From the plains to the Rockies, Colorado’s skies are filled with birds of prey, including a number of hawk species. They vary in size and can be seen all over by the acute observer, including at Dinosaur Ridge, the state’s only official hawk watch site.
Can you spot the hawks in the sky and the different types found? It’s essentially nature’s version of Where’s Waldo.
Dinosaur Ridge Hawkwatch
Birdwatchers have a lot to love in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain region—including the numerous hawk species visible from Dinosaur Ridge in the foothills around Morrison, among other places. For those looking to get an eyeful of flying raptors, head here during spring for your best chance of seeing these majestic animals.
In Morrison, the Dinosaur Ridge Hawkwatch happens in early spring each year, from late March through early May. This is when it’s staffed by volunteers too, so you’ll be able to get knowledgeable help in your quest. While you can see these birds of prey year-round, during springtime there will typically be dozens of raptors flying overhead.
In fact, Dinosaur Ridge holds the national honor of the most Ferruginous Hawks spotted over the course of the spring. It’s also a prime place to try to see the Broad-winged Hawk during its annual migration, athough it’s an uncommon sighting, so good luck!
Stop by the Dinosaur Ridge Visitor Center for education on birds, and of course, all the dinosaur history that’s present in the Morrison-Golden Fossil Areas. It’s a must-do for any bird-watchers in the Denver area. Grab your binoculars, family, and friends, and see how many flying predators you can spot. Admission is free too!
Dinosaur Ridge isn’t just a great place to bring the kids to spot dinosaur tracks. As it turns out, it’s also a terrific place for birdwatching.
W Alameda Pkwy, Morrison, CO 80465 | 303-697-3466
Types of Hawks in Colorado
According to avid ornithologists, there are at least nine types of hawks that you can find in Colorado. While they are often seen in forests, you can scout them in the great plains and in the high country. One great place to spot them is on some of the birding trails, located all around the state.
Here are the different hawks found in Colorado, followed by some pictures, in alphabetical order:
- Broad-winged Hawk (buteo platypterus)
- Cooper’s Hawk (accipiter cooperii)
- Ferruginous Hawk (buteo regalis)
- Northern Goshawk (accipiter gentilis)
- Osprey (pandion haliaetus)
- Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
- Rough-legged Hawk (buteo lagopus)
- Sharp-shinned Hawk (accipiter striatus)
- Swainson’s Hawk (buteo swainsoni)
1. Broad-winged Hawk (buteo platypterus)
2. Cooper’s Hawk (accipiter cooperii)
3. Ferruginous Hawk (buteo regalis)
4. Northern Goshawk (accipiter gentilis)
5. Osprey (pandion haliaetus)
6. Red-tailed Hawk (buteo jamaicensis)
7. Rough-legged Hawk (buteo lagopus)
8. Sharp-sinned Hawk (accipiter striatus)
9. Swainson’s Hawk (buteo swainsoni)
For more information on these nine species, such as descriptions and where they’re commonly seen, check out birdwatchinghq.com.
Spring is typically the best time of year for a hawk sighting, so keep your head up when you’re out and about in nature. And check out some of the other native bird species often seen in Colorado, to keep your day of sightseeing interesting.