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Outdoors

  • Springtime brings a variety of returning birds

    It is just about dark on Thursday, March 18, and I have been standing out by the carport listening for the evening song of a robin.

    It has been a warm, hazy, partially cloudy spring-like day. Oddly enough, it has not dropped below freezing yet, but I expect it soon will. The weathermen on all the TV stations have been forecasting snow tonight. So, it looks like the first day of spring, March 20, will once more be snowy, which will probably be long gone by the time you receive this paper.

  • Rock squirrels are rarely sighted in Evergreen

    It was shortly after we moved to Colorado that my late husband and I were birding one morning in Red Rocks Park, and we saw our first rock squirrel.

    Rock squirrels are the biggest of all the many ground-squirrel clan, and despite the fact that they are ground squirrels, they are quite capable of climbing over rocks and boulders and even well into trees as if they thought they were tree squirrels.

  • Put out boxes so birds can build nests

    Spring is here, even if March, as usual, is producing snowstorms. However, the snow has delayed the arrival of the first bluebird.

    Or perhaps they have arrived and my network of reporters hasn’t informed me about it. If no one has seen a bluebird yet, it is most unusual. They often arrive in late February and usually are here in good numbers by the first week of March. These early birds are followed by the laggards, and by the end of March the main migration is finished and our nesting birds are here.

  • Tent caterpillars help more than hurt wildlife

    If you are one of the many people who find tent caterpillars objectionable in your backyard, now is the time to control them.

    I know they do little harm in our forests, but I find it difficult to be tolerant of them. Their favorite food is the new leaves of apple trees, so they were very common and considered destructive pests in the apple-growing sections of New York state where I grew up.

  • Dippers dip and dive along Bear Creek

    February has been very wintry, with colder-than-average temperatures, snow flurries and a lot of gray skies.

    Despite all this, if you walk along Bear Creek between the downtown parking lot and the Church of the Transfiguration, you can hear the beautiful canary-like song of the dipper. These fantastic little birds are permanent residents along our boisterous mountain streams and therefore one of the earliest birds to sing, mate and nest in the area.

  • Here’s the story of our little chickadees ee

    If there is one species of bird that is a regular visitor at everyone’s winter feeder, it is the chickadee. They are often considered to be winter residents or permanent residents. However, some researchers now believe chickadees do have a migration when birds that have wintered in the southern part of their range move northward to nest.

  • Steller’s jays a common sight at area feeders

    The big bold, sassy, ubiquitous Steller’s jay in an index bird of the ponderosa pine forest. It is probably the best-known bird that comes to local feeders.

    It was the first bird I saw when we moved to Evergreen 45 years ago. As we were moving in, it was bouncing across our patio swearing at us for moving into its territory.

  • Hardy dandelions are among spring’s first blooms

    February has arrived, with more snow. If I can be patient for one short month, it will be March and hopefully more spring-like.

    People often ask what the first flower to bloom in the spring is. I have always answered with the three earliest blooming native wildflowers around our immediate area. They are the Easter daisy, which often blooms in late February and which is soon followed by mountain candytuft and spring beauty.

  • Spring buds will make an appearance soon

    Dreary cold January has just about dragged itself to an end. I hope February is a better month. Even though it is still winter, February usually has more sunshine, which always lifts everyone’s spirits and makes them feel like spring is coming someday.

  • Yellow-bellied marmots act like Eastern groundhogs

    Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day, a day that doesn’t have much significance here, but it does in the Northeastern states, especially Pennsylvania, where it started.

    The myth is that if the groundhog comes out of his winter hibernation on Feb. 2 and sees his shadow, he is frightened and goes back to sleep for six more weeks. But if it is a cloudy day and he does not see his shadow, he will stay awake and spring will come early.