Of all the birds that I've met and felt that I knew, the Raven is at the very top of the list. I've meet this bird during the Nevada years in numerous towns, along the California coast, at Borrego Springs, Calif., along a dry Nevada wash, and sitting in the trees at my Delta home.
I hear the wind ... it's strong. According to the newscast, this is supposed to be a windy day. Sounds like it! As I pull the comforter up close, my mind wanders.
There are about 10 cranes along the northeast pond. Just standing there. No movement. Gray shapes.
About four feet tall with a wingspan of six feet (Sibley guide says 46" tall and a wingspan of 77"). Weight at about 10 pounds with the male larger than the female. In any book, the sandhill crane is a large bird!
It's always such fun! I look forward all year long for the cranes to return. I know that they will, but my, the days without cranes seem so long!
Snow. Well, I know that they need it in the high country and we'll need it in the low country come summer.
The phone rings, and it's a fun call for me. Vera Schultz has read my column about the spotted towhee and she had three towhees at her feeder.
How long ago? I don't really remember. I know it was in the Nevada-years and the local Audubon Society had received word about the "rufous- sided towhee" in Arizona.
Long ago, when Martha Mohan and I went to the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival in Olympia, Wash., I saw for the first time in my life sea scoters. There were three of them, and I had a difficult time figuring them out.
Monday -- As we pull in, our headlights are bright against the garage door ... I miss the long days of summer! Overcast and damp and I'm ready for spring but winter isn't even here yet.
And I believe that winter is really here ... It has been gray all day and I can still see the last snow on Craig's Crest.
Jimmy Vela came calling today -- with a "peace offering," and we ate the whole thing! I remember telling him that I didn't really like zucchini, but we would try his zucchini bread.
It was delicious! Didn't taste at all like zucchini!
It's late September 2010 and it's clouding up again. I hope the rain holds off a while. I've come down Slaughter Grade from Cedaredge to drive on Ward Creek Road.
Since the Festival at Steamboat Springs, it seems that all I think about is travel. And so I think of the marvelous trip to Aransas to the Whooping Crane Festival.
The last column that I wrote was about George Archibald. Now, after the festival at Steamboat Springs, I need to write another column about George. He was born in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada.
George Archibald is the keynote speaker of this year's Yampa Valley Crane Festival, of course!
I'm at a loss to begin!
It's that time again, and I can hardly wait! The Yampa Valley Crane Festival begins on Thursday, Aug. 31, and continues until Sept 3. There are scheduled events to fit most anyone's tastes and there are shuttles to take you there -- all of it in Steamboat Springs.
Well, the time has arrived. And hummingbird warfare has begun. The black-chinned was here but now he's gone and the rufous has come back ... again.
What was that? Orange . . . sort of. No, I think it was yellow. The bird flies up into the cottonwood.
I have seen prairie falcon on many occasions, but I've never seen one so bedraggled! Or so annoyed. Poor thing.
I can hear them calling. I see them in the clouds above -- when they aren't there! And I know that I will continue to hear them.
What a pretty little bird! And I've never met one! That would be a treat for me, but the range maps show that he lives out of our range (more's the pity).
And here it is -- March already! And cranes! I can't get enough of them! And they are cooperating. As I gaze out of our dining room window, I know there are cranes at the reservoir. And I am happy!
It is that time of year, and the Crane Hotline will be up and running on March 1. Our Greater Sandhills of the Rocky Mountain Population will soon pass through Hart's Basin Reservoir (also known as Fruitgrowers Reservoir).
It was at the end of July or was it in early August . . . I don't quite remember, doesn't matter anyhow. The Vela's had kindly invited me down to their place to see the fledgling barn swallows. What a treat!
Blue sky! It's hard to believe, but it is blue sky! I revel in the warmth of the sun coming through the car windows!
This is the first serious snow that we've had -- I wish it would go away! I never liked the cold or the snow, but it means water for us in the summer so I'll just have to put up with it. But I can't go anywhere. So I'll just think about my birds.
No snow today -- clear sky without a single cloud, and I always wonder, "How long will this last!" But after yesterday's storm, this change is most welcome!
The little birds are very busy in our ornamental pear tree. There was plenty of blossom last spring and our little tree was the prettiest we've ever seen it.
Another gray day. But the wind is not blowing. As we pull into the driveway, there is bird motion to our left . . . and there go two doves.
As we sit at the dining room table, I admire the new snow on Grand Mesa, even though I can't see it all because the clouds are very lazy on this November morning. In the pasture across the road, I count five horses . . . there were six last night. Wait . . . watch . . . oh, there it is!
I am hoping to find the wild turkeys that I found a few years ago along this backroad. They were "new birds" for me then because they were named "wild turkeys."
The weekend before Thanksgiving was always reserved for my Bosque trip. I made hotel reservations in Socorro and since the town isn't large, rooms were sometimes difficult to find.
My cattails are in full "seed dispersal mode" and I delight in watching them. I drove up to the top of the hill east of Hart's Basin where I could see a bit of water at the far end of the reservoir. It's low, but I've seen it lower!
Here comes one . . . a swift flash of blue is all I can see. I know that it was a scrub jay because Dave Gallinat called me to say that they were eating everything in sight.
It seems like it was only yesterday that I was driving along this road on my way to Palisade to connect with Karen. We were headed for the Colorado Fish & Wildlife Commission hearing to speak in opposition to the proposed hunting of our greater sandhill cranes.
I was writing about my shorebird trip to the state of Washington, but Linda Croft's Century Plant came into bloom ... spectacular! So now I'm resuming the Washington trip.
And here we are, walking along a boardwalk with lots of other birders. And it's starting to rain again (I think this is part of the local scene).
How strange it all seems! I know that it's morning, but everything looks hazy . . . fog?
I know that this is not going to sit well with our leader, but I want to experience this rain forest - alone! We are running late (very late) and the group is going to walk up to the fen to see the Pitcher Plants.
Great Blue Heron
There he goes again ... flying toward the Grand Mesa. I've often wondered, is he flying homeward? Is he out to raid someone's fish pond? Or has he eaten already and just headed for his roost?
This bird appears regularly and I always wonder.
The phone just rang ... it was Jim Wallace, our most-reliable craniac. He said there are cranes at Hart's Basin. He said that there are 10.
The Grand Mesa is vanishing ... the clouds are moving in from the west and I can barely see Crag Crest. Now it's gone, too. And the mesa is all gray -- again!
I'm looking out of our front window ... And here's Lewis. I usually call this bird "Lewis" although know that it is properly, Lewis' Woodpecker.
I pull off of N Road into the widened area where the Black Canyon Audubon sign depicts our shorebirds. They've already begun to arrive: pelican and ibis, avocets and godwits.
There's a bird shadow across our driveway ... fairly large, so a hawk or a raven. And now there's the bird, landing in the west cottonwood tree. It settles in and the yellowing leaves flutter down.
What a difference a day makes! Yesterday there were cranes, cranes and more cranes. Today nothing. I can usually hear them calling from our back porch.
And the time is NOW! As I admire Peter's photo, my mind races back to the spring of 2015, and then to all the springs before.
During the first weeks of March these familiar birds begin arriving in our area. Keep your eyes and ears open and you might see or hear them.
The second day of February was "Groundhog Day." I've wondered for years about the groundhog and I just found www.stormfax.com/ghog.htm so now I know a bit more! Since this common rodent hibernates for the winter, its appearance indicates spring (well, sometimes).
Another day of snow. I keep thinking of Mesquite, Nevada!
Allen says, "Quick ...look at the pasture elm ... big bird!" I snatch the binoculars from the dining room table -- Big Bird!
But of course, it really isn't -- winter's only just begun. The Winter Solstice is the 21st of December which marks the shortest day of our year in the Northern Hemisphere, and we think of it as "winter."
I've been watching the horses and sheep in the pasture across the road. It's a lovely day, doesn't look like November at all.
Where are the Cranes?
I wish I knew! The senior biologist for our Rocky Mountain Flock of Greater Sandhill Cranes, Rod Drewien, shared with me that the number of cranes at the Monte Vista Wildlife Refuge was much lower than it has been in the past.
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