Colorado birding in April is fantastic! The Grouse and Prairie-Chickens are dancing on their leks, the Central Flyway is alive with the hopes of a new year and the mountains are refreshed with the warming days of spring. Join us for one or more of the three day grouse tours. It is easy to add one of these trips onto a family vacation or help you find those elusive birds. You are sure to have a rewarding experience with an experienced guide at an affordable price.
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See the master bird list from every grouse trip here.
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Grouse Extravaganza Tour - 8 days
Dates: April 7-14, 2024 (trip 1) & April 22-29 2024 (trip 2)
Day 1 – fly into Denver and take a free shuttle to the hotel. Welcome dinner and meeting at 6:00PM. [Overnight in Denver] (D)
Day 2 – Heading out east across the prairie, our three main stops are Pawnee National Grasslands, Jackson Lake State Park and Andrick Ponds State Wildlife Area. In the Pawnee NG is a stop at Crow Valley Campground which can be spectacular this time of year for migrants. It will also give us a chance to stretch our legs a bit. Finally, we’ll meet a private ranch owner before we visit his lek site the next morning. He has some fascinating stories. Target birds are Thick-billed and Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owl, Ferruginous Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, Prairie Falcon, Swainson’s and Hermit Thrush, Orange-crowned Warbler, Lincoln’s, Vesper and White-crowned Sparrows, shorebirds and early migrants. [Overnight in Wray] (B, L, D)
Day 3 – An early lek morning at a private ranch for Greater Prairie-Chicken. A late checkout from the hotel and off to breakfast to celebrate our success. As we head back through the prairie, it gives us a second chance to pick up any species we may have missed. We’ll makes stops at Loveland Pass for White-tailed Ptarmigan and American Pipit and Silverthorne neighborhood for mountain feeder species like Canada Jay, Steller’s Jay, Clark’s Nutcracker, Hairy Woodpecker, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch, Evening Grosbeak and Cassin’s Finch. [Overnight in Walden] (B, L, D)
Day 4 – Early start for the Greater Sage-Grouse lek where 60 birds are common. The sights and sounds from a lek area are amazing. Bring your camera! Other spots for the day include; Walden Reservoir, Arapahoe NWR boardwalk, Moose Visitors Center and Rabbit Ears Pass area. Target species include Greater Sage-Grouse, Red Crossbill, Pine Siskin, Sandhill Crane, Sage Thrasher, 20+ species of waterfowl, shorebirds, 5 species of Grebes, Black-crowned Night-Heron, breeding American White Pelicans and California Gulls and migrants. [Overnight in Steamboat Springs] (B, L, D)
Day 5 – Another early start for Dusky Grouse and then onto Sharp-tailed Grouse lek site. A single male Dusky Grouse has territory for a display. If we’re lucky, we will hear their low booming sound while performing for a nearby female. The Sharp-tailed stomp their feet during their display and quit interesting to watch. Heading west and then south, we’ll stop at Loudy-Simpson Park, the town of Meeker for feeders and Coal Canyon near Cameo. Targets here are Chukar, White-throated Swift, Rock Wren and Black-throated Sparrow. Possible Western Screech-Owl outing after dinner. [Overnight in Clifton by Grand Junction] (B, L, D)
Day 6 – Leave Clifton for the Colorado National Monument. Hike the two mile Devil’s Kitchen Trail. Ash-throated Flycatcher, Gambel’s Quail, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Say’s Phoebe, Plumbeous Vireo, Woodhouse’s Scrub-Jay, Common Raven and Spotted Towhee are all possible along this trail. Also stops at the Visitors Center and campground looking for Pinyon Jays, Black-billed Magpie, Juniper Titmouse, Bushtits, Canyon Wren, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Mountain and Western Bluebird. Then east to Brewster’s Ridge for Golden Eagle, Long-billed Curlew, Common Raven, Bewick’s Wren, Brewer’s, Lark and Sagebrush Sparrow. Fruit Growers Reservoir feeds the fruit farmers in the area and is a local hotspot. Not only will we see waterfowl, but will look for Cinnamon Teal, Ruddy Duck, 5 species of Grebes, Marsh Wren, Yellow-headed Blackbird and a possible American Bittern. If needed, head to Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP south rim road for a second chance at Dusky Grouse. If it is snowing, we’ll head up to Crested Butte which often has Rosy-Finches in town. [Overnight in Gunnison] (B, L, D)
Day 7 – Our earliest start of the trip is for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse lek. These endangered grouse are seen from a far ridge and are backlit by the sun. After the lek, we will head east over Monarch Pass and the Continental Divide for high elevation species as we head for a late breakfast. Our long drive back to Denver will be broken up with stops along the way. Possible locations are Loveland Pass, Antero Reservoir, Holcomb Wetlands, Pueblo West, Valco Ponds, Canyon City Tunnel Road and Colorado Mountain Park. Priority for these stops will be specific needed birds for the trip. Targets for today include Gunnison Sage-Grouse, Red-naped Sapsucker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Steller’s Jay, American three-toed Woodpecker, Scaled Quail and Curve-billed Thrasher. [Overnight in Denver] (B, L, D)
Day 8 – departure for home via hotel shuttle and DIA. (B)
Deposit: $1000 per person, total due 90 days out
North Park Grouse Tour - 3 days
Dates: April 19-21, 2024
DAY 1 – Starting from Denver, we head west to Genesee Mtn Park for high elevation specialties and then on to Loveland Pass for White-tailed Ptarmigan. As we drive toward Walden, we’ll enjoy stops in Kremmling and Green Mountain Reservoir. Walden Reservoir and Arapahoe NWR are the final two stops before checking into our hotel. Overnight in Walden. (L,D)
DAY 2 – First stop is the spectacular Greater Sage-Grouse lek and then back to Walden for breakfast. Heading east includes stops at high elevation feeders in hopes of finches. Back to Walden for a few quick stops and then over Muddy and Rabbit Ears Pass. We’ll stretch our legs birding in a few Forest Service sites and lakes as we head down to Steamboat Springs. Overnight in Steamboat Springs. (B,L,D)
DAY 3 – This is our big lek morning. Sharp-tailed Grouse followed by Dusky Grouse is the agenda. We’ll enjoy a breakfast in Steamboat Springs to salute the successful morning. As we drive toward Denver, we’ll look for any missed species and take in the beauty of Colorado. (B,L)
Deposit: $400 per person, single supplement $200, total due 90 days out
Plains Prairie-Chicken Tour - 3 days
Dates: April 16-18, 2024
DAY 1 – Starting from Denver, we head northeast to several prairie playas on our way to the pristine habitat of the Pawnee National Grasslands. Here we’ll look for Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owls and both Longspurs. We’ll explore other smaller spots as our big stop is Prewitt Reservoir SWA. Overnight in Sterling. (D)
DAY 2 – The Platte River will provide amply birding stops as we head east. Red Lion SWA, Jumbo Reservoir and the town of Holyoke are some of the exciting destinations for the day. Overnight in Wray. (B)
DAY 3 – Enjoy the early morning with Greater Prairie-Chickens dancing and strutting and then on to a warm breakfast in Wray. As we head back toward Denver, birding several SWA and hotspots will take us until lunch. Jackson Lake SP is our final birding location before arriving in Denver by dinner.
Deposit: $400 per person, single supplement $200, total due 90 days out
GENERAL TOUR INFORMATION
WHAT IS INCLUDED: Cost is based on double occupancy and includes: private transportation in Colorado, all food (Grouse Extravaganza), all breakfasts (2 and 3 days tours), professional guide services, entrance fees and permits.
HEALTH AND SAFETY: High altitude can pose several problems from altitude sickness to sunburns. Even in winter, sunburns are frequent at high elevations; we recommend using strong sunscreen. Starting on the first full day of the tour, we will be above 11,000 feet, the highest point on the tour. The best defense is to stay hydrated and wear the right clothes. Staying warm and dry in early spring in Colorado is very important. Participants should bring an adequate supply of any personal medications as they may be difficult to obtain during the tour.
TOUR PACE: The entire tour is moderate with early mornings and long drives. The average day consists of leaving the hotel several hours before sunrise for best lek viewing. A quick breakfast and lunch with a relaxing dinner. Our drives will be broken by several birding stops and restroom breaks. Walking will usually be on well-maintained trails or along roads. You will have time for some bird photography.
CLIMATE: Colorado weather in late March through early May is unpredictable. The weather changes all the time. It can snow in the mountains any day of the year while the plains could reach highs in the 70’s. Plan on average low in the 30s with some wind and a high in the mid 70s. Best to dress in layers. Lek viewing in the morning means several hours of very little movement during the coolest time of the day. Hand/toe warmers are helpful if you find most mornings a little cold.
ACCOMMODATIONS: We will have comfortable standard motels or lodges throughout the tour. Some of our remote locations mean that accommodations are limited. In larger towns the hotels will be comfortable.
TRANSPORTATION: You’ll be traveling in 12-passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 12-passenger window vans, we’ll take a maximum of eight passengers per vehicle plus the leader/driver. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles as we will switch every day.
ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-US citizens need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa. Consult your embassy or consulate for details.
SMOKING: Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles, hotel rooms or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. Most of the U.S.A. is non-smoking in public. If you smoke in the field, we ask that you do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the She Flew Birding Tour policy, that stricter policy will prevail.
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: A more complete general information will be sent to each registrant on receipt of deposit. A final information packet with instructions for meeting the group, hotel addresses and a detailed itinerary will be mailed about several weeks before trip departure. Other news will be communicated as necessary. If you have any questions, please contact us.
2024 – April 7-14 (trip 1), April 22-29 (trip 2)
$2795, single supplement $600
Limit: 7 (plus guide)
Focus: Birding, Photography
Pace: moderate, early mornings, long drives
Includes: hotels, ground transportation, guide, food (see below for specifics) and lots of fun!
Discounts available for booking large groups!
Three Day Tours: $1200 (space available)
single supplement $200