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Outdoors

  • Cassin’s finches return to area after long hiatus

    Oh, how good it is to see green again. Today was a beautiful clear day. With a flow of warm air from the southwest, it was the first really warm day here in the mountains. Yesterday was clear and sunny, but the cold wind did not make it feel like spring.

  • There are black birds and then there are blackbirds

    All through late March, there have been reports of large flocks of blackbirds moving through the area: 150 in Kerr Gulch, 200 in Kittredge, 100 at Morrison, etc.

    We also have had more red-winged blackbirds at Evergreen Lake than there were this winter, so that means some migrants have arrived. The flock is much more talkative than it was, and males are displaying their red-shoulder epaulets, which indicate that some females have arrived and picked out nesting sites that must be defended.

  • Sandhill crane migration is a sight to behold

    Actually it was not bitter cold or the storm could have been much worse than it actually was. This is the week that I always call crane week for almost every year my husband Bill and I used to go to Nebraska at this time to see the sandhill crane migration.

    I had planned to go again this year and be a co-leader with Kathanne Lynch for an Evergreen Audubon trip, but apparently few Auduboners realized what a very special trip this is, and no one signed up to go. Or maybe they were just afraid of spring blizzards on the plains. My loss, I’m sorry to say.

  • 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.