The Importance of Your Donations

Thank you to everyone who donated to CFO in the past year. Coming together for a common goal is not only seen in the avian world but also through the efforts we make to support our feathered friends. Your donations helped Colorado Field Ornithologists make an impact for birds and birders in multiple ways throughout the state in 2023. Here are a few ways your donation made a difference.

The Year of the Pinyon Jay

Pinyon Jays are iconic, but declining, members of the pinyon-juniper woodland community across the intermountain west. From 1967–2015, their population levels fell an estimated 83.5%

In light of this, CFO teamed up with the Great Basin Bird Observatory (GBBO) and Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) on the Pinyon Jay Community Jay Project. This effort focused on training people to go out into the field and collect and record data on Pinyon Jays. We held five online trainings in partnership with these organizations, with strong attendance for each.

In fall 2022, when the Pinyon Jay Community Science Project started, the GBBO Pinyon Jay database had two records for the state of Colorado. By mid-August 2023, 279 Colorado records have been submitted by 44 observers to the GBBO database.

While 2023 may be ending, this project does not. You can still sign up and report your Pinyon Jay observations.

Pinyon Jay. Credit David Tonnessen.

3rd Annual Colorado Birding Challenge

The Year of the Pinyon Jay was reflected as well in our 3rd annual Colorado Birding Challenge. This year 28 teams raised $23,241 for conservation in this year’s Challenge.

These funds primarily supported the determination of breeding colony locations and the critical surrounding habitat for Pinyon Jays. This work was critical for agencies to minimize impacts in wildfire mitigation plans now in development. Researchers from South Dakota State University, partnered with the BLM, USFWS, and CPW to identify locations of Pinyon Jay colonies and to further map areas of high-quality nesting habitat across southwestern Colorado, ensuring woodland management is consistent with Pinyon Jay recovery.

CFO Annual Convention

CFO held its annual convention jointly with Western Field Ornithologists (WFO) at Copper Mountain Ski Resort in Summit County this past July. There were 237 people registered for the joint convention, more than either organization typically has at its annual conventions.

WFO conventions place greater emphasis on science presentations than CFO conventions, so this year we had two half days of presentations. A new addition to the convention was the well-received BioBlitz which utilized iNaturalist to document taxa (not just birds!) seen during the convention.

BioBlitz award winners at the 2023 CFO-WFO Convention. Photo by Peter Burke.

Colorado Birds Journal

Colorado Birds continues to be the gold standard of regional ornithology journals. Colorado Birds provides in-depth coverage of the identification, distribution, behavior, ecology, and conservation of the state’s avifauna.

In each issue, readers learn about notable bird occurrences throughout the state, practical field identification tips, interesting bird feeding behaviors, plus information on CFO activities. The full archive of past Colorado Birds since 1967 are available online.

Wildlands Restoration Volunteers

Wildlands Restoration Volunteers organizes thousands of volunteers each year to complete more than 150 conservation projects throughout Colorado. This year CFO coordinated with them to encourage our members to participate in habitat and trail restoration projects at some of our favorite birding hotspots, as well as make a difference for threatened species such as the Greater Sage-Grouse.

Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch

CFO supported the Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch, coordinated by Denver Field Ornithologists, by contributing towards hiring the professional hawk watch counter. Hawk Watch is a community science project that tracks the raptor numbers while teaching participants how to identify migrating birds of prey note observe their behavioral traits. Visitors are welcome at the Dinosaur Ridge Hawk Watch site during spring migration. Birders of all skill levels are welcome to participate.

Speaker Series

In 2023 we had three Speaker Series presentations. In January, Anton Morrison from the Denver Zoo spoke on Birding at Denver Zoo (Diversity, Connection, Conservation). In February, we heard from Dr. Richard Reading on the African Vulture Crisis. In March, the presenter was Erin Gelling, Executive Director for Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition who spoke on Conservation of Sandhill Cranes in NW Colorado. If you missed these presentations, you can view them on YouTube.

Our Community

Our newsletter, sent every other month, continues to gain popularity with its mix of CFO event information, birding news, and highlights of resources that CFO has to offer. CFO’s social media presence continues to grow; 6,900 members of the CFO Facebook group (it is a private group to avoid spam, all are welcome to join) and nearly 800 followers on Instagram. Follow the CFO Facebook page to get the latest updates on events and other opportunities.

Participants on the Best of Park County field trip. Photo by Sue Riffe.

These events and so much more were only possible because of your support of CFO. Thank you. To allow us to continue our mission for birders like you to study, conserve, and enjoy Colorado’s birds we hope you will continue to support CFO in the future.