Pinpoint Weather Alert Day: Heavy mountain snow expected Thursday

Tropical birds making extended migration stay in Colorado

Data pix.

FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- If you've been spending time outdoors over the past few weeks, you may have noticed some colorful birds making regular appearances on your bird feeder.

Avian scientists say cold, wet weather forced migrating birds to land and seek shelter. The timing worked out perfectly for them to get stuck in metro Denver and other parts of the Front Range.

"We had several days of stormy weather that kept birds on the ground," says Arvind Panjabi. "So people along the Front Range were really treated to a spectacular show right in their backyard. Some birds they’ve probably never seen before."

That includes the Western Tanager, a bright yellow-and-red bird that normally stops off in Denver for just a day or two, if at all.

"With the wet weather, they were forced to land, and that happened here in the cities and backyards along the Front Range," says Panjabi.

Tanagers spend most of the year in the tropics of Mexico, but breed during the summer months in the Colorado foothills.

"They're a pretty spectacular bird," Panjabi says. "I don't recall ever seeing a spring quite like this where we saw so many Western Tanagers on the ground for so long."

Panjabi says we also saw an influx of Lazuli Bunting, Black-headed Grosbeaks and Bullock's Orioles.

A large portion of the Western Tanagers have moved on to the foothills and to states north of Colorado, but Panjabi says a handful are still in the area.

"They breed here in Colorado, so if you really want to see a Western Tanager right now, the best place would be up into the foothills, in the ponderosa pine zone," he says.

You can learn more about the Tanager here.

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