Chamber offers grouse leks tour

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— Bird watchers and wildlife enthusiasts are urged to grab their binoculars and join the Hayden Chamber of Commerce Sunday morning for a sharp-tailed grouse bird-watching event.

The chamber has teamed with Yampatika, the Department of Wildlife and the Nature Conservancy to offer a tour of grouse leks to locals and visitors alike.

District wildlife manager Jim Haskins said the bird watchers will be introduced to three species of grouse; the blue grouse, sage grouse and sharp-tailed grouse.

Each year, Haskins provides numerous excursions to drop-in bird watching enthusiasts and this year, the chamber would like to take on the role of nature guide.

The group is making an attempt to lighten the load of the DOW by guiding organized tours of the mating areas.

"The birds are doing very good," Haskins said. "I've been counting the birds for 15 years and the populations may be as good as they've ever been historically. To see sharp-tails in Colorado, you've got to come here and to be able to see blue grouse and sage grouse at the same time is an added bonus. I think this is a great program that has lots of potential."

There are seven species of grouse found throughout Colorado's mountains and prairies. Every year in spring, they gather on leks to perform their mating rituals. These leks or dancing grounds are traditional breeding areas where the males congregate and perform elaborate displays and vocalizations to attract females for mating.

The bird-watching tour groups are limited to 20 people and after the viewing, participants will be allowed to explore the abundant wildlife resources the area provides from waterfowl and porcupines to elk and deer.

On Sunday, bird watchers should meet at 5:30 a.m. at the Hayden Town Hall parking lot, 178 West Jefferson Ave. They will be transported by Yampatika to the bird viewing areas. Locals interested in joining in the fun can do so by calling Haskins at 276-3338. The fee is $15.

The chamber is planning two more bird tours in May; May 6 and 7 and May 13 and 14. Their two-day event offers a dinner program for visitors at the Carpenter Ranch, overnight lodging and breakfast. The cost of the two-day program is $125 for couples, double occupancy or $75 for single occupancy.

Those interested in registering for the May events should call chamber president Karen Fox at 276-3737.


-- To reach Bryna Larsen call 871-4205 or e-mail blarsen@amigo.net

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