This is regional birding information for:
Several kinds of forests cover the rugged terrain of the Rocky Mountains. In the central and southern Rockies, the lower slopes and plateaus are covered with pines, and spotted with grassy meadows that are grazed by herds of deer, elk and bison, in parks, such as Yellowstone National Park, and other preserves.
Higher up and farther north, the slopes of the Rockies are covered with spruce and fir, but dotted with open clearings and stands of aspen.
Higher yet, at tree line, twisted pines and other conifers hold on to life with tough roots, overhung by towering rocky outcroppings where golden eagles soar, and sure-footed mountain sheep and goats thrive.
In the backyards of Rocky Mountain residents, the most common birds that are attracted to food, water and natural cover are the mountain chickadee, cliff swallow, mountain bluebird, broad-tailed hummingbird, Clark's nutcracker, gray jay, red-naped sapsucker, downy and hairy woodpeckers, western tanager, evening grosbeak, pine siskin, house and Cassin's finches, white-crowned sparrow, Lazuli bunting, warbling vireo, house and rock wrens.
Birdlife is most abundant in the lower habitats of pines and grassy meadows that provide food and cover to the mountain chickadee, varied thrush, mountain bluebird, western tanager, evening and black-headed grosbeaks, red crossbill, fox sparrow, western meadowlark, and black-billed magpie. Higher up, look for Clark's nutcracker, rosy-finches, broad-tailed hummingbird, white-throated swift, blue grouse and white-tailed ptarmigan. And, in mountain streams, see if you can spot an American dipper plunging into the fast-moving white water.
What's happening in your backyard this month
- Bird feeders are active with winter residents from dawn to dusk.
- Northern invaders--pine siskins, redpolls, evening grosbeaks--may be present.
- Cooper's hawks and sharp-shinned hawks are preying on feeder birds.
- Cavity nesting birds are roosting in nesting cavities or in bird houses.
- Rosy finches will move to lower altitudes and will appear at feeders.
What to do in your backyard this month
- Maintain at least one feeders in each of the natural niches.
- Remove ice and snow from feeders and refill them morning and evening.
- Use a heater in the bird baths to keep water ice free.
- Use baffles above and/or below feeders to keep squirrels off.
WildlifeGuides: Nature in North America
LocalNature: Your neck of the woods