National Park Visit
Sunday, September 26, 2010
8:30 am – 3:00 pm
A raptor monitoring program began in Rocky Mountain
National Park in 1987. First year survey work identified a high
concentration of raptors along Lumpy ridge a 5.6-kilometer by
2.4-kilometer ridge at the east boundary of the park. Twelve birds of
prey where found to be nesting, foraging and migrating along this
ridge. The ridge has a collection of south facing cliffs, which is
lower in elevation than most cliffs in the park and is the park's most
popular rock climbing area.
The highest elevation of the ridge is 3250 meters and
over 300 named climbing routes exist along the ridge on 31 named rock
formations. Due to the high concentration of raptors and climbers,
conflicts occur during the birds breeding season which is also the peak
On March 1st climbing closures go into effect
and through April 30 park staff and volunteers determine where raptors
will be nesting. Once incubation begins, the park readjusts the
closures opening some climbing routes, but leaving others closed
throughout the remaining breeding season which ends between July 15 and
August 1st. These closures not only protect the raptors but
also the climbers from raptors that may aggressively defend their nest.
In addition there are two raptor migration corridors in
the park. Migrants begin migrating through the park about the end
of August through September. In the
fall raptors begin migrant through about the end of August through
September. At times up to 20 raptors an hour are observed and at times
kettles of raptors such as Swainson’s hawks are noted.
The tour will visit Lumpy
Ridge to discuss managing breeding raptors and climbers, drive up Trail
Ridge Road to look for migrating raptors moving through Forest Canyon
and discuss nesting high elevation raptors that take advantage of
feeding on overweight ground squirrels, chipmunks and marmots that get
fed junk food by visitors at viewpoints. Hear how park managers try to
manage visitors feeding wildlife.
Jeff Connor is a Natural
Resources Specialist having worked at Rocky Mountain National Park for
22 years and currently working for the Continental Divide Research
Learning Center in the park. He was responsible for the birds of prey
and songbird monitoring program for many of those 22 years. The trip will include lunch,
snacks, water, and transportation to and from Fort Collins.
Trip Limited to 20 People
Trip will depart from
the Marriott at 8:30 am and have everyone back by mid afternoon.
Organization: National Park Service