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Outdoors

  • 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.

  • Fall marks the beginning of maturing seeds

    As summer comes to an end, fall arrives with its rich fullness of color. The end of the growing season is marked by the gold of aspen and the abundance of maturing seeds.

  • Young birds learn the ropes at feeders

    It has been fun watching all the young birds coming to the feeders. This has been a particularly successful breeding season, warm enough, food enough and no late June snow. It seems as though all the summer birds have raised successful broods. Even the grey-headed juncos have managed to raise a few of their own, not just one big baby cowbird as they seem to have done for the past several years.

  • Pocket gophers plague flower gardens

    One of the sure signs that summer is coming to an end is the plethora of yellow wildflowers coming into bloom and the sudden reappearance of gopher mounds in your yard. Pocket gophers are small native mammals that spend most of their lives below ground. There are several species and subspecies of them, but you can’t tell them apart except for minor differences that the experts find in the laboratory.

  • Wild mushrooms: Beautiful, tasty and sometimes dangerous

    My mother was an insatiable reader, and she taught all of us to love books and where they could take us by reading to us every day.

  • Foothills play host to an assortment of woodpeckers

    The northern flicker and the hairy and down woodpeckers are the most common woodpeckers that everyone knows, and all three are common feeder birds.
    There are sub-specific forms of all three of these birds, which may show up at your feeder just to confuse you, but they have not been separated into named species yet.

  • Harebells are plentiful with August heat, rain

    Summer continues with monsoon winds, thundershowers and heat. What interests me the most is the increase in relative humidity. When we came to Colorado in 1965, the relative humidity averaged around 7 percent a day. Today it was 49 percent, and every day it is much higher than it was 50 years ago.

  • Gentians, bugling elk signal the end of summer

    The full rich days of August bring the flowering of fringed gentians, the departure of some summer birds and gambling teenage elk enjoying their first taste of independence. The incredibly beautiful fringed gentians are the dominant wildflower in South Park in August.