These events and festivals are sorted by the approximate time of year in which they take place. Even though the scheduled dates don't vary much year-to-year, exact dates are not given here to avoid any confusion. Contact information, either phone numbers or Web addresses, is provided for each if possible. Be aware, also, that these numbers and addresses may not be maintained year-round due to the seasonal nature of these events.
Bird and Nature Fest—Canon City (January)
Links to current information will be posted here as soon as it is made available. Visit the official Canon City website.
Eagle Day Festival—Pueblo (Early February)
Viewing opportunities, programs and presentations, and other activities. Held at Lake Pueblo State Park. All activities are free, but a valid parks pass is required for each vehicle that goes through the park. For additional information, visit the Eagle Day Festival website, or call 719/561-5300.
Bald Eagle Festival - Barr Lake State Park (Early/Mid-February)
February is an excellent month for bald eagle viewing, including nesting pairs and many other wintering eagles. Eagles begin their courtship behavior in January, including tumbling in mid-air, nest building, and staying close together. In mid-February, and often coinciding with Valentine’s Day, bald eagles lay one to three eggs. Celebrate this unique time at Barr Lake by attending the Bald Eagle Festival at the nature center. A Parks pass is required to enter the park ($7 daily/$70 annual). For more information, see the Barr Lake page.
Bighorn Sheep Day—Colorado Springs (Mid-February)
Brought to you by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, this free event celebrates the fact that our majestic state mammal is often seen within the Colorado Springs city limits! Find out more about the amazing Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep! Look for bighorns using binoculars and scopes, take a guided nature walk that focuses on bighorn sheep, hear presentations about bighorn sheep biology and the Rampart and Pikes Peak herds, take an auto tour through Queens Canyon, and experience a bighorn 'touch table'. Free refreshments, too.
For more information, visit the website of the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center (look under Special Events), or call 719/634-6666.
Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)—Nationwide (Mid-February)
From the GBBC website: "The Great Backyard Bird Count is an annual four-day event that engages bird watchers of all ages in counting birds to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are across the continent. Anyone can participate, from beginning bird watchers to experts. It takes as little as 15 minutes on one day, or you can count for as long as you like each day of the event. It’s free, fun, and easy—and it helps the birds." GBBC is a joint project of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Audubon.
High Plains Snow Goose Festival—Lamar (End of February)
Numbering at least six million, lesser snow geese are considered to be the most abundant goose in the world! Four distinct populations are recognized. The lesser snow geese you will see at the High Plains Snow Goose Festival are part of the Western Central Flyway population that are on their way back to the Canadian Arctic where they nest. This flock winters in southeastern Colorado, New Mexico, the Texas panhandle and northern Mexico.
The festival offers tours, educational programs, presentations, arts and crafts, and a banquet! Visit the festival's website.
Monte Vista Crane Festival—Monte Vista (Mid-March)
From the festival's Web site—"The festival hosts wildlife experts, local naturalists, and biologists who present educational workshops at the Monte Vista Middle School (workshops are free!), while flocks of dancing sandhills assemble in the neighboring farm fields, just east of town. Bus tours to the nearby refuge and adjacent farmlands provide visitors with the opportunity to view this spectacle up close and personal, with a knowledgeable local guide. Special tours feature raptor identification, sunset trips to view cranes, a visit to a local potato warehouse (with free potatoes) and visits to closed areas of the refuge for Crane Fest participants."
For a listing of scheduled workshops, registration information, and more, go to the festival's website or call 719/852-3552.
Lesser Prairie-chicken Viewing—Near Granada, Prowers County (Mid-March, April)
Visit the heart of the Great Plains to see the lesser prairie-chicken's distinctive breeding displays. View chickens in Comanche National Grassland at Scenic Picture Canyon, Carrizo Creek. (The leks will be closed to public access for the 2011 breeding season and until further notice.) Call the USDA Forest Service, 719/523-6591, to reserve Campo lek viewing blinds. Arena Dust Guided Tours offers tours to leks on private land. Call 719/734-5226 for any closures and other information.
Greater Prairie-chicken Viewing—Wray (Late March through April)
Each year, visitors from all over the world come to Wray, Colorado to see the sun come up over the grasslands while watching prairie-chicken males dance a courtship dance, and listening to their 'booming' courtship calls. Since greater prairie-chicken leks in northeastern Colorado are located on private property, guided tours are made possible through a partnership between Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW), the Wray Chamber of Commerce, the East Yuma County Historical Society, the Wray Museum, and local landowners. To register for a tour, and for more information, visit the Greater Prairie-chicken Viewing Tours website. Reservations are required. Register early as available reservations go quickly!
Each tour includes an evening educational program presented by CPW staff at the Wray Museum, the guided field trip, and a ranch-style breakfast. (There is also an interesting article online from the National Wildlife Federation that features the prairie-chicken tours.)
Gunnison Sage-grouse Festival—Gunnison (Early April)
The Gunnison Sage-grouse Festival was first held in 2011 as an interagency cooperative to recognize this unique species. The festival takes place during the sage-grouse lekking season, allowing visitors a rare opportunity to view the birds in person. The following is from the festival’s website: “Booths and interactive activities will feature information about the Gunnison Sage-grouse, where it lives and ways we can help conserve the species. Bring your family and friends to learn more about our special bird and share your experiences, stories and joy for our valley’s signature bird.”
Further information about the festival is available on the website.
Greater Sage-grouse Viewing—Walden (Mid- to Late April)
Guided viewing trips offered; tours are limited to 20 people per day, so it’s best to register early. Each tour begins at 6:00 p.m. the evening before the viewing trip, with a meal and a short educational program provided by Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Participants meet before dawn the next morning for the trip to the sage grouse lek. Tour fees are paid to the Walden Chamber of Commerce (CoC) and cover the cost of meals, one night's accommodation, and access to State Land Board property. You make lodging arrangements; the motel will bill the CoC for your convenience (the cost is included in your registration fee). For details, lodging information, and a registration form, call the Walden (North Park) Chamber of Commerce at 970/723-4600, or write to email@example.com.
Karval Mountain Plover Festival—Karval (Late April)
Who should go to this festival? Anyone wanting a first-hand, guided experience to see shortgrass prairie wildlife, including mountain plovers, burrowing owls, and swift foxes. Visit the festival's website or the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory's website for the schedule of events, registration information, and directions. (Karval is about 75 miles east of Colorado Springs.)
Ute Mountain—Mesa Verde Birding Festival—Cortez (Early May)
A four day event. Take tours of local sites, including Mesa Verde, Denny Lake, McElmo Canyon, Ute Mountain tribal Park, and many more; hear presentations about protecting birds, backyard feeders; attend a bird-oriented art show; learn bird songs! Opening reception, guest speakers, and some meals provided. For further information, visit the festival's website; the Web site contains complete schedules for each day and a registration form.
Hummingbird Festival—Colorado Springs (Mid-May)
Free, one-day event held at the Starsmore Discovery Center, featuring children's activities, craft projects, face painting, live entertainment, climbing wall, Ute tipi and Ute craft project, native plant sale, hummingbird viewing bus tour, food and nature product vendors, and much, much more. Fun for the whole family! For details, call 719/385-6086 or write to Phyllis McKee.
International Migratory Bird Day—Statewide (Mid-May)
Not an event for Colorado exclusively, International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD) is celebrated worldwide, with events in Colorado sometimes associated with it or occurring at the same time. For details about local events, or to learn how you can organize and register you own celebration, visit the IMBD website.
"Bent on Birding"—Bent County (Mid-May)
Activities include a petroglyph tour, least tern and piping plover viewing, a dinosaur tracks tour, and a chuckwagon dinner at Boggsville National Historic Site. Also, tour the Festus Museum, Kit Carson Museum, the Art Gallery at Rawlings Heritage Center, Boggsville, and John Martin Reservoir. Call 719/980-1320 or 719/456-2173 for reservations or more information. You may also contact festival organizers at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the festival's website. Donations accepted.
Orient Mine Bat Viewing-Near Villa Grove, San Luis Valley (June-August)
At least once in your life you must experience this extraordinary event. A one-hour hike will take you to the abandoned mine from which you will see nearly 250,000 Mexican free-tailed bats emerge! The Orient Mine is the summer home of the northernmost and largest bachelor colony of Mexican free-tailed bats known in North America. Call 719/256-4315 or visit the website for visitor information.
Grand Mesa Moose Day–Grand Junction (Late July)
A free event for the entire family. Take a scenic drive on Grand Mesa and learn about moose! Scavenger hunt, puppet show & prizes for kids; touch table with hides and tracks; programs on moose viewing and safety; moose biology & telemetry demonstrations. At the U.S. Forest Service Visitor Center off of Highway 65, 20090 Baron Lake Drive.
Yampa Valley Crane Festival—Steamboat Springs (Early September) The Greater Sandhill Crane is an iconic species of the Yampa Valley. In late summer and early fall, hundreds of cranes from the Rocky Mountain flock join the local birds to rest and feed before continuing their journey south. The festival includes daily crane viewings, expert speakers, films, art exhibits, workshops, family activities and more. All community activities and events are free unless otherwise indicated in the program! For more information, please call 970/846-5556 or write to ColoradoCranes@gmail.com.
Fall Birding Festival at Barr Lake—Brighton (Mid-September)
Fly over to Barr Lake State Park to celebrate the fall bird migration, an experience worth sharing with others. Be entertained at this festive community event filled with food, fun, and lore—something for everyone. Plan for a day packed with free food and activities. Admission to the festival is $2 per person and $5 per vehicle.
For more information about the Fall Birding Festival, call Barr Lake Nature Center at 303/659-6005 or send an e-mail to email@example.com.
Northern Colorado Birding Fair—Fort Collins (Late September)
Crazy about birds, or just curious? Enjoy a free day of fun and learning! Compete in the Bird Olympics, go on a guided bird walk and scavenger hunt, or listen to presentations from experts in the field. No matter what tickles your fancy, birders young and old, beginner to experienced, will find something at this exciting event to fit the bill. Event sponsors will discuss and demonstrate the latest in bird viewing equipment and resource materials. Held at Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space, between Fort Collins and Windsor. For more information, please call 970/679-4534, or write to firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit the Birding Fair's website for details!
Elk Fest—Estes Park (Late September/ Early October)
A two-day festival, as described on the event's website: "Elk Fest offers visitors a chance to view elk during the rutting season in the wild, as well as expand their knowledge of elk. Learn more about elk, their habitats, and how to observe them in the wild. Held in Bond Park, located in downtown Estes Park, Elk Fest will offer bugling competitions, educational areas, seminars, music by the Elktones, Mountain Man Rendezvous, Native American story telling and music, guided elk viewing tours, and vendors that offer art from oils and pastels, hand made elk-ivory jewelry, scrimshawed antler knives, elk antler lamps and chandeliers, elk hide pillows, silver and gold jewelry, and elk antlers." Find out more from the Elk Fest website, including schedules and costs (for elk viewing tours), or write to the event organizers.
The Big Sit!—Chatfield State Park (Early October)
The Big Sit! is like a "Big Day", or a bird-a-thon, in that the object is to tally as many bird species as can be seen or heard within 24 hours. The difference lies in the area limitation from which you can observe. This is a free event, open to everyone! Some people have called it a "tailgate party for birders". There are Big Sit! circles all over the world, including Guatemala, India, the Netherlands, England, Vietnam, and New Zealand. (Description from the Bird Watcher's Digest Web site.) See the BWD website, the Denver Field Ornithologists website, or the Chatfield State Park website for more information.
"Cranes for Kids" Festival—Monte Vista (Mid-October)
Kids, bring your parents to Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge to enjoy the fresh fall air, migrating Sandhill cranes, food, fun, and educational activities. The festival includes a barbeque lunch, a puppet show, watchable wildlife workshops, nest hunts, bird migration games, learning about the water cycle, and horse drawn wagon rides. For additional information, contact the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuge Complex at 719/589-4021.
Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Festival—Georgetown (2nd Saturday in November)
Celebrate Colorado's 'state mammal'—the Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. The Town of Georgetown and the Colorado Division of Wildlife offer opportunities to watch and learn about one of Colorado’s oldest bighorn sheep herds. Plus, speakers and short wildlife educational programs for the whole family! Artisans and shop owners in Georgetown will showcase their wildlife related art, gifts, crafts, and other goods. Event PDF.
Bighorn Sheep Viewing—Georgetown (Weekends during November and December)
Weekend visitors to the Georgetown Wildlife Viewing Station can enjoy the benefit of trained volunteer guides from Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Ready with binoculars and spotting scopes, volunteers will help visitors locate sheep, and learn about wildlife. (The viewing station offers permanent viewing scopes and educational exhibits throughout the year.) See below for information about the new Georgetown Bighorn Sheep Festival held in November!
To visit the viewing station, take I-70 west from Denver to the Georgetown exit (#288). Turn left on Alvarado Road and follow the brown and white binocular signs until you reach the viewing station near Georgetown lake. Bighorns may be noticed from the highway, but, for the safety of both people and wildlife, please view sheep from the viewing station.
Christmas Bird Counts—Various locations (Mid-December to Early January)
More than 50,000 observers participate each year in this all-day census of early-winter bird populations. The results of their efforts are compiled into the longest running database in ornithology, representing over a century of unbroken data on trends of early-winter bird populations across the Americas. Simply put, the Christmas Bird Count, or "CBC", is citizen science in action. Visit the Audubon website for more information and to find your local Christmas Bird Count contacts. See "State Forest State Park hosts 113th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count" and "Chatfield State Park Hosts 59th Annual Denver Christmas Bird Count" for more information.