Skip to content

Extraordinary Bird Watching in Steamboat Springs

As ski season comes to a triumphant end, a picturesque transformation is beginning to unfold across Steamboat Springs. The trees are blossoming, wildflowers adorn green spaces, and the entire landscape is blooming with a bounty of natural treasures (including edible plants!) 

The arrival of April marks not only the thawing of snow, but also the migration of a stunning array of avian visitors, turning Steamboat Springs into a bird watching paradise during the infamous mud season.

The mud season, often overlooked by travelers, unveils a quieter, more intimate side of Steamboat. Of all the destinations in Colorado, Steamboat Springs has a remarkably diverse ecosystem that provides a springtime home for an array of different birds. Without a doubt, this mountain town is the ideal setting for vacationers like you to immerse yourself in nature by getting up close to these stunning winged creatures.

Whether you find yourself strolling along the Yampa River Core Trail or exploring hidden hiking trails, mud season unveils a treasure trove for birdwatchers seeking tranquility and natural wonder.

Here at The Astrid, we’re passionate about making your next vacation in Steamboat Springs the most unforgettable one yet! We’ve created this guide to birdwatching in the ‘Boat during mud season, so that you can enjoy everything this natural haven has to offer.

Dig out your binoculars, it’s time to go birding!

Birds To See in Steamboat Springs During April and May

Sandhill Cranes

A sandhill crane walking through grass

Sandhill Cranes are among the oldest living bird species, with fossils dating back millions of years. During April and May, these stunning birds flock to Steamboat Springs during their northward migration.

Where to see them: Wetlands, meadows, and fields. Popular locations include the Yampa and Elk Rivers, the Crane Sanctuary on CR 37, Yampa River State Park, and the Yampa River State Wildlife Area.

Mountain Bluebirds

A mountain bluebird perched on a reed

Unlike many other blue-colored birds, the vibrant blue color of Mountain Bluebirds is not from pigment, but from the structure of their feathers refracting light, making them appear blue. During April and May, these birds arrive in Steamboat Springs for breeding season.

Where to see them: Open areas such as grasslands, meadows, and along fences or low branches. Many have been spotted in the Steamboat Ski Area.


A yellow warbler eating an insect in a tree

Warblers are known for their incredible long-distance migrations. Many species pass through Steamboat Springs during migration, including Yellow Warblers, Wilson’s Warblers, and Townsend’s Warblers.

Where to see them: Shrubby areas near rivers and streams. The Rotary Park Boardwalk is known to be visited by many Yellow Warblers.


Four barn swallows on a fence

Swallows are incredibly agile in flight, catching insects on the wing with remarkable precision. They can even reach speeds of up to 25 miles per hour. Tree Swallows and Barn Swallows are common in Steamboat Springs during migration.

Where to see them: Ponds, rivers, and fields across Steamboat Springs. Swallows have even been spotted nesting in buildings downtown!


An osprey with a fish in its talons

Raptors, such as Red-tailed Hawks, have incredible eyesight, allowing them to spot prey from high in the sky. Their keen vision is estimated to be about eight times more powerful than that of humans. Look for Red-tailed Hawks, Cooper’s Hawks, and Ospreys during April and May in Steamboat Springs.

Where to see them: Soaring high above or perched on trees. In 2023 two new nesting platforms were erected in Stagecoach State Park, just south of Steamboat, in hopes of attracting ospreys and other raptors.


A vireo on a branch

Vireos are known for their persistent singing. The Red-eyed Vireo, for example, can sing up to 20,000 songs in a single day during its breeding season. Red-eyed Vireos and Warbling Vireos are present in Steamboat Springs during migration.

Where to see them: High in the trees of any wooded area, singing their melodious songs.


Six Canada geese flying in the sky

Ducks and geese have a special adaptation called a “pecten,” a comb-like structure on their feet that helps them stay waterproof and provides extra traction when swimming. It’s very common to see Canada Geese and various duck species throughout Steamboat Springs during April and May.

Where to see them: Ponds, lakes, and rivers, especially the Yampa River.

Herons and Egrets

A great egret wading through water

Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets have a unique hunting technique called “canopy feeding.” They use their wings to create shade, attracting fish and making it easier for them to catch their prey.

Where to see them: Wetland areas where they wade in shallow waters, especially Steamboat Lake.

Stellar Jays

A stellar jay with a nut in its beak

Steller’s Jays are incredibly intelligent birds. They have been observed using tools, such as using sticks to extract insects from crevices. These impressive creatures are year-round residents in Steamboat Springs, so can be seen during every season. Look for their striking blue and black plumage.

Where to see them: Rotary Park Boardwalk, forests, and other wooded areas.

Wood Ducks

A wood duck flapping in the water

Wood Ducks are known for their remarkable breeding habits. They often nest in tree cavities, sometimes up to 60 feet off the ground! These colorful birds arrive in Steamboat Springs during migration in April and May.

Where to see them: Wooded wetlands, ponds, and marshes. Many have been spotted at Steamboat Lake.

Gray Catbirds

A gray catbird on a branch

Gray Catbirds are talented mimics, often imitating the songs of other bird species. They can even mimic the calls of frogs and mechanical sounds. Listen out for their distinctive mewing calls during migratory season in Steamboat Springs.

Where to see them: Shrubby areas, thickets, and edges of forests. Be sure to look in the dense undergrowth of the Yampa River.


A small bobolink in the grass

Male Bobolinks have one of the longest migrations of any North American songbird. They breed in North America and then travel all the way to Argentina for the winter, covering thousands of miles. They arrive in Steamboat Springs in late spring for the breeding season. Look for the males’ striking black and white plumage with a golden back.

Where to see them: Grasslands and meadows. Thanks to the conservation efforts of Yampatika, bobolinks return year after year to Legacy Ranch.


A grouse hiding in grass

Male Grouse perform elaborate courtship displays known as “drumming.” They create a booming sound by beating their wings against the air, which can be heard from a distance.

Where to see them: Along forest edges or clearings, or hiding among the remote peaks of the Zirkel Wilderness area.

The Best Birding Locations in Steamboat Springs

A bird watching pamphlet

Sometimes the most triumphant bird watching moments happen when you’re not looking for any bird in particular. These diverse areas of wildlife are perfect for seeking out spontaneous birding moments:

  • Yampa River Core Trail: Along this scenic pathway, you can find a variety of birds, including warblers, swallows, and waterfowl.
  • Steamboat Lake State Park: This park offers wetlands and forests, attracting mountain bluebirds, waterfowl, and herons.
  • Stagecoach State Park: Known for its waterfowl and raptors, it’s a good spot to see Canada Geese, sandhill cranes, and red-tailed hawks.
  • Routt National Forest: Explore different elevations within the forest to find a diverse range of bird species, including vireos and raptors.

Tips for Bird Watching in Steamboat Springs

Two men sat in a field using binoculars

Steamboat Springs is home to a diverse ecosystem that is integral to the flourishing of this historic ski town. Stewarding our environment well ensures we have clean air, pristine landscapes, and an abundance of natural resources, which enhance the quality of life of residents, guests, and animals.

When taking a bird watching trip in the ‘Boat, there are some important sustainability tips to remember:

  • Always respect wildlife and their habitats.
  • Stay on designated trails.
  • Avoid disturbing nests.
  • Leave no trace and dispose of your trash properly.

Year-Round Bird Watching Adventures

There’s no doubt about it, Steamboat Springs during mud season is a bird-lover’s paradise. As the snow melts and spring blooms, the landscape transforms into a haven for birds and bird watchers alike. From the graceful Sandhill Cranes to the colorful Mountain Bluebirds, each species adds its own charm to this natural symphony.

If you want to support Steamboat’s local wildlife and environment, whilst enjoying a luxurious vacation with your family, The Astrid is the perfect place to start.  We’re passionate about helping you to enjoy immersive experiences in nature so that you can create precious memories season after season. 

Our idyllic retreat at the foot of Mount Werner allows nature-lovers to enjoy exceptional service, abundant opportunities for adventure, and the extraordinary beauty of the Rocky Mountains all year long. Repeat vacations to Steamboat Springs will be a hassle-free experience, thanks to your very own home-away-from-home.

We’re breaking ground on this pioneering new project in Summer 2024, and we invite you to join us in this exciting journey. To join our community, simply provide us with your name and email address. By doing so, you’ll be invited to join our exclusive mailing list. As part of this list you’ll gain access to insider information, behind-the-scenes content, and a highly personalized email experience reserved only for members of The Astrid community.

Join The Astrid’s Exclusive Community

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to receive updates

"*" indicates required fields

Recent Comments