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Outdoors

  • 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.

  • Wild turkeys not very abundant in the foothills

    I well remember the first wild turkey I ever saw. I was birding in Alleghany State Park with a friend, Kay McCann, and she said, “Let’s walk down this trail to the river. About a week ago, someone saw a wild turkey near here.” We went down the trail and sure enough, on the far bank of the river were two wild turkeys getting a drink. We froze in our tracks, and the big birds continued to drink.

  • Surf scoter a rare sight at Evergreen Lake

    Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 1 and 2, Loie Evans identified an immature surf scoter on Evergreen Lake. No matter how good a birder you are or how sure you are of your identification, it is always a good idea to have at least one other person see and identify a rare bird.

  • First snowflakes herald the promise of a beautiful winter

    When I was in fifth grade, we were required to learn a poem and present it before our class. The poem I chose to learn and recite was the one printed below.

    The First Snowfall
    The snow had begun in the gloaming,
    And busily all the night
    Had been heaping field and highway
    With a silence deep and white.
    Every pine and fir and hemlock
    Wore ermine too dear for an earl,
    And the poorest twig on the elm tree
    Was ridged inch deep with pearl.
    From sheds new-roofed with Carrara

  • Solitaires stay around and stake out territories all winter

    The first Townsend’s solitaire that I ever saw was shortly after we moved to Colorado in April 1965. I was looking around our new yard and saw a strange gray bird just across the road, clinging to a giant mullein stalk in the open valley above Little Cub Creek. I watched it digging insects out of the dead mullein stalk and thought how often I had seen downy woodpeckers acting in the same manner.

  • Solitaires stay around and stake out territories all winter

    The first Townsend’s solitaire that I ever saw was shortly after we moved to Colorado in April 1965. I was looking around our new yard and saw a strange gray bird just across the road, clinging to a giant mullein stalk in the open valley above Little Cub Creek. I watched it digging insects out of the dead mullein stalk and thought how often I had seen downy woodpeckers acting in the same manner.

  • Squirrels bring life, activity through winter months

    When I was out on the patio to catch some of the fine fall sunshine the other day, I was sworn at with a loud, vociferous, emphatic blast of squirrel language. The western red squirrel, which has been challenging me all summer, had in just a few cold days claimed the patio as his territory with firm determination and loud raucous cussing at everyone else who thought to claim it for a few hours.

  • Get ready for winter birds now that first snowfall has arrived

    The first snow has fallen. Unfortunately, it came three weeks early this year. However, the fall color is still brilliant in some places, and we still have nice weather next week, according to the weatherman.
    I feel that it is early, since the first wet, soggy snow usually arrives on Halloween as if it were a mean trick, leaving all the new kids freezing in their thin costumes. You can always tell the newcomers from anyone who has lived here a few years because they learn to buy Halloween costumes large enough to go over their winter parkas.

  • Winged, furry creatures get ready for winter

    When I have time to sit out in the autumn sunshine, my favorite occupation is watching how all the various wild creatures that visit my yard are getting ready for winter. Nearly all of the “summer” birds have prepared for winter by leaving.

  • Trees turn on their vibrant fall colors

    It’s that time of year again when everyone is out looking at aspen leaves. Nothing makes Colorado’s scenery more beautiful than the gold of aspen leaves. We have aspen bowls through mile upon mile of our mountain country, nestled among the dark green of pines, spruces and firs. They are golden treasure for everyone to admire and share.

    I am amazed that Denver has not long since built and sponsored an Aspen Bowl where it could host and play major football games.