Birding can be a valuable introduction to nature and ecology for children. Birds are not as elusive as other wildlife and can be viewed safely. Combined with your favorite hiking spots, it can be a welcomed addition to a day out on the trails. Bring a bird identification guide and encourage kids to create drawings and ask questions.
If you want to know the best locations for you and your family to spot birds out on the trails, the CMC’s “Best Front Range Bird Hikes” is a great resource. Here are a few birding tips to get started:
1. Adjust your binoculars to your specific vision to avoid blurring.
2. Be still. Birds are sensitive to movement and noise.
3. Wear muted colors so as to not stand out against the surrounding landscape.
If you’re wondering where to go, check out a few easy trails near Denver:
Bluff Lake, located in Bluff Lake Nature Center, is an easy 1.5-mile loop and provides fine birding in an urban setting. Here you could spot a snowy egret, black-crowned night heron, great blue heron, wood duck, blue-winged teal, cinnamon teal, black-chinned hummingbird, Bullock’s oriole, belted kingfisher, American goldfinch, and more.
Genesee Mountain Park , situated in Jefferson County, is good during any season. Follow this loop through ponderosa pine and open prairie. Keep your eyes open for a Williamson’s sapsucker, tree and violet-green swallows, pygmy, white-breasted and red-breasted nuthatches, brown creeper, mountain chickadee, mountain and western bluebirds, chipping sparrow, western tanager, and red crossbill.
On the west side of Denver, Lair o’ the Bear Park is an excellent birding area due to the unusual variety of habitats in a small area, accessible by several trails. The hike will cross small prairies, follow a creek, ascend through brushy hillsides and top out in a coniferous forest, all within less than a mile of the starting point. Be on the lookout for Cordilleran flycatcher, American dipper, cedar waxwing, Townsend’s solitaire, MacGillivray’s warblers, black-headed grosbeak, lazuli bunting and lesser goldfinch.
From big hikers to wildlife enthusiasts, there’s something for every age outdoors. So put on your hiking boots, grab your binoculars and hit the trails with the whole family this summer.