Colorado 2023: Prairie Chickens, Grouse & More I

Prairie-Chickens, Grouse & More

April 01 – 11, 2023

Tour Length: 11 days
Est. Spaces Left: Spaces Available!

Join us for this road trip through Colorado from the eastern prairies to the high Rocky Mountains searching for Prairie-Chickens, Sage-Grouse, White-tailed Ptarmigan, and other western specialties. The native grouse species have some of the finest and most intriguing displays of any North American bird family.

Tour Leaders

Stephan Lorenz
Claudia Cavazos

 

Focus

Birds, Photography

Price

Double Accommodation: $3,575/person
Single Supplement: + $575
Deposit: $500

Max Group Size

14 (2 leaders)

Pace

Easy; many early mornings and several long drives

Future Departures

April 01, 2024

Tour Descriptions

Colorado combines spectacular scenery and a variety of habitats with the largest diversity of native grouse and quail species found anywhere in North America. Our journey takes us from the eastern prairies, which are home to Greater and the endangered Lesser Prairie-Chickens, to the western sagebrush plains which harbor one of the last remaining populations of the critically endangered Gunnison Sage-Grouse and the equally stunning but more numerous Greater Sage-Grouse. In between, we visit the foothills east and west of the Rocky Mountains to look for Scaled and Gambel’s Quails, Sharp-tailed and Dusky Grouse, and the introduced Chukar. We also venture to the high elevations above the tree-line to search for the difficult White-tailed Ptarmigan, still in its immaculate alabaster plumage during this time of year. In addition to the “chickens”, the prairies hold Mountain Plover, Thick-billed and beautiful Chestnut-collared Longspurs, while the foothills and higher elevations harbor a wide variety of Rocky Mountain specialties. The pine forests at middle elevations are home to such sought-after species as Pinyon and Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jays, Clark’s Nutcracker, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Juniper Titmouse, and American Dipper. Boreal forests at higher elevations support American Three-toed Woodpecker, Steller’s and Canada Jays, Mountain Chickadee, and Pygmy Nuthatch. Feeders can attract an incredible array of winter finches with Gray-crowned, Black, and Brown-capped Rosy-Finches often present in large mixed flocks, while Evening and Pine Grosbeaks, Cassin’s Finches, and Red Crossbills add to the diversity. Other highlights we will search for in the sagebrush habitats include Sage Thrasher, and Sagebrush and Brewer’s Sparrows. Lakes and reservoirs along the way will offer a wide selection of waterfowl with around 20 species possible, including Barrow’s Goldeneye, and these bodies of water also harbor Clark’s and Western Grebes. The open landscapes and rocky cliffs are excellent for raptors and we can expect to see a dozen species. This tour is also superb for mammals with two dozen species possible, ranging from the massive Moose to the diminutive Least Chipmunk to round out one of the finest birding adventures in North America. Photographic opportunities of birds, other wildlife, and scenery are exceptional on this tour.

Locations

Gallery

More Details

Trip Highlights

Top Birds

Greater & Lesser Prairie-Chickens; Greater & Gunnison Sage-Grouse; Sharp-tailed and Dusky Grouse; White-tailed Ptarmigan; Chukar; Golden Eagle; Rough-legged Hawk; Prairie Falcon; Burrowing Owl; Boreal Owl (rare); American Dipper; Lewis’s and American Three-toed Woodpeckers; Juniper Titmouse; Pinyon and Canada Jays; Black, Gray-crowned, Brown-capped Rosy-Finches; Pine and Evening Grosbeaks; Red Crossbills; Mountain Chickadee; Pygmy Nuthatch

Top Mammals

Moose, Elk, Bighorn Sheep, Pronghorn, Coyote, American Marten, American Badger, Red Fox

Other Attractions

Wonderful scenery, mountain views, prairie dog colonies

Planning for the Trip

Meeting Location

Denver International Airport @ Noon; will meet at arrivals exit in Jeppesen Terminal (main concourse)

Accommodations

Very comfortable hotels; some fine Colorado restaurants.

Included

From Denver, includes nine nights lodging, all meals, transportation, entry fees, guides, taxes, tips.

Excluded

Alcohol, phone calls, laundry, other personal expenses.

Habitats Covered

Shortgrass prairie, sagebrush, juniper woodlands, foothills, mountains, montane forests, lakes and reservoirs

Expected Climate

In the early spring, we can encounter very wintry weather including snow. Temperatures can be in the 20’s early in the morning at some of the leks. Please make sure to bring layers! It can also be quite warm (60 degrees or more) in some areas of Colorado.

Suggested Clothing and Gear

Credit cards/cash
Binoculars
Scope and tripod (optional)
Sunglasses and sunscreen
Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses
Small umbrella
Small day pack/fanny pack
Small flashlight
Itch relief cream
Lip screen/balm
Prescription drugs – carry in original packaging to avoid customs problems
OTC medicines (antibiotics, cold/sinus, cough drops, eye drops, analgesic (Motrin, aspirin), anti-diarrheal)
Toiletries
Hair Dryer
Small alarm clock
Cleaning fluids/cloths/drying cloths
Field guides
Note pads/pens (we provide trip checklists)
Lightweight shoes/sneakers/sandals
Hat with brim/visor
Rain jacket/windbreaker
Shorts
T-shirts
Medium-weight long pants
Medium-weight long-sleeved shirts
Warm hat with visor
Waterproof winter jacket (Gore-tex or equivalent)
Warm winter jacket
Warm, waterproof gloves (and backup pair)
Glove liners
Long sleeve shirts (various weights)
Long Underwear (Capilene or polypropylene)
Wool socks (various weights) and liners

Recommended Reading

  • National Geographic Field Guide to The Birds of North America (7th Edition) Jon Dunn, et. al. 2017, National Geographic Society
  • A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors Brian Wheeler & William Clark
  • The Sibley Guide to Birds David A. Sibley (2000), Knopf