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Features

  •  A phone call from a reader of this column on Thursday, July 12, brought some exciting news. The call was from Susan Pellegrini, who lives out Brook Forest Drive. She was calling to tell me she had seen her first rose-breasted grosbeak at her feeder. It was an adult male, not all that unusual in itself, but it was the date that excited me.

  •  The past two weeks have been interesting with the usual influx of young animals that occurs every year in July. It also ushered in a very dramatic temperature change.

    The dry high 90s were suddenly changed into crashing thunderstorms and cooler temperatures. Daytime temperatures dropped into the 70s, and nights suddenly required a blanket or two, which is much more normal for the foothills area. I was especially relieved by the cooler weather for the high temperatures seemed to weigh heavily upon me in my old age.

  • The frogs definitely were hopping Saturday in Empire — all 120 of them.
    That’s how many amphibians were sold to participants at Empire’s resurrected Frog Rodeo at Minton Park. This year, the demand was so great that the number of would-be participants outnumbered the available frogs.

  • Another question from a reader this week asked how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. Any of you who have read this column regularly recall that I wrote some time ago that I had given up trying to outsmart the squirrels.
    However, here are a few general ideas on how to combat these furry robbers of birdseed. Some things have worked fairly well for me. My feeders are all on pulleys that keep them well above the ground and away from the supporting pole. The pole I use is a piece of 21/2 inch galvanized water pipe.

  • Another question from a reader this week asked how to keep squirrels out of bird feeders. Any of you who have read this column regularly recall that I wrote some time ago that I had given up trying to outsmart the squirrels.
    However, here are a few general ideas on how to combat these furry robbers of birdseed. Some things have worked fairly well for me. My feeders are all on pulleys that keep them well above the ground and away from the supporting pole. The pole I use is a piece of 21/2 inch galvanized water pipe.

  • Aspiring author Kathy Lynn Harris noticed a year ago that it seemed like everybody on airplanes was using e-readers and not reading print books anymore.

     

    So the Clear Creek resident decided it was time to give up the dream of finding a traditional publisher and publish her novel, "Blue Straggler," the digital way.

  • Now on his fourth pair of running shoes, Ethan Bennett reached Idaho Springs on June 17 on his road trip from New York City to San Francisco.
    The trick, he discovered, is that each pair — while officially good for only 300 miles — can be coaxed to yield 600 miles. That sort of trick has been a metaphor for the tenacity Bennett, 23, has shown as he runs across the country. He will reach the West Coast on July 29 when he finishes the San Francisco Marathon and a total of 3,289 miles.

  • A chorus of picks digging in the earth and the occasional sound of steel scraping stone accompanied the nearly 40 volunteers working just west of Empire on June 1 to build a historic trail for people with disabilities.
    Partners for Access to the Woods is a nonprofit that specializes in opening public lands to the disabled. The trail, in part designed by students from the Colorado School of Mines, is both wheelchair accessible and designed for the blind, PAW director Carol Hunter said.

  • June 8, 15, 22, 29
    The Oh My Gawd Rodeo features bulls, broncs, ropers, racers and mutton bustin’. The rodeo will begin at 7:30 p.m. Fridays at the Kiefer Arena. Take Interstate 70 to Idaho Springs, then take the frontage road west. Adults, $10; kids ages 10 to 17, $5; children under 10 admitted free. For entry information, call 303-622-9745.

    June 11

  • June is here with all her green profusion. In terms of weather, June is probably the best month of the year. It’s not too hot and not too cold with enough spring moisture to maintain her greenness. June comes pretty close to perfection. The burst of new growth has turned everything green and lush, and many wildflowers are in bloom.

  • Ninety-four years ago in France, Ralph Wilkins, an infantryman from Idaho Springs, became the first local resident to die in World War I.

  • The little brown house wren has been part of my life for as long as I can remember. They always nested in a box in our yard on the farm where I grew up, and they were common nesting birds in most every yard in the village.

  • Reprinted from May 27, 2009

    Just as in years past, the summer folk have arrived in Evergreen. It used to be families that arrived as soon as school was out, and there were cabins to be opened, bed linens to be aired out and meals to be prepared during the last of May or early June. Now it is summer birds that still arrived during the last or May or early June.
    The summer birds have territories to locate, songs to sing to warn others to stay out of those territories, mates to court and nests to build. Soon they will have young to feed.

  • Many things may be learned when engineering a duck-race benefit, especially in May, and especially on Clear Creek.
    Brett and Kristin Hochmuth have orchestrated the duck race, which benefits their nonprofit Get Outside and Learn Something — or GOALS — for four years, and they have learned tons about making the event run smoothly.

  • May has had its usual fling of one last snowstorm. Fortunately, this year it was just about four inches, not the four feet it brought us a few years ago. Now that it has succeeded in ruining Mother’s Day for a good many people, it seems to be clearing up and the coming week’s forecast looks like we will be having not just spring, but summer weather.
    I didn’t get out on a birding trip this week, but I had proof of an interesting sighting brought to me.

  • The 48-star flag is worn and stained, and is missing a few stars.
    But a retired couple from Fort Collins were to determined to help Old Glory complete a return journey to Idaho Springs that started 95 years ago when the United States entered World War I.

  • Local veterans will get a little extra assistance, thanks to a coalition formed recently with their interests in mind.
    A nine-person group called the Veterans Services Coalition consisting of volunteers and local officials will help veterans get better access to services and job opportunities. Additionally, the advocacy group plans to organize volunteers to participate in  events and other county-wide veteran-related
    efforts.

  • It is wonderful to see spring greening the hills once more. I drove south to Colorado Springs and Pueblo with friends last week and was once more impressed by the changing landscape south of Colorado Springs.
    North of Colorado Springs, the rolling hills of the prairie are green, and trees were beginning to leaf out. South of the Springs, you quickly enter desert country. In a few places, we saw cacti that looked like they might soon produce new growth and flowers, but in most places, the land was so overgrazed that the entire landscape appeared to be sand colored.

  • Lynne and I went out birding again for a few hours on Thursday, April 12. It was another fine spring day. The willows were leafing out along Bear Creek. Apples, pears and flowering crab were in full bloom. In Red Rocks Park, the native American plum was also in full bloom, its heavy, overly sweet fragrance in the air everywhere. Pasque flowers and yellow violets were also in bloom.

  • Waking early this morning, I looked out my window to see what kind of day it was going to be. It was a beautiful spring morning and hadn’t dropped below freezing all night.
    The sky was cloudless, and the sun was just peeking over Stanley Mountain’s shoulder. The small amount of snow that had fallen the day before was gone. It had started melting even as it fell, and the warm night had completed the meltdown.