therefore, Colorado Parks and Wildlife initiated a research project to evaluate the grassland bird response to management practices conducted on CRP properties.   ​

Grassland Bird Research Projects:

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Researcher holding Brewer's Sparrow in alpine habitat at Jarosa Mesa

​​​Brewer's Sparrow​​

Sagebrush-obligate wildlife have experienced long-term population declines due to loss and degradataion of sagebrush habitat. One such species, the Brewer’s Sparrow (Spizella breweri) is a migratory songbird with two known subspecies, the sagebrush Brewer’s Sparrow (S. b. breweri) and the Timberline Sparrow (S. b. taverneri). Only the sagebrush subspecies is known to breed in Colorado. However, there are also historical records of Brewer’s Sparrows being found in alpine willow and krummholz habitats at 11,000-13,000 feet elevation in the state. The goal of this research is to determine the taxonomic identity and breeding status of Brewer’s Sparrows in alpine areas of Colorado. To do this, we will first compile historical records of observations in alpine areas. Then we will survey for Brewer’s Sparrows at a subset of those alpine areas to document evidence of breeding and habitat features. We will also record males’ songs and capture and collect data, photos, and genetic samples from birds in alpine areas and in nearby low-elevation sagebrush areas. We will then compare the acoustic, morphological, plumage, and genetic characteristics of alpine birds to those in sagebrush and against published data for the two subspecies to determine their taxonomic identity. Confirmation of Brewer’s Sparrows breeding in alpine areas would substantially increase estimates of the species’ population size, breeding distribution, and habitat associations in Colorado. That information will be valuable for updating the species’ status assessment in Colorado Parks and Wildlife’s State Wildlife Action Plan. If alpine birds in Colorado are Timberline Sparrows, that would expand that subspecies’ known breeding range > 800 miles to the south and increase estimates of its overall population size.

Brewer's Sparrow Research Projects:

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