Birds of Winter
By Shaun Kernahan; courtesy photo
The state of Colorado is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, and the same goes for birdwatchers. Douglas County happens to be one of the better places in the state for a beginning birdwatcher or an avid one. According to Colorado Parks & Wildlife, there have been more than 200 species of birds spotted in Roxborough State Park alone, and many of the common ones can be seen from a backyard right here in Castle Pines.
It is not an uncommon occurrence to have to stop for a minute or two when driving down Happy Canyon Road to wait for the wild turkeys to cross the road, or to hear the call of a black billed magpie while out on a morning walk, but there are some lesser-known birds in town too.
The apex predator when it comes to birds in the area, especially during the winter, is the golden eagle. According to eagles.org, they represent majesty, strength, courage and power, among other things, and you can’t help but observe that if you happen to have a close encounter with one.
At first, they can blend into the surrounding trees, as their golden-brown feathers match the bark of tall pine trees almost perfectly, but get close and you may notice the nearly three-foot-tall creature is muscle from head to toe. Eventually, the eagle will spot its next meal and spread its wings to unveil the massive six to seven-foot wingspan and take off, hitting speeds nearing 200 mph. Careful with pointing out an eagle in a nearby field to a young child though; there is a chance it just might be about to take off with a rabbit or other small creature in its talons.
Filling the skies this time of year are geese, and it is usually one of two types. The Canadian Goose is the darker colored one you see most often in the greater Denver area, while the plains to our east will fill with the white Snow Goose. Every February, Lamar hosts the High Plains Snow Goose Festival, drawing bird watchers of all experience to the area to see the thousands of geese hanging around the lakes and reservoirs in the area.
Unfortunately, not even a birdwatching festival is immune to the current times. According to the festival website, this year’s festivities were canceled due to the inability to secure insurance for the event.