Colorado is the 21st most populated state in the US and the 8th largest state in terms of area. It is highly recognized for having stunning scenery and a variety of fauna as a result. The Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep is the official animal of Colorado, but what about the state bird?
In 1931, the lark bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys) was designated as the state bird of Colorado. This medium-sized songbird, a member of the sparrow family, lives in the state’s scrub and grassland habitats.
It has a largely black plumage with a white patch on its wings. This omnivore consumes both bugs and seeds from weeds and grasses during the winter.
Birds of Colorado
Colorado is a stunning state with enough of treks and outdoor pursuits to satisfy even the most ardent adventurer. But watching birds soar from one tree to another is one of the finest ways to take in Colorado’s abounding natural beauty.
You can find a bird you’ve never seen before because the state is home to more than 500 different kinds of birds. Additionally, listening for the bird is delightful even if you don’t see it. You can appreciate the numerous species of birds that Colorado is endowed with.
One of the greatest areas in Colorado for birdwatching, Clear Creek Canyon is home to a variety of migratory species that brave the high elevation.
A variety of species, including the golden eagle and hawks, find a home in the canyon’s various ecosystems, which range from birch woods to rolling grasslands. At the mouth of this beautiful canyon, there is also a functioning Audubon facility.
The Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve is another location for bird viewing. Eagles, falcons, and hawks are among the birds that build nests. Numerous migratory birds that come to the Preserve in the springtime also call it home. The dunes offer fantastic hiking and bike opportunities.
What does the state bird of Colorado look like?
The black feathers of this member of the sparrow family are stylishly accented with white on the wings. When wooing, the distinctive male lark bunting looks to be dressed in a tuxedo. Its non-breeding males and females have gray-brown feathers with stripes on them.
These birds’ slender beak contrast their black bodies with a lighter hue. Both sexes reach a length of five to seven inches and an 11-inch wingspan. They have small tails with white feather tips while having broad wings. The usual weight of this little bird is between 1.3 and 1.5 ounces.
Majestic Birds of Colorado
Here are 10 typical native birds of Colorado that you could see while taking in the expansive plains’ views and sounds or hiking through the breathtaking Rocky Mountains. Always be on the lookout for any local animals, both for your safety and for your memories.
A migratory sparrow, the lark bunting (Calamospiza melanocorys) spends its winters mostly in Mexico and its summers in the interior of the United States.
Nonbreeding male birds are lighter in color but may be distinguished by black streaks that run down much of their undersides. Adult, breeding male birds are entirely black with some white markings on their wings.
Female Lark Buntings are darker in color and resemble several other sparrow species. Lark Buntings are distinguished by their white streaks and are around the same size as Chipping and Clay-colored Sparrows.
They also lack the rusty stripe that runs down the breast of the White-crowned Bunting. Lark Buntings are another of Colorado’s official birds.
In arid areas, lark buntings favor dry grasses like pastures (lawns), hayfields, weedy fields, or road cuttings. The tone and pitch of the male’s song, which contains at least 12 separate notes, might vary.
A succession of four “chips” of mechanical noises are frequently included. Other bird species may be imitated in the song. A pause separates the two fundamental phrases, after which further layers of other phrases are added.
In parts of Montana, western North and South Dakota, eastern Wyoming, Colorado, and northern New Mexico, Lark Buntings breed from the central plains. In southern Arizona and southern New Mexico, they spend the winter. They frequently live permanently on Shumway Prairie, which is close to Soda Springs, Idaho.
A ground-based nest is often constructed without the use of a cup. The female starts the nest by gathering grasses, and later she adds other components including horsehair, rootlets, and delicate twigs. Between April and June, three to five eggs are deposited, and they lack any speckling.
The female is responsible for carrying out the roughly 10-day process of incubation. During incubation, the male could feed her. At around 10 days old, the young can fly.
Brown-capped Rosy Finch
As an endangered species, brown-capped rosy finches need special protection and consideration. The name of these medium-sized finches accurately characterizes their plumage. Adults have backs that are brown and have brown heads. They are easily recognized by their “rosy” bellies, as well as the pink feathers on their wings and undersides.
They have a long, forked tail and black legs and the forehead. They have predominantly black bills during the mating season, which become yellow during the non-breeding season, which is a fascinating feature.
The Rocky Mountains’ central peaks serve as these birds’ breeding sites, despite the fact that they spend the winter at lower altitudes. If they don’t rebuild a Cliff-nest swallow’s that has been abandoned, they will construct their own cup nest in a crevice of rock.
Typically, they forage in small groups and eat mostly the seeds of different weeds and grasses. Additionally, they enjoy eating tiny insects, sometimes even in midair.
Sturnus vulgaris, sometimes known as the Common Starling, is a native of Europe and Asia and has been introduced to many other regions. Many purposeful attempts to bring the bird to North America in the nineteenth century were unsuccessful, but individuals persisted in attempting.
Finally, in New York in 1890 and 1891, 100 European Starlings were released by Shakespeare lovers who had the idealistic concept of providing North America with all the bird species named by the legendary writer.
Although foolish, the introduction was a complete success. European Starlings began to come to southern Canada in 1925, and they still do today, with the exception of the extreme north.
The population of North American starlings is thought to be around 200 million, which is double that of Europe (45 to 110 million), and the species is regarded by many as a.
Flocks compete with local bird species for nesting sites, graze mostly in open grassy areas close to human settlements. 100 000 person flocks have been documented. Any aperture in a building or other structure is a welcome sight for starlings during the nesting season.
Numerous insects and other invertebrates are consumed by starlings. They rip apart grass with their beaks to get food. They are eye-catching birds with white markings late in the summer and iridescent hues of blue, green, and purple. They are excellent fliers, moving in perfect synchronicity in large groups.
In some regions, European Starlings are a significant food supply for raptors, including several species that are vulnerable or recovering. Their accuracy may be rather astounding.
Small but robust birds known as American Dippers only frequent aquatic habitats for food. They are the only amphibious songbirds in North America, and they usually build their nests next to streams. With the help of moss, grasses, leaves, and bark, they create dome-shaped nests.
American Dippers construct nests 6 to 20 feet above deep water to safeguard their young since they dwell near to their aquatic habitat.
Because they frequent streams, these medium-sized birds consume water insects, larvae, worms, flying insects, tiny fish, and fish eggs. They can also dive below in search of food and bob up and down while standing in moving water. They have also been observed moving boulders at the base of streams to reach their prey.
Many of them opt to live together over the winter even though they are typically monogamous. When the young are mature enough to leave the nest, parents frequently split up the brood and live separately until the next mating season.
Small and frequent pygmy nuthatches inhabit western pine woods. They engage in unusual roosting and nesting behaviors throughout the winter. The western United States, from Baja California to British Columbia, is home to pygmy nuthatches.
The birds may also be found in oak woods and mixed coniferous environments, while they are frequently linked with Ponderosa pine forests.
Sitta pygmaea is the scientific name for pygmy nuthatches. The term “sitta” is derived from the Greek word “sitte,” which Aristotle used to describe to a bird that may have been the nuthatch and which pecked on tree bark.
Pygmaea is a Latin name that means “pygmy,” alluding to this nuthatch’s diminutive stature. Given that these birds hack open seeds rather than waiting for them to hatch, the popular term “nuthatch” is a perversion of the word “hack.”
The pygmy nuthatch was originally described in 1839 by Irish naturalist and politician Nickolas Aylward Vigors (1785–1840). On the 1839 Beechy Voyage, a specimen returned from the Monterey region was utilized by him. The ornithological report for the cruise was written by Vigors.
In order to roost and remain warm on chilly evenings in the winter, nuthatches may assemble in enormous tree cavities. In these roosts, groups of over 100 people have been observed. In these circumstances of group roosting, the birds may also go into a condition of torpor, a thermoregulation mechanism that decreases body temperature.
Huddling together accomplishes this goal by reducing the bird’s energy expenditure to remain warm when it is in the torpor stage. A “jar” of nuthatches is the term used to describe a bunch of them.
These nuthatches may form groups or blend in with chickadees, brown creepers, or other nuthatches throughout the winter. These little, vivacious nuthatches are entertaining to watch and are easily drawn to backyard seed and suet feeders.
The omnivorous gray jay, commonly referred to as the canada jay, consumes a variety of foods. They consume insects, berries, and fungi in addition to hunting amphibians, rodents, small mammals, and the fledglings of other birds.
Be careful with your snacks because they are known to be interested about people and any food that they might be ready to share.
Gray Jays live in forests across North America, thus the Rockies of Colorado are where you’ll most likely observe them.
On the south-facing side of a forest environment, they will construct their nests in trees that are moderately to low in height. This makes sure they can take advantage of the extra warmth the light provides, which is important given that they choose to have babies in the chilly months of February and March.
Gray Jays have peculiar eating habits, yet they have a deceptively cute look. Adults have a white head that contains a little gray patch at the rear and are often a light gray color. Their bills are typically black, and their wings and tail feathers typically have darker bluish-gray hues.
Other birds have profited from environmental changes made by people in North America. Around 1890, English and house sparrows were introduced to New York City. Their population grew rapidly westward, much like that of the House Finch after them, although for a little different cause.
House sparrows are sociable birds who want to be around people. They are now widespread in urban areas and frequently outnumber pigeons, which were brought to North America in the 1600s as a food source.
Our usage of horses was mostly responsible for the House Sparrow’s population growth. The sparrows would go alongside the buggy roads while consuming seeds from the horses’ feed as well as unassimilated seeds from their droppings.
There is a report in an early issue of the Auk (the Journal of the American Ornithologists’ Union) detailing how in Denver in the first quarter of the 20th Century, the sparrows could be seen crowded around any horse dropping on any street in the city.
Interestingly, and thankfully for the House Sparrows, the rise of fast food coincided with the decline in the number of horses available in urban areas. The House Sparrow now prefers to hang out in the parking lot of any burger restaurant in the hopes of finding some fallen french fries.
Colorado is home to year-round populations of Belted Kingfishers. They occupy areas close to waterbodies where their favorite food sources—small fish, crustaceans, insects, and amphibians—are abundant. Berries, tiny animals, and even other birds will be consumed by them.
A Kingfisher will frequently be seen sitting on a telephone line or bare limb, scanning the river for its prey. The Kingfisher will dive quickly to get its prey from the water once it has been detected. Then, after pounding the catch on the perch, it will return to its roost and swallow it head first.
A Belted Kingfisher’s nest is unlikely to be spotted “by chance.” The male and female of the pair alternately use their powerful bills to dig in the earth. Before terminating their burrow with a hole that is 8–12 inches in diameter and around 7 inches high, they dig a tunnel that is 3–6 feet long.
They typically pick spots near the water, but they avoid regions with tree roots since they make digging more difficult for obvious reasons.
One of the rare bird species, the Belted Kingfisher, has females that typically display greater color than males. A slate blue “breastplate” and head are shared by both sexes. They have a white collar around their necks and blue wings with black tips.
The upper belly of females is additionally covered in a band of rust-colored feathers that descends to their legs. One of a Kingfisher’s most distinguishing characteristics is its large, black bill, which seems out of proportion to the bird’s small size.
Bright Downy Woodpeckers (Picoides pubescens) are interesting guests in open forested areas and gardens. Its lower back is covered in delicate white feathers, thus the name.
The birds are usually black and white, measuring around six inches from the tip of the tail to the tip of the beak. The undersides are white, and a broad white stripe runs the whole length of its back. The wings are checkered in black and white.
White lines running around the cheeks and neck accentuate the black crown. The adult male has a vivid crimson patch on the rear of his head. Their straight, chisel-shaped bills are shorter than their heads, unlike those of other woodpeckers.
Codling moth numbers, which significantly harm fruit-bearing trees, are significantly decreased by Downy woodpecker populations over the winter. They frequently go to locations where suet is sold.
They must hunt for tiny insects to feed the hatchlings. They need the bigger caterpillars, moths, and mayflies as their young get older.
You will frequently notice that this little bird appears to be upside down. That’s because it often descends a tree headfirst and maneuvers around it.
The only distinguishing feature between males and females is a gray patch on a male’s head as opposed to a black one on a female’s. Additionally, the undersides of females are often a little more cinnamon-brown in hue than those of males.
The majority of their food consists of seeds and nuts, and for these little Nuthatches, the meatier the better. When they locate a seed or nut, they will pound it into the bark before cracking it open with their mouth. They will hide their food one piece at a time when they are scavenging for storage.
They frequently cover seeds and insects with lichen, moss, snow, or a piece of bark. In the winter, you could see White-breasted Nuthatches feeding among groups of chickadees, woodpeckers, or titmice.
Fill your feeders with plenty of robust nuts like sunflower seeds and peanuts if you want to draw White-breasted Nuthatches to your garden.
Also, think about avoiding drastic tree cutting. These birds’ breeding environment consists of dead or nearly dead trees. By erecting a nest box that provides shelter from predators, you might even be able to draw in a breeding couple.