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Beaucoup birding opportunities
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Photo courtesy of Pitkin County Department of Open Space and Trails. A yellow-headed blackbird is but one of myriad species of birds that inhabit the Roaring Fork Valley.

This just in from the Pitkin County Department of Open Space and Trails: Apparently, birding is one of the fastest-growing forms of outdoor-recreation in the country. Nationwide, 45 million people, or 14.5 percent of all Americans, call themselves bird watchers, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. (Who knew?)

Anyhow, if you are inclined to expand your knowledge of all things avian while enjoying some quality time in the outdoors in the company of knowledgeable birding enthusiasts, here’s the pertinent skinny.

The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies will offer a weekly birding program every Tuesday from June through September, alternating between ACES’ Hallam Lake and Rock Bottom Ranch locations. Previously, Rock Bottom Ranch near Basalt offered birding just once a month in the summer season, but interest in the Mid-Valley has mushroomed. In addition, ACES’ birding field trips this year will include one in the Crystal Valley for the first time.

Rebecca Weiss, who guides birding programs for ACES, also leads birding programs at Pitkin County’s North Star Nature Preserve, pointing out species she recognizes by sight or, most impressively, by their call.

Find more information on birding from ACES and use the site to register for upcoming birding programs (see the schedule below). Roaring Fork Audubon — at — is also a source of local birding information. The local chapter counts 650 people on its email list.

ACES birding 
program schedule:

Morning birding, April

Tuesday, April 2, 7:30-10:30 a.m., Hallam Lake Nature Preserve

Morning birding, May

Tuesday, May 7, 7-10 a.m., Hallam Lake

Tuesday, May 21, 7-10 a.m., Rock Bottom Ranch


Morning Birding with ACES – weekly, June-September

Every Tuesday, varying times and locations (Hallam Lake or Rock Bottom Ranch)

June: 6:30-9:30 a.m.

July: 7-10 a.m.

August: 7:30-10:30 a.m.

September: 8-11 a.m.

For birders of all levels.

$25, $15 ACES members


North Star Birding — Free — Registration required

  • Songs of Breeding Birds — June 20, 6:30-8:30 a.m.
  • Breeding Birds — June 27, 6:30-8:30 a.m.
  • South Side of the River— August 8, 7:30-10:30 a.m.
  • Early Migration— August 22, 7:30-9:30 a.m.


Birding by Habitat series with Rebecca Weiss and Mark Fuller — Registration required

  • Piñon-juniper woodlands and riparian/open-water habitats — May 23, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • The unique ecosystems of the Crystal River Valley — July 3, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.
  • Montane and subalpine habitats of Capitol Creek Ranch, Old Snowmass — August 15, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.


Other Birding Classes — Registration required

  • Tune In: Roaring Fork Valley bird songs, behaviors and habitats, Bill Schmoker— June 29-30, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
  • Birding field craft, Ted Floyd— July 24-26 (class time TBD)
  • Building Your eBird Skills, Susan Foster—June 22, 9-11 a.m.