Custer County offers a wide range of habitats, allowing dedicated birdwatchers to see 100 different species in a single day. Birds range from lowland species, such as Lewis’s woodpecker and juniper titmouse in the county’s northeastern corner, to ptarmigan and rosy-finches above treeline in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness.

Birders gather each year for the Arkansas Valley Audubon Society-sponsored Annual Bird Count. Groups spread across the Wet Mountain Valley floor searching for as many different species as possible.

Join the Annual Bird Count or go solo by visiting these popular birding areas.

DeWeese Reservoir

You’ll find waterfowl, shorebirds and more at Lake DeWeese Reservoir. Species range from elusive snipe and sora to loud Canada geese and majestic white pelicans, with plenty of sparrows, jays, ducks and wading birds in the mix. Many species—including fascinating western grebes and avocets—nest on the shore or in willows along Grape Creek at the lake’s head. Others, such as sandhill cranes, warblers and dowitchers pause at the lake during migrations. Nearby tree stands harbor owls and a wide variety of songbirds. Look up to spot eagles, ospreys and hawks, who all find good fishing and hunting around the lake.

St. Charles Trail and Spring Creek Trail

San Isabel National Forest’s St. Charles and Spring Creek trails, near Lake Isabel, are great places to search for three-toed woodpeckers and dusky grouse.

Hermit Pass Road

Hermit Pass Road slices into the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, offering a tough walk or rougher ride in a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle. But the views and birding are worth the effort. You’ll find white-tailed ptarmigan, rosy-finches and possibly pine grosbeak as you approach and climb above tree line.