Tips for Birding Colorado

ethically and safely

Colorado Sky

Birding Ethics
responsible birders protecting the birds

American Birding Association's Principles of Birding Ethics

Birders in Colorado are expected to abide by the ABA Code of Ethics. Doing so prevents harm to the birds and their habitats, as well as to political relations with the non-birding public, particularly landowners. Please respect this code while birding.

Grouse Lek Protocols

Perhaps Colorado's single greatest claim to birding fame is its tremendous concentration of grouse leks. Birding tours and independent adventurers come in April for the chance to see up to six species in display at these traditional sites. It is not uncommon for some lek parking lots to fill up during peak viewing season.

In order to ensure the reproductive success of the birds and thus safeguard the spectacle for future generations, it is absolutely essential that you follow these viewing protocols at all leks:

  1. Arrive and park before first light--at least an hour before official sunrise, or at least half an hour before civil twilight (see the U.S. Naval Observatory's page for sunrise and twilight times).
  2. If arriving before other vehicles, try to leave room for them to position themselves so that they can see the grouse too. It is recommended that you park head-in rather than broadside to the lek. If the curved glass of your windshield is going to interfere with your telescope views or your photography, consider backing into the spot and opening the back hatch of your car (if it has one) before dawn. Note that you will not be able to move much during the display if you do this, and that it is often well below freezing on these leks at dawn! Dress for very cold weather.
  3. Do not get out of your car. If you use it as a blind, the birds will ignore your presence.
  4. Do not make loud noises or sudden movements.
  5. Do not leave until the birds do.
  6. Do not trespass on private land. This is particularly important in the case of Greater Prairie-Chicken, which only displays on private land in Colorado.

Thank you for your cooperation! It is all the more important since anecdotal evidence indicates that viewers who violate these protocols may be contributing to the decline of some leks.