October 8, 2022 Bird Walk to White Rocks Trail with Aron Smolley

October 8, 2022

We could not have asked for a more magical day to spend birding for today’s walk along the White Rocks Trail. Our group showed up raring to go and we set off down the trail; black-capped chickadees, American goldfinches, and spotted towhees greeted us as we walked by. The sound of a belted kingfisher reached our ears and, sure enough, we spotted it perch hunting over the riparian area towards the beginning of the trail.

As the morning mist dissipated, we came across a very cooperative red-tailed hawk perched in a snag right by the trail and everyone got excellent views of its field marks through the Zeiss Gavia spotting scope. Further along, we started hearing killdeer and, sure enough, we looked up and observed a group of 5 migrating overhead.

Female Wood Duck. Photo by Jamie Simo.

At the first pond, we watched a northern harrier zoom past as an osprey ate its breakfast of fish on a post. An American white pelican showed up as we glassed over the waterfowl on the pond- a surprise treat for all of us. Other birds of note on the pond included a cackling goose, a cooperative pair of great-blue herons, a couple of pied-billed grebes, and 8 beautiful wood ducks- including one stunning male perched up in a tree. Ring-billed gulls chased each other over the pond and gadwalls gathered in the water.

Merlin. Photo by Jamie Simo

We continued along the trail through the prairie dog down and were lucky enough to find a merlin perched on a fence post- this tiny falcon definitely had the songbirds on edge. As the sun warmed us up, red-tailed hawks, bald eagles, a Cooper’s hawk, and another osprey soared overhead on thermals, while a second northern harrier perched calmly on a post in the distance. The last noteworthy bird of the day was a white-throated sparrow, which is always fun to see this far west.

Young raccoon. Photo by Aron Smolley.

We also got our cute mammal of the day- a young raccoon peering down at us from high up in a tree! After all was said and done we tallied 34 species total (2 lifers for some of the participants!) in just under 4 hours.  This trail area is definitely an underrated birding hotspot and I will definitely be returning here for future walks.

White Rocks Trail area, Boulder, Colorado, US Oct 8, 2022 8:05 AM – 12:05 PM

34 species

Cackling Goose  1     Observed in scope in water by 9 birders.

Canada Goose  13

Wood Duck  8

Gadwall  20

American Wigeon  1

Mallard  10

Pied-billed Grebe  2

Killdeer  5

Ring-billed Gull  2

American White Pelican  3

Great Blue Heron  3

Osprey  2     One perched and one flying over it.

Northern Harrier  2

Cooper’s Hawk  1

Bald Eagle  2

Red-tailed Hawk  5

Belted Kingfisher  1

Downy Woodpecker  1

Northern Flicker  4

Merlin  1

Blue Jay  5

Black-billed Magpie  5

American Crow  1

Black-capped Chickadee  3

European Starling  25

American Robin  7

American Goldfinch  4

Chipping Sparrow  3

White-crowned Sparrow  9

White-throated Sparrow  1

Spotted Towhee  2

Red-winged Blackbird  6

Common Grackle  2

Yellow-rumped Warbler  1


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