Pine Bluffs Bioblitz Plant List

One of our members, Greg Johnson, recorded the following list of 53 plant species of plants:

Ponderosa Pine and the BioBlitz crew by Mark Gorges

Plants observed 7-18-20 Pine Bluffs BioBlitz

Ponderosa pine Pinus ponderosa
Rocky Mountain juniper Juniperus scopulorum
Shrubs and half shrubs  
Skunkbush sumac Rhus trilobata
Chokecherry Prunus virginiana
Mountain mahogany Cercocarpus montanus
Common juniper Jupiperus communis
Soapweed yucca Yucca glauca
Green rabbitbrush Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus
Sand sage Artemisia filifolia
Fringed sage Artemisia frigida
Wood’s rose Rosa woodsii
Broom snakeweed Gutierrezia sarothrae
Winterfat Krascheninnikovia lanata
Currant Ribes sp. (not sure what species but Barb has a photo)
Curly dock Rumex crispus
Prairie coneflower Ratibida columnifera
Showy milkweed Asclepias speciosa
Common sunflower Helianthus annuus
White sweetclover Melilotus alba
Yellow sweetclover Melilotus officinalis
Common salsify Tragopogon dubius
Plains pricklypear Opuntia polyacantha
Western ragweed Ambrosia psilostachya
Kochia Kochia scoparia
Curlycup gumweed Grindelia squarrosa
Blue flax Linum lewisii
“Yellow” flax Would need to be keyed or IDed from photo – either Linum puberulum, australe, or rigidum
Slimflower scurfpea Psoralidium tenuiflorum
Wavyleaf  thistle Cirsium undulatum
White sage Artemisia ludoviciana
White prairie clover Dalea candida
Miner’s candle Cryptantha sp. (need photo to get to species)
Goldenweed Haplopappus sp. (not sure what species, would need to be keyed)
Buckwheat Eriogonum sp. (again, not sure what species, but I do have a photo of this one if you don’t)
Lomatium Lomatium sp. (flowers were gone, so no ID to species)
Prostrate vervain Verbena bracteata
Velvety gaura Gaura parviflora
Milkvetch Astragalus spp. (several species without flowers that couldn’t be identified)
Crested wheatgrass Agropyron cristatum
Needle-and-thread Heterostipa comata
Western wheatgrass Pascopyrum smithii
Smooth brome Bromus inermis
Prairie junegrass Koeleria cristata
Green needlegrass Nassella viridula
Prairie sandreed Calamovilfa longifolia
Indian ricegrass Oryzopsis hymenoides
Little bluestem Schizachyrium scoparium
Sideoats grama Bouteloua curtipendula
Blue grama Bouteloua gracilis
Japanese brome Bromus japonicus
Squirreltail Elymus elymoides
Cheatgrass Bromus tectorum
Canada wild rye Elymus canadensis

July Field Trip Results Posted

IMG_0546On Saturday, July 18th, CHPAS members and guests met at the Pine Bluffs rest stop at 8:00 a.m. for a morning of hiking at the Pine Bluffs Nature Trail at Pine Bluffs Recreation Area and the High Plains Archaeological Dig.    

Highlights of the day included: Western Wood-Pewee, Great Blue Heron (flying), Brown Thrasher, and Rock Wren.

Check out the CHPAS website for more details including bird and plant lists, as well as photos from our adventure in southeast Wyoming.

The August hike will be held at Vedauwoo Recreation Area around Turtle Rock.  Watch for more details in the August CHPAS newsletter.  All are welcome – novice and experienced birders alike.

CHPAS July Dates to Remember

Mountain Bluebird. Photo by Mark Gorges

All our planned group activities have been modified to meet health safety precautions.

BioBlitz 2020

July 17-19 – Wyoming BioBlitz 2020 will be held virtually this year! Wyoming BioBlitz is a free, one-of-a-kind, annual opportunity for families, students, and all nature-lovers to survey and learn about plants and wildlife in Wyoming. Anyone can participate by submitting observations of wild organisms from anywhere in Wyoming using iNaturalist during July 17-19.  By participating, you’ll also collect and contribute scientific data that help protect Wyoming’s wonderful plants and wildlife.  Learn how to participate here.

July 18 – Pine Bluffs Rest Area, 8 a.m. field trip.  This will be an opportunity to participate in the Wyoming BioBlitz 2020 (see above). You will be able to document everything you see in iNaturalist. Please consider installing the free app on your phone or tablet at and trying it out before the outing.

We will meet at 8 a.m. at the Pine Bluffs Rest Area, about 40 miles east of Cheyenne on I-80. We do not plan on any organized carpooling because of Covid. From there we will hike up the canyon searching for plants and animals. Then, if you want, we can meet to eat lunch (with social distancing) to consolidate a bird list. We should be finished by noon. A variety of birds have been documented there, including raptors, flycatchers, swallows, sparrows, warblers and even turkeys.  Beginning birders are especially welcome! 

July 28 – Virtual Board Meeting.  Contact Terry Harper ( if you would like to participate.

More details?  See our July newsletter.

Invasive Cheatgrass In Sagebrush Country

CheatgrassWe need to do a better job of telling the story about what’s happening in sagebrush county. 

This important ecosystem is under the growing threat of cheatgrass – an invasive grass species.  Invasive grasses are putting sagebrush country at risk of severe wildfires.

We need to do our part to protect this fragile environment, especially with fireworks season upon us.

Want to learn more?  Watch the new Audubon Rockies video: Cheatgrass in Sagebrush County: Fueling Severe Wildfires. 

Make sure that you pass the word along to everyone who cares about the sagebrush ecosystem.  We need everyone to care and take action.

CHPAS Curt Gowdy Field Trip – June 27th

June 27 – Joint birding with Laramie Audubon at Curt Gowdy State Park, 7:30 a.m.

American Dipper Gorges
American Dipper at Curt Gowdy, Photo by Mark Gorges

Join us for our June 27 field trip to Curt Gowdy. We plan to spread out through the State Park, covering as many of the trails as possible to tally birds in the morning. Then, if you want, we can meet to eat lunch (which you bring yourself, with social distancing) to consolidate lists.

We will meet at 7:30 a.m. in the Curt Gowdy Visitor Center lower parking lot near the playground where we will have a table set up. You will sign in there and choose a trail for birding from a map provided. For those starting later than 7:30 the sign in table is available through the rest of the morning.

We will collect the birding results following your hike at the table at the Visitor’s Center. If you get back after 12:00, noon, you can share your results with Terry at

Picnic tables outside the Visitor’s Center will be available for those who have brought their lunch and would like to visit following their hike. We will plan for data collection and lunch from 11:00 till noon. The picnic tables are in the sun so come prepared with sunscreen or your favorite rain umbrella for shade.

Hope to see you there!

Curt Gowdy Vista, Photo by Lorie Chesnut


June: CHPAS Dates to Remember

2019-08-11--LWC_1434Wyoming spring is always a gift after a long, cold winter.  Remember that you can see spring again and again as you take trips to the mountains that surround our lovely area.  Many beautiful perennial flowers will be blooming in the next weeks throughout the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests.

Late spring and early summer is a wonderful time to live in Wyoming.  While CHPAS isn’t meeting in person, we are working hard behind the scenes to keep you birding and learning about our avian friends throughout the Plains Region.  Join us for events on-line or now, in late June, in person (with social distancing in mind).  More details about all events (below) are in the CHPAS newsletter. 2018-06-09--DSCF2585


Tuesday, June 23:  CHPAS Virtual Board Meeting.  6:30 p.m. Call CHPAS Board President Terry Harper if you would like to participate.  Several positions need to be filled and we’d love to have you participate.  Birding expertise is NOT necessary.

Saturday, June 27th: Curt Gowdy Birding Event.  Join us in a joint event with our friends to the West, Laramie Audubon.  Keeping social distancing in mind, we will spread throughout Curt Gowdy State Park, covering as many trails as possible, to tally birds.  This will be a morning event.  We will meet to share our sightings afterwards and those who wish to can eat lunch together (with social distancing in mind) to share our findings.

2018-06-09--DSCF2577More about this event will be send via email.  We will also have more information on our website.  For now, SAVE THE DATE and join us!


Habitat Hero Weekly Gardening Webinars in June (Thursdays at 12 Noon)

Learn bird-friendly gardening skills and ask experts about native plants.

            With limits on travel and social activities, this spring could be an excellent one to focus on your bird-friendly gardening! As the planting season arrives, we’ll be sharing tips on using native plants to create habitat for birds via free live Zoom webinars each Thursday at noon for the next few weeks.

            Each week a different guest will present on a specific skill related to bird-friendly gardening. We’ll then open up the webinar for a Q&A session. All you have to do is click on the link of each webinar you’re interested in attending and register for free.

Upcoming Habitat Hero Weekly Webinars

June 4: All About Native Bees, 
Speaker: Keith Bruno, Audubon Rockies Community Naturalist

June 11 – Plant Select Natives

June 18 – Earth Love Gardens

June 25 – All About Birds (Just Q&A)

            All of the June talks did not have links as we got the newsletter done, but you can check for links at:

To learn how you can become a Habitat Hero, click here or email Habitat Hero Coordinator Jamie Weiss at

2020 Big Day Bird Count best in 18 years

By Barb Gorges

Cheyenne Audubon’s 61st Big Day Bird Count May 16 was the best in 18 years: 142 species, with 39 people contributing observations. In those 18 years, the total number of bird species counted ranged from only 104 to 132.

Thinking about the decline in North American birds over the past 50 years (, it isn’t surprising that the average count for 1992-2002 is 147 species (range: 123 – 169) and the average count for 2009-2019 is 114 (range: 104 – 128).

In a way, I think the pandemic made a difference this year, plus a lucky break offset not being able to access F.E. Warren Air Force Base and part of the High Plains Grasslands Research Station.

The Cheyenne Big Day is held the third Saturday in May, as early as May 13 and as late as May 21, hopefully catching the peak of spring migration.

Sometimes migration runs late, as it apparently did in 1993 (record high total count 169 species), when wintering species like dark-eyed junco and Townsend’s solitaire were counted—but we also aren’t clear how far from the center of Cheyenne people were birding back then—some of our winter birds go only go as far as the mountains 30 miles to the west.

Sometimes, like 1993, we get interesting shorebirds, usually heading north earlier than songbirds. Or, if the reservoirs are full, we don’t have any “shore” and thus few shorebirds.

1993 and 2020 have some other interesting comparisons. Great-tailed grackles, birds of the southwest, were first reported breeding in Wyoming in 1998 and now their Cheyenne presence is spreading. Eurasian collared-doves, escaped from the caged bird trade and nesting in our neighborhoods, were not recorded here before 1998.

But in 1993, we knew where to find burrowing owls. Now that location is full of houses.

The number of observers might matter, especially their expertise. Traditionally, we meet as a large group and hit the hotspots one at a time, Lions Park, Wyoming Hereford Ranch, the research station. The experienced birders might zero in on a vireo’s chirp buried in the greenery while the bored novice birder notices American white pelicans flying overhead at the same time.

But this year might be proof that birding on our own (at least by household) as we did, ultimate physical distancing, could be more productive. All the birding hotspots were birded first thing in the morning, when birds are most active and most easily detected.

In addition, it was a magnificent spring migration day. While home for breakfast, lunch and dinner between outings, Mark and I observed a total of 23 species in our backyard, more than any of the days before or after May 16, more than any day in the last 30 years.

Now that we have lots of local birders reporting to eBird, it is easy to see the 16th was the best birding day of May 2020 in Cheyenne. However, the next day we found species we missed, the pelicans and the American redstart.

The thrill of seeing colorful migrants and welcoming back locally breeding birds was as wonderful as every year. But I missed the gathering of birders.

For the Excel file comparing hot spots and the 1993 to 2020 Big Day tallies, go to: 2020 Cheyenne Big Day Count vs 1993 – with 2020 Locations Final

Cheyenne Big Day Bird Count, May 16, 2020  

Canada Goose

Wood Duck

Blue-winged Teal

Cinnamon Teal

Northern Shoveler


American Wigeon



Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Common Merganser

Ruddy Duck


Pied-billed Grebe

Eared Grebe

Western Grebe

Clark’s Grebe

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

White-winged Dove

Mourning Dove

Common Poorwill

Chimney Swift

Broad-tailed Hummingbird


American Coot

American Avocet


Baird’s Sandpiper

Wilson’s Snipe

Wilson’s Phalarope

Red-necked Phalarope

Spotted Sandpiper

Lesser Yellowlegs

Ring-billed Gull

Forster’s Tern

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Black-crowned Night-Heron

Turkey Vulture


Northern Harrier

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk

Swainson’s Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Ferruginous Hawk

Eastern Screech-Owl

Great Horned Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Red-headed Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel

Peregrine Falcon

Prairie Falcon

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Western Wood-Pewee

Least Flycatcher

Gray Flycatcher

Cordilleran Flycatcher

Say’s Phoebe

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Great Crested Flycatcher

Western Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

Loggerhead Shrike

Blue Jay

Black-billed Magpie

American Crow

Common Raven

Mountain Chickadee

Horned Lark

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

Tree Swallow

Violet-green Swallow

Bank Swallow

Barn Swallow

Cliff Swallow

Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Red-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatch

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Rock Wren

House Wren

European Starling

Gray Catbird

Brown Thrasher

Northern Mockingbird

Eastern Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird


Swainson’s Thrush

Hermit Thrush

American Robin

House Sparrow

House Finch

Red Crossbill

Pine Siskin

Lesser Goldfinch

American Goldfinch

Chestnut-collared Longspur

Chipping Sparrow

Clay-colored Sparrow

Lark Sparrow

Lark Bunting

White-crowned Sparrow

White-throated Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Lincoln’s Sparrow

Green-tailed Towhee

Spotted Towhee

Yellow-headed Blackbird

Western Meadowlark

Orchard Oriole

Bullock’s Oriole

Baltimore Oriole

Red-winged Blackbird

Brown-headed Cowbird

Brewer’s Blackbird

Common Grackle

Great-tailed Grackle

Yellow-breasted Chat

Northern Waterthrush

Black-and-white Warbler

Orange-crowned Warbler

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Common Yellowthroat

Northern Parula

Yellow Warbler

Blackpoll Warbler

Palm Warbler

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Wilson’s Warbler

Western Tanager

Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Black-headed Grosbeak

Lazuli Bunting


Barb Gorges invites readers to share their bird sightings and stories. Email or call 307-634-0463. Her bird columns are archived at

Reminder … Cheyenne Big Day Bird Count

Bullocks Beauty
Bullock’s Oriole

Today, May 16, 2020, is the Cheyenne Big Day Bird Count. The weather is wonderful and we hope a lot of you were able to get out and bird!

Be sure to submit your sightings using our convenient Google form.

Cheyenne Big Day Bird Count Form 2020

If you have put your report into eBird you can easily transfer your list of birds to the Google form. Go to eBird and pull up your checklist. In the upper right corner, click on “Checklist Tools”. Drop down to “email Yourself”. In your email, copy your list and paste it into the “List” box on the form.

Happy Bird Day!

More Birdie Activities While at Home

May 2020 Hooded Warbler Photo Ray HennessyiStockFrom the National Audubon Society (at Audubon.Org) (Hooded Warbler. Photo: Ray Hennessy/iStock)

Can you tell warbler songs apart? You can learn to distinguish a few of the confusing songs at the website below.

Sharpen your skills

May 2020 Red-tailed Hawk by Nora LambertMacaulay Library

(Red-tailed Hawk by Nora Lambert/Macaulay Library)

From online news – Online resources to enjoy birds from your home

In difficult moments, birds continue to provide the hope and escape into nature that they always have for millions of people every day. The people at eBird have pulled together some of their favorite ways to improve our lives with birds.

               Explore online resources here.

From American Birding Association (

“So You’re Noticing Birds All of a Sudden…”  by Ted Floyd

Here are 10 tips for watching and enjoying birds that you can use at home or in the field.

Click Here

From Environment for the Americas

 Go to their website, above, to learn about the journeys of some of the 2020 World Migratory Bird Day focal bird species. Each week they highlight a different species.