Bird Watching

Curecanti offers a variety of habitats for bird watchers and enthusiasts to enjoy. Birders can marvel at the natural wonders around them -- from bald eagles on Blue Mesa to yellow warblers at Neversink, to the impressive dive of a hunting peregrine falcon in the upper Black Canyon.

The recreation area has several vegetation types that provide ideal habitat for birds, which can be classified as woodlands, water (riparian and reservoir), sagebrush scrub, and canyon.
A black bird with red and yellow accent standing on a fence post
Red-winged blackbird on a wooden post.

NPS Photo


The Neversink Trail is a popular birding spot for spotting woodland birds. Although only a mile in length, the trail takes you along side the Gunnison River under large cottonwood trees. Look and listen for robins, red-winged black birds and woodpeckers. Hummingbirds fill the air with their constant buzzing as they search for nectar. Inspect the trunks of the trees for creepers and nuthatches 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 heron spear fishing along the shore or western grebes and mergansers diving for food in the open waters 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.
A large brown raptor flying above a deep canyon
Turkey vultures can be seen from Pioneer Point and other overlooks along CO Highway 92.

NPS Photo


From the various lookout points along CO Highway 92, visitors can glimpse into the upper Black Canyon and see birds from a higher viewpoint.

From Pioneer Point, one can see rapid, erractic flight patterns of swifts and swallows diving along the canyon wall. Turkey vultures that roost on the lower levels of the canyon ride thermals up to and above the canyon rim. Black-billed magpies, red-tailed hawks, western bluebirds, and peregrine falcons can also be spotted.

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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: May 20, 2024

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Mailing Address:

102 Elk Creek
Gunnison, CO 81230


970 641-2337 x205

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