Chat Alley

At South Platte Park, in southwest Metro Denver, a trail meanders along a low ridge on the west side of Eaglewatch Lake.  Winding through a landscape of shrubby meadows, lakeside woodlands and groves of cottonwoods, this trail is one of the better avenues for observing woodland songbirds in the south Metro Area.

During the warmer months, yellow-breasted chats are especially common here, delivering their endless sermons from woodland pulpits, their colorful vestments glowing in the bright morning sun; I observed seven of them today, spaced along the ridge.  Other common summer residents include gray catbirds, broad-tailed hummingbirds, yellow warblers, Bullock's orioles, western pewees and house wrens; among the permanent residents are great horned owls, Cooper's hawks, northern flickers, cedar waxwings and black-capped chickadees and this lakeside ridge is a magnet for migrant warblers, vireos and other songbirds (e.g. western tanagers) that stop to rest and feed on their way to the mountains.

In addition, the "chat alley" trail offers broad views of Eaglewatch Lake, which attracts double-crested cormorants, American white pelicans, ospreys, bald eagles, western grebes and a wide variety of waterfowl in the course of the year.  The chats may steal the show on summer mornings but this lakeside ridge has much to offer in any season; the trail is best accessed from parking areas near C-470, via the southern Park entrance from Platte Canyon Road.