Northern Flicker—Unusual Toes, a Long Tongue and a “Chiseling” Beak Once upon a time, North America had 2 major flicker species—the more eastern Yellow-shafted Flicker and the more western Red-shafted Flicker. Each was named for the color of the shafts of their tail and flight feathers, either a lively lemon-yellow or a lovely orange-red. Several decades ago, these species were lumped together as Northern Flicker when scientists realized that they interbreed easily wherever they overlap. In Colorado, our flickers are primarily the red-shafted subspecies, although it’s not uncommon…

Guest blogger Rachel Ames asks that very question. Read more about her observations! Read more…

The Bluebirds of North America—Carrying the sky on their backs Bluebirds are members of the thrush family, which also includes American Robins and a number of “spotted thrushes” such as Hermit Thrush and Swainson’s Thrush. North America has 3 species of bluebirds—Eastern, Western, and Mountain. All 3 can be spotted in Colorado, although Eastern Bluebirds are not common and mostly found on the eastern plains. In Colorado, Western Bluebirds can be found most commonly in ponderosa pine habitat along the Front Range and in a triangle from Grand…

Western Kingbirds—Little tyrants in the bird nursery! Western Kingbirds are common flycatchers found primarily in rural residential areas and lowland riparian woodlands in our area. In all, the U.S. has 7 different species of kingbird, including several quite rare visitors to southern Arizona and the Texas/Mexico border. Western Kingbirds live in Colorado between May and September, heading to southern Mexico and Central America in early fall. They can often be spotted sitting on utility wires, scanning for food. Here’s a photo of an adult in a classic kingbird…

Join us on Sept. 25 at the UCAR Event Center for Greenwood’s seventh annual Wild Night for Wildlife! An evening of FUN and FUNDRAISING to benefit Colorado’s sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. Click here to learn more!  

 American Robin—The Original Early Bird Can you imagine a spring or summer without robins, singing their bright “cheerily, cheerio, cheerily, cheer up” song? Michigan State University (my alma mater—go Spartans!) faced this catastrophe in 1959. In the early 1950s, arbor specialists began trying to eradicate Dutch elm disease on campus by spraying the many elm trees with DDT. The insecticide manufacturer had assured them that the spray was not harmful to birds. But the oily residue stayed on the leaves; the leaves fell to the ground; the earthworms…

Blue Jays and the Physics of “Blue” Blue Jays are members of the intelligent Corvid family, along with all other species of jays, magpies, crows, and ravens (and even Clark’s Nutcracker).  The scientific name of this bird is well chosen:  Cyanocitta cristata, from Greek (blue, cyano; chattering bird, kitta) and Latin (with a crest, cristatus).  Older range maps show that Blue Jays weren’t found in Colorado until recent years.  Their steady march from the east was probably aided by increasingly common bird feeders stretching across the plains, luring…