A Bounty of Birds

Published on June 03, 2021

A Bounty of Birds

Story and photos by Jennifer Finch

Perhaps one of the most surprising things about Weld County is that it draws visitors from around the world for birding. You see, we’re home to hundreds of species of birds making it a great place for bird watching. Travelers from across the country, and even across the ocean, travel here to spot Burrowing Owls, Great Blue Herons, Bald Eagles, Mountain Plover, and even the America White Pelican.

While a visit to any lake or pond will likely result spotting a variety of birds, a visit to the Pawnee National Grasslands may be your most surprising bird watching trip. While the short-grass prairie lacks a variety of vegetation, including trees, it is home to hundreds of birds many of which you can spot and learn about on their self-guided bird tour route.

This 21-mile drive along rural county roads on the grassland will take you by the habitats of American Kestrels, Swainson’s Hawks, Long-billed Curlew and even the Colorado State Bird, the Lark Bunting. The tour will take you approximately 2-3 hours. Be sure to plan accordingly for your trip as there are no facilities along the tour. In fact, the Forest Service recommends the following: make sure you have a full tank of gas, bring plenty of water with you and pay attention to the weather forecast; bring a field guide for the area as well as binoculars and/or a spotting scope; and, be patient – early morning and later afternoon are often the best times for viewing.

Great Blue Herons can be found throughout Weld County near water.