On Display - Prairie to Pinnacle
The Grouse and Prairie Chickens of Colorado
April 9-18, 2016
Colorado is fortunate to host the amazing mating displays of many of the country’s Grouse and Prairie Chickens. These birds are often hard to find away from the display grounds (leks), and April is the peak time to observe these “dances” We’ll cover much of Colorado is traveling to the various leks, from Lesser and Greater Prairie Chickens on the grassland plains to Greater Sage-Grouse, Gunnison Sage-Grouse, and Sharp-tailed Grouse in the higher elevations. We’ll also hope to locate the elusive Dusky Grouse and White-tailed Ptarmigan. Along the way, we’ll encounter a wide range of species, and make every effort to enjoy the full range of Colorado birdlife.
While enjoying all the avian treasures Colorado will provide, we’ll also bask in some of the best scenery in the country, from the snow capped peaks of the Rockies to the canyons of the Colorado National Monument and Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Pronghorn antelope are probable in the grasslands and Moose are possible in the North Park area.
Day One: Arrive at the Colorado Airport by mid-afternoon. After getting acquainted and settling our gear into the van, we’ll leave immediately for our first night’s accommodations in Pueblo, with a stop for some introductory birding in Colorado Springs and Pueblo West.
Day Two: We’ll head east and get our first taste of Colorado birding. The prairie areas should produce the likes of Burrowing Owl and Mountain Plover. Several playas and reservoirs will host an assortment of waterbirds and shorebirds, including a comparison of Clark’s and Western Grebes, Snowy Plover, American Avocet, and Baird’s Sandpiper. Overnight in Lamar.
Day Three: Lesser Prairie Chicken will be the star of the day. We’ll need to get up early (by 4:00 a.m.), as it’s important to be at the lek before the sun comes up. These prairie chickens are famous for their dancing and booming. We’ll need to stay at the lek until they’re done displaying, then head for a nice breakfast. The rest of the day will be spent working our way north. Several stops en route should turn up sought after species like Ferruginous Hawk, Loggerhead Shrike, Long-billed Curlew, and Grasshopper Sparrow. Overnight in Wray.
Day Four: Another early start will find us enjoying the elaborate display of the Greater Prairie Chicken. We’ll depart Wray after breakfast, working our way west to the unique habitats provided by the Pawnee Grasslands. Specialties of the area include Chestnut-collared and McCown’s Longspurs and various raptor species, not to mention the unique Pronghorn Antelope. Overnight in Greeley.
Day Five: This will be a travel day as we head towards the southwest part of the state. We’ll cross the continental divide, leaving the plains behind and moving through the snow-covered peaks of the Rockies. Well stop to bird, of course, including a search for the difficult White-tailed Ptarmigan. Other hoped-for birds include Lewis’ Woodpecker, Cassin’s Finch, and Pinyon Jay. Overnight in Gunnison.
Day Six: The rarest of the grouse will be our target this morning. Predawn will find us in a viewing trailer, watching this recent split from the Greater Sage-Grouse. After breakfast, we’ll explore more of the Gunnison area to find rosy-finches, Evening Grosbeaks, and crossbills. Heading towards the dry mesas of the western slope, a stop at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison could turn up the local Dusky Grouse, as well as stunning views of this sheer canyon. Overnight in Fruita.
Day Seven: The beauty of Colorado National Monument will greet us this day, with a shift in expected species. Possibilities among the sandstone formations include Chukar, Golden Eagle, Juniper Titmouse, Canyon Wren, Gambel’s Quail, White-throated Swift, and Black-throated Sparrow. After lunch, we’ll head north to the resort area of Steamboat Springs. Overnight in Steamboat Springs.
Day Eight: Sharp-tailed Grouse in the early morning light should put a smile on our faces. Dusky Grouse is also a possibility here, before heading east over the Rabbit Ears pass. High elevation species we’ll hope to encounter include Gray Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, Mountain Chickadee, and Pine Grosbeak. We’ll drop into the North Park area late in the day. Overnight in Walden.
Day Nine: It will be an early start for the last of the lekking grouse – Greater Sage-Grouse. A nearby reservoir should produce a range of species, such as California Gull, Cinnamon Teal, and Sage Thrasher, before we head for Denver. A stop on the way could turn up Williamson’s Sapsucker, and if we missed White-tailed Ptarmigan earlier, we may have an opportunity to try again. Overnight in Denver.
Day Ten: Participants can depart at any point during the day, with shuttle service available for the airport. Checkout of the rooms is before 11:00 a.m. Have a safe trip home!
Weather & Pace
Colorado in April is a case of extremes. Temperatures will cover a wide range on this trip, from very warm on the plains to very cold in the mountains. We may deal with highs in the 80°s the first couple days of the trip, and then only in the 50°s or 60°s when in higher elevations. Lows are usually in the 30°s, but may dip into the 20°s. It can be quite cold early in the morning while we’re waiting in the van for the grouse to start displaying, so be prepared. We may also encounter winter storms with heavy snows.
In covering much of Colorado and working on the schedule of the birds, we will have very early starts on some days and long drives between some birding locations.
Tour Pricing: $2895.00 per person based on double occupancy. Single occupancy supplement is $600.00
Tour Services: This tour includes 9 nights of comfortable accommodations at hotels or guesthouses. All meals, from dinner on Day One to breakfast on Day Ten, are included, excluding any alcoholic beverages. Ground transportation throughout the tour, starting at the airport and returning to the accommodations in Denver, will be provided, as well as any charter or entrance fees. This tour does not include airfare to/from Denver, special gratuities, or items of a personal nature.
Also included are professional guide services for the duration of the tour. Brett M. Ewald will be the tour leader on this exciting excursion. As well as being an accomplished birder, naturalist, and biologist, Brett has traveled and birded extensively in North America. He looks forward to sharing the wonders of the Colorado with you!
Terms and Conditions
Please fill out completely and sign the Extended Tours Registration Form and mail to Lakeshore Nature Tours, along with a $750 per person deposit. Make your check or money order payable to Lakeshore Nature Tours. Any balance due is required February 15, 2016. Confirmation and an informational packet, with finalized tour itinerary and details, will be sent upon guarantee of tour departure, based on adequate participation. Tour participants should not secure their flights to/from Denver until directed from Lakeshore Nature Tours. A full refund of tour payments will be executed from Lakeshore Nature Tours for any cancellation resulting from inadequate participation. If the tour is full, a waiting list will be taken, and filled according to the date of registration. A $75 service fee will apply to a participant cancellation before February 15, 2016. Cancellations between February 15, 2016 and March15, 2016 will forfeit the entire deposit. After March 15, 2016, no refund will be available.
Participant Photo: © Paul Koker
Photo: © Al Stout
For more information, call, email or write:
12398 Platten Road
Lyndonville, NY 14098
Lyndonville, NY 14098