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Features

  • Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, where are you? It is a real delight to live in an area where our slopes are decorated with Christmas trees all year. Locally, the evergreens that cover our hillsides are mainly ponderosa pine.
    These trees are beautiful at most any season, but I am especially fond of them in spring when new growth tips their branches and in winter when they are flocked with snow or frost.

  • Many people complain to me that they find winter birding dull because there are no pretty birds around.
    True, the winter residents at most feeders, pine siskins, chickadees, nuthatches, hairy and down woodpeckers, house sparrows, house finches, and the various forms of the dark-eyed junco are mostly gray, brown, and black-and-white birds. Not very exciting or colorful, but they are still interesting.

  • Editor’s Note: Sylvia’s column will reappear next week. This column is reprinted from Dec. 10, 2008.

    Christmas is not far away, and as we do our shopping and baking, our thoughts turn to Christmas decorations.
    In England and in our Eastern states, mistletoe is an important part of Christmas. The mistletoe common throughout the South grows mainly on oaks.
    It forms huge clumps or balls, and the whole plant generally is cut from the tree. The sprigs with the white berries are usually sold for Christmas decorating.

  • I well remember the first wild turkey I ever saw. I was birding in Alleghany State Park with a friend, Kay McCann, and she said, “Let’s walk down this trail to the river. About a week ago, someone saw a wild turkey near here.” We went down the trail and sure enough, on the far bank of the river were two wild turkeys getting a drink. We froze in our tracks, and the big birds continued to drink.

  • On Tuesday and Wednesday, Nov. 1 and 2, Loie Evans identified an immature surf scoter on Evergreen Lake. No matter how good a birder you are or how sure you are of your identification, it is always a good idea to have at least one other person see and identify a rare bird.

  • When I was out on the patio to catch some of the fine fall sunshine the other day, I was sworn at with a loud, vociferous, emphatic blast of squirrel language. The western red squirrel, which has been challenging me all summer, had in just a few cold days claimed the patio as his territory with firm determination and loud raucous cussing at everyone else who thought to claim it for a few hours.

  • Editor’s note: As our country fights its way out of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the Clear Creek Courant is remembering those who fought for their very survival through the days following Black Tuesday into the winds of the Dust Bowl and onto the beaches of the Second World War.

    What Ann Binkley remembers about the Great Depression is the hallmark of today’s lingering recession. “There were basically no jobs,” unless you were working for the railroad, Binkley said.

  • The first snow has fallen. Unfortunately, it came three weeks early this year. However, the fall color is still brilliant in some places, and we still have nice weather next week, according to the weatherman.
    I feel that it is early, since the first wet, soggy snow usually arrives on Halloween as if it were a mean trick, leaving all the new kids freezing in their thin costumes. You can always tell the newcomers from anyone who has lived here a few years because they learn to buy Halloween costumes large enough to go over their winter parkas.

  • When I have time to sit out in the autumn sunshine, my favorite occupation is watching how all the various wild creatures that visit my yard are getting ready for winter. Nearly all of the “summer” birds have prepared for winter by leaving.

  • The beauty and elegance of ballet and contemporary dance graced the gymnasium at King-Murphy Elementary School last Wednesday as Ballet Nouveau Colorado performed “The Young Person’s Guide to Ballet.”

  • It has been fun watching all the young birds coming to the feeders. This has been a particularly successful breeding season, warm enough, food enough and no late June snow.
    It seems as though all the summer birds have raised successful broods. Even the grey-headed juncos have managed to raise a few of their own, not just one big baby cowbird as they seem to have done for the past several years.

  • One of the sure signs that summer is coming to an end is the plethora of yellow wildflowers coming into bloom and the sudden reappearance of gopher mounds in your yard.
    Pocket gophers are small native mammals that spend most of their lives below ground. There are several species and subspecies of them, but you can’t tell them apart except for minor differences that the experts find in the laboratory.
    They do vary somewhat in color depending upon where they live. Desert gophers are paler than gophers that burrow in the dark loam found in the mountains.

  • My mother was an insatiable reader, and she taught all of us to love books and where they could take us by reading to us every day.

  • The full rich days of August bring the flowering of fringed gentians, the departure of some summer birds and gambling teenage elk enjoying their first taste of independence. The incredibly beautiful fringed gentians are the dominant wildflower in South Park in August.

  • It is a fine summer evening. I am sitting on the patio, trying to write this article and cool off after another hot day and a rain shower. The cooler air is refreshing, and I can see many wildflowers in bloom in the yard. I really miss being able to get out for walks in the woods but can’t tote my oxygen tank, and the woodland way is too uneven, tilted and rough, for me to traverse safely. So, I try to be content with what I can see from the patio and car port.

  • The next few weeks of late July and early August are not the most exciting time in the bird world. Although a few early fall migrants will drift through, there is no big movement of birds.
    I still have red crossbills coming to the feeder with young, so I have had a good chance to study all their various plumage. They are truly beautiful birds that vary in color, especially the adult males that range from yellow to orange to light red to dark red.

  • Late June and early July are probably the most beautiful time of year in the mountains. Rain has finally come in enough quantity to restore life to the foothills and everything is lush green.
    It is so green that you might think you are in Ireland. The grasses are green, the trees are green, kinnikinnick is green, our whole immediate world is green with blue sky overhead, and around every twist of a road or trail you are greeted by a splash of color from wildflowers.

  • When I was a working mother, busy raising my children, my family bought me a T-shirt for Mother’s Day that read, “If momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!”  We had a good laugh, and I wore the shirt with pride.
    This was not only a statement about my personality, but a description of a woman’s role in many families. Studies show that among the many duties women take on in their families is coordinating health care services —sometimes at the expense of their own.  

  • I have been re-reading the new book “Songbird Journeys” by Miyoko Chu. Since I read it the first time and mostly late at night, I didn’t retain some of its wonderful information.
    So I am finding it most informative the second time around. Many of you have written or called me with questions about bird migration, so I had planned to write such an article for some time.

  • In last week’s column, I promised to write about hummingbirds this week. To old-timers, I apologize for one more article about hummingbirds, but I receive more phone calls about hummingbirds than any other bird and most of these callers say, “I know you have written about hummingbirds before, but I didn’t save the article, so I need you to write about them again.” The most frequent request is the formula for making syrup to feed hummingbirds.