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Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Accessible Valmont Reservoir complex - Boulder County
Aliases: Legion Park, Hillcrest Reservoir, Leggett-Owen Reservoir
Ownership: None Listed
Description: Valmont is merely the largest of the three reservoirs in this complex, the others being Hillcrest and Leggett-Owen. The Valmont complex is Boulder County's premier winter waterbird spot, since the Excel power plant usually keeps some water in these lakes open all winter. They can harbor large numbers of winter ducks of many species, and they often have small numbers of other birds that normally winter farther south, including grebes, pelicans, cormorants, Great Blue Herons and Killdeer. Most of Boulder County's winter gulls roost on Valmont, although not too many stick around during the day. Scoping from the open space at dusk is a good way to pick out rare gulls. When there is a very cold snap, Valmont may be the only open water in the area, and the concentrations of birds here can be astounding. Waterbird numbers may vary widely from one day to the next.

The area around the lakes is good for raptors in winter; Bald Eagle is common, Golden Eagle is uncommon, and Ferruginous Hawk is quite regular. Great Horned Owls have nested in the box that Excel has mounted high on the side of its smokestack, and Barn Owl has nested in an old Wood Duck box visible (at a tremendous distance) from Legion Park.

The reservoirs can be birded from two locations. From dawn to dusk they can be scoped from Legion Park to the south. This provides a good view of Hillcrest Reservoir and the only possible view of Leggett-Owen Reservoir, which is quite distant. Valmont Reservoir itself can only be partially scanned from Legion Park, and always at a great distance. Scoping all the trees and power poles from this vantage point gives you a decent shot at turning up both eagles in winter.

During weekday business hours (and occasionally and irregularly at other times) you can drive into the Open Space headquarters, park and walk west along the south shore of Valmont Reservoir. This is the best way to bird Valmont itself, and this is where you want to be to catch the incoming gulls on a winter evening. If the gate is not open you can park in front of it on the west side of 75th Street (being careful not to block the gate) and walk about three quarters of a mile out to the scanning spot.

Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Grassland/Prairie, Hedgerow/Shelterbelt
Directions: Legion Park (open dawn to dusk) is on the north side of Arapahoe Road (CO 7) on the east side of Boulder, about 2.5 miles east of Foothills Parkway (CO 157) and 0.5 miles west of 75th Street. The entrance to the Open Space headquarters is on the west side of 75th Street about 0.6 miles north of Arapahoe.
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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eBird Seasonal Bar Chart

Latest Valmont Reservoir complex Sightings from eBird


CBRC Records from Valmont Reservoir complex

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Trumpeter Swan8-95-121/7/1995
Black Scoter8-76-9510/23/1976
Black-legged Kittiwake23-81-2212/6/1980
Short-billed Gull2009-4 1/17/2009
Short-billed Gull2009-99 12/20/2009 - 12/25/2009
Short-billed Gull2011-30 2/4/2011 - 2/6/2011
Iceland Gull2008-11 2/2/2008
Iceland Gull2010-31/8/2010 - 1/9/2010
Glaucous-winged Gull2009-113 12/25/2009
Great Black-backed Gull2009-114 12/25/2009 - 1/9/2010