Birds of Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests

Written by Sophia Fitzgerald, ESLLC 2016-2017

I was told the blog post’s here could be about any topic as long as it related in some way to environmental science or the LLC, etc., so I choose to talk about one of my favorite subjects – birds!  I think birds are super fascinating, and now that I’m living in Colorado it’s time to pay the birds of THIS state some attention.

Over the weekend we stayed in the Arapahoe and Roosevelt National Forests!  In this park, which contain Mt. Evans and Summit Lake (as well as our cabin) it completely possible to see Steller’s jays, Clark’s Nutcrackers, American Pipits, Brown-capped Rosy-finches, Wilson’s Warblers, and maybe even White-tailed Ptarmigans.  screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-4-29-35-pm

  • The Brown-capped Rosy-Finch is almost exclusively unique to Colorado. It lives only in the alpine tundra of the Rocky Mountains.  Small in size, it lives above the tree line and is fairly uncommon and localized to its specific habitat.


  • Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 4.30.20 PM.pngClark’s Nutcrackers are beautiful grey birds that live near tree line on the mountain. They are about a foot in length and fairly recognizable because their dark wings contrast heavily with their light colored bodies.  Occasionally they fly in small groups. I definitely think we saw some on our trip!


  • screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-4-30-52-pmNow is not a good time view Steller’s Jays because they are more accurately a winter bird; blue in color and with an iconic crest. They live more in the forest than the alpine region of the mountains.



  • screen-shot-2016-09-20-at-4-31-35-pmThe American Pipet is another alpine tundra bird. It is smaller and does not require a lot of food, feasting mainly on seeds and small insects.  Classic LBJ (little brown job).



  • Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 4.32.31 PM.pngThe White-tailed Ptarmigan is an extremely rare bird, and, while the majority of the species lives in the upper Pacific Northwest, a small population does live in Colorado. Like most “game” birds, the ptarmigan has a very distinct, roundish look.  Protection: In the winter, this bird is snow white, but in the summer it’s white feathers transform into a speckled brown.  The extensiveness of the speckling can help identify the gender of the bird from a distance.
  • Screen Shot 2016-09-20 at 4.33.04 PM.pngLast but not least, Wilson’s warbler. A common little yellow bird that enjoys thickets and water.  This songbird actually summers in Canada, Colorado, and the Dakotas, migrating back to widespread America annually.   This guy is the straight up definition of a ‘birb’ – look at how round he is!

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