September 2016 Audubon Rockies Newsletter
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September 2016 Newsletter

Protecting birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado.

What's In This Issue?


Lead Story:  Audubon Rockies receives a prestigious award - "Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by an Organization on a Regional Level"
Special Announcement:  Do you have a wonderful, pollinator-friendly garden?  Let's get you the recognition you deserve and inspire others - Habitat Hero applications are OPEN!


Western Rivers Action Network Help us name a brew, learn more about your river enthusiast - Abby Burk, volunteer projects and more!
Community Naturalists - Meet our newest staff member and learn about fall migration!

Habitat Hero - Film screenings and our latest adventure - wildflower identification hike!
Sagebrush Ecosystem - Communications Forum has western leaders approaching sagebrush ecosystem in a new way
Cardinal Club - Join our monthly giving program.
Upcoming Audubon EventsFind community events coming near you.
Bird Bits - Cool bird facts and news bits.

Bird Trivia - a BRAND NEW section of our newsletter where you can test your bird skills!

Chapter Happenings - Local Chapters provide excellent birding, education, and conservation opportunities!
National News National Audubon Society is featured in this spotlight with their newsletter and policy advisory.

Audubon Rockies Receives Educational Award 


Audubon Rockies will be recognized by the North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE), a leader in environmental education, as the recipient of one of NAAEE’s hallmark annual awards recognizing leadership in the field. At a special awards reception during NAAEE’s 45th Annual Conference in Madison, WI, in October 2016, Audubon Rockies will be excited to receive the award for “Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by an Organization on Regional Level.” This builds upon a 2011 award received from NAAEE for “Outstanding Service to Environmental Education by an Organization on a Local Level.”  

Read more about the North American Association for Environmental Education 


 Special Announcement: Certify Your Bird-Friendly Garden, Apply to Become a Habitat Hero!


Do you have a wonderful, pollinator-friendly garden? Let's get you the recognition you deserve and inspire others!

Anybody can be a Habitat Hero – including you!  Habitat Heroes are individuals who make a positive impact in our Colorado and Wyoming communities by increasing natural areas, providing homes and food for wildlife, and creating small areas of wildlife habitat that can connect larger green spaces together.  Whether the landscape you tend to is a residential yard, a few pots on a balcony, a public park or schoolyard garden, Habitat Heroes believe in growing a healthy community for birds, wildlife and people!  Does this sound like you?  Then let’s make sure you get the recognition you deserve so that your efforts, big and small, inspire others!


A NEW component of our application process is a tiered approach, that enables recognition for the wide range of actions you can when gardening. These range from replacing a section of turfgrass with native plantings to being a seasoned green-thumb enthusiast who is wildscaping the last corner of your yard.


FOR MORE INFORMATION: Our updated webpage addresses the FAQ’s of the application process, including tips and components that make up a Habitat Hero Garden, benefits package, and more!  Learn more about Audubon Rockies Habitat Hero Application Process.


UPCOMING WEBINARS: Have a busy schedule this fall with kids going back to school, family vacations, festivals and more?  We thought so, which is why we created our free Habitat Hero webinar events that you can do from the comfort of your home or at work over the lunch hour every other Wednesday.  

September 21 - Creating a Year-Round Habitat for Pollinators REGISTER FOR FREE.

Habitat Hero Application - Certify Your Garden Today!
 Bird Bits

Check out Zach's latest!


Rare Bird Spotted at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area

Baird's sparrows are rare and elusive, yet biologists from Bird Conservancy of the Rockies have confirmed their presence at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area.

  Read Full Article HERE

How to Control Yellowjackets without Harming Bees!


Yellowjackets are a nuisance around the garden and home, yet they can be caught in a variety of traps using baits that bees and other wasps are not attracted to.  

Read the full article HERE

A Day in the Life of a Bird Counter

Diane VanLandingham owns ranchland near LaJunta, Colorado. She has permitted bird counters with Bird Conservancy of the Rockies onto her land to survey bird species and count their populations.

Listen to the Radio Interview HERE

These 11 Wildly Talented Birds Deserve Their Own Gold Medals!

Whether they’re speedy swimmers, agile gymnasts, or nimble fencers, Olympic athletes dedicate their lives to a single purpose: training to be the best. But even their remarkable achievements pale in comparison with the natural athletes of the animal kingdom—especially birds.

Read the Full Article HERE


Last Chance to Reserve a Copy of the New Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas!


Did you know that in recent decades, among Colorado’s more widespread breeding birds, one species that showed one of the biggest increases in its relative distribution ranking was the Common Raven, while another that showed one of the biggest decreases was its corvid cousin, the Black-billed Magpie? These are among the many stories to emerge from the newest information source for bird conservationists and birding enthusiasts in Colorado, which is about to make its appearance in a beautiful limited print edition.  

"Last Chance" means the total print run of the 750 pages with color maps, illustrations, and 2-page accounts for 262 species for only $75.00.  This will be based on the number of books pre-ordered before publication.

For more 
Information read this
article or visit their website.


Guide to Backyard Birds of the Front Range

Bird Conservancy of the Rockies invites you to share the joy of birds and birdwatching through the Guide to Backyard Birds of the Front Range.

Order your copies today!

 Bird Trivia

What Bird is This?

Photo by Peter G. Arnold  

Think you got it?  
Check out the answer below!

Support Audubon Rockies


The Monthly Giving Club

Please join the Cardinal Club, our easy monthly giving program to put your contribution to work for birds every day of the year in Colorado and Wyoming! 
Your reliable monthly (and tax-deductible) support will ensure we have the resources:
  • to raise awareness and appreciation among children and adults about birds and their habitat,
  • to protect our western rivers for everyone to enjoy,
  • to work on behalf of the iconic but imperiled sagebrush ecosystem, and
  • to support our inspiring Habitat Heroes who practice wildscaping for birds, pollinators and other wildlife.
Monthly giving is simple. Your credit card will be charged once per month and you may change or cancel your gift whenever you like. 
To sign-up,
CLICK HERE and please select "Audubon Rockies" from the drop-down menu to put your dollars to work for programs right here.  While we’re a regional office of National Audubon Society, we are 100% self-supported so your donation means a lot to us!

Your generous, monthly gift allows us to focus on protecting birds and their habitats here in Wyoming and Colorado.

Where Birds Thrive, People Prosper!

A BIG Thank You ...

To our incredible community partners who helped raise money for Audubon Rockies at several events over the summer. 

You are AWESOME!!!


Pour Brothers Community Tavern


The Roost - Chapter News

Chapter Websites & Newsletters

Colorado Chapters:
Wyoming Chapters:
Each Chapter is an independent organization of Audubon members that is chartered and annually re-certified by National Audubon Society. 

They provide excellent birding, education, and conservation opportunities for members at the local level. They also often advocate on behalf of conservation at the local, state, and national level.

National News


Happy birding from all of us!


Alison Holloran, Executive Director
John Kloster-Prew, Deputy Director
Daly Edmunds, Director Policy & Outreach
Dusty Downey, Sr. Regional Community Naturalist
Jacelyn Downey, Sr. Regional Community Naturalist
Keith Bruno, Southwest Colorado Community Naturalist
Abby Burk, Western Rivers Program Lead
Jamie Weiss, Habitat Hero Coordinator
Zach Hutchinson, Community Naturalist

Support Audubon Rockies
 Bird Trivia Answer


Black-crowned Night Heron

Photo by Peter G. Arnold  

Western Rivers Action Network

Abby Burk, Western Rivers Program Lead for Audubon Rockies, kayaking her favorite river: the Colorado River through Grand Canyon in 2014. Photo by Kris Jonsson.

Birds and Brews: Help Us Name a New Audubon Rockies Beer!

October and beer festivals are just around the corner. Audubon Rockies will be approaching several local breweries about creating a beer that is river-conservation minded. Would you like to see a stout, lager, pale ale, or IPA? We need your help! Send your best ideas for names and brews to Abby Burk at by September 16th.   

Get to Know Audubon Rockies' River Enthusiast: Abby Burk

By Alison Holloran, Executive Director Audubon Rockies

I met Abby Burk three years ago at Audubon Rockies’ first Western Rivers workshop in Boulder, Colorado.  You couldn’t miss her. She immediately stood out, asking questions, offering solutions and exuding her infectious passion for our Western rivers. What started out as an interested participant at a workshop proved to be an invaluable advocate for our Colorado River Basin issues.  Have I mentioned she is now an Audubon Rockies full-time staff member? 

Abby has extensive ecological land management experience, including teaching about riparian restoration and river health as a former biology and science professor at a Colorado community college.  Her lifelong love of rivers and the wildlife and recreation they support overflows into her work. Audubon Rockies’ Western Rivers Initiative has strategically grown from a state policy-focused campaign to a more robust science, policy, and on-the-ground restoration program. Because Abby has helped set this foundation firmly, the program continues to grow with many Audubon Rockies' policy and restoration wins! Her background has enabled her to not only understand the complex environmental issues that Western rivers face, but also enables her to translate these issues for decision-makers,bringing together a wide range of perspectives. 
From her kayak, Abby demonstrates her dedication to healthy-flowing rivers with quick-to-share stories and photos from her adventures navigating rivers across the western U.S. Overall, her passion and expertise has been a potent complement to the commitment of our 12,000+ Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN) supporters in Colorado. 

Abby always refers to Audubon’s success as based on the activation and engagement of our WRAN volunteers. Together, we exemplify the power of the people to make a real difference on-the-ground for freshwater systems while educating decision-makers about the necessity for and broader benefits of smart, comprehensive environmental policies.

Audubon Rockies and Wildlands Restoration Volunteers


Peschel Open Space September 17-18th
Join us for either one or both project days at the beautiful Peschel Open Space, east of Longmont, Colorado, for this multifaceted project. Like so many locations along the Front Range, Peschel Open Space was devastated by the September 2013 floods. This project weekend will help restore valuable bird habitat through two mutually-supportive goals: wetland restoration planting and tamarisk removal.

 Wetland Flood and Restoration Planting. The flood scoured away vegetation from the stream bank, making these areas: 1.) more prone to erosion and invasion by weeds, thus 2.) a poor habitat for birds and other wildlife. Volunteers will plant hundreds of shrubs and trees along the creek, as well as over 4,000 wetland plants around a nearby pond. The shrub and tree planting portion will be implemented as part of a scientific research study to test a variety of planting techniques used by Wildland Restoration Volunteers. Dr. Tim Seastedt from the University of Colorado Boulder, and graduate student, Brian Sechler, will lead this important restoration technique study.

Tamarisk Removal. Tamarisk (Salt Cedar) has devastated watersheds throughout the West, costing billions of dollars in lost water and habitat. It grows aggressively, choking out native vegetation. In the aftermath of the September 2013 flood, over 400,000 young tamarisk have germinated from County Line Road to the confluence of St. Vrain and Boulder Creeks. These tamarisk seedlings intermix with cottonwoods, willows and other native seedlings that are grown naturally in response to the flood. These young tamarisk are virtually all small enough (6" to 18" tall) to hand pull. However, they grow fast, so we want to remove them before they become a major and costly problem on St. Vrain Creek.

We are hoping for 60 volunteers for each project day! No experience required and all levels are welcome! You can come to one or both days, with the option to camp at a beautiful location nearby.  Visit here to register -  See you there!

Coming Soon: Petition for Increased Water Conservation and Efficiency 

Thanks to thousands of Coloradans like you, together we are improving Colorado water management for rivers, birds and people! Watch your email for a WRAN petition supporting high water conservation and efficiency. We need your support to help birds in the habitats we all depend on.

Join WRAN Now

Community Naturalist Program


New Staff in Southwest Colorado


Audubon Rockies would like to introduce you all to our newest Community Naturalist and member of the Audubon Rockie's family, Keith Bruno.  Keith has a B.A. in Studio Arts; minors in both Wildlife Biology and English from the University of Vermont, Burlington, VT (class of 2002); and is set to graduate this December with both his Masters of Natural Resources and a certificate in Environmental Education from the McCall Outdoor Science School (MOSS) through the University of Idaho. Keith will be working out of the Four Mile Ranch in Pagosa Springs, CO. 

Keith is a motivated and innovative educator, carries a remarkably broad skill set, and is personable and friendly.  He is also adept at working with a variety of audiences and over numerous topics.  When asked about Keith, one of his references said, “Keith consistently brought enthusiasm for environmental education, agriculture, pollinators, and native plants to the MOSS program.” Another said, “Keith is one of the most versatile, and socially adept students with which I’ve had the pleasure to work with and I highly recommend him, particularly with regard to building programs in cooperation with diverse, rural populations of Southwestern Colorado.”  WOW!!
Keith has experience in environmental education as well as being a Market Gardener and Small Farm Business Owner, Durango, CO; Greenhouse & High Tunnel Technical Consultant for the 4Corners, CO; Ski School Instructor, Wolf Creek, CO; Wildlife Technician for the Canada Lynx Reintroduction in the San Juan Mountains, Colorado Division of Wildlife; Mountaineering Guide, Mt. Shasta, CA; Maintenance and Restoration Technician, Portland Parks & Recreation, Portland, OR; and as a Wildlife Technician for the Institute for Bird Populations, Sierra Nevada, CA.
Keith and his wife, Kelle, recently moved to the Pagosa Springs area of Colorado.  She is working in the elementary school as a Spanish teacher as they raise their young daughter, Cora Jean. Please help us in welcoming him to the team. Keith’s begins working for Audubon Rockies this week!


Fall Migration


You have probably already noticed it. New birds at your local birding spot. Maybe it’s a Baird’s Sandpiper at the local wetland, or a Wilson’s Warbler down by the creek. Either way, you’ve noticed the change. It’s fall migration. We love the new birds, but we dread what follows (it’s that white stuff). Let’s look at a few questions you may have on migration, and provide some very basic answers!

What triggers birds to migrate? This is not a one-word answer, and it can differ for each species. For many birds, however, the recognition of a shorter photoperiod (in conjunction with an endogenous circannual rhythm) causes the urge to get moving. Why is the photoperiod so important? It involves the bird’s food, and their ability to find it!


Where do birds go? Everywhere! Most people understand that birds migrate south. However, not all birds make the dramatic movement that is often pictured when we hear the word “migration.” Some species might only change their elevation. Some will move east or west. Certain birds, usually in the finch family, will have erratic movements based on food availability. There is no set answer! However, Mexico, Central & South America are often where we point to reference many of our songbirds’ wintering grounds.

Which birds migrate? Over half of our 650+ breeding birds migrate! This includes birds like your neighborhood Blue Jay, all the way up in size to our national symbol, the Bald Eagle.

When should I try to see these migrants? Now! Birds are moving through as you read this! Grab your binoculars and get out to a local birding hotspot! More importantly, take a child with you! Let them see this natural marvel happening in real time!

Habitat Hero Program


Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home - Film Screenings & Panel Discussions

Join us for inspiring showings to learn how you can support wildlife near your own home!

The movie, Hometown Habitat: Stories of Bringing Nature Home, will show what everyday Americans are doing to help bring back more native species through projects and programs across the country. This 90-minute environmental, education documentary by award-winning director Catherine Zimmerman and featuring widely known author Dr. Doug Tallamy, will be an inspiration to all who see it.
In May, 2015 our Habitat Hero program was filmed for some additional footage for Hometown Habitat, during our educational workshop and planting of a Habitat Hero demonstration garden at BATH Garden Center & Nursery!  We are honored to be selected as one of the inspiring stories of community commitment to conservation landscaping that illustrates Tallamy’s vision by showing how humans and nature can co-exist with mutual benefits. 

Screening #1
Sunday, September 11
Time: 1pm
Location: Boulder Public Library Canyon Theatre, 1001 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80302
Cost: Free!
Panelists: Jamie Weiss, Habitat Hero Coordinator & Don Ireland Habitat Ambassador, who appear in the film.  Amy Yarger, Horticultural Director of the Butterfly Pavilion and Deryn Davidson, Colorado State University Horticulture Extension Agent, will answer your questions about how to make our communities a haven for pollinators, birds and other wildlife.
More Information:
Screening #2
Tuesday, October 18
Time: 6:30pm
Location: Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street, Denver, CO 80206
Cost: $10.00
Panelists: Movie, followed by panel discussion including Alison Holloran, Executive Director and Jamie Weiss, Habitat Hero Coordinator of Audubon Rockies, author and biologist Susan J. Tweit, and Panayoti Kelaidis of Denver Botanic Gardens. Don Ireland, Habitat Hero and Colorado Water-Wise award winner from Cherry Creek 3 HOA in Denver, will moderate the panel discussion.
More Information:

You also can learn more by visiting: or View the Hometown Habitat trailer  

Read the full article HERE


Habitat Hero Hits the Trails for a Wildflower Identification Hike!

Do you enjoy traversing rolling hills, lush meadows and forests dotted with colorful wildflowers that span the entire rainbow?  Summer is a perfect time to explore wildflowers in the Poudre Canyon, and that is exactly what our group of 13 set out to do on July 18.  Red Feather Hikers Club is an organized group that sets out to hike trails every Monday morning in Red Feather Lakes and surrounding areas.   They joined Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero Coordinator, Jamie Weiss to discover and identify the beautiful flowers on Lower Dadd Gulch Trail.  This trail is located a mere 45 minutes northwest of Fort Collins, about 30 miles in the Poudre Canyon.  The hike begins at an elevation of 7,040 feet and as you follow a stream and old stock trail up the gulch you are enveloped in the beauty of aspen groves and expansive meadows.  As you begin your gradual climb up to 8,470 feet you will find yourself surrounded by a Ponderosa pine forest where we were lucky enough to spot a Downy Woodpecker just feet from the trail.

With temperatures hovering in mid-90’s for weeks, it was refreshing to hike in cooler temperatures and abundant cloud cover.  With just a few distant rumbles of thunder and a few sprinkles, we couldn’t have asked for better hiking weather and our 7-mile adventure sure did not disappoint with the number and diversity of wildflower species. 


Again, a big thanks again to Red Feather Hikers Club and Red Feather Lakes Library in helping to organize such a fabulous event on the trails.  Check out some photos and plants we observed on the trail below:



  • Asters

  • Bee balm - Monarda fistulosa

  • Black-eyed Susan  - Rudbeckia hirta

  • Blanketflower - Gaillardia aristata

  • Fireweed - Chamerion angustifolium

  • Giant Red Paintbrush - Castilleja miniata

  • Harebell - Campanula rotundifolia

  • Mariposa lily - Calochortus gunnisonii

  • Prickly Rose - Rosa acicularis

  • Tall Penstemon- Penstemon unilateralis

  • Whiskbroom Parsley - Harbouria trachypleura

Read the full article HERE

Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative


 "Working Together on, Not a New Challenge, but an Urgent Challenge"


Audubon Rockies partnered with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, and the Intermountain West Joint Venture to convene a two-day gathering in Salt Lake City, UT - where the topic of conversation focused on the sustainable management of the sagebrush ecosystem. 
The topic of this meeting, which took place on Aug 18-19th at the Utah Department of Natural Resources headquarters, was unique in that almost 60 decision-makers and communication experts came together to talk about an ecosystem rather than a single species.  This broader and moreover proactive approach likely would not have been possible without all the prior efforts regarding Greater Sage-grouse, whose potential for protection under the Endangered Species Act drew unprecedented attention to this ecosystem on which grouse are dependent, and resulted in unparalleled changes in land management policies.  Across the West, opinions about strategies to manage sage-grouse populations vary, but the science unequivocally supports that it comes down to having healthy habitat.   

For a long time, people have appreciated the mountains and the rivers, ignoring the open landscape in between.  However, with 350+ wildlife species dependent on this ecosystem, as well as communities and whole sectors of industries, many are beginning to realize that this ecosystem is in need of some serious attention. 

Audubon and partners wanted to bring together key individuals to develop a shared vision and strategy for range-wide communications that network and build on existing programs to support a healthy sagebrush landscape that works for people and for wildlife.  We were encouraged by the outstanding response to invitations to engage in this two-day meeting!  Participants included eight state game and fish agencies, four federal agencies, tribal representatives, ranchers, sportsmen, energy industry, and conservation organizations.

NDOW Director: Tony Wasley

The meeting’s co-chair, Nevada Division of Wildlife Director’s Tony Wasley set the tone, describing our get-together as “Communications to an end. Working together on, not a new challenge, but an urgent challenge. We want to elevate conservation of this ecosystem together and forever change how we communicate with each other and the public.”

Not only was the topic and approach unusual (ecosystem vs. a single species while proactive and collaborative in nature), but so was the composition!  In one room and for two days, we had decision-makers and communication experts talking about the issue and brainstorming strategies together.  As a researcher who’s been immersed in the policy world for almost a decade, I was extremely encouraged by what I saw.  There was heightened enthusiasm and renewed commitment to conserve the sagebrush ecosystem and communities.  This gathering created new or strengthened relationships among the various stakeholders, including both leadership and communications staff – which will help us all improve our communications efforts around this ecosystem. 

I am hopeful that as a result of this gathering and the continued commitment to all work together in our communications around the sagebrush ecosystem, not only those of us out West here but the American public in general, will have an increased awareness and appreciation for this iconic western landscape resulting in better stewardship.

Photo by Dave Showalter

If you haven't seen it yet, or it's been awhile, I'd recommend grabbing some popcorn and a friend to enjoy the beautiful nature documentary, The Sagebrush Sea.  It's a breathtaking reminder of what we're all working for!

Upcoming Community Events


America's Latino Eco Festival - BioBlitz
October 13, Denver City Park

The U.S. Forest Service in partnership with Americas for Conservation + the Arts (AFC+A), Audubon Rockies and The Nature Conservancy join forces with 4th graders, teachers and scientists to find, identify and learn about as many local plants and animal species as possible.

Want to help volunteer? Contact, 720-606-3117 or  


More Details


Save-the-Date: Wyoming Citizen Science Conference 
December 1-2, Lander WY

Citizen science programs are becoming increasingly popular throughout the world, including in Wyoming.  But Wyoming faces some interesting and specific challenges when designing, delivering, maintaining and evaluating citizen science programs.  How does the state's rural population influence recruitment and retention?  How does the remoteness of some study areas and the high diversity of plant and wildlife impact study design?  How can we make citizen science accessible and useful to teachers?  What laws and rules do we need to be aware of?

More Details 

This month we would like to acknowledge valued sponsors and partners:


                    Steve Goodman Photography




Through science, education, and policy, we protect birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado. Where birds thrive, people prosper.

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