Description: Unknown as a breeder in the state before the late 1980s, the Boreal Owl has since proved to be an uncommon resident of spruce-fir forests throughout Colorado. The highest concentrations of its habitat (and therefore of the birds) are in the San Juan mountains. In spring, when the birds are singing (Feb-May), the elevations at which they live are almost entirely snowed in, making access extremely difficult. Only a few roads through good habitat are plowed in winter (Cameron Pass, Guanella Pass, the Grand Mesa road, Slumgullion/Spring Creek Passes). Several other plowed passes (e.g., Wolf Creek Pass, Lizard Head Pass) probably have the owls but have too much traffic and/or not enough proximity to trees.
In late summer (roughly August-October), Boreal habitat is far easier to access. At this time of year the birds rarely sing, though, so your best bet is to play a tape. This is more likely to attract juveniles than adults, and the owls are far more likely to respond with a very loud, sharp downslurred "skiew!" call than with the primary song.
|Brainard Lake area||Boulder|
|Guanella Pass||Clear Creek|
|Bolam Pass Road||Dolores|
|Wheeler Geologic Area||Mineral|
|Cascade Creek||San Juan|