Grand Junction Winter Sparrows Special Field Trip | February 18, 2020
February 18, 2020
Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 6AM – 4PM
Weather: Mostly sunny, 26F – 43F
Location: Grand Junction
Dark-eyed Junco (pink-sided, Oregon)
This field trip with local expert, Mike Henwood, was a focused study of the many sparrow species that overwinter in Grand Junction. The trip arose from a suggestion by one of our active ACES Birding Program participants. We always welcome field trip and speaker / guide suggestions, and we were thrilled to be able to make this one happen. The species list includes birds that we identified at field trip locations in Grand Junction in addition to those observed during the drive to and from the Roaring Fork Valley.
After meeting at a bagel shop in downtown Grand Junction, our group of seven went to the nearby Bell Tower to look for our first target species, peregrine falcon. We were thrilled to see the adult male peregrine on the tower, which is one of the two tallest downtown structures regularly used by a resident pair of peregrines. The abundant prey base of rock pigeons, Eurasian collared-doves, and other birds is sufficient to sustain this breeding pair year-round.
We birded next in two areas of the Grand Junction Wildlife Area, a large acreage of natural riparian habitats and dry shrubland with woodlots and planted wildlife forage plots bordered by the Colorado and Gunnison Rivers. Mike provided excellent tutorials on distinguishing similar sparrow species and on recognizing the subtle field marks of the species that were new to the group. Overall, nine sparrow species were observed, with excellent opportunities to see many other bird species, including western bluebird, northern harrier, and Say’s phoebe. Our last stop was at Pear Park along the Colorado River, where we added one more uncommon sparrow to our list, Harris’s Sparrow. The group came away with an appreciation for the patience required to find uncommon sparrows among large numbers of common ones. We gained valuable experience and the satisfied feeling of patience rewarded! We also learned about the prime fall-winter-spring birding season in the Grand Junction area, where snow-free ground and accessible natural foods are attractive to many birds from northern latitudes.
The trip was offered as a special thank-you to ACES Bird Club members and active supporters of the Birding Program. ACES is grateful for your enthusiasm, whether in the form of active participation or support from afar. Join us on March 3rd for Morning Birding at Hallam Lake!
~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide
Photo by Rebecca Weiss