Back in August, my parents and I went on a three-city trip to Colorado- Colorado Springs to visit Colorado College, then to Denver to visit family, then finally to Estes Park- does one really need a reason to go to Estes? I don't think so.
The first birds I really noticed were the Black-Billed Magpies. They were just about everywhere. I first saw them in the parking lot of our hotel in the springs- a pair pecking in the mowed grass between the paved lot and the sidewalk/main road, near some pine trees. We don't have Magpies back east, so it was refreshing and exciting to see these famous 'thief' birds- although they seemed pretty friendly to me.
In the Springs, it was mostly the general city birds- Magpies, Rock and Mourning Doves, even some American Robins hanging out on the Colorado College campus (which annoyed me- Robins are ridiculously common in my neighborhood, I didn't want to see familiar birds in a new setting, ya know?) However, on our last day, we went to the Garden of the Gods, which was one of the best birding days on the whole trip.
First of all, the hummingbird feeders at the visitor's center were absolutely TEEMING with the adorable little critters. Rubythroats, Rufuoses, and a Broad-Tailed male, at least. I have never seen so many hummingbirds in one place. In fact, while my parents watched a 20-minute informational movie on the red rocks that make Garden of the Gods so famous, I sat under the hummingbird feeder and just watched. It was a real thrill to watch the vibrant little things.
Also at the visitor's center, Western Scrub-Jays and more Magpies hung out in the parking lot and the surrounding flora. Out in the park itself, people were more common than birds, although large pigeon roosts hung out on the tops of the rocks, and some Spotted Towhees were strutting around.
Denver was really more of a functional visit, so there wasn't really any notable bird life. However, once we arrived in Estes, there were birds EVERYWHERE. Around our cabin, Ravens, Stellar's Jays and Mountain Chickadees frolicked with the Chipmunks and Ground Squirrels. One recent fledgling Raven followed his mom, begging for food. What a sight to see!
Inside Rocky Mountain National Park, there were surprisingly fewer wildlife around. Some Clark's Nutcrackers congregated around one lookout point and allowed me to get very close, although a Japanese child chased it away before I could sketch it. At higher altitudes, only the occasional Sparrow was there, although there were plenty of Elk to look at, so it wasn't a total loss.
Overall, it was an exceptional trip, with some great birding. I'm glad I could share it with you all!
Here's the full list of birds I saw: