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Birds & Birding Regional Birder

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Rocky Mountains
July 2016

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.

Backyard Birds

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.

Regional Birds

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
  • Baby birds out of the nests, begging for food from their parents; discovering bird feeders.
  • Dawn chorus and nesting season in lowlands winding down; some birds working on second nestings.
  • High elevation nestings, including ptarmigans and rosy-finches, just getting started.
  • Bullock’s orioles, broad-tailed hummingbirds sipping sugar water from feeders.
What to do in your backyard this month
  • Clean and refresh bird baths and ponds frequently; water sprays for hummingbirds.
  • Feed mealworms to bluebirds in tray feeders; jelly to orioles and western tanagers.
  • Photograph hummingbirds and orioles sipping sugar water from feeders.
  • Feed black oil and/or hulled (medium cracked) sunflower seeds, niger (thistle) and safflower seeds in feeders.