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Outdoors

  • Songs of spring heard in the hills

    Reprinted from March 15, 2006

     

    March came in like a lamb, but it was a very frisky one. The day was warm, blue and spring-like, but that little lamb kicked up its heels, creating a considerable amount of wind. Since then, March has been as fickle as usual, with warm near-70-degree days spiced with spring snow and typical wind.

  • Finches flock to the tundra

    Reprinted from March 6, 2008

     

    For many years when winter visitors to Colorado called us to inquire about where they could see rosy-finches, we would either take them or send them to the top of Squaw Mountain to visit the Swanlunds.

    When we were faced with this request recently, we didn’t know a really “sure spot” to send these visitors.

  • Special trees hold deep meaning, memories

    Deep winter is rather a quiet time in the out of doors in this area. Black or near black seems to be the predominant color. Even the endless forest seems to be more black than green against the white of winter snow.

    The bitter cold of early February brought a stark black-and-white panorama as cold and sterile as an operating room. However, color is present in small amounts, and the first warms days of March bring forth to welcome spring. The buds and bark of deciduous tree twigs are often quite brilliant and announce the coming of spring long before it finally arrives.

  • Unusual winter birds abundant in the foothills

    There have been many unusual birds reported on the Denver Field Ornithologists Rare Bird Alert this winter. My problem is that the gentleman who makes the recording for this service speaks so rapidly that I found it difficult to understand where they were seen.

    Of most interested to me were reports of two winter wrens, one northern cardinal, some trumpeter swans and barrow’s goldeneyes. I have seen all of these birds but still consider them worth a trip to see again.

  • Grosbeaks, syrup lovers appreciate box elder

    One of the few deciduous trees native to this area is the box elder, Acer negundo, also known as the ash-leaved maple. It is an interesting tree that has made its way all across the Great Plains with a little help from mankind.

    People brought this tree to their early homesteads and planted it in yards as windbreaks around their homes. It is still found in many yards and along many plains water courses.

  • February brings colorful finches to feeders

    February looms ahead, the last really winter month with little to offer except more sunshine and Valentine’s Day. This is not to say that March will be spring for it is the month when we receive our greatest snowfall. Its only redeeming grace is that it has nice spring-like days between snow storms, robins begin to sing their evening song, the days are longer and there is a definite feeling that spring is coming, even though we may be clobbered with two feet of snow the next day.

  • Snow, cold, books and snowberries

    Light snows and bitter cold weather have been the trend in January. It is the kind of weather that makes me want to curl up by the fireplace and read. Since this is the kind of weather we have had for over a month, I should be caught up with my reading, but I’m not.

    There are just so many good new books out that I can’t find enough time. However, there are a few books I’ve read or have read about lately that I fell many readers of this column may find interesting.

  • Starlings are more interesting than people think

    Nearly every winter just after a snow storm, people call me to ask about a beautiful bird at their feeder. It is described in several ways, but usually along the lines that it is mostly black with a lot of purple and green on it, and its whole body is spattered with white stars. When I tell them it sounds like a starling, almost without exception, they reply, “Why, no, it’s not a starling. It’s beautiful.”

  • Cold weather brings out unusual winter birds

    As the holidays finally came to a close, a brief winter storm left about five inches of snow on the ground around the yard. It also brought bitter cold weather with temperatures way below zero.
    However, this is not surprising since January is usually our coldest month. Winter is here. It is the one month that I would gladly leave this area for someplace warmer.

  • Kinnikinnick, and winter in the woods

    Reprinted from Dec. 19, 2007

     

    Winter seems to have settled in with a fairly stable blanket of white. However, it is not too deep for walking in most of our area, and all but the back roads are fairly passable. This makes it possible for most anyone to get out to see what winter has in store.