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Outdoors

  • Running through the lore of roadrunner history

    The greater roadrunner, which has been seen for the past few months at Dinosaur Ridge, has been an interesting visitor.
    Although they are regular residents in the southeast corner of Colorado, they seldom go north of that. They are essentially desert birds and are found all across the desert Southwest. That little corner of our state is the only place where they apparently have traditionally felt at home.

  • Willows begin their slow ascent back to spring life

    We’ve been blessed with spring-like weather during much of the month of January, while the high country has had plenty of snow for the ski resorts. Who could ask for any better weather for all of us? Now I can’t help but wonder if we will have to pay for this fine weather with too much snow in February and March. I hope not.

  • Rabbits, hares not as abundant, thanks to predators

    Winter is always a good time to look for rabbit tracks in the snow. There are two rabbits that can be seen in this area and a third that can be seen farther afield in Colorado.

  • Insect-eating brown creepers join winter flocks

    One of the most interesting winter birds found in our area is the little brown creeper. This delightful little bird is actually a permanent resident that lives in the area year-round.

    While they are not abundant, they are regularly found in their preferred habitat above 7,000 feet to timberline. The brown creeper is a rather solitary bird during much of the year. During the nesting season, a pair tends to stay by themselves in their territory, keeping their nest well hidden and not associating much with other birds or man.

  • Rare golden-crowned sparrow visits Red Rocks

    There has been a golden-crowned sparrow appearing at the feeder behind Red Rocks Park Trading Post most all winter. The golden-crowned sparrow is a Pacific bird found only in the western part of North America from the Cascade and Sierra Nevada Mountains westward to the Pacific and some of the islands offshore.

  • Think about planting a garden to ward off winter doldrums

    Today is a very spring-like day, with high winds and temperatures in the high 40s. It’s not spring, but it is giving me spring fever. This is the kind of day on which my husband Bill used to say, “Let’s drive down to the Rio Grande Valley for a few day so of early spring birding.”

  • Goldfinches in winter plumage a pleasure to find

    A pleasant surprise this past week was a letter to the Canyon Courier with photos enclosed of some American goldfinches at a feeder. The photos were taken by Bud and Sandy Madigan at their home feeder in the Upper Bear Creek area. The photos helped me identify the birds.

  • Time to choose from the variety of Christmas trees

    Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, where are you? It is a real delight to live in an area where our slopes are decorated with Christmas trees all year. Locally, the evergreens that cover our hillsides are mainly ponderosa pine. These trees are beautiful at most any season, but I am especially fond of them in spring when new growth tips their branches and in winter when they are flocked with snow or frost. The soughing of the wind through their branches in a summer wind can’t be equaled by any other pine, and an old ponderosa pine is magnificent in its towering grandeur.

  • Elegant waxwings grace winter landscape

    Many people complain to me that they find winter birding dull because there are no pretty birds around.
    True, the winter residents at most feeders, pine siskins, chickadees, nuthatches, hairy and down woodpeckers, house sparrows, house finches, and the various forms of the dark-eyed junco are mostly gray, brown, and black-and-white birds. Not very exciting or colorful, but they are still interesting.

  • Invasion of the destructive dwarf mistletoe

    Editor’s Note: Sylvia’s column will reappear next week. This column is reprinted from Dec. 10, 2008.

    Christmas is not far away, and as we do our shopping and baking, our thoughts turn to Christmas decorations. In England and in our Eastern states, mistletoe is an important part of Christmas. The mistletoe common throughout the South grows mainly on oaks. It forms huge clumps or balls, and the whole plant generally is cut from the tree. The sprigs with the white berries are usually sold for Christmas decorating.