Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Accessible Barr Lake State Park - Adams County
Aliases: Old Stone House (RMBO headquarters), RMBO headquarters (Old Stone House)
Ownership: State
Description: See a map here. Just northeast of Denver and northwest of DIA, Barr Lake is the focus of the eponymous state park and home to the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Bird records for the park go back well over a century, making this historically the best-studied birding site in Colorado. In that time, Barr has added at least eighteen species to the state list. The lake is almost completely surrounded by mature cottonwoods, often several deep with considerable undergrowth, making this an excellent place to find migrant landbirds and riparian breeders. There is some wet meadow and cattail marsh habitat, especially along the south and west edges of the lake, as well as below the dam. The southern half of the lake is a wildlife preserve closed to fishing and boating. When water levels are low, as they often are in fall, shorebirding can be tremendous.

A walking and bike trail circles the entire lake, but most birders concentrate on the area around the Nature Center and the RMBO banding station, along the lake's east side. From the Nature Center, walk west towards the lake over the canal bridge. To get to the banding station, turn right (north). The banding station is about a quarter mile north, where the trail bends hard right near an observation deck. One of the best areas is the low willows in the meadow on the left just before the bend (often festooned with mist nets during migration), but any section of the trees can be good. Note that the banding station hosts many field trips by schoolchildren each spring and fall.

To get to the mudflats by the most popular route, head across the bridge from the Nature Center and turn left (south), then branch right onto the Niedrach trail. At the first sign on the right-hand side of the trail, cut through the trees along a primitive path (the "Lake Bed Trail") towards the water.

Another place for foot access to Barr Lake is near the RMBO office in the Old Stone House in the northwest corner. To reach this place, take the first dirt road south from Bromley Lane (152nd) east of the railroad tracks, about a quarter mile east of the Bromley Lane exit off I-76 (exit #23). There is a sign here for the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory. Follow the road south to near its end and park in the first wide area before the gate, even if it is open. Walk through the gate to the lake and the dam.

The feedlots along Picadilly opposite Barr Lake State Park (half a mile south of Bromley Lane/152nd Avenue), can attract nice flocks of blackbirds including Great-tailed Grackle.

Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Lowland Riparian, Marsh, Grassland/Prairie
Directions: To the main park entrance and visitor center from I-76: exit at Bromley Lane (exit #23) and head east. Turn south on Picadilly Road in about one mile. The park entrance is on the left (west) side of Picadilly Road, about a mile and a half south of Bromley Lane. From E-470: exit at 120th Street (exit #34) and go east to Tower Road, north to 128th Avenue, then east to Picadilly, and north on that road to the park entrance. Note that there is no access from eastbound E-470 to eastbound I-76, or from westbound I-76 to westbound E-470.
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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CBRC Records from Barr Lake State Park

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Brant (Atlantic)8-90-911/10/1990
Brant (Black)8-96-1 10/28/1996
Eurasian Wigeon8-76-344/3/1976
Eurasian Wigeon8-86-3 1/26/1986 - 1/28/1986
Eurasian Wigeon2003-097 12/1/2003
Tufted Duck2000-0233/28/2000
Harlequin Duck8-76-10810/24/1976
Black Scoter1998-02910/18/1998
Red-necked Grebe2001-11712/1/2001
Black-billed Cuckoo2013-209 09/14/2013
Black Swift2015-010 08/27/2004
Yellow Rail1906-0037/ /1906
Piping Plover2003-0608/8/2003
Piping Plover2014-087 08/09/2003
Snowy Plover18-78-20 29 Aug 1974
Buff-breasted Sandpiper1910-0028/25/1910
Buff-breasted Sandpiper1910-0039/4/1910
Buff-breasted Sandpiper19-76-1028/22/1976 - 8/24/1976
Buff-breasted Sandpiper19-84-109/11/1983
Buff-breasted Sandpiper2003-0178/29/2003 - 9/9/2003
Buff-breasted Sandpiper2006-500 09/21/2006
Buff-breasted Sandpiper2023-033 9 Sep 2023
Short-billed Dowitcher1909-0018/14/1909
Red Phalarope21-75-1339/20/1975
Red Phalarope21-75-1499/16/1975
Red Phalarope21-76-919/11/1976
Red Phalarope21-81-5410/10/1981
Red Phalarope2003-0669/10/2002
Jaeger sp.22-76-929/11/1976
Jaeger sp.22-76-969/17/1976
Pomarine Jaeger22-91-306/29/1991 - 7/4/1991
Pomarine Jaeger2008-123 10/18/2008
Long-tailed Jaeger22-95-359/4/1995 - 9/14/1995
Long-tailed Jaeger2003-151 8/31/2003
Black-headed Gull2000-05010/9/2000
Little Gull23-80-689/13/1980 - 9/14/1980
Little Gull1999-05411/8/1998
Laughing Gull2008-122 10/18/2008
Laughing Gull2012-094 8/16/2012
Iceland Gull2015-015 02/04/2015
Iceland Gull2016-098 10/18/2016
Royal Tern2012-089 7/29/2012 - 7/30/2012
Anhinga2003-054 5/3/2003
Neotropic Cormorant4-78-426/15/1978
Brown Pelican1997-0099/23/1996
Least Bittern1916-0016/2/1916
Little Blue Heron5-78-175/17/1977
Tricolored Heron5-72-317/15/1971 - 8/1/1971
Green Heron2014-19808 Jun 2014
White Ibis2000-0144/25/2000 - 4/26/2000
Red-shouldered Hawk10-76-979/27/1976
Snowy Owl2012-005 1/2/2012 - 1/25/2012
Snowy Owl2012-044 1/8/2012 - 2/21/2012
Eastern Wood-Pewee2005-083 9/2/2005 - 9/4/2005
Alder Flycatcher34-95-605/28/1995
Vermilion Flycatcher2009-012 3/25/2009
White-eyed Vireo51-91-5511/1/1991
White-eyed Vireo51-93-86 10/20/1993
Bell's Vireo2010-093 8/26/2010
Yellow-throated Vireo51-92-804/28/1992
Blue-headed Vireo1998-0999/12/1998
Blue-headed Vireo2002-13010/25/2000
Blue-headed Vireo2004-0709/6/2004
Blue-headed Vireo2006-122 9/6/2006
Philadelphia Vireo51-75-15810/17/1975
Philadelphia Vireo51-75-995/13/1975
Philadelphia Vireo2003-0688/29/2003
Tree Swallow2007-106 12/16/2007
Purple Martin2019-022 15 May 2019
Long-billed Thrasher1906-001May 1906
Gray-cheeked Thrush44-76-675/16/1976
Gray-cheeked Thrush44-93-855/29/1993
Gray-cheeked Thrush2006-144 10/11/2006
Wood Thrush2002-161 10/16/1996
Wood Thrush2002-164 10/15/1996
Wood Thrush2006-142 10/7/2006
Purple Finch56-75-14810/24/1975 - 10/25/1975
Purple Finch56-76-11110/30/1976
Smith's Longspur2003-067 09/11/2002
Fox Sparrow (Red)2006-145 10/13/2006
Golden-crowned Sparrow1999-15810/19/1998
Golden-crowned Sparrow2000-15710/9/2000 - 10/12/2000
Baltimore Oriole2003-056 
Golden-winged Warbler52-77-225/7/1977
Golden-winged Warbler2013-278 10/11/1996
Blue-winged Warbler52-76-776/6/1976
Blue-winged Warbler52-90-489/19/1990
Blue-winged Warbler52-94-609/7/1994
Swainson's Warbler2013-198 09/07/2013
Connecticut Warbler52-93-425/24/1993
Connecticut Warbler2020-032 16 Sep 2020
Mourning Warbler2015-032 09/25/2001
Blackburnian Warbler52-94-659/6/1994
Blackburnian Warbler52-94-669/30/1994
Pine Warbler52-85-348/31/1985
Pine Warbler52-85-5110/20/1985
Yellow-throated Warbler52-75-324/12/1975
Prairie Warbler1999-1388/21/1998
Hermit Warbler2002-1195/4/2002
Canada Warbler1997-1028/31/1997
Canada Warbler2001-198 9/3/2001
Canada Warbler2003-0028/31/2003
Canada Warbler2003-0988/31/2003
Summer Tanager2010-070 10/16/2006
Painted Bunting1999-1664/21/1999