Hudson Gardens and South Platte River, August 27, 2022– with Andrea Cahoon

August 30, 2022

A group of 12 of us started our walk around 8:00 a.m. on a beautiful sunny day with temperatures in the mid-70’s. Though August is a bit of a quiet time for birds, we ended up seeing 25 species, with a total of 210 individuals. We had some excellent spotters in our group, and we all saw much more because of their contributions. Right off the bat we saw a Cedar Waxwing on a dead branch at the top of a tree across the river. Though seen more often in the warmer months, these stunning birds winter here and wherever berries are plentiful. We saw a bit of their aerial acrobatics while hunting for insects, but mostly they were in resting mode, perhaps recovering from the breeding season – those youngin’s are a lot of work! Cedar Waxwings often flock together, and are sometimes mistaken for a flock of starlings since they are about the same size. They are often seen in berry bushes and along rivers and ponds. 

Cedar Waxwing. Photo by Jamie Simo.

As we approached the bridge over the South Platte River, we spotted a Black-Crowned Night-Heron flying overhead. This heron is rather oval-shaped, with its neck hunched down. It is striking with its red eyes and yellow legs and feet. It roosts in trees during the day, and becomes active late in the day, foraging for fish and small aquatic animals in shallow water on the edges of ponds. We also saw a Great Blue Heron, more commonly seen than the Black-crowned Night-Heron. Missing today was the Snowy Egret, which breeds in Colorado and migrates to Mexico and South America. Though seen more often in the warmer months, the two aforementioned herons are here year-round.

Black-crowned Night-Heron. Photo by Jamie Simo.

After crossing the bridge and getting off the main trail, we saw many of our species: a Red-tailed Hawk; a Western Kingbird; three swallow species – Northern Rough-winged, Cliff and Barn; House Finches, a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird, and male Red-winged Blackbirds among others. We heard but did not see an American Goldfinch, making its “Potato Chip” flight call, and the skulky Gray Catbird.

Flying overhead, brilliant white in the sun, we saw several large groups of Ring-billed Gulls; one group had over 50 individuals.

Coming back to Hudson Gardens, we saw a lone male Wood Duck, another stunning bird, swimming in the stagnant pond. Wood Ducks nest in trees and nest boxes. When the ducklings are ready to leave the nest, they jump, sometimes as far as 50 feet to the ground!

We had a nice surprise at the Hudson Garden bird feeders – as the leader was reviewing the birds we’d seen and imitating the Gray Catbird, a Spotted Towhee responded with its similar call. More and more, the Spotted Towhee is becoming a regular backyard bird, not only scratching in the underbrush for insects, but also snatching seed dropped by other birds at bird feeders.

Here is the list in taxonomic order:

36 Canada Goose

1 Wood Duck

20 Mallard

2 Broad-tailed Hummingbird

3 American Coot

92 Ring-billed Gull

5 Double-crested Cormorant

1 Great Blue Heron

1 Black-crowned Night-Heron

1 Red-tailed Hawk

4 Northern Flicker

1 Western Kingbird

1 Blue Jay

2 Black-billed Magpie

4 Black-capped Chickadee

3 Northern Rough-winged Swallow

6 Barn Swallow

3 Cliff Swallow

3 White-Breasted Nuthatch

1 Gray Catbird

8 Cedar Waxwing

8 House Finch

1 American Goldfinch

1 Spotted Towhee

2 Red-winged Blackbird


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