ACES // City of Aspen Open Space Birding: Ute Cemetery, Wheeler Ditch, and Surroundings 5/22/2024

Rebecca Weiss

May 22, 2024

ACES // City of Aspen Open Space Birding: Ute Cemetery, Wheeler Ditch, and Surroundings 5/22/2024

Wednesday, May 22, 2024, 7:00-10:00am
Weather: Sunny following a snowy day and night
Location: Ute Cemetery, Aspen, CO


This spring field trip met with snowy conditions on a sunny morning following a full day of snow and a cold night. Typical of May weather, snow blanketed new green foliage and blooming larkspur, violets, bluebells, Oregon grape, and pasque flowers. As the sun came over Smuggler Mountain and warmed up our field trip site, birds began to become more active and snow started melting. It was a magical morning with steam billowing off tree trunks and ice covering ponds. We focused on the birds we chanced to see and the voices of many birds that remained out of view, making this outing great practice for ear birding. Chipping sparrows, Dark-eyed juncos, Orange-crowned warblers, and Ruby-crowned kinglets were our primary singers. Townsend’s solitaires also sang from tops of conifers briefly. Highlights included seeing adult American dippers foraging in the river and then flying to their nest on the underpinnings of the pedestrian bridge where we stood. As the adult entered the nest, we could hear the rowdy begging calls of the nestlings through the bridge treads. Other highlights were observing a male broad-tailed hummingbird perched on the top of a small leafless aspen, preening and fluffing its feathers. Another male Broad-tailed hummingbird flew in and appeared to duel the perched bird, making aggressive movements toward it with its bill. The perched bird turned to face its challenger, but remained perched, perhaps not yet fully out of its torpid state. We also had several excellent observations of the red crests of Ruby-crowned kinglets. We discussed the history of Ute Cemetery and Wheeler Ditch, the use of Merlin and Sibley apps, and the richly varied habitats and morainal geology of the area. Join us on May 29th for birding at North Star Nature Preserve!

Species List:

Canada Goose
Broad-tailed Hummingbird
American Crow
Black-capped Chickadee
Mountain Chickadee
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
American Dipper
Townsend’s Solitaire
American Robin
Evening Grosbeak
Dark-eyed Junco
Song Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Orange-crowned Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler

~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide

Featured photo: Yellow-rumped warbler.

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