Steamboat Springs Some might think it's for the birds -- shivering and straining in the early morning hours for the faintest sound of a swallow.
A few people didn't think so this weekend.
Some hearty souls gathered at 6 a.m. Saturday in downtown Steamboat Springs for the eighth annual Bird-a-Thon.
Yampatika hosts the free event, which provides an opportunity for seasoned and beginning birders to catch a glimpse of birds in Routt County.
Participants went three directions. One group traveled to Stagecoach, a second group wandered around Carpenter Ranch just outside Hayden and a third group stayed in town.
The annual event gives an indication of the scope and variety of birds in the county, said Era MacDonald of Yampatika.
Birders compared this year's bird count with previous bird counts. The numbers may indicate trends or abnormalities in the type and amount of birds passing through the area, MacDonald said.
This time of the year is ideal for people who want to catch a glimpse of Northwest Colorado's winged visitors.
Budding trees in the spring lack the dense foliage of trees in summer's full bloom. Fewer leaves mean novice birders have a better chance of spotting a bird when they hear its song.
Local birder Dee Bolton encouraged would-be birders to listen to tapes and check out some books on bird identification before heading out.
The experience is more enjoyable if people have a basic idea of what birds they're seeing and hearing, she said.
People who live in Steamboat don't have to wander far to enjoy the local bird population; the Yampa River is rich with bird habitat. Beginning birders should remember to take a good pair of binoculars and notebook along.
Yampatika is planning similar events this summer that draw attention to the Yampa Valley's natural resources.
Anyone interested in upcoming seminars and workshops can call 871-9151.