Left to right: Dark-eyed Junco, House Finch, Red-tailed Hawk, White-breasted Nuthat
Photos compliments of Dick Vogel, Audubon Society of Greater Denver volunteer.
By Lynne Forrester, volunteer
Audubon Society of Greater Denver
The High Line Canal is home to dozens of bird species. Even on a cold, crisp morning in January, when a frozen fog has turned the trees into a white fairy landscape, you may see many of them as you walk along any stretch of the Canal.
Downy Woodpeckers, Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches, and Black-capped Chickadees will be exploring the outer tree branches in small groups, often at your eye-level, searching for mites and other tiny insects. Above them will likely be a Northern Flicker clinging to the tree trunk and in the treeless canopy will be European Starlings, House Finches, and Eurasian Collard Doves, feathers fluffed against the cold.
Below them, several varieties of Dark-eyed Juncos will be flashing the slim white lines of their tail feathers, as they flit from tree to tree, low above the ground. A flock of American Tree Sparrows may be following in their wake, and maybe even a White-crowned Sparrow or a few American Goldfinches, their brilliant yellow of summer now faded to burnished gold, will be among them.
Watch out! as a Cooper’s Hawk may zip right past you, chasing those small birds, to land on a low branch of a Cottonwood where you can easily see its rusty barred chest in the sunlight. Don’t forget to look up where you might just catch a Red-Tailed Hawk perched at the top of a leafless tree, watching you and all the commotion.
If you venture up to the southern end near the headwaters of the Canal, keep an eye on the sky as you might see the Golden Eagle that is often soaring just above the ridge line of the hog-back. On the north end in Aurora and near the airport, you will see Bald Eagles, probably several of them, and maybe even a Ferruginous Hawk or Prairie Falcon hunting Prairie Dogs.
These are just a few of the many types of birds who make the Canal their home and that you might see during a winter’s walk along the High Line Canal.
To learn more about the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, visit denveraudubon.org.