02 de octubre de 2019

If it's fall, it must be Elk

There is nothing quite like the eerie bugle of a bull elk in the fall. Fall is also the best time to see them. It is the breeding season—the rut—and elk can be very much on display without much concern for humans or whatever else is going on around them. Cows, calves, and bulls are all out and about as the bulls compete for the cows, and build and defend harems. Mature bull elk will “spar” with like-sized and antlered elk to determine dominance. Smaller bulls will do the same for practice, as they will have no access to the females.

Fall colors abound as well: the yellows, greens, and oranges of aspen; the blood red sumac, Virginia creeper, and poison ivy; the shiny golden hairs of the curling mountain mahogany seeds; yellows and greens of riparian willows and cottonwoods; the fading gold of grassy fields; and the occasional patch of snow from an early storm.

Boulder County Parks & Open Space properties where you can see (and hear) elk include: Heil Valley Ranch, Hall Ranch, Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain, Mud Lake & Caribou Ranch, and Walker Ranch. Best times for bugling are the cooler mornings and late afternoons, or any overcast/rainy day in late September/early October. Stay safe: on-trail and on-leash. Elk might not be the only thing you see out there that is big and scary. Bears are in their eat-everything-around-the-clock mode and those higher elevation properties have moose as well. Your cameras will have a field day no matter what you see! Post your best here on the Boulder County Wildlife Project on iNaturalist.

Anotado en octubre 02, miércoles 15:52 por biologistdave3 biologistdave3 | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

13 de agosto de 2019

Watch for Butterflies!

Butterfly populations peak in July and August across Boulder County. On just about any hike you'll notice many different species, since the Front Range has some of the highest butterfly diversity in the United States! Butterflies are most active on warm days in ​the late morning and afternoon.

Photo - Western TIger Swallowtail

They often congregate in flower-filled meadows and in low-lying muddy areas where small streams cross trails. Another great place to see butterflies is at the top of mountains, where they congregate to find mates. On a hot afternoon, the summit of Green Mountain swarms with butterflies! Butterflies feed on nectar which they gather from flowers with their long, hollow tongue or proboscis. They keep the tongue rolled up in a tight coil while flying. When a butterfly alights on a flower to feed, special muscles at the base of the proboscis force high pressure fluid into the tongue, causing it to elongate. The butterfly can then probe the depths of a flower in search of nectar, much like a kid slurping the dregs of a soda bottle with a long straw.

Photo - Monarch butterfly
​Look for the famous orange and black monarch butterflies, which will be migrating through the Front Range. Monarchs feed on plants in the milkweed family - the larvae eat the leaves, and the adults seek nectar from the flowers (see photo). Although they don't frequently breed in the Boulder area, stay on the lookout for the distinctive yellow, black and white striped caterpillars, or the jewel-like green chrysalises dangling from the leaf of a milkweed. If you want to help monarch populations, grow milkweed plants in your own garden! 

Anotado en agosto 13, martes 21:08 por dsutherland dsutherland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

19 de julio de 2019

Praying Mantises on the Loose!

Boulder County’s historic Walker Ranch homestead was the site of this year’s historic preservation Youth Corps team project. Every year Youth Corps members work on numerous county projects that help staff complete the busy summer work load. On June 26, a team leader found a small brown/tan cocoon object attached to the bottom of an old piece of barn wood that was going to be thrown out. It was identified by another member as a praying mantis egg case.

Not wanting to damage the case, and crossing their fingers for a cool educational moment, the egg case was gently set aside to keep it out of the work area and risk being damaged. Minutes after it was set down in the shade, it started to wiggle to life.

Nearly all at once 60 to 80 mantises emerged from the case and headed off in all directions. Photos were taken by iNaturalist photographer Mike Lohr and submitted to the Boulder County Wildlife project on iNaturalist for all to see!

Anotado en julio 19, viernes 20:52 por dhprice dhprice | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

25 de marzo de 2019

Get ready for the Boulder-Denver City Nature Challenge April 26 - May 5!

From April 26 – May 5, 2019, Boulder County and the Denver Metro Area are teaming up to compete in this year’s City Nature Challenge (CNC)! Last year, Boulder competed independently and came up with a whopping 3,478 total observations, 784 identified plant and wildlife species, and had 107 observers. This year, Boulder County and the Denver Metro Area are joining forces to show the world just how biodiverse our region is, and we need YOU to help!

There is nature all around us, even in our cities. Knowing what species are here and where they are helps us study and protect them, but the ONLY way to effectively do that is by working together (scientists, land managers, community members, you name it) to find and document nature in our area. By participating in the CNC, not only do you learn more about local nature, but you can also make our urban areas a better place – for you and our wild neighbors!

The competition will take place in two phases: the first four days, April 26 – 29, are the bioblitz. We need you all to get out and document as many plant and wildlife observations via iNaturalist as possible. During the last six days, April 30 – May 5, participants can upload their observations taken during the bioblitz, and help identify and verify observations. The Boulder-Denver Metropolitan Area City Nature Challenge encompasses Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Elbert, Gilpin, Jefferson, and Park Counties.

To receive updates, join the iNaturalist project. Since the project is set up as a bioblitz, all you need to do is upload your observations taken during the April 26 – 29 timeframe by May 5th at 11:59pm and they’ll automatically be counted. If you observe any species of wildlife throughout Boulder County, remember to continue adding to the Boulder County Wildlife Project, too!

We have some awesome prizes available to participants this year, ranging from REI’s Flash 18 Print Backpacks, Lily’s Sweets chocolate bars, Earthhero’s Zero Waste gift boxes, nature photography coffee table books, and more. Make sure you set aside some time to get outside!

For more information about the Boulder-Denver CNC and to learn about events in the area, check out this page and follow us on Facebook. Questions? Contact Melanie Hill at the WILD Foundation, melanie@wild.org.

Anotado en marzo 25, lunes 20:14 por melanie_hill melanie_hill | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de marzo de 2019

Tell-tale Tracks!

During winter's long nights, our nocturnal residents are harder than ever to spot. But they leave tell-tale footprints behind in the mud and snow! This month, keep your eyes open for the subtle signs of your strangers in the night, and post them on our iNaturalist project! Even if you can't identify the tracks yourself, someone in the iNaturalist community will be able to help. Consider adding something to your photo for scale - your hand, a coin, a pen - and describe the habitat where you found the track. The morning after a fresh snow fall is the best time to go for a hike, since the tracks are fresh and clean. You will be amazed to see how much activity has occurred!

Anotado en marzo 05, martes 19:47 por dsutherland dsutherland | 2 comentarios | Deja un comentario

12 de febrero de 2019

Winter Waterfowl Count!

Each year, around the state, a bunch of folks get up at 0-dark-early, bundle up, and go visit frozen lakes and ponds. They are participating in the Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) annual Midwinter Waterfowl Count. The count provides a yearly pulse check on the state’s waterfowl. Ducks, geese, swans, coots, cranes, herons, whatever! This year an interesting surprise popped up—the sighting of a rare Brant goose (blown in from the west coast).

Can you spot the Brant? Photo © willem9

Found it! Photo © dplawrance

Everyone goes out the same morning at dawn spread out throughout their local area. The early time catches birds before they jet off to feed in the agricultural fields. The same time of day means no double-counting from adjacent water bodies. The same time of year provides a running index through time. The blanket coverage of the same spots each year highlights which areas are important. And the consistent effort adds credence to each year’s count.

This year in Boulder County, Parks & Open Space staff, CPW staff, Open Space and Mountain Parks staff, and volunteers covered many lakes and reservoirs throughout the county: Stearn’s Lake (at Carolyn Holmberg Preserve at Rock Creek Farm), Lagerman Reservoir (at Lagerman Agricultural Preserve), Walden and Sawhill Ponds, Clover Basin Reservoir, Dodd Lake, Wittemyer Ponds, Fairgrounds Lake and Cattail Pond in Longmont, Boulder Valley Farm, Boulder Creek, Boulder Reservoir and Sixmile Reservoir, Highland Reservoir, McIntosh Lake, McCall Lake, Terry Lake, Ish Reservoir, Valmont Reservoir, Waneka Lake…

Open water is the key! It provides the protection from four-legged predators that these birds need. This year, one of those sites was Stearn’s Lake. The morning count was 4400 Canada geese, some ducks, some assorted white geese (Snow geese/Ross geese), and the Brant. That Brant showed up in iNaturalist! You never know how iNaturalist will help you and others discover something new!

- Dave Hoerath, Wildlife Biologist for Boulder County Parks & Open Space

Anotado en febrero 12, martes 21:57 por dsutherland dsutherland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

29 de noviembre de 2018

Look for Bald Eagles in Winter!

Young Adult Bald Eagle

Juvenile Bald Eagle

Winter is a great time to look for bald eagles. Back in 2001, most eagles in Boulder County migrated here from Canada and other places north. Now, in 2018, we have 11 pairs with territories in Boulder County, so there are fewer migrants and more residents. All but one of these pairs nest on either city/county open space or conservation easements. The fish, prairie dogs, small mammals, and waterfowl on open space are important to all.

These photos taken by iNaturalist user dplawrance demonstrate how bald eagles don’t get white head feathers until they mature at 3-5 years. Their bills also change color from dark to yellow. Both males and females have white head feathers, and females are larger than males. To learn more about bald eagles and to see eagle nest cams in other parts of the country, visit the American Eagle Foundation.

Anotado en noviembre 29, jueves 17:05 por dhprice dhprice | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

05 de noviembre de 2018

Fall is here, winter is coming, and black bears are still active!

Shalana's photo of black bear tracks on the snowy steps of her Eldorado Springs home is a great reminder that fall is indeed here, but winter is right behind! Black bears should be heading into their winter dens right around now, but some are still active. Leading up to hibernation, they need to eat roughly 20,000 calories per day to get the necessary fat reserves that will allow them to survive an entire winter hibernating without eating, drinking, urinating, or defecating. Amazing, right? To avoid any conflicts with black bears, communities are encouraged to properly secure trash and compost bins, bring bird feeders in for the season, harvest fruit, and safely secure smaller livestock like goats and chickens.

Learn more about Colorado's black bears >

Anotado en noviembre 05, lunes 20:10 por melanie_hill melanie_hill | 1 comentarios | Deja un comentario

07 de mayo de 2018

And that's a wrap!

Photo - Broad Tailed HummingbirdWow - a whirlwind 2018 City Nature Challenge. Nice work, Boulder!

All 68 cities combined came up with a whopping 441,888 observations, and involved 17,329 people as of 9:00am MST today. Additionally, we also made 4,075 Research Grade observations of 599 rare, endangered, and threatened species globally, and added over 100 new species that had not previously been recorded on iNaturalist EVER! The San Francisco Bay Area took the lead for all three categories: Most Observations, Species, and People. Check out the leaderboard here: http://citynaturechallenge.org/leaderboard/

Boulder County did a remarkable job and ended up with the following: 3,478 Observations (31st place), 784 Species (30th place), and 107 Observers (37th place)! Our observers really pulled through until the very end, and we are so appreciative of everyone's participation. THANK YOU!

Anotado en mayo 07, lunes 22:49 por dsutherland dsutherland | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario

30 de abril de 2018


Today is the last day of the City Nature Challenge, Boulder! We're at just under 2,000 observations. Let's see if we can get 3,000 by the end of the challenge! Don't forget you can continue uploading your observations to iNaturalist up until May 3rd, but they must be taken during the April 27-30 bioblitz. You have until 11:59pm TONIGHT to capture your final observations!

Check out our standings here: https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/city-nature-challenge-2018-boulder

Anotado en abril 30, lunes 15:34 por melanie_hill melanie_hill | 0 comentarios | Deja un comentario