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Outdoors

  • Red-winged blackbirds are a feisty bunch

    (Reprinted from Feb. 6, 2008)

    Usually cold and wintry, February is made bearable by the first signs of spring — nothing as showy as the first daffodil in bloom, but still good, dependable signs of spring.

  • Northern flickers make a big impression in the foothills

    (Reprinted from Jan. 30, 2008)

    Several times each winter, we receive phone calls from someone who has just seen a “large beautiful bird” at their feeder, which they have never seen before. They describe the bird, and I say, “Yes, that’s a northern flicker.” To which their usual reply is, “Oh no, it’s not a flicker; I see them around all summer, but they are not this big or here in the winter.”

  • Shrikes common in foothills, though not easy to identify

    (Reprinted from Jan. 23, 2008)

    For some time now, the birds at our feeders have been nervous, flying into the prickly thickness of a nearby blue spruce or darting into the lilac bushes every time anything moves in the yard or even inside the window. Such behavior, especially in cold, snowy weather, can mean only one thing. There is a predator of some kind working in the area. But what kind? That is the question.

  • Sugar, carbohydrates are a plant’s friend

    (Reprinted from Jan. 14, 2009)

    Down the hill from our house there are several giant mullein plants in various stages of growth. The most obvious are the old, dead stalks that bore flowers last summer. These stalks are hard, dry, dead. They have completed their mission in life. They have produced seeds to perpetuate the species.

  • Snowberries make an appearance despite little snow

    (Reprinted from Dec. 5, 2012)

    This has been an exceptionally warm, dry fall. We often have nice weather on Thanksgiving, but to have 60-degree days in December is unusual. Moist air coming in from the Pacific Ocean has soaked the West Coast with rain.

    It may reach here by the time this is published, and as it hits the higher mountains, it may well turn to snow. However, that still remains uncertain.

  • Squirrels, catbirds are among area’s autumn visitors

    (Reprinted from Nov. 11, 2010)

    There has been very little new at the feeder this week. This is because it is empty most of the time. The maintenance man here at Elk Run is very kind and he tries to keep it up and filled. However, some critter or critters seem to knock it down as fast as he can put it up. Since I hope to be going home in about 10 days, it is not worth the expense of an elaborate pulley system, so I must give up even though the birds bring me much joy.

  • Brown creepers have habit of climbing trees in spiral pattern

    (Reprinted from Nov. 26, 2008)

    Many people have asked recently about a little brown mottled bird with a white breast and a curved beak that they have seen circling around the trunks of their trees. The bird is a brown creeper, a fairly common resident in our woodlands. Why they have become so obvious recently probably has several causes.

  • Red crossbills may appear in foothills any month of the year

    (Reprinted from Nov. 12, 2008)

    On Wednesday, Nov. 5, our salubrious fall weather came to an abrupt end. Overnight, 12 to 15 inches of snow fell in the high mountains. We had only a skiff of snow here, and the day was bright and sunny, but a wicked wind out of the northwest brought our first really cold weather. Old King Boreas nearly blew us off the mountain.

  • Alpine Rescue veteran willing to take on any, all challenges

    Editor’s note: Three volunteers with the Alpine Rescue Team have reached the milestone this year of serving on 1,000 missions. This is the first time since the team’s creation in 1959 that any of its 800 members has reached this landmark. Of the 80 or so current members of the team, the closest will not reach 1,000 missions for another four years. For the average member of Alpine Rescue, it will take 20 years to come close. This story is part two of a three-part series profiling these volunteers.

     

  • Dark-eyed juncos bring color to fall bird feeders

    (Reprinted from Nov. 3, 2010)

    I am writing this on Sunday, Oct. 31. This has been a beautiful autumn Sunday with temperatures ranging from 60 this morning to the low 70s this afternoon.

    A light breeze is keeping it from being warmer, but the sky is at its best Colorado blue. I am still at Elk Run Assisted Living, disappointed that I need to stay a bit longer, but I now plan to be home with some of my family by Thanksgiving.