Saturday, November 11, 2023 Bird Walk to Rabbit Mountain with Jamie Simo

November 14, 2023

Ancestral home of the Arapahoe, the Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain is roughly 5,000 acres of grassland and foothills habitat. It boasts some of the most spectacular views of the Front Range and is home to a multitude of species.

Our walk on Saturday was rather quiet, but we did see a few good birds and the landscape and weather were beautiful. Despite mostly occurring in the western and southwestern portion of Colorado, a small population of Pinyon Jays can be found at Rabbit Mountain. Though the Pinyons were elusive for us, we did see a couple of their relative the Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay right in the parking lot. Woodhouses’s Scrub-Jays differ from Pinyon Jays in having longer tails and grey as well as blue on their bodies. Pinyon Jays also have longer, sharper bills than the Scrub-Jays.

Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay. Photo by Jamie Simo

A little farther down the trail we saw another great bird, a Prairie Falcon. Rabbit Mountain is an ideal habitat for Prairie Falcons, which nest on rocky cliff faces and feed on small mammals and grassland birds like meadowlarks. Unlike Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons are brown and white rather than mostly grey with less of a helmeted look than their more famous relative. As they soar above you, look for their distinctive dark axillaries or “armpits.”

Prairie Falcon. Photo by Jamie Simo

We also saw a Ferruginous Hawk surveying the prairie dog town. This large hawk’s diet is mostly made up of prairie dogs and they can often be found on the ground in the middle of one of the rodent’s colonies, which is precisely where we found it.

Finally, we had a Clark’s Nutcracker in the pines at the beginning of the Eagle Wind Trail. These cool corvids cache thousands of pine seeds a year and is considered a keystone species for its role in the spread of whitebark pine.

Rabbit Mountain, Boulder, Colorado, US
13 species (+1 other taxa)

Accipiter sp.  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Ferruginous Hawk  1
Hairy Woodpecker  1
Northern Flicker  1
Prairie Falcon  1
Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay  2
Black-billed Magpie  6
Clark’s Nutcracker  1
House Finch  7
American Tree Sparrow  5
Dark-eyed Junco  8
White-crowned Sparrow  5
Spotted Towhee  1


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