Bird Watching at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The name of the park is a mouthful as it is a bit exciting, situated in western Colorado, and protected by the National Park Service. The Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park is 30,750 acres with south and north entrances. The Canyon of the Gunnison River is a part of the park and the source of the park’s name.

Major Attractions at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The most exciting activity in the park usually involves all the trails. People take their time here, walking in leisure and taking in the scenery. There are so many viewpoints such as Gunnison Point, Warner Point, Tomichi Point, etc.

The famous trails include the Oak Flat trail, Rim Rock trail, etc. Many people love observing the painted wall, which is visible from several points. The south rim road is for those who enjoy scenic drives and want to get a feel of the park in a single tour. You have to visit the Black Canyon visitor center. You can learn about the history of the park, rest and east and most of all, buy souvenirs for your friends and family.

The East Portal road offers magnificent scenery as you leave the canyon behind and head straight for the water area. There is the Pulpit Rock overlook, where you have to walk a short distance to reach it and you can see the Gorge from up above.

Some people raft on the park waters while others walk around. You can also camp in the park where there are several camping grounds. You can collect necessities from the visitor center, too.


Bird Watching at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

509 bird species have been observed in Colorado. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park appears to know at least 100 of them. It appears canyons pose no barrier for birds who are looking for food and water. In this area, you will find Great Horned Owls, Mountain Bluebirds, Steller’s Jays, Peregrine Falcons, Canyon Wrens, American Dippers, etc.

In this area, Bluebirds appear due to migration. They do not stick to the area all year. For Steller’s Jays and Great Horned Owls, the canyons are pretty much their home. Steller’s Jays do not come too close to campgrounds but they do love stealing food from the visitors any chance they can.

The ledge of the canyon walls usually has Peregrine Falcons nesting, ready to pounce if they spot their prey. Canyon Wrens also nest on the ledges. You have a higher chance of hearing Canyon Wrens than spotting them due to how high they nest.

10 Birds to See at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Great Horned Owl

Great Horned Owls are brown and white and have two pointy tufts that look like ears. You can find them throughout the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Their population is widespread and common and not at risk of being endangered. They make their homes near forests, streams, and open country. Great Horned Owls are the most recognized owl because they make a deep hooting sound. They have a great night vision to hunt in the dark. Great Horned Owls like to eat frogs, mice, birds, and sometimes mammals bigger than themselves! They lay 2 to 3 eggs and will use old nests from other large birds. Sometimes they add feathers to their nests. Great Horned Owls do not have a regular migratory route; however, some have been seen moving south for the winter.

  • Great Horned Owl

Mountain Bluebird

Mountain Bluebirds are a powder-blue color. You can find them in the mountain region of western North America. Their population is stable and not at risk of being endangered. Mountain Bluebirds make their homes in the open country where there are few trees. These Bluebirds sit perched on fence posts, power lines, and treetops. This allows them the ability to make a quick dive for food. Mountain Bluebirds eat insects and some berries. They lay 5 to 6 eggs and nest in a tree, birdhouse, or dirt bank. They migrate late in the fall and early in the spring.

  • Mountain Bluebird

Steller’s Jay

Steller’s Jays are blue with a black head and a triangular crest. They live near evergreen forests in the mountains of the western United States. They make their homes in pine and oak forests. Their population is widespread and common. Steller’s Jays make their nests out of the mud. They stay in the high canopy and fly down in long, lazy swoops. They eat nuts, seeds, or handouts from humans! Steller’s Jays are permanent residents but may move to lower elevations in the winter.

  • Steller's Jay

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcons are blue-gray with spots on their underbelly. They live throughout North America. They make their homes in open country and along coastal mountains. Their population is currently stable and increasing after a sharp decline. Peregrine Falcons eat other birds such as ducks, songbirds, and Pigeons. Peregrine Falcons are one of the largest Falcons and also one of the fastest birds. They can reach speeds up to 200 mph as they dive down to
capture their prey. People often train Peregrine Falcons for hunting. These Falcons like to build their nests on cliff ledges and lay 3 to 5 eggs. They migrate along the coastline and often go out to sea.

Cooper’s Hawk

Cooper’s Hawks are blue-gray with reddish-brown underparts. They are smaller than most Hawks but are still just as fast. They are woodland Hawks that live throughout North America. There was a small decline in their population, but has since recovered and is stable. This Hawk lives in mature forests and along the woods’ edge. Cooper’s Hawks feed mostly on small birds and sometimes consume chipmunks and squirrels. They lay 3 to 5 eggs in an old nest high up in
pine trees. Cooper’s Hawks migrate during the day moving south for the winter.

  • Coopers Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Red-tailed Hawks have wide, round wings, and a short red tail. They are the most common Hawk. You can find them all throughout North America. Their population is steady with some recent increases. They live in open fields, prairie groves, and mountains. They perch up high to look for their prey. Red-tailed Hawks eat small animals like rabbits and voles. They lay 2 to 3 eggs in nests 120 feet high in trees. Their nests are made with sticks and shaped like a big bowl. Red-tailed Hawks residing in the north migrate south; however, those already in the south are permanent residents.

  • Red Tailed Hawk

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vultures are all black and brown birds with bright red heads. You can find them throughout North America. They have a stable population with no risk of endangerment. Their homes are in open country and woods. Turkey Vultures have a great sense of smell for fresh carcasses. Because of this, they can be found along highways or in the open countryside. When Turkey Vultures are in flight, their wings raise to form a V. They lay 2 eggs and do not build
nests. Their nest area can be under rocks, in hollow logs, or on old buildings. Some Turkey Vultures migrate to South America.

  • Turkey Vulture

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagles have beautiful gold feathers, a strong beak, and large talons. They live in western North America. Historically, there has been a decline in their population, but their population is now steady. They make their habitat in open country and mountains. Golden Eagles are one of the fastest and largest raptors in North America. Golden Eagles enjoy soaring with their steady wings to hunt for small animals such as squirrels. They lay 1 to 3 eggs and usually build their nests on ledges of cliffs. Golden Eagles found in the north migrate, but most are permanent residents.

Golden Eagle

Black-billed Magpie

Black-billed Magpies have a black and white body with long tail feathers. You can find them in the northwestern region of North America. Their population is steady and they are not at risk of being endangered. They live on farms, in forest edges, and along streams. Black-billed Magpies are a noisy bird that sits on fence posts and road signs. They enjoy eating fruits, insects, and small animals. Black-billed Magpies lay 6 to 7 eggs in big 3-foot wide circular nests. Black-billed Magpies are permanent residents, with only a few moving south.

  • Black Billed Magpie

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Buntings are light blue with a white underbelly with a splash of orange. They also have black-tipped wings. Lazuli Buntings are found throughout western North America. Their population is widespread, common, and stable. Many male Lazuli Buntings have their own specific songs. Lazuli Buntings make their homes in open brush and streamside shrubs. They eat mostly seeds and insects. They migrate early in the fall.

Final Thoughts

Many birds come to the Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park for nesting. Since this is an important period for the birds, you might get the rare chance of observing them with their family. Try not to get too close as that scares them away.


Bird Watching Academy & Camp Subscription Boxes

At the Bird Watching Academy & Camp we help kids, youth, and adults get excited and involved in bird watching. We have several monthly subscription boxes that you can subscribe to. Our monthly subscription boxes help kids, youth, and adults learn about birds, bird watching, and bird conservation.

Bird Watching Binoculars

The most common types of bird watching binoculars for viewing birds at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is the 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. Bird Watching Academy & Camp sells really nice 8×21 binoculars and 10×42 binoculars. You can view and purchase them here.

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