Just got back from a couple days in Colorado, where I was attending meetings about how to protect birds from collisions with windfarms. The meetings were great, but it was also great to get out and do some Rocky Mountain birding.
Monday afternoon I drove up from Boulder to Allenspark. It was too early in the year to see the rosy finches that come to the feeders there (no snow on the ground yet) but there were some great birds there--including my first ever White-winged Junco. Since 1973 this bird has been considered just a subspecies of the widespread Dark-eyed Junco, but these guys only breed in a small area centered around the Black Hills of South Dakota and winter a little more widely in the central Rockies. I was able to get good long looks at one of these guys--with its white wingbars and much more extensive white tail feathers. I also got to see at least one Gray-headed Junco--another subspecies from the central Rocky Mountains that looks a lot like a Yellow-eyed Junco with dark eyes. Pretty cool little birds!
At one point along the road, I was watching a Common Raven chase a Golden Eagle when the eagle did a full 360 degree roll. Very cool!
And as if the birds weren't enough--at one point I spent 20 minutes watching an enormous bighorn sheep ram staring down at me from a pinnacle of rock just 100 feet above the road. Not to mention the dozen elk feeding on another hillside, and the five mule deer bucks with seven does feeding in another field just off the road at dusk. Its nice to be back home now, but getting out into the mountains was also good for my soul.
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