Your Guide to Birding

in Gunnison County

County Map Gunnison County
Author(s):  Jim Berry
County Seat: Gunnison
Size: 3,238 square miles
Low Elevation: 5,930 ft. - North Fork Gunnison River on the Delta border
High Elevation: 14,265 ft. - Castle Peak
Best Birds: Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow (1952), Ruby-throated Hummingbird (1998)
Checklist: Gunnison County Checklist
Introduction: Gunnison County. This is one of the largest counties in the state of Colorado. It is very mountainous and contains two large reservoirs (Blue Mesa and Taylor), three major rivers (Gunnison, East and Taylor), and a number of various sized streams (Tomichi Creek, Lake Fork of the Gunnison, etc.). Birding is affected by the distinct seasons (winter is about 5 months of the year) and access, which is limited by roads, trails, and private property. For instance, Blue Mesa Reservoir is generally accessible, but is totally frozen about 4 months of the year; many of the mountain roads and trails are not passable until after June 15, the high peaks not until July; and there is virtually no access to Tomichi Creek. The sites listed below are a small fraction of the county's birding sites, but they are the best representatives and are accessible as described. Around 280 species have been seen in Gunnison County. Of these, about 250 are seen with some regularity over the course of a year. A few birds (Grace's Warbler, for instance) have been sighted about two hundred feet outside the county boundary. But for the past 10 years, new birds have been found. Good luck in birding the Gunnison area. Note: all mileages are from the intersection of Highways 50 & 135 (Main & Tomichi) in Gunnison.

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Birding Sites

Blue Mesa Reservoir
Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir
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Cooper's Ranch
Habitat: Stream, Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Lowland Riparian, Grassland/Prairie
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Crested Butte
Habitat: Urban/Suburban
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Cumberland Pass
Habitat: Alpine Tundra, Krummholz, Spruce-Fir Forest, Mixed Conifer Forest, Streamside Willow
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Habitat: Urban/Suburban, Park/Cemetery, Stream
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Gunnison Sage-Grouse lek
Habitat: Sagebrush
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Gunnison Water Treatment Plant
Habitat: Stream, Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Lowland Riparian, Grassland/Prairie
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Kebler Pass (CR 12)
Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Aspen Grove, Spruce-Fir Forest
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Mill Creek
Habitat: Sagebrush, Lowland Riparian, Grassland/Prairie, Mixed Conifer Forest, Aspen Grove, Spruce-Fir Forest
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Rainbow Lake Road (CR 724)
Habitat: Sagebrush, Grassland/Prairie, Lowland Riparian, Aspen Grove, Mixed Conifer Forest, Spruce-Fir Forest, Krummholz, Alpine Tundra
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Roaring Judy Fish Hatchery
Habitat: Stream, Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Lowland Riparian
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Sapinero Mesa Road/Lake City Cutoff (CR 26)
Habitat: Ponderosa Forest, Mixed Conifer Forest, Burn Area, Aspen Grove, Sagebrush
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Use the form on the home page to contact the editor with corrections or to volunteer to add a site.

eBird Seasonal Bar Chart

Latest Unusual Birds (eBird) in Gunnison County


CBRC Accepted Records from Gunnison County

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Black Scoter2001-11911/12/2001
Gunnison Sage-Grouse2014-20115 Aug 2014
Eurasian Collared-Dove2005-078 7/30/2005
Rivoli’s Hummingbird2007-061 6/17/2007 - 8/4/2007
Ruby-throated Hummingbird1998-08210/1/1998
Sandhill Crane2018-093 6 May 2018
Jaeger sp.22-85-489/25/1985
Pacific Loon2001-086 11/12/2001
Yellow-billed Loon2010-114 6/29/2010
Yellow-billed Loon2018-033 02/13/2018
Little Blue Heron2002-0644/20/2002
Variable Hawk10-87-45 08/31/1987 - 8/30/1994
Black Phoebe1997-0585/24/1997
Philadelphia Vireo51-72-248/18/1972
White-throated Sparrow2016-039 06/05/2016
LeConte's Sparrow1952-0035/6/1952
Nelson's Sparrow1952-00210/24/1952
Baltimore Oriole2004-1025/27/1998
Golden-winged Warbler2000-1188/25/2000
Blue-winged Warbler2000-1228/25/2000
Scarlet Tanager55-72-259/3/1972
Scarlet Tanager55-79-20 8/10/1978