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Colorado Grouse, Page 3

April 24, Day 8: Walden to Steamboat Springs. Today we will travel from Walden to Steamboat Springs, but only after we have watched, from point blank range, the spectacular Greater Sage-Grouse on their lek. We will also spend time searching through the piles of birds at Walden Reservoir; fifteen species of ducks are possible. The grebes, shorebirds and local Bald Eagles will keep us busy for a couple of hours. We’ll spend any available time searching for other birds in the foothills, including various raptors, Sandhill Cranes, Green-tailed and Spot- ted towhees, and Vesper Sparrows. In the afternoon we will make a concerted effort for Dusky Grouse. This bird is more secretive than its lekking relatives, as it haunts the oak shrub areas around Steamboat Springs.

NIGHT: Holiday Inn, Steamboat Springs

April 25, Day 9: Steamboat Springs to Denver. The Sharp-tailed Grouse, although smaller and less physically imposing, has the most arresting dance. With tails held high, wings bowed out to the sides, and feet propelling them in circles, they resemble wind-up toys run amok. Imitated by the Plains Indians, this dance is an integral part of spring on the northern prairies. We will also make an effort, weather permitting, to see the White-tailed Ptarmigan near 12,000 feet at Loveland Pass. On the drive to Denver, we’ll stop in the ponderosa pine belt to look for such transition zone species as Williamson’s Sapsucker, Pygmy Nuthatch, and Western Bluebird. Our trip concludes in Denver with a farewell dinner and checklist session.

NIGHT: Courtyard Denver Airport, Denver

April 26, Day 10: Departure for Home. Participants may make arrangements to leave Denver anytime today.

TOUR LEADERS: Brian Gibbons and Kim Eckert

Brian Gibbons was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He took an interest in all things wild at a young age, but has specialized in birds since age 10. Brian graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in east Texas with a B.S. in biology. Since that time he has worked on a variety of field ornithology research projects, from the Bering Sea and the midnight sun of the North Slope of Alaska to the Dominican Republic. From 1998 to 2000 he was an observer for the Migration Over the Gulf Project sponsored by a Minerals Management Service grant and administered by Louisiana State University. The project involved placing observers on oil and gas platforms throughout the Gulf of Mexico. The goal was to assess the impact of these platforms on the several hundred million trans-Gulf migrants that pass through the region in both spring and fall. More recently he has worked with the Smithsonian Institution in Jamaica, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and Cuba as part of a team research- ing West Nile Virus, and assessing the role of migratory birds in the dispersal of the virus. Recreational birding and travel have taken him to The Great Wall in China, Machu Picchu in Peru, and the Himalayas in Nepal. One of his primary birding mentors was the late Al Valentine, a bird bander, who helped to instill a love of handling birds and learning from them. For many years Brian’s field research has involved banding. His most amazing recoveries were a female Wilson’s Warbler that had been banded in Alaska and was captured by Brian in Colo- rado, and a Sooty Tern that perished after a hurricane on the Texas coast; it had plied the Gulf of Mexico and the oceans of the world for 24 years.

Kim Eckert, with over 40 years of birding experience throughout the U.S. and Canada, has now been guiding birders or teaching bird identification classes for more than 25 of those years. Since the 1980s, he has annually led VENT tours to Newfoundland, Churchill, various locations in the Great Lakes and Great Plains, and to Texas—a favorite and frequent winter destination. He has authored four editions of A Birder’s Guide to Minne- sota, and has written numerous articles, notes, and seasonal reports for the Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union journal, The Loon, and other publications such as Birding and North American Birds. Kim also operates the Minnesota Birding Weekends program of birding tours, has been a member for three decades of Minnesota’s Records Committee, and for 20 years served as Naturalist at Hawk Ridge Nature Reserve in Duluth. A Minne- sota resident since the 1960s, he has resided in Duluth since 1977—winters included.

TOUR SIZE: This tour will be limited to 14 participants.

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