ACES Birding By Habitat: Capitol Creek Ranch Species List | August 15, 2019
Thursday, August 15, 2019
Location: Capitol Creek Ranch
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's)
Exploring Capitol Creek Ranch is a true adventure, with its open pastures and hay meadows surrounded by ridges of oak brush and mountain shrubland, stands of aspen, pockets of cottonwoods, and riparian corridor along Capitol Creek. High mountains and ridges surround the setting, with views of shale bluffs, Haystack Mountain, the Red Ridge above Avalanche Creek, and Mount Sopris. After meeting our hosts, Steve and Molly Child, we enjoyed learning about the history of this landscape and headed off through various pastures to observe birds of the open landscape and the ranch compound. Here, we had excellent studies of mountain bluebird and Say's phoebe field marks and behaviors. We watched these birds actively feeding on grasshoppers and other insects. Two coyotes worked the edges of the pasture, giving us glimpses of them with their fur backlit by the morning sun. A family of warbling vireos made scratchy calls that contrast with their musical song. A family of red-tailed hawks was active in this area as well, where we heard the calls of hungry juveniles and the classic 'screams' of the adults. A few sparrows puzzled us; we managed to identify vesper and chipping sparrows, but one or two remained mysteries. Birds abounded around the home site where feeders, water, the garden, and surrounding lush native vegetation provide rich habitat. Here, we observed hummingbirds, nuthatches, flycatchers and wrens at close range. In a large aspen forest, we were thrilled to observe purple martins calling and foraging overhead. The aspen forest was also filled with western wood-pewees, house wrens, violet-green swallows, and other songbirds. We look forward to more exploring at Capitol Creek Ranch on future field trips in the various seasons! Many thanks to the Child family for hosting us.
~ Rebecca Weiss, ACES Bird Guide
Photo by Dale Armstrong