Birding to Support Gunnison Sage-Grouse Conservation

The Colorado Birding Challenge was created to provide an annual flow of funds to support specific bird conservation projects. This year's challenge funds will primarily support sagebrush habitat restoration in the Gunnison Basin which hosts 87% of the world population of Gunnison Sage-Grouse.

Weed management with emphasis on the eradication of cheatgrass has been identified as a top priority in the USFWS Recovery Implementation Strategy for the Gunnison Sage-Grouse. The cheatgrass invasion of the Gunnison Basin is in the early stages but is gaining rapidly and represents one of the major threats to the declining Gunnison Sage-Grouse.

The current global population of Gunnison Sage-Grouse optimistically numbers 2,700 individuals. Their persistence in the sagebrush sea is highly doubtful if cheatgrass continues to spread and manifest into an ecosystem conversion from the diverse sagebrush steppe to a monoculture of non-native grass that provides zero habitat value for sagebrush obligate wildlife. Once cheatgrass dominates the landscape, fires burn so frequently that sagebrush can no longer recolonize, and the habitat is permanently lost.

Support for the coordination of multi-agency public land and private lands is crucial to the success of the habitat restoration effort. The Gunnison Basin-Sagebrush Ecosystem Alliance coordinates a concerted effort to eradicate cheatgrass on public and private lands before it becomes well established. The alliance comprises federal, state and local governments; non-government organizations; and Western Colorado University.

Your donations to the 2022 Challenge will support Gunnison Basin-Sagebrush Ecosystem Alliance cheatgrass removal and sagebrush habitat restoration. In addition to Gunnison Sage-Grouse recovery, this will support habitat recovery for other sagebrush-dependent species including Brewer's Sparrow, Sagebrush Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Green-tailed Towhee and Vesper Sparrow.

Make a Difference Today

We need your financial support to fund this exciting and significant conservation project.

85% of all donations/pledges will be used for habitat restoration to support the recovery of Gunnison Sage-Grouse and other sagebrush-dependent birds in the Gunnison Basin. The proceeds will be directly donated to GB-SEA for their cheatgrass removal efforts.

15% of all donations/pledges will support other CFO projects, including those focused on research and education.

Encourage your family, friends and colleagues to support this important effort.

Information for Participants

Participation in the Colorado Birding Challenge is simple:

  1. Gather a group of 2-4 friends, family, or coworkers to form a team (solo "teams" can register in the non-competing category).
  2. Decide what category you want to be in - Green, Big Sit, Automobile, Photo/Audio, Youth, Non-competing
  3. Register - a team leader should create the team and then all team members can join it
  4. Solicit donations - we are all doing this to support Gunnison Sage-Grouse conservation. Reach out to your networks to get their support
  5. May 7th - Bird, Bird, Bird!

2022 Participation by County

Teams choose to bird in one Colorado county during the Challenge.  Here are the number of teams participating in each county. This list is updated weekly.

Not all Colorado counties were created equal. Some are large, some are small, some are urban, some are rural, some have diverse habitats, some not so much. CFO has developed a handicap system based on a decade of eBird data that will establish "par" for each county. This par is essentially the total number of species that one would expect to find in that county at that time of year. Find out more about county par values.

 

COUNTY PAR # of teams registered COUNTY PAR # of teams registered
Adams 154 Kit Carson 160
Alamosa 150 Lake 62
Arapahoe 157 NC La Plata 165 1
Archuleta 113 1 Larimer 193 6
Baca 199 Las Animas 156
Bent 204 1 Lincoln 188
Boulder 184 2 Logan 147 NC
Broomfield 122 1 Mesa 179 2
Chaffee 112 1 Mineral 60
Cheyenne 110 Moffat 135
Clear Creek 104 1 Montezuma 162 1
Conejos 116 1 Montrose 148
Costilla 137 Morgan 146
Crowley 143 Otero 183 1
Custer 140 Ouray 93 NC
Delta 146 Park 136
Denver 150 Phillips 121
Dolores 128 1 Pitkin 90 1
Douglas 167 1 Prowers 192
Eagle 125 Pueblo 218 NC
Elbert 133 Rio Blanco 157
El Paso 194 2 Rio Grande 130 1
Fremont 169 1 Routt 121
Garfield 117 Saguache 149
Gilpin 74 1 San Juan 68
Grand 105 San Miguel 142
Gunnison 132 NC Sedgwick 116
Hinsdale 87 Summit 94 1
Huerfanp 151 Teller 133
Jackson 128 Washington 159
Jefferson 181 3 Weld 190 1
Kiowa 171 Yuma 168
A "NC" designates that only non-competing teams have registered for this category.
Updated as of 5/4/22

 

Participant FAQs

Registration/Participation

1. How do I participate in the Colorado Birding Challenge?

Please consult the Guidelines for Participants and the COBC Rules available for download higher up on this page. If your question is not answered, email your question to COBC@cobirds.org.

2. Can I participate in the Colorado Birding Challenge on a date other than May 7, 2022?

Yes, but only in the non-competing category. To compete, you must participate on May 7.

2. If it rains/snows on May 7, is there a rain date scheduled?

There is no rain date. The event will proceed as scheduled, rain or shine. If weather impedes your itinerary, you may move to another county, but you may only report data from one county if participating in a competitive category. You must update the county in your Pledge-it account prior to submitting your total to CFO.

4. Can I participate in a county outside Colorado?

Yes, but only in the non-competing category. Your eBird data and your funds raised are still very valuable.

5. Do I have to be a CFO member in order to participate?

CFO members and all students register for free. Others can register for $50 through the Pledge-it registration page. We set this up to encourage birders to join CFO and enjoy the many benefits of membership. If you prefer not to join, you are still welcome to participate in the event.

6. I would like to participate in a county where no one else is participating. How do I determine which counties have teams registered already and which do not?

You can view this information under the 2022 Participation by County section on this page.  

During/After the Event

7. I am planning to compete and don’t want to take extra time to enter numerous eBird checklists, or wait for three minutes before moving to another location, as suggested in the Participant Guidelines.

OK. However, we encourage using eBird in a way that makes the data more valuable. If you feel like counting birds in one location for three minutes is interfering with your mission, consider converting the count from a stationary protocol to a traveling protocol. This permits adding additional birds along the transect you are traveling. Transects should be terminated when the habitat changes or after 5 miles, whichever comes first.

8. How do I report my results? I don’t know how to create a Trip Report or a county-based checklist in eBird.

eBird has many user-friendly instructions available at eBird.org, many are listed on the CFO Learning webpage cobirds.org/improve-your-birding. If you aren’t familiar with eBird Trip Reports, you can learn more on their support page on eBird Trip Reports.  We also recommend you attend CFOs eBird workshop in April. If you do not find the answer one of these ways, you may contact cobc@cobirds.org for additional assistance.

If you are unable to use eBird to organize your observations and report your results, you may still participate in the non-competing category and the money you raise is still valuable and appreciated. However, you will be disqualified from the competition as the judges will not be able to access your documentation of rare birds.

9. How do I enter the number of species seen so that my donors' pledges can be processed?

Go to your fundraising page in Pledge-it and click on update at the bottom of the screen. There will be a field to update your species total. When done, click Finish.

Donations/Pledges

10. If I or my donors pledge an amount per species, why does Pledge-it collect credit card information at the time of the pledge, rather than after I report my results?

This is done to ensure that collection of pledges goes smoothly after the event. The card will not be charged until May 15, after the final number of species is reported. The amount of the donation will be adjusted according to the final number of species you report.

11. Is all the money raised being used to support Gunnison Sage-Grouse conservation?

No. 85% supports conservation while 15% of each donation will support all of CFO’s activities. Registration fees from non-members support all of CFO’s activities. Tips collected at the time of donation support Pledge-it.

12. The Pledge-it donation page asks for a tip. Is this required?

No. As explained on the page, the tip is optional and goes to the Pledge-it organization. Pledge-it provided this registration and pledge platform to CFO for free.

 

My question is not included in this FAQ. How do I get more answers/information?

Send an email to cobc@cobirds.org. Kerri Schlachter or Nick Komar will respond as soon as they are able by email, or by telephone if you provide a call back number.