Mission and History

Our Mission

Colorado Field Ornithologists is a non-profit organization devoted to the study, conservation and enjoyment of Colorado's birds. 


  • 1935 - Precursor

    Colorado Field Ornithologists' roots go back to 1935 when students of the Denver Museum of Natural History ornithologist, Robert Niedrach, formed the Colorado Bird Club. The growing membership of the club considered their ventures into the field to study birds as contributions to ornithology.

  • 1962 - Founding

    As other bird clubs emerged around the state, members of the Denver-centric Colorado Bird Club saw a need for a truly statewide ornithological organization and invited birders from around the state for a weekend of field trips, scientific papers, a banquet, and keynote speaker. The statewide convention in 1963 became the pattern for future annual get-togethers. As their communication with other clubs and birders matured, the Colorado Bird Club renamed itself Denver Field Ornithologists, leaving the newly emerging statewide organization to claim the "Colorado" name and become Colorado Field Ornithologists (CFO). 

  • 1967 - Colorado Birds Journal

    In 1967, CFO started publishing its scientific journal, now called Colorado Birds, Quarterly Journal of Colorado Field Ornithologists. You can find the full archive online.

  • 2020s - Growth & Inclusion

    Over the past sixty years Colorado Field Ornithologists has become an organization of all sorts of people interested in birds, building the bridge between amateur birders and professional ornithologists.  We study Colorado's birds, seek to conserve these birds and their habitats, and work to make our activities educational and enjoyable for all who participate - beginning birders, intermediate and expert birders, competitive listers, professional ornithologists, birding tour guides, naturalists, bird photographers and audio recordists.

Annual Reports

After two years adjusting to life without the opportunity to hold a convention, during 2022 CFO resumed the annual convention. During the pandemic years, CFO had added new activities to compensate for the loss of the convention. During 2022, we continued those activities including the Colorado Birding Challenge, field workshops, and the web speaker series. The convention was held in Pueblo as originally planned for 2020 and was well attended. The second annual Colorado Birding Challenge was held on May 9 and raised close to $40,000 for Gunnison Sage-Grouse conservation and helped support CFO’s operating costs.

Western Field Ornithologists Partnership

CFO entered into a relationship with Western Field Ornithologists (WFO) in 2017 in order to benefit members of both organizations.

Realized and potential benefits to the partnership include sharing of technical reviewers for each other's journal (Western Birds and Colorado Birds), field trips led by members of both organizations, invitations to attend each other's conferences at member rates, shared publicity, and reduced rates for members of each organization to join the other.

Don Marsh is the current liaison between the two organizations and a member of both the CFO and WFO Board of Directors.  If you have suggestions on how we might improve the partnership or are a WFO member and would like the coupon code to join CFO, please contact Don through the Contact Us page.