10 Most Amazing Colorado Birds: Birdwatching Guide

colorado birds

You’ve probably heard about Colorado’s amazing landscape, but what you might not know is that it also has one of the most diverse bird populations in America! We’re talking everything from cardinals to bald eagles.

With this guide, you’ll be able to identify all of these beautiful feathered friends and even plan your next trip around them. Whether you’re a pro or just starting out, this quick read will have something for everyone. 

Now get outside and start spotting some Colorado birds!

10 Amazing Colorado Birds

Lark Bunting

Lark Bunting

One Colorado bird you might not have heard of is the Lark Bunting, which resides primarily in Colorado during the summer. It’s also Colorado’s state bird. This elusive bird prefers to live in more rural areas with fields and bunting, so Colorado’s eastern plains are ideal for them.

They build their nests on the ground – they are nesting birds like quails (which is why they’re sometimes called “meadowlarks”) and then tend to hide them in tall grass.

The male is mostly black, while the female is brown. It eats mostly seeds, but will also eat insects and other invertebrates.

Rufous Hummingbird

Rufous Hummingbird

One amazing Colorado bird that lives in the state during the summer is the Rufous Hummingbird. The hummingbird can be found in Colorado because it likes to migrate north, but once it’s here, all of its predators are gone.

Rufous Hummingbirds have an average wingspan of 4 inches. They are mostly colored brownish red or maroon with iridescent green feathers underneath their wings. It can fly up to 47 miles per hour, however it is often seen hovering in the air only about 10 feet off of the ground.

They tend to eat figs, flowering plants, insects, spiders, bees, and more. This is a great place for them because it has many flowers that are perfect for feeding on nectar. The state also has many insects that the Rufous Hummingbirds feed on during summer months when these birds live in Colorado.

Cedar Waxwing

Cedar Waxwing

One of these gorgeous Colorado birds is the Cedar Waxwing. This bird is very distinct because of its lovely wingtips and the way it holds its tail when flying.

They have brownish-gray feathers, with some white feathers on their heads and wings, reddish-pink bellies, and yellow spots on their wings.

The climate is perfect for many birds native to Colorado like Cedar Waxwings, because they live in a habitat that is abundant with flowers and berry-producing plants.

People often notice Cedar Waxwings because they fly in such a fluid and unusual manner. These birds will even dance on branches! They bob their bodies and move from side to side as if they were dancing with one another, which might be how they got their name.

Black-capped Chickadee

Black-capped Chickadee

The Black-capped Chickadee is a very vocal “tweety” creature that is one of the common birds of Colorado, lives there year-round and is known for its friendliness. They love to live near evergreen trees, so Colorado birders will often see them in state and national parks. 

One of the most interesting birding activities is watching Black-capped Chickadees fly! These Colorado birds do not go in a direct path when they are flying between branches, but instead follow more circular patterns. You will be able to find them near evergreens or black oil sunflower seeds.

One of the most notable things about a Colorado Black-capped Chickadee is its white eye stripe against a black cap! These beautiful birds also have small tufts on their heads that are black in color. 

Bullock’s Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Many Colorado birders consider watching Bullock’s Orioles a highlight of spring. Due to its bright yellow and black color, Bullock’s Oriole is easily identifiable as one of the most beautiful yellow birds in Colorado

The male Bullock’s Oriole is distinguished by its bright orange belly and black face. The female, however, has a yellow stomach with white dots on each side of the body.

Bullock’s Orioles are fairly common in Colorado during the summer months. During their breeding season, they mostly nest in Colorado but also breed as far north as Wyoming and Nebraska. Once autumn hits Colorado birders should be able to observe large flocks of them that have migrated south for the winter. 

This particular species prefers to live in deciduous woodlands, wooded areas, and second growth forests. It is fairly common for Bullock’s Orioles to be found nesting in Colorado in habitats with dense vegetation such as shrubs or trees. Additionally, it is commonly found along Colorado rivers which offer the perfect habitat of water and foliage.

American Kestrel

American Kestrel

The American Kestrel is a small falcon that can be found throughout North and South America. Colorado is home to a number of American Kestrel populations. You can spot them  in dry shrublands, open grasslands, and other areas where they can find food. 

Both males and females look alike. The body feathers are mostly brown with black barring underneath, while lighter coloration on the chestnut backs makes two narrow broken stripes across each wing. 

American Kestrels eat mostly insects. Their diet also includes lizards, mice, amphibians, snakes, bats, dragonflies, and sometimes rabbits. They hunt from elevated perches by swooping down on their prey with speeds up to 60 miles an hour!

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

This varied state is home to some amazing birds, but one of the most impressive Colorado birds of prey is the Golden Eagle. The Golden Eagle can reach up to 6 feet (2 meters) in length with a wingspan of over 7 ½ feet (2.3 meters), making it larger than most other North American raptors. 

Golden Eagles build their nests up high on cliffs, which can be as tall as a 350-foot (107-meter) drop. Since Golden Eagles hunt from the air, this means that other birds do not nest near them because they feel less safe with such an expansive predator nearby.

Most Colorado birders see the Golden Eagle at Colorado National Monument. The park is well known for its great view of the Colorado River and surrounding prairie plains in Colorado Desert District.

It offers a fantastic overlook to observe golden eagles flying above the Colorado River Canyon, but also provides very good views of many other raptors during spring and fall migration periods at the Mesa Reservoir below.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker is one of the common Colorado birds. This species lives throughout Colorado year-round and nests both here and to the south into Mexico.

Downy Woodpeckers have a distinctive appearance. They are small (about 5 – 7 inches) and are mainly brownish on top with gray undersides that are heavily barred with black and white. Males have a red crown patch that they can show or hide depending on their moods. Females lack this red crest but often have some red on the back of their heads.

This species is known for its use of woodpecker holes in trees. It uses these holes both as nests and also to store food for the winter and other periods of food scarcity.

Downy Woodpeckers live from low plains up to about 9000 feet, so they can be considered one of Colorado mountain birds. They spend a lot of time close to houses and other buildings where humans live so you can often see this bird at your feeder, on the side of a house, or even on power lines. 

Red-winged Blackbird

Red-winged Blackbird

The Red-winged Blackbird has a large range, living in parts of Colorado as well as the U.S., Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is one of the more famous black birds in Colorado.

The male red-winged blackbirds are easy to spot because they have bright orange or yellow patches on their shoulders or wingtips. They usually sit upright when perched, but will fly away quickly if surprised or frightened. 

Females are generally more gray than males and can sometimes be confused for another type of blackbird such as the Common Grackle which has a similar coloring and size.

In Colorado, red-winged blackbirds are generally found near marshes or wetlands playing the role of ‘insectivore’. They feed on invertebrates such as flies and beetles that live close to water while younger birds eat seeds, berries, and other plant matter.

European Starling

European Starling

The European starling is one of Colorado’s imported species that makes this state its home.  Colorado is not native to this bird, yet it thrives here.

Colorado’s environment allows the starling to live comfortably compared to other states in which these birds have been released. The climate is perfect for these birds because there are lots of flowers and vegetation that the starlings feed on. 

European starlings have adapted to Colorado’s cold winter by flying south when the temperature drops too low. This bird leaves Colorado around October and returns around March each year. 

At a distance, European starlings can look black, but up close their feathers are brownish-black with green, purple, and violet hues. Unlike other Colorado natives, European starlings have not developed camouflage to blend into Colorado’s environment. Instead they have developed the ability to fly up high out of harm’s way or fly fast enough that predators can’t catch them. 

They also stay in flocks for protection.

In Conclusion

We hope that this guide has helped you identify some of the most beautiful birds in Colorado. 

But don’t stop here! 

Leave a comment below to tell us what your favorite feathered beauty is or share photos with our community HERE.

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