Woodland Birds

Dusky gouse walking on the ground.Blue (Dusky) Grouse  Blending perfectly into its surroundings, you may not know this grouse is only a few feet away until it explodes into flight with a noisy fluttering of wings and fanning of its wide banded tail. This woodland grouse is a partial migrator, moving up or down slope with the seasons, in search of leaves, berries, seeds and conifer needles.


Male Three-toed woodpecker foraging on a spruce tree.3-Toed Woodpecker Most woodpeckers have 4 toes. This medium sized woodpecker, which lives in dense, higher elevation forest, only has 3. Since it prefers wood boring beetle larvae, it's one of the few species which is benefiting from the Mountain Pine Beetle outbreak. You can hear the male proclaiming its territory with a loud drumming on hollow trees.




Northern Goshawk perched in a lodgepole pine tree.Northern Goshawk With its incredible ability to maneuver beneath the forest canopy in pursuit of prey, its dark red eyes, and aggressive protectiveness of nestlings - even toward humans,  this hawk is the stuff of legends.  This forest raptor mostly lives and feeds in mature aspen and lodgepole pine areas across the Medicine Bow and Routt National Forests.






Male Downy Woodpecker on a tree.Male Hairy woodpecker bringing food back to the nest cavity.Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers  The Downy Woodpecker is the smallest North American woodpecker. Its cousin, the Hairy, is almost identical, except larger with a longer beak and no spots on its tail. To cushion the shock of drilling on trees for bug larvae, woodpeckers have a thick skull,  large neck and skull muscles, and a narrow space between the brain and inner skull.  


Northern Red-shafted standing on a dead tree.Northern Flicker (Red Shafted) Common to western north america, woodlands and meadows, this woodpecker is one of the few often seen on the ground, where it dines on its favorite food, ants. Flickers also use ants to preen, squishing them and smeering the remains on their feathers.  Ants contain formic acid, which kills small parasites on the skin and feathers.




Dark-eyed Junco foraging on the ground.Dark Eyed Junco With a flash of its white banded tail, this woodland bird is usually encountered flushing from the ground.  Juncos are ground dwelling sparrows.  Intermittently making a smacking noise, juncos double scratch around the base of trees and shrubs, looking for bugs, caterpillars and seeds.  In winter they can be found in open areas and at mountain home feeders.



Rufous HummingbirdRufous Hummingbird Normally found from Canada to northern Wyoming, these hummingbirds can be seen in the Colorado Rockies during their mid-summer migration.They catch insects in mid-air and suck nectar from fireweed, columbine, and huneysuckle.  Rufous hummingbirds dart from flower to flower, with buzzing wingspeeds of 50 beats per second.