For some time now, the birds at our feeders have been nervous, flying into the prickly thickness of a nearby blue spruce or darting into the lilac bushes every time anything moves in the yard or even inside the window. Such behavior, especially in cold, snowy weather, can mean only one thing. There is a predator of some kind working in the area. But what kind? That is the question.
Ames Rau called us last Sunday to say that he had been down at Bear Creek Lake Park, where he had witnessed a red-tailed hawk refurbishing its nest. It may seem odd that any birds are preparing to nest when we are experiencing well below freezing temperatures and several inches of snow cover the ground, but it is a common practice for the large resident hawks and owls to do so.
This year’s Evergreen-Idaho Springs Christmas Bird Count dawned bright and clear. The temperature did not rise much above freezing all day, but with the sun out and little wind, except at higher elevations, it was not unpleasant to be afield. We certainly have had much colder counts (6 degrees below zero one year) and much warmer counts (70 degrees at noon another year), which is typical of Colorado’s variable weather.
Winter seems to have settled in with a fairly stable blanket of white. However, it is not too deep for walking in most of our area, and all but the back roads are fairly passable. This makes it possible for most anyone to get out to see what winter has in store.
Once more the holiday season is upon us, and with it comes the 108th Christmas Bird Count. As usual, the Evergreen Audubon Society will participate, covering the Evergreen-Idaho Springs area. This year’s count will be held on Sunday, Dec. 16. All Audubon members, guests, friends and the public are invited to participate.
The mule deer that wander through our yard are exceedingly handsome right now. They are sporting their new winter coats and are sleek and fat. It has been a good year for them, with plenty of browse — to which my lilac bushes bear mute testimony. They also had a prolific crop of young, with many of the does bearing twins — and one beautiful large doe crossed our driveway one evening with triplets frolicking around her in the dusk.