Birding Hotspots: Pawnee National Grasslands

When you think of birding hotspots in Colorado, you probably picture mountains but in the northeastern part of the state, there are incredible grasslands.

When most people think of Colorado, they picture the incredible mountain scenery but the state has an incredible variety of habitats and you are missing out by just focusing on the mountains. One of the many non-mountainous birding hotspots in Pawnee National Grasslands in the northeast corner of the state. Birders from around the country travel to Colorado just to spend some time in this area!

Birding Hotspots: Pawnee National GrasslandsRob Ripma
Rob Ripma Pawnee National Grassland has a wonderful birding tour route that you can drive.

Grasslands throughout the world are in serious decline and this protected area is critical for the species that call it home. During the summer months, many species nest in the area, making this season one of the best time for birders to visit. Some of the fantastic nesting species include McCown’s and Chestnut-collared Longspurs, Lark Bunting, Mountain Plover, Burrowing Owl, and Cassins and Brewers Sparrow, among many others!

Birding Hotspots: Pawnee National GrasslandsEric Ripma
Eric Ripma Chestnut-collared Longspur is one of the most sought after species at Pawnee National Grasslands.
Birding Hotspots: Pawnee National Grasslands©Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma Lark Buntings can be found in huge numbers here.

In addition to the birds, there are some wonderful mammals to look for as well which makes this area even more fun. You can find American Badger, Pronghorn Antelope, Swift Fox, and a whole host of other species while looking for birds.

Birding Hotspots: Pawnee National GrasslandsRob Ripma
Rob Ripma I was lucky to come across a Swift Fox while birding at Pawnee.
Birding Hotspots: Pawnee National GrasslandsRob Ripma
Rob Ripma Many Pronghorn Antelope can be found at the national grasslands.

Have you ever visited Pawnee National Grasslands? If so, what are some of your favorite species to see there?

Rob Ripma
Rob Ripma, a lifelong Indiana resident, has traveled and birded extensively throughout the Americas.