Backyard Birds – Spring!

Backyard Birds - 2021 Beginnings

Spring has sprung, and with it, birds! Here are your sightings, as reported to Hugh Kingery.

Great Blue Heron and Ring-billed Gull by Dick Vogel
Great Blue Heron and Ring-billed Gull - Dick Vogel
Great Blue Heron and Black Capped Night Heron - Gene Reetz
Great Blue Heron - Dick Vogel
Black Capped Night Heron - Gene Reetz

Dick Vogel photographed a Great Blue Heron in Chatfield State Park, one flying by itself and another accompanied by a Ring-billed Gull (like I-70 at rush hour, Dick said).

And on Feb. 18, Gene Reetz posted this: “Yesterday afternoon Polly and I took a brief walk along Cherry Creek behind the shopping center. See attached for a couple of Herons we saw by the Steele Street pedestrian bridge. Always a treat to see a bit of ‘nature in the city.’”

Gene also sent a spectacular picture of Canada and Cackling Geese in flight over Barr Lake.

Also at Barr Lake, Michael Testa sent a picture of an immature Bald Eagle with a fish.

Geese at Barr Lake - Gene Reese
Bald Eagle with fish - Michael Testa

Yard birds have picked up in numbers over the last month. On Feb. 14, Ruth Gabreski counted 16 species in her yard, the highlight a Brown Creeper. On Mar. 16 in Wheat Ridge, Patty Echelmeyer counted 18 species in her yard. She spots a Harris’s Sparrow that she has seen off and on since Jan. 2. She also counted 4 Bushtits, 3 Red-breasted Nuthatches, and 6 Pine Siskins. Cynthia Madsen commented that her Black-capped Chickadees have started singing.

Cat looking out window
Cat Indoors - Sara Cook

Sara Cook wrote from southeast Denver:

“Just thought you might enjoy seeing our robins! We’ve never seen so many! Hopefully, this is a good sign? We have a heated birdbath & there’s a chokecherry bush covered with purple berries that we suppose they are eating. We feed the birds every day & are having a wonderful time today with so much activity in our backyard! We also have Towhees, but they won’t stay still enough to ever get a good picture!
PS: Our cat loves to watch the squirrels & birds (& an occasional skunk!).”

Skunk - Sara Cook

Courtney Kelly emailed, “I was delighted to read your column today with the sightings of Townsend’s Solitaire and a Hermit Thrush in Wheat Ridge, as I have been seeing both in my yard in Lakewood. I wasn’t certain of my identification as I’m a new birder and needed confirmation that they were in the area. I also saw a Townsend’s Solitaire at my mother’s birdbath in Littleton.”

In our yard we have counted 16 species a couple of times. Our specialties include a Fox Sparrow, and Urling picked it out singing on Mar. 16. We also claim occasional Pine Siskins and occasional Bushtits (a dozen thronged a suet cake an hour ago, during another of our snowstorms). One March 14 we had high counts of 34 Dark-eyed Juncos and 19 House Finches. We see our Palomino Junco – a Gray-headed subspecies with blotches of white on its body – every few days.

Fox Sparrow - Hugh Kingery

From Centennial, Kevin Corwin emailed that “Mid-May last year I reported a Lincoln’s Sparrow frequenting my little townhouse yard near Holly & Arapahoe in west Centennial.  Little fellow was here for a couple of weeks then gone. I’m happy to report that I now have a Lincoln’s Sparrow in my yard again.  Dare I speculate it’s the same bird from last Spring, but nearly two months earlier in the year?”

On Mar. 4, Karen Metz (also Franktown) saw the first bluebirds we’ve heard about in Denver metro – 30 Mountains in two flocks. Then two weeks later, along the Cherry Creek Trail, Urling and I saw Western Bluebirds two days in a row – Mar. 19-20. Then on the 20th we counted 20 Mountain Bluebirds on Castlewood Canyon Road at 10:30 a.m. (none at Noon) and 30 on Walker Road near Franktown.

Following up on my last blog, Kris Koff reported on Feb. 28, “I am babysitting my granddaughter often in East Sloans Lake area. While pushing a stroller around there I regularly see huge groups of crows. 50-60 sometimes, and sometimes all on the ground in the middle of an intersection!”

And non-backyard reports. Leslie Hankerson emailed, “While driving to I-25 on Feb. 26, at Surrey Ridge Road, I saw a Bald Eagle fly overhead.  Hard to drive while looking at this beautiful bird.  Head perfectly shown by the sun.”

Your contributions write this column. Thanks to all who send in these intriguing reports. Send a note or post card to P.O. Box 584, Franktown 80116, or Email Hugh Kingery at