Books on Birds and Birding in Colorado


Andrews, Robert and Robert Righter, Colorado Birds: A Reference to Their Distribution and Habitat, Denver Museum of Natural History, 1992. Often referred to as “Bob and Bob.” In AOU checklist order. Provides status, seasonal occurrence, abundance and records information in textual and graphical form. A small map is provided for each species. Also includes an extensive list of place names and locations mentioned in the book - not exactly directions, but a place to start.

Gray, Mary Taylor, The Guide to Colorado Birds, Westcliffe Publishers, 1998. Features color photos of 259 bird species in Colorado and is similar to the Stokes field guides in layout including a quick index and color tab index. Includes a calendar bar for each species indicating when they are most readily seen. Also includes a Colorado checklist and a few hotspots by region. The author is a columnist for the Rocky Mountain News.

Holt, Harold R., A Birder’s Guide to Colorado, American Birding Association, 1997. The Lane’s Guide for Colorado. Includes a crude map inside back cover, but unfortunately no mileage chart.

Kingery, Hugh E., ed.The Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas, Colorado Bird Atlas Partnership, 1998. Not just a compendium of which species lists where and when, this tome includes dozens of species accounts, and essays on habitat, including 16 pages of color photos. A wonderful reference book. Available for purchase from The Colorado Field Ornithologists.


Ayer, Eleanor H., Birds: A Guide to Colorado’s Unique Varieties, Renaissance House, 1987. This slim book provides color photos and brief facts on many birds frequently found in Colorado. Part of the Colorado Traveler series, which includes books on wildflowers, mountains and passes, and natural sites.

Seacrest, Betty R. and Delbert A. McNew, Rocky Mountain Birds: Easy Identification, Avery Press, 1990. This small book is arranged by predominant color of the species. Good for someone just starting to take an interest in birding. Photographs.

Wassink, Jan, Birds of the Central Rockies, Mountain Press Publishing Company, 1991. Includes parts of Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Color photos of each species, sometimes showing both male and female, sometimes only male. Species were included in the book based on abundance and “ease of identification” by beginning birders. In AOU checklist order.


Bailey, Alfred M., Robert J. Niedrach, and A. Lang Baily, The Red Crossbills of Colorado, Denver Museum of Natural History, Museum Pictorial No. 9, 1953. Everything you ever wanted to know about Red Crossbills but were afraid to ask. Just in case you do have more questions, see the extensive bibliography at the end of this lovely, esoteric publication.

Brockner, Sylvia Booth, Birds in our Evergreen World: a Layman’s Guide to the Birds of the Mountain Area, Self Published, 1974. Consists of articles on a variety of species commonly seen in and around Evergreen. Articles were first published in the Canyon Courier.

Collister, Allegra, Annotated Checklist of Birds of Rocky Mountain National Park and Shadow Mountain Recreation Area in Colorado, Denver Museum of Natural History, Museum Pictorial No. 18, 1970. As the title says, an annotated checklist with scattered black and white photos. Species with an asterisk are, (or were in 1970) represented in the bird skin collection at Moraine park Visitor Center.

Cushman, Ruth Carol, Stephen R. Jones, and Jim Knopf, Boulder County Nature Almanac: What to See Where and When, Pruett Publishing Company, 1993. Not limited exclusively to birds, this is nevertheless a valuable resource for finding them in Boulder County. Includes a checklist of birds of Boulder County, as well as tables of nesting owls, first arrival dates for summer resident birds, nesting warblers, October waterfowl watching, and more. Also lists out of county excursions. Arranged by month.

Folzenlogen, Robert, Birding the Front Range: A Guide to Seasonal Highlights, Willow Press, 1995. Nice quick guide to Denver metro area birding spots. Arranged by month. Includes a checklist of Front Range birds with local status, life zone, and habitat notes as well as recommendations on where and when to find each species.

Fisher, Chris C. and Greg Butcher, Birds of Denver and the Front Range. Lone Pine Press, 1977. Designed for beginning birders but offers much to those more knowledgeable too. Consists of color drawings of each species, (male and female for songbirds), quick id tips, similar species, abundance charts and habitat keys. Book is in rough AOU order, and state checklist in the back is in strict AOU (41st sup.) order.

Hyde, A.S., Birds of Colorado’s Gunnison Country, The Western State College Foundation, 1979. Annotated checklist on species occurring in the area which, “extends from Monarch Pass on the east, at an elevation of about 12,000 feet, to Cimarron on the west at about 6,900 feet, and from Emerald Lake above Gothic on the north to Cochetopa (or North) Pass and the Alpine Ranger Station on the south.” In AOU checklist order.


Atlantic Waterfowl Council, [Colorado] Waterfowl Identification Guide, The Lane Press, Inc., 1962. Black and white drawings illustrate the guide. Identifying characteristics are pointed out for both flying and floating waterfowl.

Bailey, Alfred M. and Robert J. Niedrach, Birds of Colorado (2 volume set), Denver Museum of Natural History, 1965.

Bailey, Alfred M. and Robert J. Niedrach, Pictorial Checklist of Colorado Birds, Denver Museum of Natural History, 1967. The attraction of this book is of course the color plates, reproductions of artwork by such artists as Poole, Landau, Malick and Peterson.

Bergtold, William Harry, A Guide to Colorado Birds, The Smith-Brooks Printing Co., 1928. While the preface put me to sleep, (“It is obvious, therefore, that a beginner must make persistent efforts to identify a strange bird and thereby learn its name and its relations to other birds, in order to advance along the lines of a knowledge of such a bird’s life, distribution, usefulness, and the many other facts appertaining to it.” - Just make sure you don’t enjoy yourself too much!), there is some interesting information in this book. It is particularly interesting to compare the list of spring migration dates in this book with those more recently recorded. Also of note is the “Synopsis of Merganser and Duck Markings.” No illustrations.

Coues, Elliott, Birds of the Colorado Valley, a Repository of Scientific and Popular Information Concerning North American Ornithology, Government Printing Office, 1878. Very technical, though it is possible to wade through the essays, and some are even interesting. You will want to know the latin name for any species you look for in this book. For example, Crested Shining-black White-winged Flysnapper turns out to be Phainopepla.

The Colorado Division of Wildlife, Colorado Bird Distribution Latilong Study, Colorado Division of Wildlife, 1988. The predecessor to the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas, the study presents information from 28 blocks, each approximately 50 X 70 miles.

Davis, William A., Birds in Western Colorado, Prepared for the Colorado Field Ornithologists, 1969. Essentially an annotated field checklist of birds western Colorado. Also includes hotspots (check out directions on a map before you set off - note 1969 publication date), and “Special Birds”: Black Swifts, Gray Vireo, Burrowing Owls, White-tailed Ptarmigan, Rosy Finches, Empidonax Flycatchers.

Keyser, Leander S. Birds of the Rockies, A.C. McClure and Co., 1902. Essays on Keyser’s birding experiences in the Rockies. Black and white illustrations.

Mills, Enos A., Bird Memories of the Rockies, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1931. A compilation of entertaining essays on birds, written by the famous naturalist. Black and white photos are scattered throughout the text, the most interesting of which is one of Mills, “examining cones in a timber-line tree.” Yes, that’s IN the tree.

Niedrich, Robert J. and Robert B. Rockwell, The Birds of Denver and Mountain Parks, Denver Museum of Natural History, Popular Series No. 5, 1959. Update of the 1939 publication of the same name. An annotated list of species occurring within a 25 mile radius of the State Capital Building, and “that portion of the Denver Mountain Parks System outside the 25 mile circle.” An interesting feature is the chart of Typical Associations, which lists types of terrain and the birds and vegetation associated with each. Scattered black and white photos.

Sclater, William Lutley, A History of the Birds of Colorado, Witherby & Co., 1912. Lengthy descriptions of each species of bird which had been documented in the state at the time. Information on each species includes Latin name, (particularly useful since so many species have been lumped or split, or just plain changed names since 1912!), detailed description, distribution and habits.