The Front Range Birding Company Newsletter: The Meadowlark Messenger A Nature Center for You and Your Family
Winter 2005


Thanks to all of you who have visited our new store. Pepper, our Labrador Retriever says Hi! Here is our first Newsletter named The Meadowlark Messenger after our logo. Please let us know how we can improve. Tom & Diane Bush.

in this issue:
  • The Grand? Opening of FRBC
  • Focus On Goldfinches (the wild canary)
  • Orchard Mason (the gentle) Bee
  • The Day Tripper by Caroline Hancock
  • The 2004 Christmas Bird Count by Mary Hafner

  • The Grand? Opening of FRBC

    Hello to everyone who has visited our store so far in it's infant first four months. Diane and I have been overwhelmed by the tremendous positive response the community has given us since October 20th when we officially opened the doors for business. We certainly appreciate everyone's patience as we put together all the necessary pieces of a backyard nature store. Hopefully you didn't mind some blurry eyes helping you with birding and nature issues as we stayed many nights late into the wee hours painting and building out store displays. Our son John added his expertise with computer databases and power tools. He was a godsend. His extensive knowledge and creative mind eased our initial entry into the retail arena.

    The "grand" in our opening may be somewhat of an understatement in terms of hoopla but it sure was a big step for this ma and pa! Our goal is to see all our customers come in happy and leave happy. Hopefully we can provide the product, or service you desire, even if it is only to answer a question or share an experience.

    We will try to stock as much American made products as possible. To that end we are fortunate to have many Colorado and local suppliers as vendors. Additionally we support a growing number of extraordinary local artists and craftsmen who supply us with fine gift and accessory items. I think you will find exceptional value at The Front Range Birding Company and have the personal satisfaction of knowing that much of what is spent at our store stays in our community.

    To show our gratitude to you, our valued customer, in recognition of National Bird Feeding Month, we will offer 20% off all birdseed and suet during the month of February. Thanks again and see you on the porch.

    Tom and Diane Bush - Owner/Operators Pepper - Top Bird Dog and Consultant

    Focus On Goldfinches (the wild canary)

    This issue our wild bird of interest on the Front Range is the Goldfinch. In Colorado we have both American Goldfinches and Lesser Goldfinches. The American Goldfinch is the larger of the two and generally stays with us throughout the winter. The smaller Lesser Goldfinch will generally migrate down slope during the winter months. During the winter months both types shed their bright yellow plumage and sport an almost tan color. Their genus name, Caruelis, is from the Latin word caruus, which means "thistle." Not surprising, the Goldfinch main diet is thistle and they even use thistledown to line their nest. They are "clingers" and have the ability to hang upside down as they feed on wildflowers and drooping sunflowers. Because of their unique upside down feeding habits, a special tube feeder has been invented for their exclusive use. The "upside down finch feeder" helps segregate the Goldfinch from the more aggressive House Finch that will not feed upside down. Goldfinches prefer forest edge and open space habitats. Flora consisting of trees and high shrubs are favorite cover for them. There they build nests 4 to 10 feet above the ground.

    Goldfinches breed in mid to late summer when thistle and other seed sources are plentiful. They lay about 5 pale blue or green eggs that hatch in about 12 days. The chicks fledge about 12 days later. Goldfinches can live quite a long time. The oldest recorded banded American Goldfinch recaptured from the wild lived 11 years 7 months. They are found across North America and are the state bird of New Jersey, Iowa, and Washington.

    If you provide some bushy habitat, a water source, and a thistle feeder in your backyard, you should be able to enjoy the color, song, and antics Goldfinches will bring. Better yet, grab a pair of binoculars and head out to one of the many great birding areas around Denver. You won't be disappointed!

    Check out our great Goldfinch products: The Droll Yankee Finch Flocker, the Perky Pet Upside Down Goldfinch Feeder, the Marsh Country Tube & Sock Thistle Feeder, and Nyjer & Superfinch seeds in Jugs.

    Also you can help out the environment by bringing in any clean 1-gallon milk jug and we will fill it up for you at a great saving! You save money and the landfills get a break.

    Orchard Mason (the gentle) Bee

    Many of you have noticed our Mason Bee Exhibit. It has generated quite a bit of curiosity. As you may already know, Diane and I are beekeepers and have six hives that we extract local raw honey from. This honey is quite delicious and it is available while supplies last in the store. Our honey is made by the European Honey Bee, which is a social insect that is not native to North America. Lately the European Honeybee has been besieged by several Asian parasites that have all but eradicated them from the wild. Because of their plight, interest has grown in agricultural circles to use native bees, and Orchard Mason Bees in particular, as crop pollinators.

    I find that Mason Bees will give you great joy in observing them pollinate your fruit trees and Spring garden plants. If you have children or grandchildren that visit, they will also be fascinated as you introduce them to Mason Bees and their life cycle. They are native to North America, non aggressive, and gentle. The Mason Bee will not sting unless you go to the extra trouble of squeezing it in your hand. Even then it is not much more than a mosquito bite. This makes them a great way help educate young people and adults on the joys of nature as you observe them up close and personal.

    While they are only a solitary bee and do not produce surplus honey for human consumption, the benefits they provide are invaluable. They are extremely efficient pollinators for your garden. A respect for wildlife is generated that transcends to how we interact with one another. I think they are a great way to find common ground between adults and young people as kids find them fascinating. They can even be used for school or Scouting education programs.

    Come in and look over our native Mason Bee products. We even have live bees available! We can help you get started with establishing an Orchard Mason Bee colony. It's very easy; the bees do all the work while you sit back, relax, and enjoy their industrious contributions to your backyard garden. If you are a procrastinator though, remember they "wake up" in early Spring (mid-March). You will need to get them while supplies last prior to their Spring "coming out!"

    The Day Tripper by Caroline Hancock

    Anyone can be a birder. It doesn't have to cost a lot of money or require you to travel long distances. Lucky for us living here in Colorado, we have many interesting bird species right here in our backyard. I took a drive down to Roxbourough State Park on January 20th. The park is located south of Chatfield Lake in Douglas County and requires a small fee for entrance. The first bird I saw was a Golden Eagle soaring overhead as I drove into the parking lot. What an impressive sight! I made my way to the front of the visitor center and sat for a while. I was there for about five minutes and the birds were very plentiful. I observed Scrub Jays, Black-capped Chickadees, Grey-headed Juncos, and a Canyon Wren, which I added to my life list. On a short stroll I spotted a couple of Magpies and a Mule Deer and Coyote running off into the distance.

    Later that day I drove over to Bel Mar Park located off of Wadsworth and Ohio. You can park at the Lakewood Heritage Center and take the path west to the lake. I have always had great birding experiences there. This day I sighted quite a few shore birds and waterfowl. There were Canada and Cackling Geese, Ring-necked ducks, Northern Shovelers, Ring-billed Gulls, Mallard Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Common Goldeneyes, a pair of Buffleheads, a Belted Kingfisher, a Gadwall and a Wood Duck which seems to be a lake resident. The lake is not very big which makes bird viewing very easy and the boardwalk and dock is wheelchair accessible.

    As Spring arrives so will the migrant birds. So get out there and enjoy them as they announce the season's change. Happy Birding!

    The 2004 Christmas Bird Count by Mary Hafner

    The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is a 105-year-old tradition that was started as an alternative to the usual holiday hunt, where people went out to see how many different birds and animals they could shoot in one day. Now more than 50,000 observers in all 50 states participate in this annual bird census.

    Members of The Front Range Birding Company participated in both the Denver Metro and the Douglas County Bird Counts.The Douglas County Bird Count has been held for the last 23 years. This year 84 participants in 17 teams scoured a 15-mile radius circle from Castle Rock to Roxborough Park and saw 55 species and 7870 individual birds. My co-worker at The Front Range Birding Company, Caroline Hancock, and I took a team out from Sedalia up into the mountains on Highway 67. Starting at 7:30 am on a cold morning, nothing much was out, except the crows, flying from their roosting area and us. We found a Cooper's Hawk perched in a tree, and throughout the day we saw Solitaires, Juncos, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Finches, Nuthatches, and Jays. We stopped at various houses where the residents had bird feeders. Some of them had conducted their own feeder count, which we added into our total. They fed Wild Turkeys, Evening Grosbeaks and all three species of Nuthatches. At one house we were able to stand under the feeders as little Pygmy Nuthatches flew in and out.

    All the bird counters met at Roxborough State Park for a potluck supper and to compile the day's count. Our team's final tally was 34 species and 1126 individual birds. The annual Christmas Bird Count is a great way to learn more about birds and give back to the community. Think about volunteering next year. It's a real blast!


    GOT SEED YET??? If not - NO WORRIES! The Front Range Birding mid-winter seed sale is on. Recognizing February as National Bird Feeding Month and perhaps the most critical survival month for Front Range birds, all wild birdseed and suet is on sale at 20% off our already competitive prices - all month!

    Stock up on seed and help supplement the food sources our local resident birds forage for during this difficult time for them. We don't mess around with birdseed sales. It's simple - if birds eat it, it's on sale at 20% off!

    The Pepper Club has been formed!

    We have a new frequent buyer program! We call it the "Pepper Card Club." Many of you have met our big lab mutt Pepper who greets and meets all visitors in the store (it was his idea to form a club). Ask for your "Pepper Card" the next time you are in the store. There's no cost or obligation, no time limit, and they are unrestricted! You can even use them as credit toward the future purchase of store items on sale. We'll keep track of your purchases on the card and it will be worth $10 of "Front Range Birding Cash" when your total store purchases add up to just $100. (All purchases must be valued at time of the purchase of full price items; FRBC Cash can be redeemed against any future purchase of $10 or more). Check out our new "Pepper Card." It's a dog gone good deal!

    WILD REPUBLIC SNOWY OWLS ARE HERE! The long awaited Limited Addition Snowy Owl promotion program has arrived at the Front Range Birding Company. Ask us how you can qualify for one. Basically after you collect six Wild Republic Plush Birds, you will receive a free Snowy Owl. Come in and check out the program.

    NEW PRODUCTS TWO NEW SUET's are now available in the store. Cashew suet and Suet only. These two suets offer extremely high energy content that birds need to help generate body heat during these long cold Winter nights.

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