The 8th Pikes Peak Birding & Nature Festival
Early Bird registration opens on Saturday, March 25, 2023 at 10:00 am MST.
As the Pikes Peak Birding and Nature Festival heads into 2023, the 8th year for the festival, birders can look forward to another amazing array of bird species. The festival motto is “prairie to peak” and it lives up to that billing.
Spring migration along Colorado’s Front Range is often full of surprises and the festival weekend is peak migration time. The Pikes Peak region has much to offer, with the short-grass prairie rising to meet the forested foothills and deep canyons of the southern Front Range, and rich, riparian forests providing for countless birds, insects, and other wildlife.
Over the course of the first seven festivals, the field trips have seen, heard, and identified an amazing 249 species. To put that into perspective, during one weekend each May, festival participants have recorded just under half (actually 48.2%) of the 514 species of birds ever recorded in all of Colorado! In 2022 there were 189 species recorded, fully 76% of the 249 seven-year total.
In 2022, the festival checklist grew by nine species, including Black-necked Stilt, White Ibis, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Eastern Phoebe, Brown Creeper, Grasshopper Sparrow, Black-throated Sparrow, Blackburnian Warbler, and Black-throated Green Warbler. In fact, the two new warblers brought the total number of warblers seen in seven festival to 30 species!
Festival rarities include White Ibis, Summer Tanager, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Flammulated Owl, Canada Jay, and Field Sparrow. But please remember these species are rare for the Front Range and are not seen each year.
A May visit to the Pikes Peak Birding & Nature Festival can be very special for visitors and locals alike. We have recorded 10 out of 12 woodpecker species which regularly occur in Colorado. And there have been 15 species of flycatchers and shorebirds, 19 species of sparrows, and that lone White Ibis.
Please join us in 2023, and maybe you will the one to spot our 250th festival species!
This year we are expanding our Thursday “bonus birding” opportunities and adding four Big Sits. Spend time enjoying four different top birding sites looking and listening for birds. Bring a chair, some food and drinks and enjoy a leisurely birding experience. Virtually, we are offering a White-tailed Ptarmigan presentation and a Gardening for the Birds. Also new this year is a Mountain Lion talk followed by a hike the next day looking for these elusive predators or at least signs of them.
Fountain Creek, an oasis on the plains, offers essential food and stopover sites for many resident birds and those migrating through the area. Walk the land where ornithologist Charles Aiken raised his sheep and see which bird species live there today. Observe which bird species thrive in our regional parks or learn about the geology of the renowned Colorado Springs Garden of the Gods City Park. Enjoy a lunch with ranch hands at a working ranch and scour the open range for Burrowing Owls and Curve-billed Thrashers.
There will be live Birds of Prey from the Nature and Wildlife Discovery Center and two workshops on how to use eBird. Enjoy a trip to Corral Bluffs or Jimmy Camp Creek, two sites generally off-limits to the public. Corral Bluffs is the location discussed in a NOVA presentation and contains fossils from the first million years following the demise of dinosaurs and the rise of mammals. The fossil record found in the property is fascinating. Our leader is featured in this NOVA episode.
Visit a Colorado state park to learn which flowers bloom on the Front Range, where to find Ovenbirds and hopefully see a Canada Jay. Choose to attend seminars on bird feeding, and which native plants will attract birds to your own backyard. Or, spend time with the Mile High Bug Club, look closer and discover the magnificent insects that inhabit this region. This year they will be doing a bug walkabout as well as insect black lighting in the evening.
Hummingbird banding is one of our most popular events and we are so happy Fred and Tena Engelman are able to join us again this year. Hummingbird banding requires a special federal permit and Fred and Tena have been banding these diminutive birds for years. Experience the excitement of seeing a hummingbird “in the hand” while it is being banded.
We have been able to add two new trips this year (Kettle Creek Lakes, Bear Creek Regional Park East) while continuing to offer trips to local birding hotspots led by experienced leaders. We do ask if you have already attended one of the more popular trips that you choose a different trip this year so everyone has the chance to enjoy the location.
On Saturday evening, join us for the ever popular “Birds, Brews, and Bites” with food, drinks, beer from Phantom Canyon Brewery, and live music. Find the list of birds which have been seen or heard during the festival and get a chance to share stories with other participants. Meet our wonderful partners and sponsors, bid on the festival artwork and maybe your ticket will chosen for a great door prize.
Look over the website for festival information, registration, speaker bios, and field trip descriptions to help you decide how to spend your weekend in and around the Pikes Peak Region. There are events for everyone. We hope you will join us in Colorado Springs, Colorado on May 18 – 21, 2023 for dynamic field trips and appealing seminars and workshops.