Colorado Birding CHallenge

September 14, 2024


Birding for Conservation

The Colorado Birding Challenge is a fun, county-based birding and conservation event held during the most exciting birding times of the birding year. 

The Challenge's four goals are:

  1. To engage hundreds of birders in a fun day of finding and learning about Colorado's birds.
  2. To raise funds for a critical conservation project each year. In 2024, this is habitat restoration along the Conejos River that will benefit the Southwestern Willow Flycatcher and the Western Yellow-billed Cuckoo among other species.
  3. To generate eBird data for all 64 counties in Colorado on the same day.
  4. To provide support for the expanding programs of Colorado Field Ornithologists.

2024: Conejos River Restoration Project

The Conejos River is the largest tributary to the Rio Grande in Colorado, both originate in the San Luis Valley. The Conejos system supports wildlife habitat, agricultural production, and outdoor recreation. The Conejos River Restoration Project, an effort in partnership between the Rio Grande Headwaters Restoration Project and Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, addresses the need for multi-benefit restoration along 4 miles of the Conejos River.

  • PHASE I - Surveying and Planning - Completed Spring 2023
  • PHASE II - Priority Project Implementation - Current Phase
  • PHASE III - Secondary Project Implementation - Future Work
Icon showing the four restoration effort focus areas: bank stabilization and floodplain reconnection; wetland and backwater restoration; in-channel morphology adjustments; and irrigation infrastructure replacement.


The 2024 Challenge funds will support habitat restoration along the Conejos River in southern Colorado. Pledge to support a challenge team or make a direct donation today!

It's a Team Effort!

Participate - Your team (2-4 people; restrictions do not apply to the non-competing category) chooses a single Colorado county and birds for up to 24 hours! At the end of the day, compare your species total, handicapped by the par value for your county, to the other teams in Colorado. All teams, other than those in the non-competing category, must abide by the ABA Big Day Rules

Donate - Support bird conservation in Colorado by soliciting donations from your friends and family before the Challenge to help support this year's amazing conservation project. Share your team page on social media or with co-workers.
Want to donate but don't know anyone participating?  You can choose a team name you like or donate directly to the cause.

Level Birding With Par

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. This means we can expect to see different numbers of bird species in each county. During the Challenge, we want teams to bird all the counties -- not just the "birdie" ones. 

To make each county equitable, CFO uses a decade of eBird data to establish the species "par" for each county. This par is essentially the total number of bird species that one would expect to find in that county at the time of year the  Challenge is taking place. At the end of the day, teams will be ranked by the percentage of total bird species par they observe. 

This is a novel approach and does have some challenges. Some counties in Colorado are heavily birded, like Boulder, Denver, or Larimer and likely have a lot of rarities recorded increasing their par score. Less birded counties, like Huerfano, Moffat or Sedgwick, may only have the more common species reported resulting in a lower par score.  We hope this will motivate teams to choose these under-birded counties and improve our understanding of birds across Colorado. 

Choose your Category


The classic Big Day. The team can use any mode of transportation they want to bird anywhere in their county of choice.

Bird Your Own Way

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Participate

Yes, but only in the Bird Your Own Way (non-competing) category. To compete, you must participate on September 14, 2024. If you opt for the Bird Your Own Way you can even count birds for the whole month of September.

Please consult the Guidelines for Participants and the Challenge Rules that are downloadable above. If your question is not answered, email your question to

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. Please note the county change when submitting your total to CFO.

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

No. However, CFO is a membership-funded organization so please consider joining CFO and enjoy the many benefits of membership. If you prefer not to join, you are still welcome to participate in the event.

[Answer to be Determined]

Submitting Species Lists

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.

eBird has many user-friendly instructions available at, many are listed on the CFO Learning webpage If you aren’t familiar with eBird Trip Reports, you can learn more on their support page on eBird Trip Reports.  If you do not find the answer one of these ways, you may contact 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.


No. 85% goes to the conservation initiative selected for the year, while 15% goes to CFO to support other programs and initiatives. 

[Answer to be determined]

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

Send an email to One of the Challenge coordinators will respond as soon as they are able by email or by telephone if you provide a callback number.

Colorado Birding Challenge Conservation Grants

Colorado Field Ornithologists invites applicants to submit proposals to be the beneficiary of each year's Colorado Birding Challenge. Proposed projects should have a lasting benefit to Colorado birds or the habitats on which they rely.

More than $75,000 has been raised and donated for conservation efforts through the Challenge since 2021.  The application period opens annually in early fall and closes in mid-November.