Critters in Trees

Birders_BrettGrayRanch-CO_LAH_1888Birders spend a lot of time looking in trees. Of course, we’re hoping to see birds, and often we do. But birds aren’t the only animals that live in trees. And, while I get a thrill spotting a less-than-common bird among the branches, I also get rather excited when it’s a less-than-common mammal—or other creature.

fox-squirrel_dbg_10200118_lah_7185Besides the birds, what do I see in trees? Squirrels! It’s a rare birding trip when we don’t spot at least a couple of squirrels, and typically there are plenty more. Here in the Colorado Springs area, by far the most common species is the Eastern fox squirrel, which some idiot nostalgic person from the East introduced to Colorado during the 1940s. Fox squirrels spend their time sneaking around urban yards, emptying bird feeders and chewing up grill covers and the fabric cushions of our patio furniture.

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A Rocky Mountain Interlude

We were gone this weekend for our 39th anniversary, so I didn’t get a chance to write a new post about birds and birding, my normal Monday topic. Instead, I want to share some photos from our trip.

We stayed in Kremmling, a very small town nestled between Steamboat Springs to the west and the continental divide to the east. After packing up on Sunday morning, we decided to head home to Colorado Springs via one of our favorite national parks, Rocky Mountain.

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Australia Adventures

wallaby_cheyennemtnzoo-co_tim_1660As you read this, my husband and I are on our way to the land of wallabies (right),  waratahs, and wattles. Yup, we’re going to Australia! This amazing country has been on my “bucket list” since I was thirteen, and we’ve been saving for it forever. I might be just a teeny bit excited.

Kookaburra_DenverZoo_LAH_1554While my husband wants nothing more complicated than a well-deserved hammock on the beach, I want to see the continent’s unique birds and plants. That means spending a lot of time outdoors, and that means that, besides the kookaburras (left) and kangaroos, there are a number of less-than-friendly creatures I might encounter.

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But What About Bambi?

Bambi fireIt’s hard to imagine 14,280 acres of burned forest, or 509 houses totally destroyed. While the human toll is devastating, I started wondering what happened to the wild animals that also called Black Forest home. Maybe that’s because I still have that scene from Bambi in my mind—the one where all the animals are fleeing the forest fire. Is it accurate? What do animals do in a fire? Do they survive? And if so, how?

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Don’t Feed the Animals!

rmnp-co_rmnp-co_lah_2124

The large sign was front and center, but no one seemed able to read it. The scenic turnout was crowded with retirees, young couples, and other tourists. Chipmunks scampered over the rocks, gorging on Fritos, sunflower seeds, and bits of doughnut. Clark’s Nutcrackers swooped down to nab the handouts before the rodents could grab them. There was even a bird perched hopefully on the sign. What do you mean, “Please, don’t feed the animals”?

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