May events celebrate birds’ arrival in Yampa Valley | SteamboatToday.com

May events celebrate birds’ arrival in Yampa Valley

Steamboat Today reader Tricia Nickerson captured this image of a sandhill crane near Milner. Cranes are among the migratory birds to be celebrated Saturday during the Carpenter Ranch’s International Migratory Bird Day event. Do you have a photo to share? Send it to share@SteamboatToday.com.





Steamboat Today reader Tricia Nickerson captured this image of a sandhill crane near Milner. Cranes are among the migratory birds to be celebrated Saturday during the Carpenter Ranch's International Migratory Bird Day event. Do you have a photo to share? Send it to share@SteamboatToday.com.

— Summer may be arriving early, but local birding enthusiast Tom Litteral said the Yampa Valley's abundance of migratory birds are showing up right on time.

"We had a couple hummingbirds show up a little earlier than usual," said Litteral, a member of the Yampa Valley Birding Club. "But overall, the migration seems to happen during the month of May across North America."

Several events this month will highlight the area's migratory birds and celebrate their return, starting with a local version of International Migratory Bird Day on Saturday at the Carpenter Ranch west of Steamboat Springs.

"We're looking forward to seeing some of the early nesting activities out there," Litteral said. "That's what's really exciting because they're staking out their territory. The males will be singing their hearts out."

International Migratory Bird Day starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday at the Carpenter Ranch, a Nature Conservancy facility. There will be scones and coffee for visitors, and starting at 8 a.m., hourlong bird walks along the interpretive trail will leave every half-hour. At 10 a.m., there will be a hayride with interpretive storytelling from Litteral's wife, Linda.

Litteral said that last year the groups saw and heard songs from birds like bobolinks, fox sparrows and sandhill cranes, whose call is more like a bugle in the early morning air.

He said there also is a nesting couple of great blue herons nearby.

Betsy Blakeslee, facilities manager at the Carpenter Ranch, said the Nature Conservancy's goal is to protect biodiversity across the world and in the rich environment of the Carpenter Ranch.

"By protecting this riparian forest, we enjoy 150 species of migratory or nesting birds," Blakeslee said. "What we want to do is celebrate on this day and welcome back the birds that have been south for the winter and are coming back to our gorgeous valley."

Yampatika, which was involved in last year's bird day event, will hold a second event in Steamboat Springs on May 26. The event is from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Little Toots Park and will feature activities for children and a visit from Woodsy the owl, an ambassador from the U.S. Forest Service. The family-oriented day aims to bring awareness to the community about the wealth of local migratory birds.

"Especially in our area, we have so many migratory birds here, and they're so commonly seen that I think some people overlook them," Yampatika program coordinator Melissa Calhoon said. "We live in a unique area, so it's great to bring that awareness to the masses and see what's actually living in our backyards."

Litteral agreed that celebrating the arrival of migratory birds is part of celebrating the Yampa Valley environment itself.

"It's a reminder that there's so much that happens during the springtime in the Yampa Valley, and it's part of the heritage that we have here to see and enjoy the bird life," he said. "It really shows the quality of the environment."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com