Spring

A Birder's Paradise

Eckert Crane Days ~ March 17, 18, 19 in 2017
Celebrating the Migration of the Sandhill Cranes

 

Introduction

Delta County makes few headlines relating to birds, but more for its rich things to do. The name Fruitgrower's Trail was given to the Delta County segement in Western Colorado from the Fruitgrowers Reservoir, the best place on the West Slope of Colorado to see waterbirds, from huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes to squadrons of shorebirds and flotillas of ducks. In turn, the reservoir takes its name from those who tend the orchards scattered across the adjacent valley floor. Where there's no orchard, there may be sagebrush flats, or soaring canyon walls echoing with the calls of Chukars, or riverbottom cottonwood gallery forest, or spruce woods home to porcupines and American Three-toed Woodpeckers. This trail isn't far off the beaten path, but you'd never know it by visiting-the secret remains well kept.

Grand Mesa

This is the largest table mountain in the world, topped by excellent spruce-fir forest and aspen groves complete with an extensive trail system. Look for species such as American Three-toed Woodpecker, Gray Jay, Pine Grosbeak and Red Crossbill, and just about the entire suite of high-elevation birds. During calm spring nights, the owling here can be excellent, with Boreal, Northern Saw-whet, and, if you are lucky, Northern Pygmy-Owls possible. Mammals also abound, with coyote, elk, pine marten, porcupine, and snowshoe hare. The lower slopes, just above Cedaredge, are covered with montane shrubland, with the requisite towhees, Virginia's Warblers, and such.

Hart's Basin (Fruit Grower's Reservoir)

This area has been a birders heaven for many years and was the first Important Birding Area designated in Colorado. This location is now on the Southwest Colorado Birding Trail.

Annually the Sandhill Cranes return here on their northward migration. Thousands of birds take brief sanctuary with the occasional pelican among them. Eagles soar while cattle egrets pursue their interests on local ranches.