Tag Archives: Estes Park Birding

Temporary Closures to Protect Nesting Raptors in Rocky Mountain National Park



Phil and I periodically get emails from Rocky Mountain National Park about things going on in the park. We just received this notice about the temporary closure of Lumpy Ridge .

Each year to protect raptor nesting sites, Rocky Mountain National  Park officials initiate temporary closures in the Lumpy Ridge and Sheep  Mountain areas of the park. To ensure that these birds of prey can nest  undisturbed, specific areas within the park are closed temporarily to  public use during nesting season and monitored by wildlife managers. All  closures go in to effect on March 1 and will continue through July 31, if  appropriate. These closures may be extended longer or rescinded at an  earlier date depending on nesting activity. 

Closures include Checkerboard Rock, Lightning Rock, Batman Rock,  Batman Pinnacle, Thunder Buttress, The Parish, Alligator Rock, Sheep  Mountain, and Twin Owls, Rock One. These closures include the named  formations as well as areas extending 100 yards surrounding the base of the  formation. The perimeter around Alligator Rock extends for 200 yards in  all directions. Closures include all climbing routes, outcroppings,  cliffs, faces, ascent and descent routes and climber access trails to the  named rock formations.

The National Park Service is committed to preserving birds of prey.  The same cliffs that are critical for raptors also appeal to climbers. The  cooperation of climbing organizations and individuals continues to be  essential to the successful nesting of raptors in the park.

Phil photographed this Cooper’s Hawk at the little pond  by Lake Estes Trail last summer.

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Wild Turkeys Love to Roam Around In Estes Park!


I haven’t seen the wild turkeys very much this winter. But yesterday I was taking a walk down Fall River Road and saw 10 of them pecking around, looking for food right near  Castle Mountain Lodge.  I didn’t have my camera with me so I took a picture with my phone.

They were all huge! The “rafter” (new word for me…it means a large group of turkeys) of turkeys numbered 10. I’m not sure if this was the same group as before or a new one, as the blonde turkey was not there. They just looked up at me and continued eating away!

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Cute Little Chickadee On Emerald Lake Trail In RMNP


On our recent hike up to Emerald Lake this cute little chickadee kept following us for the last part of the hike. He was so cute. He’d fly to the ground right near us and peck around and then fly to the branch of a nearby tree.

I finally figured it out and got my camera ready. He landed on this branch on the trail right near Emerald Lake and I clicked away! Cute, isn’t he?

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Four Beautiful Trumpeter Swans Came To Visit Lake Estes!


It’s always fun to see a new bird down on Lake Estes. These four Trumpeter Swans were just swimming around a couple of weeks ago. They are so beautiful. Back east we had Mute Swans which had black and orange beaks.

Trumpeter Swans, which are the world’s largest species of waterfowl, are frequently found in the Rocky Mountains. They are present year-round in the Yellowstone area, with hundreds gathering there on open water during the winter.

The Trumpeter Swans get their name from their loud, bugling voice. They are a beautiful bird, aren’t they?

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Northern Pigmy Owl In A Bush On The Side Of the Road In Estes Park


One of my friends, Gayl, had a “new knee” put in last summer and hasn’t been able to take her little dog for much of a walk lately. Well, I love to walk so Abby and I have become fast friends!

Yesterday on one of our walks I saw a little bird in a bush right off the sidewalk  where Wonderview and Elkhorn Avenues intersect. The closer I got, I realized that it was a small owl. I quickly called Phil and he came right down. He’s always loved to photograph birds and he thought it was a Pygmy-Owl. Gayl is an artist and loves to paint and sketch owls so Phil went back to get her. She would just love this opportunity to see an owl so close. What a treat!

The little owl just sat there and posed for us for about 15 minutes. When we got home, Gayl got out her newer book on Small Owls and we saw that indeed it was a Northern Pigmy-Owl. They are appropriately named because they are the smallest owl, only about 7″ long and weighing 3.5 oz. It is interesting that it frequently catches prey that outweighs it.

The Pygmy-Owl is able to guard itself from predators because it has “false eyes” on the back of its head that stare blankly at you. These eyes scare larger birds away because they are less likely to attack a bird that is looking in their direction. Thus the Pygmy-Owl “guards” its own back.

The Pygmy-Owls typically nest in abandoned woodpecker nests and natural tree hallows. They usually feed between dusk and dawn, eating small rodents, large insects, small birds, reptiles and amphibians.

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