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Outdoors

  • Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge a wild time

    I am just back from a brief trip to Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge. Three friends and I drove down together and a fifth drove over from Arizona to join us, so we made five musketeers. We took one day to drive down and one to drive back with a few stops along the way and had two full days on the refuge. Bosque del Apache is one of the gems of the National Wildlife Refuges. It is managed largely for the sand hill cranes and snow geese which winter there in great numbers but it is also very people friendly.

  • Spring bird box sale pays lasting rewards

    The robin that Loie found in my yard during the Great Backyard Bird Count on Feb. 14 was most likely not a returning spring robin. It was one of several that usually winter in the area. There were 30 American robins reported on the Christmas Bird Count last December.

  • You can help with Great Backyard Bird Count

    I have just mailed in a count for the Great Backyard Bird Count to the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology at Ithaca, N.Y. This count is a joint effort of the Laboratory of Ornithology and Audubon. It is such an easy count to do that I thought some of you might be interested in taking part next year.

  • Rare wintering northern flicker adds flair to season

    It was 8 degrees above freezing when I went out this morning, and Our Evergreen World was shimmering with hoarfrost. Every, twig, stem and pine needle was encrusted with diamonds. Our entire landscape shimmered like Tiffany’s window. Backlit by the rising sun, each tree and shrub was a scintillating piece of jewelry.

  • Majestic eagles growing in numbers

    Aside from the usual nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers, siskins and juncos, there haven’t been many unusual birds around this winter. I have had several Townsend’s solitaries reported, crows and magpies, and a few red-winged blackbirds, but nothing really unusual or exciting. The red-winged blackbirds seem to be a remnant of birds that never left last fall. They have stayed on at the lake because there are plenty of feeders available in the area, and they return to the lake every evening to roost in the cattails overnight.

  • Nothing like a nutty nuthatch

    The warm, spring-like weather of last week melted enough ice along the road that I finally ventured out for a walk. Even though it is now winter again, it was delightful to have a “spring break” and the reassurance that spring really will be here soon.

  • If it smells bad, leave it alone

    Of all the different animals one can encounter in our woods, there is one that most people tend to avoid like the plague. Skunks are not popular with anyone, even though they are generally quite friendly and have no intention of doing us any harm. Their terrible odor has earned them the respect of all other animals, including man.

  • Solitaries defend their winter territory

    It looks like this may be a good year for winter birds. There is a bumper crop of “berries” on the Rocky Mountain cedar trees in our area and a heavy yield of cones on the blue spruce and Douglas fir trees. Townsend’s solitaires have already moved into the area to feast on blue berries on cedar trees, and it is highly probable that crossbills will discover the spruce and Douglas fir crop before the winter is over.

  • And the birds still sing

    As most of the readers of this column know, my dear husband, Bill, passed away on Nov. 19. Since that time the Canyon Courier has been most helpful to me in many ways, including reprinting past columns for several weeks. I am most grateful for their many kindnesses and continuing support.

    Now, I must go on with my life without my dearest companion, and that includes resuming this column. I also most sincerely thank every reader who has sent me condolences.

  • Ouch — don’t mingle with a porcupine

    While having dinner with friends last week, one of them brought up the subject of porcupines, which, according to a Denver Post article, have become overabundant in Telluride and were causing property damage. Then another of our group chimed in to wonder if there were many porcupines in our area, for he had not seen any in recent years. I have not seen the damage they are doing in Telluride, but I don’t think they are overabundant locally. I have not seen a porcupine in probably five years, and I used to see them regularly.