Birding by Habitat: Birds of the Alpine Lifezone
Collaboration with the Independence Pass Foundation
Late July is an excellent time to observe birds in the alpine lifezone of Independence Pass. Only a handful of bird species makes its home in this high elevation, extreme environment, including White-tailed Ptarmigans, American Pipits, Horned Larks, White-crowned Sparrows, and Brown-capped Rosy-Finches. Other birds that occasionally visit the high country include Golden Eagles, Peregrine Falcons, Spotted Sandpipers, and more. Our focus on this birding hike will be getting to know various habitats within the alpine lifezone and the birds that use them during the brief breeding season. We also hope to observe ptarmigan hens foraging with their broods at this time when they have recently hatched and fledged from their nests.
This moderately strenuous hike begins at Upper Lost Man trailhead where we will take our time hiking toward Lost Man Pass along the headwaters of the Roaring Fork River past islands of krummholz, willow thickets, and open tundra. *Please note that this day hike is subject to change according to mountain weather. We will hike about 5.7 miles and gain about 1,300’ in elevation (our high point at Lost Man Pass, if reached, is 12,810’). Birding and experiencing this landscape is the primary goal rather than reaching the pass as a destination.
This class requires advance registration to ensure appropriate planning for the field experience.
Birders of all experience levels are welcome! Special attention will be given to orienting beginning birders to local habitats and their associated bird species, and basic field craft skills.
Meeting place will be communicated to registered participants.
About the Instructor:
Rebecca Weiss is a Naturalist specializing in birding, botany, and interpretive program development. She came to ACES as a Summer Naturalist in 1993, and later directed the Naturalist Field School and worked with ACES’ Naturalist Programs. She guides for ACES’ Birding Program outings and is a professional writer and consultant. Rebecca is the author of Birds of Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She holds a BS in Biology and a MA in Environmental Education, and loves exploring the natural world with her husband, Austin, and their children, Anders and Elsie.
What To Bring:
Come prepared for a full day in the field, including hiking on and off trails. Please wear layered clothing for both the chilly morning and warmer daytime temperatures. Wear sturdy footwear and bring rain gear, sun hat, sunglasses, sunblock, a hearty sack lunch, snacks, and plenty of water. Bring your binoculars and your field guide (optional).