Yampa River State Park to offer guided bird walks this May
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Colorado Parks and Wildlife ranger Tim Abt has been birding his whole life. When he was a little boy, his father, an avid birder, would take him out and teach him about the different species they saw.
Now, Abt will be leading guided bird walks this May at the Yampa River State Park in Hayden. The hourlong walks will begin at 9 a.m. each Saturday with the first one planned for May 1.
“We always want to get the community out and get them engaged and learning about their natural resources,” Abt said. “We are trying to do more educational programming, and this is a great time and place to see a bunch of different bird species.”
Abt said that while the park has seen incredible rates of visitation lately, the month of May is typically less busy before the summer season begins.
He based the format for the bird walks off the guided snowshoe tours that Craig’s Parks and Recreation Department hosted this past winter at the park.
Abt will lead a group of no more than nine participants on the gravel-lined path that circles the park. The walk is about a mile long, and there is no incline, making it suitable for most people.
Birders can expect to see common species such as red wing blackbirds, geese and mallards, and while Abt said there’s no guarantee, the park does have a great horned owl currently sitting on her nest, as well as breeding pairs of kestrel — a common falcon found in North America — and osprey. The greater Sandhill crane can also be seen at this time of the year as they spend several months breeding in the Yampa Valley.
“The leaves really start to come back in May, and with that comes more species of birds,” Abt explained. “What one group sees at the beginning of the month will likely be different from what we’ll find at the end of the month, too.”
Abt, who walked the loop earlier this week, noted two dozen different species at the time.
The park has a limited supply of binoculars and field guides available for loan, but participants are encouraged to bring their own if they have them. They also are advised to bring water, sunscreen and bug spray.
To sign up, email Abt at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Parks and Wildlife Office at 970-276-2061.
Abt notes that while participation is technically free, if visitors do not have an annual parks pass to enter the park, they will need to purchase a daily pass for $9 at the visitors center, which is where the walk will begin.
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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Witches and goblins and ghosts, oh my!