Bird Watching

Bald eagle nest with eaglet, the first documented successful eagle nest in Curecanti's history.
Bald eagle nest with eaglet, the first documented successful eagle nest in Curecanti's history.

NPS image by Brandon Hallock

Curecanti offers bird watchers a great variety of habitat in which to indulge their passion. Birders can marvel at the natural wonders around them from fishing bald eagles on Blue Mesa to spectacular yellow warblers at Neversink, to the death defying dive of the fastest creature on the planet, the hunting peregrine falcon in the upper Black Canyon within Curecanti.

In Curecanti there are several vegetation types that provide ideal habitat for birds, which can be classified as woodlands, water (riparian and reservoir), sagebrush scrub, and canyon.
Yellow Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, Rufous Hummingbird
Left to right, yellow warbler, white-breasted nuthatch, and rufous hummingbird.

USFW images


The Neversink Trail offers perfect opportunities to observe birds close up. Although only a mile in length, the trail takes you along side the Gunnison River under large cottonwood trees.

Look to the sky and listen to bird songs all around you. A myriad of color can be seen amongst the leaves, including the bright feathers of robins, red-winged black birds and woodpeckers. Hummingbirds fill the air with their constant buzzing as they search for nectar. Stand still for a moment and inspect the trunks of the trees. There may be creepers and nuthatches ascending or descending the trunks looking for insects or seeds.
Great Blue Heron, Western Grebe, Sandhill Cranes
Left to right; great blue heron, western grebe, and sandhill cranes.

NPS images (left and middle) and USFWS image (on right).


Blue Mesa is the largest body of water in Colorado and offers a multitude of habitats for bird life. From the riparian habitat of Cooper’s Ranch, to the mud flats of Iola, and the steep sided arms of West Elk and Lake Fork.

You may spot a graceful heron spear fishing along the shore or western grebes and mergansers diving for food in the open waters of the three basins of Blue Mesa. The shoreline offers opportunities to see various species of wading birds such as sandpipers, phalaropes and gulls. In the spring and early winter, look (and listen) for sandhill cranes migrating through.
Red-tailed Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, Turkey Vulture
Left to right; red-tailed hawk, peregrine falcon, and turkey vulture.

NPS images by Lisa Lynch images (left and middle) and USFWS image (right).


From the various lookout points along Highway 92 you can glimpse into the upper Black Canyon and see birds from a different viewpoint. From Pioneer Point you’ll find the rapid, erratic flight of swifts and swallows as they dive along the canyon wall. You'll also see turkey vultures that roost on the lower levels of the canyon who ride the thermals up to and above the canyon rim. Black-billed magpies, red-tailed hawks, western bluebirds and the diving peregrine falcon can also be seen from this viewpoint.

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The Gunnison Sage Grouse, a native to the Gunnison Basin and surrounding areas, is listed as "threatened" on the Endangered Species List. Curecanti and the surrounding sagebrush communities are considered critical habitat to the survival of this bird.
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Last updated: March 9, 2023

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102 Elk Creek
Gunnison, CO 81230


970 641-2337 x205

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