July 2016 Audubon Rockies Newsletter
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July 2016 Newsletter

Protecting birds and their habitat in Wyoming and Colorado.

What's In This Issue?


Lead Story:  Purchase a fashionable, customized women's tank, in which a portion of the proceeds benefit Audubon Rockies!

Western Rivers Action Network River photo contest, Colorado River Day webinar and upcoming river and wetland volunteer projects!
Community Naturalists - Check out our summer camp, bird banding activities and a birding adventure in Yellowstone.

Habitat HeroRead our latest blogs on hummingbirds and a recap of our spring planting events.  Be sure to check out our upcoming gardening events too!
Sagebrush Ecosystem - WY wind farm applies for eagle take permit & Public comment on increasing take permit to 30-years!
ompany Matching -
Donating to charity is good for business and it provides the opportunity to do some good in the community!
Upcoming Audubon EventsFind community events coming near you.
Bird Bits - Have fun with interesting bird facts and trivia.
Chapter Happenings - Local Chapters provide excellent birding, education, and conservation opportunities!
National News National Audubon Society is featured in this spotlight with their May newsletter and policy advisory.

Clothing Boutique Designs Cool New Shirt Just for Audubon Rockies!


A huge thanks to a local clothing boutique in Fort Collins, Kansas City Kitty, for selecting Audubon Rockies to be their non-profit charity of the month!  They designed a custom women's tank in which a portion of the proceeds will benefit Audubon Rockies!  

You can expect to find these tanks in their retail shop located at, 136 N. College Ave, Fort Collins, CO 80524 or for an additional charge we can ship a shirt to you directly!    For more information, contact Jamie at

 Bird Bits


Baby Birds Learn Calls From Their Mothers While Still In The Egg

Rather like an expectant human mother playing Mozart to her unborn child, some mother fairywrens call softly to their eggs. Now, two recent studies conclude that two species of fairywrens can hear their mothers and even learn elements of her calls while still inside the egg.

Read FULL Article 


 Bird Trivia

Which Bird Species are These?


This month's quiz comes as a video from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and gives you a front row seat to birding amid a frenzied flock of feeder fans.

One bird steals the show, sampling just about everything on offered, but the feeder is hopping with other visitors.

We count seven species in all—how about you? 

Watch the video (you'll find answers posted in the video's description field).


Support Audubon Rockies


Company Matching

Double the impact of your donation through corporate matching gift programs!

Many companies - from Fortune 500 companies to small local businesses – offer matching gift programs to support the causes and nonprofit organizations that their employees are passionate about.   It’s easy to enroll and essentially doubles (or more) the amount of your donation!  Start by contacting your company’s Human Resources department to see if the company offers a Matching Gift Program.  If they do, there is usually a simple matching gift form to complete and submit to HR.  Every company will have its own match ratios, minimum and maximum matches, and guidelines for eligible organizations.  Some companies even make a donation based on your volunteer hours.  Audubon Rockies is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, and is generally eligible for most corporate matching gift programs.  Please take a moment to see if your company has a matching gift program and effortlessly double the impact of your gift to Audubon Rockies!   


Together we can make a difference!


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
Abby Burk, Western Rivers Program Lead
Jamie Weiss, Habitat Hero Coordinator
Zach Hutchinson, Community Naturalist
Sandy McIntyre, Office Assistant

Support Audubon Rockies

Western Rivers Action Network

The Arkansas River during the FIBArk River Festival.  High flows were enjoyed by all, by Abby Burk.

It's River Season! Send us your Best River Pictures!

June is a great (if not the best) month to get outside and enjoy our rivers. June weather and water are nearly perfect. Send us your river pictures as you hike riparian areas or float a scenic stretch. Get out there and enjoy what we are fighting so hard to preserve. We love our rivers and all the birds and wildlife they support!

You Can Help Rivers: Create Habitat! Colorado River Day Webinar


Webinar: Thursday, July 21st 12 – 1PM     
Register Here!


Did you know that native landscaping can dramatically decrease water consumption while saving significant money?  Find out how the Cherry Creek 3 HOA neighborhood in southeast Denver saved 15 million gallons of water and $100,000 annually by transforming to native landscaping and incorporating water efficiency into everyday life.

HOA Volunteer President Don Ireland will talk about how he and fellow volunteers led this 251-condo development into a new era of water conservation while simultaneously establishing a new landscaping plan that has attracted many new birds and pollinators into the neighborhood. This HOA, without formal training in water conservation but with a burning desire to "do the right thing" has been a poster child for water conservation and Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero program around the Front Range and beyond.

July River and Wetland Restoration Projects - Want to Get Outside and Help?


Audubon is partnering with Wildlands Restoration Volunteers this year by offering a variety of fun volunteer events. Join us for some environmental therapy and help restore a river or wetland, benefiting habitat for birds and wildlife. No experience required, all physical levels welcome.


Campbell Valley Wetland Restoration
Register here for the July 16 event 
One of the most important mountains-to-plains ecological transition zones in the Front Range exists just 20 miles north of Fort Collins—the Laramie Foothills Conservation Area. However, in the early 1900s, Campbell Creek was used to transport irrigation water while the North Poudre Irrigation Canal was being completed. The elevation of the creek bottom was down cut by over 40 feet, causing the elevation of the valley's tributaries to drop commensurately. 

This massive change in the watershed caused significant head-cutting and down-cutting of every tributary in the valley, resulting in a loss of an estimated 120,000,000 (that's right, 120 million!) cubic feet of sediment. Now, erosion gullies range from 5 to 30 feet deep and run up to 1,000 feet across the land and ever increasing leakage from the canal continues to threaten the valley's stability.

This project is part of a larger effort to keep the soil on the ranch and improve habitat for native species. We'll be following up after the construction of simulated beaver dams to reintroduce native willows and cottonwoods around the newly formed wetlands.

Big Thompson Flood Restoration
Register here for the July 23 event
In 2015, Wildlands Restoration Volunteers began a massive 2 1/2 mile river restoration project along the North Fork of the Big Thompson River, which was severely impacted by the September 2013 flood. Construction is complete and the dam has been removed! Now join us as we finish this project by restoring the riparian corridor, a stone's throw from Rocky Mountain National Park. 

Volunteer activities will vary throughout the year, including: planting of native grass seed, trees, shrubs, willows, and wetland plugs; and installation of erosion control products. Our objective is to restore and enhance geomorphic and ecosystem function in the canyon, including the ongoing re-grading of stream banks and the stabilization of banks by installing erosion control products and planting native trees, grasses, and shrubs whose roots naturally armor stream banks and provide habitat for fish and wildlife.

Protect Our Rivers License Plate

*We need to sell 1,800 of these beautiful plates by June 2017, or they disappear!*  

From our April 2015 newsletter: River and riparian enthusiasts, here is a great way to show your support and appreciation for our rivers. In 2014 Colorado Trout Unlimited (TU) began a program to bring awareness and funding for our rivers. Audubon Rockies has partnered with Colorado TU to expand the PROTECT OUR RIVERS Colorado license plate to CO Western Rivers Action Network (WRAN) members and activists. A portion of your donation will go directly to CO WRAN to further river advocacy, research and restoration! Apart from the money that will be donated to CO WRAN, Colorado TU must spend 100% of the money received from this program on river restoration and habitat improvements within Colorado –it’s required by the law!

Any Colorado resident can get the PROTECT OUR RIVERS license plate. Residents can obtain their new plate at any time during the registration renewal cycle. Click here for more information and PROTECT OUR RIVERS FAQs.

  1. Click here to get started: 

  2. Begin your application and fill out your information. BE SURE TO ENTER P283 in the PARTNER CODE box. By entering this code you ensure that CO WRAN receives a portion of your $25 donation.

  3. Fill out your payment information and click submit.

  4. Immediately by email you will receive your certificate.

  5. Print and take your certificate to the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles office and pay the one-time $50 special plate fee.

  6. Your plate will be mailed to your home within 4 weeks, often much faster.

Our rivers, and the birds and wildlife they support thank you! Please order your PROTECT OUR RIVERS license plate TODAY!

Join WRAN Now

Community Naturalist Program


Summer Camps Galore!


Camp - it brings back memories of new friends, time outdoors, and endless adventure possibilities.  Summer is a time when kids should be outside playing, exploring, and getting to know the outdoors. That is why Audubon Rockies Community Naturalists are organizing and running 8 camps and camp programs across the region this summer.  The community naturalists bring a healthy dose of avian knowledge and bird related programs, as well as hiking programs, water programs, and botany programs.  Using mist netting and our bird banding program as a hook, Audubon Rockies will work with over 1000 students this summer who otherwise may have spent that time in front of a computer or T.V.  


We introduce campers to bird watching by discussing the migration of birds, learning how to use binoculars, spotting and identifying bird species when we are out on hikes, and learning how to identify some of the more common birds.  We also have hiking programs that highlight local flora, as well as water programs where students explore the all-important water resources in the region. Audubon Rockies has a wonderful partnership with both the State Parks and National Parks that allow us to bring children into a natural setting free of charge and even be admitted into some areas not open to the general public.  These kids have an experience that they will never forget and grow up with a new appreciation for birds and their struggles to survive in a changing world.  When talking about a bald eagle that was spotted near Keyhole, one young camper said, “they are so much bigger than they look on my ipad!”  That is why our education team continues to bring programs to students throughout Colorado and Wyoming each summer, providing them with experiences and adventures that they will remember for years to come.


Bird Banding Update


So far 2016 has been a steady year for the banding stations in Keyhole, Casper and Laramie.  Because of our amazing volunteers, both returning and new, the stations have been running very smoothly.  A special thank you to Kayla Baker for all her hard work and being our station manager and representative at the Laramie Station.  On average, each station has been banding around 30 birds a day, but just as important are the 500 plus community members, volunteers and children that have visited our stations.  But don’t worry if you have not had a chance to volunteer for banding or visit, there is still time.  If you need more information you can contact Jacelyn at
July 14th,  21st, and August 6th

July 12th, 26th, and August: 2nd

July 12th, 22nd, and  August 1st

Birding Eastern Yellowstone National Park


When most people visit Yellowstone National Park, they “hoof-it” straight to western Yellowstone and into the Park to see Old Faithful. In their haste, they skip much of the amazing fauna of eastern Yellowstone. Here are a few locations to spend some time looking for feathered gems (entering at the Northeast Entrance, outside of Cooke City, Montana):

Trout Lake Trail – This ~1 mile trail is an easy hike for families and novice hikers. Hiking in the morning will provide more opportunities to find birds, as they are more likely to be singing. The first part of the trail can start your Yellowstone list off the right way with Olive-sided Flycatcher, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Audubon’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Pine Grosbeak, and many more. As you continue up to the lake, Great Gray Owl is a possibility, but your main focus should be on the waterfowl. American Wigeon, Common Merganser, and nesting Barrow’s Goldeneye are always birds to be on the lookout on these small bodies of water.
Grand Prairie Overlook – This vantage point is an easy place to look for scavenging birds such as Common Raven and Black-billed Magpie. Where they congregate, a carcass is the likely culprit! These carcasses are often old animals that have died of natural causes, but sometimes they can be the kill from a wolf pack. If you look up, you might catch a soaring raptor like the Golden Eagle. Down below the overlook is Soda Butte Creek. Waterfowl such as Lesser Scaup and Ring-necked Ducks can be found here. Listen for the obvious calls of the Spotted Sandpiper as they run along the banks. In the willows around the creek Willow Flycatcher can be heard giving the “FITZ-bew” song that is often overlooked (or heard).

Lamar Valley – There are many pullouts in the valley. Pick one with the fewest vehicles. Everybody else is enjoying the view of the massive American Bison. You are there to catch the songs of Green-tailed Towhee, Brewer’s Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, and Savannah Sparrow. Also, look for Sandhill Crane feeding in the damp grassland areas. Now that you have those birds checked off, it’s time to move away from the masses (of bison and people).
Slough Creek Area – There can be many people in this area, but their focus is of the furry kind. In the wetlands around you, watch for nesting Sandhill Crane, Yellow-headed Blackbird, and Red-winged Blackbird. Continue up to the trailhead for even more birds. As you walk up the trail the birds get better and better. Look for Red-naped Sapsucker, Williamson’s Sapsucker, Hammond’s Flycatcher, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Spotted Towhee, Dark-eyed Junco, and flocks more!

Mt. Washburn Area – Traveling south, stop here for the amazing views. HOWEVER, look and listen for Mountain Bluebird, White-crowned Sparrow, Cassin’s Finch, and Red Crossbill.

LeHardy Rapids – North of Fishing Bridge, on Yellowstone’s Grand Loop, there is one AMAZING reason to stop at LeHardy Rapids (for birders at least). This is THE SPOT to see the Harlequin Duck. There are other birds here, but really, the show belongs to those gorgeous ducks fighting the current.

Yellowstone Lake – Covering 286 square miles, Yellowstone Lake is vast, but if you are willing to spend the time looking, great birds can be found. Scope the lake for Common Loon, rafts of Barrow’s Goldeneye, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, and many others!

Hopefully this taste of great stops in eastern Yellowstone Park will encourage you to find even more!  For more information about birds and birding in Yellowstone, check out this National Park Service link

Habitat Hero Program

Upcoming Habitat Hero Events 

July 14, 5:30-6:30pm CSU Eagle County Extension, 441 Broadway, Eagle, CO 81631

July 18, Wildflower Plant Hike on Lower Dadd Gulch Trail in Poudre Canyon. More details coming soon...

July 21, 6:00-7:30pm, Audubon Center at Chatfield, 11280 Waterton Rd., Littleton, CO 80128
Habitat Hero: Wildscaping 101

Jamie Weiss, Audubon Rockies' Habitat Outreach Coordinator, will demonstrate the importance of restoring our communities, one garden patch at a time.  From a birds-eye view, learn how to create wildlife-friendly gardens that help combat the loss of open spaces and create green corridors that link your wildscape to larger natural areas by providing habitat for wildlife.  This presentation preludes the Audubon Society of Greater Denver Bird Habitat Garden Tour on Saturday, July 23.
Registration required. No fee, donations appreciated. Register Online


For all Habitat Events - visit our webpage HERE

Photo by Roger Levien


Most Recent Blogs of Habitat Hero


Read our Habitat Hero blog to learn gardening tips and techniques, hear from a variety of guest bloggers, view recommended plant lists, and find the most up-to-date information and upcoming events on our program!  

Hummingbirds - Identification & Attracting them to Your Garden!
Guest Blogger, Brady Godwin, PhD student - Wildlife Genomics and Disease Ecology Lab of University of Wyoming


We’re back to talk more about hummingbirds! This time we’re going to talk about the species and how to attract them to your backyard.


In Wyoming and Colorado there are four main species that you will see. Broad-tailed (Selasphorus platycercus) and Rufous (Selasphorous rufus) Hummingbirds are the most common you will probably see. Less common species are the Calliope (Selasphorus calliope) and Black-chinned (Archilochus​ alexandri) Hummingbirds.

Read the full BLOG!


Dirt on Habitat Hero Planting Events
Thanks to our 132 volunteers who helped plant over 2,250 plants in Larimer and Weld Counties this spring!


We have all heard the phrase that perennials ‘sleep’ in year one, ‘creep’ in year two, and ‘leap’ in year three!  Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero program follows that same philosophy.  Last year, our first year, we were establishing our roots if you will, and so far this year we are beyond ecstatic to announce that 132 volunteers helped plant over 2,250 plants in Larimer and Weld Counties in Northern Colorado this spring!  What will year three look like when we are leaping?  Hopefully these planting event stories inspire you to join us at future planting events!

Read the full BLOG!
Sagebrush Ecosystem Initiative

Current Protections for Eagles

The Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act (BGEPA) is a federal law that prohibits "take" – including direct harm and indirect disturbance of normal breeding, feeding and nesting behavior – of bald and golden eagles, or take of any eagle part, nest or egg, unless authorized by valid permit. Violators are subject to criminal and civil penalties, including substantial fines (see NY Times article on Duke Energy’s $1 million fine). 
In 2009, the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) issued regulations under the Act that established conditions under which the Service could permit lethal take and disturbance of golden eagles. The Act delegates to the Secretary of the Interior the ability to permit take of the eagle “necessary for the protection of other interests in any particular locality” (such as wind and solar energy production) if the take is “compatible with the preservation of the bald eagle or golden eagle,” which is defined as no net-decrease in the number of breeding pairs within regional geographic management units (BCRs). Those regulations provided for both "standard" permits to address one-time effects from projects such as commercial or residential development, and "programmatic" permits to authorize the recurring take of eagles if the take is "compatible with the preservation" of eagles and is unavoidable even after the project implements practicable avoidance, minimization and mitigation measures. Both types of permits were subject to threshold limits specific to individual management units, and programmatic permits were limited to a maximum 5-year term.


 Wyoming Wind Farm is 1st  in State to Apply for Eagle Take Permit


In June 2015, the Power Company of Wyoming LLC (PCW) requested two Eagle Take Permits (ETP) for the western half of Chokecherry Sierra Madre Wind Farm (the first 500 turbines).  These consist of a “standard ETP” for construction of wind turbines and infrastructure components, and a “programmatic ETP” for operation of the western half of the wind farm.  If approved, this will be the first wind farm in WY with an approved ETP.  Note: there will be another ETP request brought forward by the developer for the eastern half of the project. To authorize a permit, any non-purposeful/incidental take must result in no net loss (currently defined as maintaining stable or increasing breeding populations) to bald and golden eagle populations.

According to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement released in April for public comment, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service predicts that these first 500 turbines will result in the loss of 10-14 golden eagles and a 1-2 bald eagles per year.  The number varies based on size of turbines used, where smaller blade radius results in fewer predicted mortalities.  The number of predicted mortalities is lower than earlier predictions due to avoidance of high eagle use areas.  Four development alternatives were considered in the EIS, which included a range of conservation actions.  One of the alternatives was to not grant an ETP, which is not required for PCW to construct and operate CCSM (as it was already approved).

Together with Natural Resources Defense Council and The Wilderness Society, Audubon Rockies reviewed the extensive EIS document and submitted comments on June 27.  Among the numerous recommendations was to set forth a specified timeline for completing and incorporating regional eagle population information, incorporate a net conservation benefit into the analysis and permit terms, a transparent process for reporting monitoring data and annual reports, address mortality of migrant or wintering populations of golden eagles, and expand Technical Advisory Committee membership to include third party scientists with expertise in issues related to eagles in Wyoming. 
To view a copy of these comments, click

To learn more about this EIS, visit the
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website.

More about CCSM

Interest in harnessing the wind resources south of Rawlins, WY began in earnest in 2007, when PCW installed 10 test turbines to test and verify wind resources.  Confirmation of some of the nation’s best winds in the nation kicked off wildlife surveys and environmental analyses, discussions with nearby communities, and extensive federal permitting review (which included public comment opportunities).  In 2012, the U.S. Department of Interior gave formal approval for the wind farm to go forward.  This wind farm is recognized by the federal administration as a key project to building its commitment to renewable energy.
Located on a roughly 50/50 combination of alternating private land and federal land, the 2,000-3,000 megawatt wind farm is approved to have as many as 1,000 turbines - making it North America’s largest on-shore wind farm.  Wind will be captured and then brought via a multi-state high voltage transmission line (which is still undergoing environmental review) to power as many as 1 million homes in the desert southwest.  Under the terms of the federal approval, the developer agreed to work in close consultation with the BLM and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) to design an Avian Protection Plan and an Eagle Conservation Plan, including measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate impacts to avian and bat species. In addition, the project will avoid Sage-Grouse Core Areas and includes a conservation plan that accommodates ongoing ranching and agricultural operations.

 New Efforts to Increase Federal "Take" Permit from 5-Yrs to 30-Yrs

Photo of Golden Eagle by USFWS

The process to revise the federal eagle regulations began in April 2012, when the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) put forth an Advanced Notice of Rulemaking (ANPR) about permits for non-purposeful take of eagles. Large-scale renewable energy industry has been in strong support of this effort, hoping it will provide of permitting certainty and improve project financing and operational security.


The ANPR highlighted 3 issues on which the Service invited public comment: (1) eagle population management objectives, (2) compensatory mitigation, and (3) programmatic permit issuance criteria. In 2014, the Service published a Notice of Intent and held a series of public scoping meetings on eagle management objectives and possible changes to the 2009 regulations for permits for nonpurposeful take of eagles and eagle nests. This was the first rulemaking effort that sought to extend the permit term to 30 years.  Audubon joined Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club in submitting formal comments in opposition.


The Latest - What's All the Fuss About?

In 2015, a district court decision was made that halted USFWS efforts siting failure to provide proper analysis under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), a prior rulemaking effort that had also sought to extend the permit term to 30 years. On May 6, 2016 USFWS issued a draft rule that would again try to extend to 30 years the maximum life of permits authorizing the incidental take of bald and golden eagles pursuant to the federal BGEPA. It applies to all takes, with emphasis on wind energy. In addition to extending the permit term to 30 years, the proposed rule modifies definition of BGEPA's "preservation standard," which requires that permitted take be compatible with the preservation of eagles, removes the distinction between standard and programmatic permits, and codifies standardized mitigation requirements.

In reviewing the extensive documents, Audubon was in opposition to extending the permit to 30-year due primarily to lack of scientific support for this move.  In addition, we found the following:

Bad aspects of the proposed revisions:
  • Extends eagle take permit from 5-years to 30-years
  • Utilizes unproven and limited mitigation techniques
  • Raises Bald Eagle take limit to roughly 4000 nationwide
Good aspects of the proposed revisions:
  • Unit of analyses is set at a local level, with take limits set for each local population
  • Includes analyses of cumulative effects, by local population
  • This aspect is more protective of eagle populations than earlier versions of this rule because it better ensures protection of local populations
To learn more about the Proposed Rule, including a recently released report by USFWS on status and population trends for eagles, visit the USFWS Eagle Management website.

To read National Audubon's Society's comments (which Audubon Rockies helped craft), submitted on July 5, please click HERE.

An action alert sent out by National Audubon Society yielded over 25,000 people submitting comments in to the USFWS!   Many Audubon Chapters, including those in WY and CO, also submitted their own substantive comments opposing the idea of a 30-year rule.   

THANK YOU for taking part in this public comment opportunity to voice your support for sound protection and management of our bald and golden eagle populations!

Upcoming Community Events



Summer Moose Day
July 16, Laramie WY 

The idea is to allow anyone in the Laramie area to adopt a pre-designed route, attend a training, and survey their route on a particular day at the same time as all the other volunteers.  By the end of that day, we should have a better idea of whether moose can be found in that location that year. These data are sent to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and researchers at the University of Wyoming to help study and manage the moose herd

More details, including registration


Pour Brothers Community Night Supports Audubon Rockies
August 10, Fort Collins CO

Community Night happens every Wednesday from 6-8pm at Pour Brothers and on August 10th all tips raised go to Audubon Rockies. Support us by grabbing a pint and a bite to eat. Pour Brothers is committed to making our community a better place & we thank them for all their local support!

More information TBD.



This month we would like to acknowledge valued sponsors and partners






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

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