Welcome to the Black Canyon Audubon Society

Black Canyon Audubon Society was formed in 1990 and is one of 11 National Audubon Society chapters in Colorado. The BCAS is committed to the conservation of natural resources through our birding, conservation, and educational activities. The region covered by the Black Canyon Audubon society encompasses nearly 8,300 square miles and includes Delta, Gunnison, Hinsdale, Montrose, San Miguel and Ouray counties. Within this region, elevations vary from 4,695 to 14,309 feet above sea level. Rainfall ranges from less than 8 inches per year in the lower valleys to more than 50 on the higher peaks. Vegetation varies from desert scrub to boreal forest and alpine tundra.

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Canyon Wrenderings Newsletter

2024 Dues for the Black Canyon Audubon Society are now due

BCAS membership runs on an annual basis beginning on January 1 of each year.  Please renew your membership by going to the Join BCAS Page on this website and using one of the two payment option buttons there.  Your dues are very important in making it possible for us to have monthly speakers, keep our educational programs running, and to facilitate our local projects.  We appreciate your being a BCAS member!

BCAS Annual Dinner

Thursday, June 6, 6:00-9:00 p.m.  Please join us and invite your friends to The Grove in Delta on June 6. Appetizers will be served at 6:00 p.m. and drinks can be purchased. Dinner will be served at 6:45 p.m. The speaker will be Ben Goldfarb, an author from Salida.  Dinners are priced at $40 each.  Please complete the Reservation Form, which can be accessed by clicking HERE.  Payment can be made by sending the form and a check to the address on the form or by clicking the appropriate donate button below for the number of dinner reservations desired. If you pay online, please email your information about meal choices, names of guests, your name and phone number to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  If you have any questions, please contact: Kristal Stidham (580) 919-5987 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

One Dinner Reservation | 40 USD


Two Dinner Reservations | 80 USD


Three Dinner Reservations | 120 USD


Four Dinner Reservations | 160 USD

About Our Speaker: Ben Goldfarb   Ben_Goldfarb_photo.jpeg

Ben Goldfarb is the author of Eager: The Surprising Secret Life of Beavers and Why They Matter, and winner of the PEN/E.O. Wilson Literary Science Writing Award. In his most recent book, Crossings, How Road Ecology is Shaping the Future of our Planet, Goldfarb travels throughout the United States and around the world to investigate how roads have transformed our planet. He will speak about how humans have altered the natural world―and how we can create a better future for all living beings.

Rocky Mountain PBS segment on Sandhill Cranes at Fruitgrowers Reservoir/Eckert Crane Days

2024 Fruitgrowers Reservoir/Eckert Crane Days

Help BCAS Obtain a MOTUS Station

Want to join us in helping to increase knowledge about where migratory birds go?  Black Canyon Audubon Society is leading the way to establish a MOTUS tower in the Montrose area.  The Motus Wildlife Tracking System is an international collaborative network of researchers that use automated radio telemetry to simultaneously track hundreds of individuals of numerous species of birds, bats, and insects. The system enables a community of researchers, educators, organizations, and citizens to undertake impactful research and education on the ecology and conservation of migratory animals. Researchers can now place tiny tracking units on birds, bats, and even insects.  Researchers are increasingly adding trackers to  flying animals and insects, so the sceintific information expected to result will grow in importance.  Signals from these can be picked up by MOTUS towers as they pass by, providing important insight into bird, bat, and insect migratory movements.  As more MOTUS towers are added to the system, the more information can be gathered.  The nearest MOTUS towers are currently in Grand Junction, and a Montrose tower could add important data for use by scientists regionally and throughout the world.

Getting a tower set up in the Montrose area will be rather expensive, so BCAS has created a Go Fund Me account to raise money.  Here is the link:  https://gofund.me/3a9eb83c

You can also donate directly to BCAS for the project using the Donate button to the left.  Add a note when you complete your payment that the donation is for the MOTUS station.  Thank you for your contribution to this cause. For more information, please contact David Sinton at his This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 Field Trips

**If you are vaccinated and feel comfortable traveling with others that are vaccinated, carpooling can take place. 

If you are not vaccinated, you should drive yourself and wear a mask when around others.**

**See the Field Trips page for participation guidelines**

First Tuesday Field Trips

First Tuesday Field Trips will be on May 7, and June 4 at 9:00 a.m.  Meet at the public parking lot at the intersection of N. 2nd St. and N. Cascade Ave. in Montrose. A leader will accompany the group to a nearby birding hotspot. Return about noon. Independent driving and social distancing, including wearing masks and not sharing equipment, will be the protocol in use. Return should be by about noon.  Bring a snack, water, binoculars, and field guides. RSVP for all fieldtrips at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Please let us know if you are coming, so we don’t leave you behind. This is especially in case of sudden weather changes.

Fruitgrowers Reservoir

Saturday, April 20.  Fruitgrowers Reservior in the Hart Basin is one of the top hotspots on Colorado’s Western Slope.  A variety of migrating birds, including ducks, gulls, shorebirds, and some early migrant songbirds should be present in late April.  For those in the Montrose area, meet at the public parking lot at the corner of N. 2nd Street and N. Cascade Ave. in Montrose at 8:00 AM. .We’ll wrap up around noon and head back to Montrose.  If you live near Delta, you can meet us at the parking lot on North Road around 8:45 am. Dress in layers, bring water, a lunch or snacks, and a spotting scope, if you have one. Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your spot.

West End of Montrose County Field Trip

Wednesday and Thursday, May 8 and 9.  Black Canyon Audubon will sponsor a mullti-day field trip to Paradox Valley, near Nucla, and other West End venues for a spring birding adventure.  The opportunity to see over 70 species is very high.  Expect several short walks to access bird habitat.  The Paradox Valley and West End areas have a great mix of habitats ranging from desert scrub to classic alpine to riparian, allowing for a rich mix of birds during the spring migration.  Expect to see a variety of waterfowl, black-throated sparrow, vireos, yellow-breasted chat, Grace’s warbler, black phoebe, and a host of migrants.  

The group will meet at the Vestal House in Naturita Colo. at 9:00 AM on May 8.  Day 1 will wrap up near Naturita, so participants can access either hotel accommodations or camp for the night.  The Uravan Ball Park campground is open.  It is 13 miles from Naturita along Highway 141 and the Vestal House in Naturita has nice rooms at reasonable prices.

There will be a potluck dinner the evening of May 8 at the hotel.  The field trip is limited to 12 participants.

Birding the Colorado River

Friday-Sunday, May 17 to 19.  Not a BCAS Fieldtrip, but we are promoting the trip. The Colorado Canyons Association (CCA) will again organize a fully supported raft trip focused on birding the Ruby/Horsethief section of the Colorado River.  Visit CCA’s website for more information.

Escalante State Wildlife Area

Wednesday, May 29.  BCAS has received permission to visit the Hamilton Tract of the Escalante SWA to document bird species.  Normally, the wildlife area is closed to visitors during the spring and early summer to protect nesting birds.  We will be eBirding the results.  The field trip is limited to six individuals to limit impacts on nesting birds.  Sign up by contacting Bill Harris at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..   

100 Bird Challenge

Saturday, June 1. BCAS is throwing down the gauntlet by challenging interested members in spotting 100 bird species in a single day. The rules are simple. Go look for as many species as possible from dawn til dusk on June 1. Several of our members have done this in past years with good success. Members are encouraged to form teams of 3-4 people, then plan out a route. The team that spots the most species will receive the eternal admiration of all BCAS members. Will a Red-tailed Hawk be seen that day?

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Saturday, June 8.  Late Spring is a great time to be at the park, with many birds singing on territory and raptors riding the thermal around the deep canyon. Expect to see and hear flycatchers, grosbeaks, swifts, and swallows along with wildflowers. Dress in layers, bring water and a lunch or snacks, and binoculars. Meet at the public parking lot at the corner of N. 2nd Street and N. Cascade Ave. in Montrose at 7:00 AM.  This is an early start to get to the park ahead of the crowds and hear more birds.  We should be back in Montrose by early afternoon.  Please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to reserve your spot.

 Upcoming Programs

Except where noted, all meetings will begin at 7:00 p.m. at the Montrose Field House at the corner of Rio Grande Avene and Colorado Avenue (South 9th St.), except as noted.  All are welcoma dn there is no charge, though donations are gratefully appreciated.  For additional information or to let us know that you would like to do a presentation, please contact Kristal Stridham at (580) 919-5987 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Survival of Desert Bighorn Sheep

Thursday, May 9, 7:00 p.m., Montrose Field House.  Our guest speaker will be Joel Berger, Colorado State University professor and wildlife conservationist. Joel has nearly 50 years’ experience studying endangered mammal species in some of the most extreme environments on earth. Coming to us fresh from his field season with desert bighorn, he will make a case for why we should care about their survival in particular.

BCAS Book Club Selections April - December 2024

Black Canyon Audubon Book Club.  Third Tuesdays, at 2:00 p.m. Meetings will be virtual (usually in the fall and winter) or in-person in Montrose (usually in Spring and Summer). Contact Bruce Ackerman for more details. Please join us, even if you haven’t read the book yet! Let Bruce know if you would like to be on the separate email list specifically for the Book Club.

April 16, 2024: Crossings: How Road Ecology Is Shaping the Future of Our Planet by Ben Goldfarb (2023) -how wild animals experience roads as alien forces and disruptions and innovative solutions to the problem, author will be speaking at the BCAS annual meeting on June 6.

May 21, 2024: Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons in the Lives of Migratory Birds by Miyoko Chu (2006) -the ebb and flow of migration, the cycle of seasons, and the interconnectedness between distant places.

June 18, 2024: The Hidden Life of Trees Peter Wohlleben (2015) -the science that shows us how trees communicate, feel, and live in social networks.

July 16, 2024: Bad Luck Way by Bryce Andrews (2014) -Cattle ranching in the wolf habitat of southwest Montana.

August 20, 2024: A book by E.O. Wilson - Let's choose one of the many classics by the eminent American biologist, naturalist, ecologist, and entomologist. Exact title TBD.

September 17, 2024: Merchants of Doubt by Naomi Oreskes (2011) -how science works and how scientific information is hijacked by politics.

October 15, 2024: Speaking of Bears by Rachel Mazur (2015) -history of bear management in Yosemite and Sequoia & King Canyon National Parks.

November 19, 2024: Ten Birds that Changed the World by Stephen Moss (2023) -a very readable blend of science, history and culture; how birds have influenced mythology; includes raven, turkey, cormorant, bald eagle and more.

December 17, 2024: Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants by Robin Wall Kimmerer (2015) - explores relationships between humans and the land, with a focus on the role of plants and botany in both Native American and Western European traditions; this book has quickly become a classic in conservation literature.

Roubideau Rim Wildlife Rescue

Brenda Miller is in need of lumber - scrap or new - posts, plywood, rails, boards - for construction of rehabilitation cages. 

Any condition.

Please contact Brenda Miller at her This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call her at (970) 209-5946. She has a truck and trailer and will pick it up.

This is a very worthy cause, as Brenda has been the only wildlife rehabilitator in the Montrose/Delta area and is trying to reestablish her service and maintain her license.

Roubideau Rim Wildlife Rescue is a 501c3 charitable organization.  If you do not have lumber for her, perhaps you would consider donating to her cause.

Brenda Miller, Executive Director                                              

Roubideau Rim Wildlife Rescue, 501c3

15498 Transfer Rd., Olathe, CO.   81425

Phone 970-209-5946                                                          

Click here for her Facebook page    

Volunteers Needed

We are looking for some volunteers who can drive injured raptors to rehab centers. Usually the bird is in a pet kennel, and just needs a ride. Nothing hard about it. Please contact Bruce Ackerman at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call him at (727) 858-5857 to be on the list for future needs.

To Ecuador - Quito and the Galapagos

by Caroline W. Evans

What strikes me first about Ecuador is how genuinely happy the people are to welcome us into their country. The four of us (Susan Chandler-Reed and Alan Reed and Joe and Caroline Evans) are treated gently as honored guests and never feel we’re merely being tolerated. Secondly I am astounded by the physical diversity of Ecuador - snow-covered volcanoes, deep valleys, cloud forests, the Amazon rainforest, and the Galapagos Islands.

We consider skipping our November trip to Ecuador as it is on the State Department’s Travel Advisory Level 2 Yellow list stating, “Exercise Increased Caution” due to violence, political unrest, and the recent assassination of a presidential candidate who advocated cracking down on cocaine traffic and drug cartels. The strongest Travel Advisory is Level 4 Red meaning stay the heck out of there.  We decide to go.  It’s reasonably easy to get to Ecuador - we fly Montrose to Denver, connect to Houston, wait, and wait some more, then catch a 5 1/2-hour flight from Houston to Quito. We arrive shortly before midnight, 11 PM Montrose time.

Ecuador is about the size of Colorado, and like here it’s divided by a mountain range - the Andes. Quito, the capital city, is nearly 2 miles high at 2850 meters (9350 ft) and is in a valley surrounded by the Illinza Peaks, both over 5,000 meters, more than 17,000 ft.

Ecuadorians are set up for American tourists. Quito could use Montrose’s motto - “Stay here, play everywhere,” and like us, they appreciate the dollars tourists bring in. In fact their currency is pegged to the US dollar.  Drivers and guides speak pretty good English and stay in business by avoiding dangerous locations. They welcome “guests” cheerfully and express pride in their country by frequently beginning sentences with, “In my country we …  -have some of the highest peaks in the Andes including Mount Chimborazo which is 6,263 m (20,548 ft), -export the most roses of any country in the Southern Hemisphere, -honor the Virgen de El Panecillo, the tallest winged Virgin Mary in the world who guards Quito.

Think Quito, Ecuador, think Equator. We enjoy desayuno (breakfast) in the Southern Hemisphere and almuerzo (lunch) in the Northern Hemisphere. Our first stop is the Equator Museum where we do water flushing experiments. Just for fun, take a look at the direction your water spins down your own toilet; it’s the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere, and spins not at all on the Equator.

Our guide takes us to Old Town, where we dance to the music of local musicians, and are lured into a chocolate shop to taste and buy local brands. Now fortified, we search for favorite gargoyles hunched atop the Gothic Basilica de Voto Nacional. We find an Andes Condor, iguanas, Blue-footed Boobies, dolphins, and Galápagos Giant Tortoises - animals we count on seeing during our travels.

From Quito we fly 1,312 km (815 miles) to the Galapagos. On approach, I imagine thirteen black basaltic volcanic islands under clear skies surrounded by deep blue ocean. It’s a scene from Master and Commander. I am not disappointed.  Once landed we board a ship for a 7-day cruise of the southernmost and oldest islands of the archipelago.  The Galapagos Island are a protected treasure. Only four of the islands have established settlements; 97% of the Galapagos are protected National Park lands. Licensed guides enforce limited numbers of tourists on protected islands each day, and keep people from wandering off trails where misplaced feet stumble over a nest, displace chicks, or interfere with an animal’s search for food.  Among the endemic birds there are 17 species of drab, mostly black, brown, or grey Darwin Finches identified with some difficulty by body and beak size and shape. Some names describe what the birds eat such as Vampire Finches (yes, they do drink the blood of Redfooted Boobies), or where they live, such as Tree, Cactus, and Ground Finches, or what they look like such as the tiny Warbler Finch. And there is the Woodpecker Finch that uses twigs or cactus spines to dig insects and larva out of trees.

On most islands we identify sooty colored Lava Gulls, and in a tangled mangrove bay we see Lava (Striated) Herons preening on rocks, and watch diminutive Galapagos Penguins socialize at their nests, and cavort and hunt fish in the water. We also see the only Flightless Cormorants in the world who display short wings that are more like paddles for swimming than for flying.  Although not unique to the Galapagos, Blue-footed, and Nazca Boobies do not fit the ridiculous images invoked by their names. These sword-billed birds plunge from a height 15 to 24 meters (50-80 ft) and slice 4.5-20 meters (15-65 ft) into the sea to snap up fish.

Guides keep us occupied throughout our ocean voyage as we sail and drop anchor among these volcanic islands. Daily activities include zodiac sight-seeing tours, kayaking, beach walking, trail hiking, and deep water or off-shore snorkeling. The water is clear when not turbulent and colder than we expected, but the chilly ocean currents carry plenty of oxygen to support plankton (the soup of the sea) for fish, Galapagos Sea lions, porpoises and whales.

We are not concerned when the captain announces, “We have a change in plan. We’ll anchor to the north of St. Cristobal Island tonight as wind and waves from the south make sleeping uncomfortable.”  After a gentle night’s sleep on the quiet northern side of San Cristobal, we walk to Tortuga Bay on the southern side of the island with the intent of returning via local water taxi back to the north.

Tortuga Bay is a black lava cove that shelters a sparkling white sand beach. Today waves throttle the shore, little shorebirds called sanderlings rush back and forth between surges seeking tiny crustaceans brought in from the sea. Marine Iguanas surf between waves and mouthfuls of seaweed.  We march along the beach until we reach a calm lagoon. This is a hangout for local families and friends who gather to picnic on this Saints Day holiday.  A water taxi waits aside the jetty. It’s a partially enclosed boat called a panga, and now it is riding high in the water.  “Follow me and we’ll have a look at Galapagos Sea lions,” says our guide.  “Shouldn’t we board now?” I wonder.  “Not to worry, our seats are reserved.”

We return a few minutes later. The boat full and is now riding low in the water. We cross a narrow plank to board, and a crew member hands us life jackets of variable sizes, with missing straps and broken zippers. I squeeze between a child and auntie in a partially covered cabin. The rest of our group scrunch together in the stern. It begins to rain. It rains harder. We push off and cruise out of the lagoon into open sea.  Wooosh! As our boat rises up broadside to a 10 foot wave, the locals scream in unison like on a rollercoaster. Then all gasp, as we plummet down the steep back side of the wave and pound at the bottom; another whoosh, rise, screams, and pound. Repeat.  I fiddle with a broken zipper and look at the gnarly basalt shore and plan what to do if we are tossed. Woosh, screams, and pound! On the rise of the next wave, the child beside me bolts across the small cabin into her grandmother’s arms. I eye my husband who doesn’t get alarmed by much. His cheeks are a bit green and he is unsuccessful in connecting straps so his life jacket doesn’t blow off!  Our group is silent.  We learn something more about Ecuadorians - we might enjoy the water taxi more if we scream along with them. As it is, thirty minutes later, we return to port merely wet. Time for another adventure.

Our days in the Galapagos pass by quickly. Not enough time for me. There are six more Galapagos Islands to explore and Galapagos Owls, Fur seals, sharks, and more finches to see. Ten days in Ecuador is not long enough to appreciate this extraordinary country. Too soon we return to the mainland for the next leg of our trip to learn more about Ecuadorian culture and to search for birds in the Cloud Forest and the Amazon.

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 Chapter Goals

  • To promote the conservation of natural resources through informative public programs, our newsletter and this web site.
  • To provide the opportunity for the observation and study of birds and other wildlife, through our field trips.
  • To offer early education programs including bird banding stations and classroom bird skin programs.
  • To empower our members and the public with the knowledge to be effective environmental advocates.
  • To contribute to the recovery of the Gunnison Sage Grouse (GUSG) through joint efforts with GUSG working groups and federal and state agencies.


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Leucistic red tail Neil Perry 2019l

Leucistic Red-tailed Hawk near Solar Road south of Montrose.  Photo taken by Robin Lewis on March 26, 2019.



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