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Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Two Ponds National Wildlife Refuge - Jefferson County
Aliases: Croke Canal, Farmer's Highline Canal, Church Ditch
Ownership: None Listed
Description: One of the smallest and most urban refuges in the National Wildlife Refuge System, Two Ponds has great potential as a birding spot. The refuge is split up into two parts, the Environmental Education Area and the Prairie Management Area. The Prairie Management Area, which covers the western two-thirds of the property, is open to the public seven days a week, but the Environmental Education Area, which contains the refuge's namesake ponds, is only open Tuesdays and Thursdays 8 AM to 4 PM, Saturdays 11 AM to 7 PM, and at other times by reservation for groups of ten or more.

The Environmental Education Area, in the northeast corner of the refuge, actually contains three ponds. The two closest to the parking lot are hemmed in by riparian tangles dense enough to satisfy even the shyest skulker. These spots should be a high priority on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays during migration. The ponds themselves are probably too small and shaded to attract many migrating waterbirds, but they greatly increase the attraction of the park to local breeders. There is some decent cattail marsh around some of the ponds. Parking for the Environmental Education Area is on the south side of West 80th east of Kipling.

The Prairie Management Area is criss-crossed by no fewer than three irrigation canals: the Church Ditch, the Farmer's Highline Canal and the Croke Canal. All have mature trees along at least part of their length, and there is some really impressive riparian stuff along the Church Ditch and the southern part of the Farmer's Highline Canal--dense groves that are at least a couple trees thick for a decent distance. Walking trails line all these canals, so birding them is easy. Parking for the Prairie Management Area is at the south end of the medical center parking lot on the southeast corner of West 80th and Kipling. You can also park on the south side of the NWR along 77th Street east of Kipling, which may be the best choice if you are hitting the southern groves.

Habitat: Lowland Riparian, Pond, Marsh, Grassland/Prairie
Directions: From US 36 between Denver and Boulder, take the Sheridan Boulevard exit. Follow Sheridan south about one mile to W. 80th Avenue and turn right (west). In a little over a mile and a half you will see a sign for a left turn into Two Ponds NWR. This is the parking lot for the Environmental Education Area. To get to the Prairie Management Area, continue west to Kipling and park in the lot of the medical center on the SE corner of 80th and Kipling.
Other Wildlife:
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