Rare Bird Spotted at Soapstone Prairie Natural Area North of Fort Collins
The last time I was at the Soapstone Pairie Natural area, I was watching bison being release onto the prairie. Now a very rare bird has been discovered in the area. The presence of Baird’s sparrows or Ammodramus bairdii has been confirmed by biologists from Bird Conservancy of the Rockies.
No eggs or nests have been spotted, but both males and females have been seen singing and interacting- typical mating behavior. In the event that nests are found, it will be the first record of this species breeding in Colorado.
How to See the Birds
Those wanting to catch a glimpse of this special bird should try the Pronghorn Loop Trail, especially the easternmost two miles. Visitors are reminded that Soapstone Prairie is an on-trail only site, open during daylight hours.
About the Baird's Sparrow
Baird's sparrow populations have decreased roughly 77% since 1966. The species is rated 15 out of 20 on the Continental Concern Score, and is on the 2016 State of the Birds Watch List, which highlights bird species that are at risk of becoming threatened or endangered without conservation action.
Baird’s sparrows seen in Colorado are usually just passing-through, typically breeding on the Great Plains of Montana, the Dakotas, and Canada. The birds spend their winters in the desert grasslands of southern Arizona, New Mexico, Texas and northern Mexico. Baird’s sparrow nests are hard to spot grass-lined depressions in tall vegetation. Nests usually contain 2-6 grayish-white eggs, measuring about .75”