A Bird Project for 2024

A Bird Project for 2024

  • Allison Benham
  • 12/1/23

One of the things Ken and I wanted to do this year was to get out and see more of Colorado and explore some more of the natural beauty right out of our front door. We knew that even being out here for more than 12 years, we still hadn't seen many of the trails, wildlife, and natural beauty that surrounds us.

Earlier this year, we picked up this book The Best Front Range Bird Hikes and we have endeavored to get out to every one of these trails in the next year. This book encompasses 30 hikes, from Fort Collins down to Colorado Springs, west into the mountains a bit and east out to the DIA area. It has maps, photos, and also shows what seasons are best to visit which trails. We can say so far it has been a really neat resource! We haven't been to many of these trails and so it feels like a bit of an adventure.


So far, we have made it out to 5 of the hikes in this book. We have had a few more attempts than that but have been sidelined once by errant weather and a toddler tantrum or two.

One thing is for sure, we have only scratched the surface with regard to our area's natural beauty. There is still so much to see, experience, and learn.

Here are our highlights so far and we will write some more updates as we go so you can visit some of these gorgeous areas if you have interest. If you go out, make sure to take your binoculars!

Barr Lake State Park- We loved our visit to Barr Lake State Park. It is absolutely gorgeous and is a is a great place to visit in the winter months as it is a very important wintering area for bald eagles. According to the Colorado Parks and Wildlife website "Numerous bald eagles winter at Barr Lake and one pair stays to nest and raise its young every year. The southwest side of the lake is home to a bustling rookery with over 200 nests." Neat! They also have a bird banding station in the fall where they band migratory birds to learn more about them. The public can observe the banding as well.

The trails are flat, accessible, and gravel so this area would be great to visit with out of town guests as they are not at all technical. They also have a really neat nature center with tons of activities for kids, and information about the important work they do at Barr Lake.


Cute nature center at Barr Lake.

Ken at Barr Lake- Camera at the Ready!


Red Rocks/Matthews-Winters Trails- We have been out to Red Rocks several times over the years to see shows but we hadn't been out to hike. This was a surprisingly pleasant and beautiful hike and we saw some cool birds too. The rock faces are home to Peregrine falcons and hawks and we saw some beautiful birds in the foothills/prairie area. The views are spectacular and we got to hike out there when the band was warming up for the evening show and that was pretty cool too. We got to hear the warm up and hang in the amphitheater for a while before the crowds showed up.

South Mesa Trail/Dowdy Draw Complex- This is a popular trail complex in S. Boulder and one that is familiar to many people. It has dramatic vistas as it is at the base of the Flatirons. It's a Boulder classic and also apparently a great place to see birds as there are several different habitats presented- prairie, woodlands, and streams/waterways. This is one where we got sidelined by a toddler tantrum so I didn't get to finish but Ken has been out a few times and has seen some neat wildlife. This one is a Boulder classic for a reason!

Heil Valley Ranch- If you are into the birding, Ken has been out to Heil Valley Ranch several times lately and has been really excited by the number of birds out there. The Calwood fire burned around this area a few years ago so when we went out, it was pretty quiet as far as people were concerned and I'm not sure if that had to do with our weekday timing or the fact that there are still some closures/detours/burned out areas there. There were lots of birds to see and this felt like a really nice and quiet weekday hike, very close in to Boulder.

K&A at Heil Valley


Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge- We were skeptical about this hike before we started as it looks so far east and we just couldn't imagine how that area could be worth the trek but we were very wrong and so pleasantly surprised. This area was used for chemical manufacturing and storing during and after WWII as well as Cold War weapons production. It is now 15,000 acres of restored natural land and federal wildlife refuge and is home to 330 species of animals including bison, deer, coyotes, eagles. ferrets, pelicans, burrowing owls, and many more. They have an informative nature center showing the areas history including the chemical weapons manufacturing history. There are some beautiful restored lakes, boardwalks, and miles and miles of trails for the avid runner or biker.

According to the website, one of the best ways to experience the Rocky Mountain Arsenal is to do the 11 mile Nature Drive while listening to the accompanying podcast. We didn't get to do this while we were out there but it sounds neat!

Lake area at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

Ken and Scarlett looking for birds

Wildlife exhibit in the nature center at Rocky Mountain Arsenal


We hope you have been enjoying this fall time and holiday season.

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