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Outdoors

  • Beloved chipping sparrows arrive early to area

    One of the most beloved birds across America is the little chipping sparrow. This little red-capped sparrow probably lived in or along the edge of natural openings in the forest, such as along streams and lakeshores or along the edge of natural clearings where trees had blown down or died from old age or other reasons.
    Then when human beings started to make small clearings in the forest for their homes, towns and agriculture, the chipping sparrows found more habitat available and began to increase in numbers. Almost everyone seemed to have a pair nesting in their backyard.

  • Anything can happen during magical month of May

    When I think of terns, I usually think of ocean shores, but there is one beautiful little tern that is found across the United States and Canada on small fresh water inland ponds, especially on prairie sloughs: the black tern.

  • Late and large straggler: Pelican returns to Evergreen Lake

    Spring has been up to her fickle tricks again with a wet soggy snow last Wednesday, May 11, followed by an overcast day on Thursday, May 12. By late afternoon, she had apparently had enough of her sulking and cleared off to a partly blue sky and some very welcome sunshine.
    My friend Loie Evans had taken me into town for a doctor’s appointment, and as we were headed home up Bear Creek Canyon, she was telling me all the interesting migrants she had seen on Wednesday at Evergreen Lake in the snow. As she ended an amazing list, she added, “But no pelicans.”

  • Spring birds make their appearance right on time

    Spring has finally arrived with days hovering around 70 degrees and nights only just freezing. Here in the foothills, I don’t trust the night temperatures until after June 1, and even then we have a frost occasionally. Most of our summer birds arrive during the first week of May, and many of them came in as usual last week.

  • Teal, gulls plentiful at Evergreen Lake this spring

    There have been many species of birds on Evergreen Lake during April. Despite the cool weather, the ice has remained out and with open water, many birds stop just long enough to rest and feed as they continue to move northward for the summer.

    One day last week, we had a thunderstorm in the early afternoon that started with a loud clap of thunder followed by a heavy rain, then sleet, then wet snow, followed by hail and more thunder and lightning. As weird as that seems, I can only say that is more or less typical of spring weather in the mountains.

  • New product helps control persistent woodpeckers

    With the arrival of spring every year, I begin to receive phone calls from the readers of this column, asking for advice on how to keep woodpeckers from making holes in their houses. All members of the woodpecker family are designed with stiff tail feathers and strong feet to prop themselves against tree trunks, and sharp stout beaks to make holes in wood.

  • New product helps control persistent woodpeckers

    With the arrival of spring every year, I begin to receive phone calls from the readers of this column, asking for advice on how to keep woodpeckers from making holes in their houses. All members of the woodpecker family are designed with stiff tail feathers and strong feet to prop themselves against tree trunks, and sharp stout beaks to make holes in wood.

  • Robin song fills the springtime gloaming

    I just came in from the patio where I was listening for a robin singing his twilight song. I have always loved the evening hours just before dark. It’s a magical time often referred to as the gloaming.

  • New book details bird migration information

    The next two months are the most exciting time of the year to all birders. They are the months of spring migration, when thousands of birds move from South and Central America to their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada.
    It is not quite clear why birds make this journey of thousands of miles twice a year, but they do. Many of them migrate at night. Unseen, they pass overhead with no one the wiser except for hearing their call notes. Call notes are short chirps that birds use to keep their flocks together in flight.

  • Skunks and their smell are a sign of spring

    The vernal equinox occurs when the tilt of the Earth and angle of the sun is directly overhead at the Equator at noon, thus causing equal hours of daylight and darkness. This occurs annually between March 20 and March 22. Thus, this year, the first day of spring was officially on March 20. From that day forward, the days get longer and the hours of darkness decrease until June when the summer solstice marks the longest day of the year, also known as midsummerís eve.