FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Some unusual feathered friends have been visiting Platte River Power Authority's Rawhide Energy Station.
For the twenty-seventh consecutive year, Rawhide was a site for the Audubon Society's Christmas Bird Count. Seventy-three species were observed--the most since 1988--during the count held on Dec. 31, 2012. Notable because of their rarity to the area were the Greater White-fronted Goose, Virginia Rail, Common Redpoll and Long-eared Owl. Additionally, the American White Pelican and Chihuahuan Raven were counted at Rawhide for the first time.
" Rawhide provides a unique habitat--a large water body open year-round--that is highly attractive to waterbirds," said Doug Kibbe, the count's organizer. "The thousands of ducks and geese that winter here attract numbers of raptors, particularly Bald Eagles, making the reservoir an excellent location to view many species."
The Christmas Bird Count at Rawhide centers on Hamilton Reservoir. Hamilton is a man-made reservoir containing recycled water–treated effluent from the City of Fort Collins, Drake Water Treatment Facility--used for cooling purposes at the power plant. Following its use within the plant, the water retains some of the heat extracted from the electricity generation process and is returned to the reservoir. As a result, the reservoir remains relatively warm and ice-free during the winter.
" The use of a reservoir rather than cooling towers at Rawhide is an example of how Platte River designs and operates its facilities to benefit the environment," said Jackie Sargent, Platte River's general manager. "It's exciting to see that so many wonderful species of birds like to call Rawhide home during the winter."
A visitors' overlook is open to the public at the south end of Hamilton Reservoir. The overlook is normally open from sunrise to sunset, but may be closed without notice. Platte River recommends calling 970-229-1776 ahead of time to make sure the overlook is open. To reach the overlook, visitors should travel on I-25 to exit 288. Rawhide and the overlook are located about 3 miles west of exit 288 on Buckeye Road (Larimer County Road 82).
American White Pelican
About the Christmas Bird Count
The Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count is an international event that provides critical data on bird population trends. Tens of thousands of volunteers throughout the Americas took part in the 113th Christmas Bird Count held Dec. 14, 2012 through January 5, 2013. More information can be found athttp://birds.audubon.org/christmas-bird-count.