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Outdoors

  • 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.

  • Wildflower or weed: Enjoy the beautiful colors

    It is a fine summer evening. I am sitting on the patio, trying to write this article and cool off after another hot day and a rain shower. The cooler air is refreshing, and I can see many wildflowers in bloom in the yard. I really miss being able to get out for walks in the woods but can’t tote my oxygen tank, and the woodland way is too uneven, tilted and rough, for me to traverse safely. So, I try to be content with what I can see from the patio and car port.

  • Usual summer birds flock to feeders with their young

    The next few weeks of late July and early August are not the most exciting time in the bird world. Although a few early fall migrants will drift through, there is no big movement of birds.

    I still have red crossbills coming to the feeder with young, so I have had a good chance to study all their various plumage. They are truly beautiful birds that vary in color, especially the adult males that range from yellow to orange to light red to dark red.

  • Summer rains bring colorful wildflowers to the foothills

    Late June and early July are probably the most beautiful time of year in the mountains. Rain has finally come in enough quantity to restore life to the foothills and everything is lush green.

    It is so green that you might think you are in Ireland. The grasses are green, the trees are green, kinnikinnick is green, our whole immediate world is green with blue sky overhead, and around every twist of a road or trail you are greeted by a splash of color from wildflowers.

  • Great blue herons are not uncommon in foothills

    A reader of this column sent me a message via the Canyon Courier this past week, saying she had seen a great blue heron along North Turkey Creek and was wondering if that was unusual. Yes, it is a bit unusual this early in the season.