Birding the Summer Prairie

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There’s a rhythm to birding in Colorado. At this time of year, many birders head to the mountains for the cooler temperatures and gorgeous scenery. Seasonal campgrounds and picnic spots that are inaccessible during the winter are currently full of wildflowers and nesting alpine birds, not to mention people hiking, fishing, or simply hanging around relaxing. While I love seeing people out enjoying nature, at times, the more popular spots get too crowded.

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Hot Day, Cool Birding

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It was another hot day. Usually by now, the weather has moderated, but we’ve been in the middle of an unseasonable heat wave and I was completely wilted. I was yearning to go birding—my new job had kept me indoors far too much lately—but the only time available was from mid-morning through early afternoon—the hottest time of the day. As much as I wanted to get outside, I had to ask myself, why bother?

Often, I think the birds are smarter than the birders. When the heat gets oppressive, they don’t stand out in the sun with binoculars. No, they adapt. Most migrating birds fly at night, feed in the early morning hours and just before dark, and rest during the heat of the day. Birders know this, which is why most field trips start early. But sometimes, our schedule just doesn’t allow us to do what we know is optimal. We have to take what we can get and make the best of it.

Still, I thought, maybe I could emulate the birds, and manage to both enjoy nature and stay cool at the same time.

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Birds—and Butterflies and Blooms, too!

aquilegia-caerulea_blue-columbine_emeraldvalley-co_lah_2992-revSummer birding can be somewhat unproductive, but that doesn’t mean you should stay home in front of the air conditioning. So what if the birds are busy nesting and raising young? Birds aren’t the only attraction in the great outdoors.

I recently took part in a field trip led by several naturalists. Among them, they had combined expertise in birds, butterflies, and blooms. What a great combination. When the birds were busy, we turned our binoculars on the colorful butterflies fluttering around us. When the butterflies were scarce, we  focused on the drifts of wildflowers along the trail. With so many fascinating subjects to examine, there wasn’t a dull moment to be had.

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