Golden Ponds, April 9, 2022–with Jamie Simo

April 11, 2022

Golden Ponds in Longmont, Colorado is an amazing place in the spring and the weather on Saturday April 9th was perfect for a bird walk. From the fishing pier at the pond closest to the parking lot, we were treated to great views of American White Pelican and Double-crested Cormorant (so-named for the 2 feather plumes adults sport in breeding season).

As we continued along parallel to the railroad track, amongst the symphony of singing birds we were able to pick out the call of the Say’s Phoebe, one of our most visible and colorful flycatchers and another spring migrant. After a moment, the bird happily obliged us by landing in plain view on a power line and was followed by its likely mate, which settled down near it.

Nesting Great Blue Herons. Photo by Mark Evenson.

One of the highlights of the trip was the view of the beginnings of a new heronry in the trees along St. Vrain Creek. Great Blue Herons, our largest heron, are colonial nesters that build their stick nests high in the tree canopy. While the heronry at Golden Ponds is still small at 2 visible nests, heronries can include dozens or even hundreds of nests.

Not only the herons, but other species were also clearly nesting or getting ready to nest. We came upon a Cooper’s Hawk along the river that sat and posed for us for quite awhile. Cooper’s Hawks have nested regularly along St. Vrain Creek in that same stretch and, while we didn’t see any hawks in it, we did sight a nest made mostly of sticks (as opposed to leaves like a squirrel nest) that could’ve been its nest for the season.

The climax of the trip was definitely the nesting Great Horned Owl who had at least 2 owlets. Great Horned Owls are one of the earliest nesting species due to needing to be ready to hunt by the time other species have their babies. Young owls will stay near their parents until about October when the adults are ready again to court and breed again.

Great Horned Owl with owlet. Photo by Chris Friedman.

In all, we saw or heard 33 species, a great start to my favorite season!

Golden Ponds Park and Nature Area
Apr 09, 2022

27 Canada Goose
100 Northern Shoveler
4 Gadwall
14 Mallard
7 Ring-necked Duck
1 Bufflehead
2 Eurasian Collared-Dove
8 Double-crested Cormorant
2 American White Pelican
6 Great Blue Heron
3 Turkey Vulture
2 Osprey
1 Cooper’s Hawk
1 Bald Eagle
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Great Horned Owl — At least two babies
3 Downy Woodpecker
5 Northern Flicker
2 Say’s Phoebe
8 Blue Jay
2 American Crow
5 Black-capped Chickadee
1 Tree Swallow
4 White-breasted Nuthatch
11 European Starling
7 American Robin
6 House Sparrow
11 House Finch
7 American Goldfinch
2 White-crowned Sparrow
6 Song Sparrow
22 Red-winged Blackbird
9 Common Grackle


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