The Laramie Audubon Society has a full slate of birding events planned for the fall, with something on the schedule almost every Saturday through mid-November.
Fall is migration season, so outings are planned with an eye toward looking for birds on the move.
“In the fall, you get slightly different migrants (than the spring) because different species often take different paths north versus south,” said Audubon member Kathy Rittle.
Outings will take birders to the Wyoming Hereford Ranch in Cheyenne, Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Laramie plains lakes, Laramie River Greenbelt and other spots around town and across the Laramie Valley.
Lakes and rivers attract migrating waterfowl and shorebirds, which in turn attract raptors. Areas in town known for their birding potential include Greenhill Cemetery and the wetlands around City Springs, a natural spring just north of Grand Avenue on the east side of town.
“It’s fenced off because it’s part of the city water supply, but you can stand up on the embankment and look down into the cottonwood trees,” Rittle said.
The trip to Wyoming Hereford Ranch, which is scheduled for today, offers a chance to view migrating species that don’t travel as far west as Laramie. Cheyenne is the westernmost range of a number of Eastern species.
“People are pretty pumped about Hereford because they see birds that are unusual for Laramie,” Rittle said.
A Greenbelt clean-up is also on the schedule, along with two weekends cleaning out nest boxes at Hutton Lake and the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site.
The Audubon Society has been monitoring the use of the nesting boxes, mainly by tree swallows, in collaboration with Laramie Girl Scouts. They report their data to a nationwide monitoring program called NestWatch.
Birders of all levels are welcome to come on the trips, which usually leave at 8 a.m. from Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse, 107 Ivinson Ave., unless otherwise noted. Participants are welcome to carpool or caravan and should bring drinks and snacks, as well as binoculars, scopes and field books if they have them. Most trips return to Laramie by noon or 1 p.m.
Rittle said birders of all ages and experience levels come on the trips, from children to retirees, so newcomers shouldn’t feel intimidated. Many club members are affiliated with the University of Wyoming and have a background in natural resources, and they’re willing to share their knowledge.
“It’s great for novice birders because there are a lot of people who are very knowledgeable, not just about identifying the birds, but they often know interesting facts about the birds,” she said. “It’s a very welcoming community.”
Also this fall, Laramie Audubon Society has monthly evening programs scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 26, Oct. 31 and Nov. 28 at the Berry Biodiversity Conservation Center auditorium. Refreshments begin at 6:30 p.m.
On Sept. 26, David McDonald, a UW professor in zoology and physiology, will talk about his research team’s work with the golden-winged manakin in Ecuador. On Oct. 31, UW professor Craig Benkman, who also works in the Department of Zoology and Physiology, will talk about 20 years of research on the cassia crossbill.
On Nov. 28, two UW graduate students who received grants from the society will present their research. Go to laramieaudubon.blogspot.com for complete information.