The Meadowlark Times The Official Newsletter of The Front Range Birding Company
Spring 2005


A Nature Center For You and Your Family

in this issue
  • SPRING TIPS from our friends at Duncraft
  • Book Review: THE BIG YEAR by Sara Nelson
  • THE BLUE IS BACK by Mary Hafner
  • THE DAY TRIPPER by Caroline Hancock
  • The 2005 Dove Race For Youth!! April 30th

  • SPRING TIPS from our friends at Duncraft

    • Spring migration season brings many species of birds migrating northward. Invite them to stop over in your yard for refueling on their journey. You will have a chance to see and enjoy many 'new' birds, if only for a short while! Keep feeders up and filled, and we suggest that you scatter seed on the ground to catch birds' attention as they fly over. Serve high caloric foods to replenish their energy reserves depleted from their strenuous voyage. Foods like sunflower heart chips, black oil sunflower or mixed seed blends with nuts are extra rich for added energy.
    • Goldfinches are getting their gold! A wonderful sign of spring is the transformation of male goldfinches' coloring from their winter olive-drab to brilliant lemon yellow (their 'gold') with dramatic white and black markings. Female goldfinches keep their muted coloring year-round. Traveling in flocks called 'charms,' goldfinches have an undulating flight, several quick-wing ascending wing flaps, then coasting down, so they seem to stitch the sky. Keep plenty of Nyjer seed on hand for these golden beauties--well known for arriving at feeders in large numbers. Nyjer seeds are best served from a Nyjer (thistle) feeder or mix with your regular seed for use in a standard feeder.
    • Put out yarn, string & other nesting material. Birds welcome all your donations for their nest-building. Yarn and string should be about 3 inches in length-- longer lengths jeopardize bird safety. Put out your yarn, dry grasses, dog and cat combings in an onion bag, a suet cage or drape them on your shrubs. For a convenient and decorative solution purchase a ready- made nesting ball, basket or tower. These come pre- filled with soft materials perfect for nest building activities. Enjoy the fun of watching birds tease out their selections and fly off to incorporate them in the nest.
    Mike Dunn & Sharon Dunn

    Book Review: THE BIG YEAR by Sara Nelson

    "The Big Year" by Mark Obmascik. Do you enjoy going on birding trips and seeing birds you have never seen before? Do you keep a life list? Have you ever thought about competitive birding and seeing how your birding skills compare to others? If so, you may enjoy a book called "The Big Year: A Tale of Man, Nature and Fowl Obsession." This book by Denver author Mark Obmascik follows the humorous and sometimes unbelievable adventures of three birders as they undertake a "big year." The goal of a big year is to see as many different bird species as possible in North America (minus Hawaii and Mexico) in one year. The competitors must rely on their knowledge of birds, as well as the support of the entire birding community, to race around the country and check birds off their list. In order to come out on top, the winner must see close to every North American breeding bird and a large number of "lost" birds from other parts of the world. Big year birders think nothing of dropping everything at the report of a rare bird and jumping on the next plane to find it. The competitors spend tens of thousands of dollars crisscrossing the continent and visiting bird-intensive locations like the Dry Tortugas of Florida and Attu Island of Alaska. All this traveling makes it almost impossible to spend time with family or hold down a job to support this expensive game. This book covers the 275,000-mile quest of the three extreme birders and the story of their year is both amusing and exciting. Stop in today to pick up your copy and tell us about some of your adventures in birding. We also carry an array of other great birding and nature books. To drop a few names, our collection includes such notable authors as John Fielder, David Sibley, Kenn Kaufman, and Pete Dunn.


    The House Finch has recently suffered the ill effects of an eye infection across eastern North America. It is spreading westward. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has began a survey to study how nesting success influences House Finch eye disease. The lab is seeking participants. They want to know how early House Finches begin nesting and how late in the season they continue to breed. This program is a great opportunity to give valuable help to the lab while enjoying these very entertaining feathered visitors. It requires just two monitoring sessions per week and there is no fee to participate. Consider involving the young people in your life in this nature study project. Look for House Finches in the early spring. Check out the branches of pine, spruce, and cedar trees. Nooks under roofs and eaves are favorite spots. Quite often you will find them setting up housekeeping in various objects such as hanging planters, evergreen wreaths, baskets, or light fixtures. Watch as they leave your feeder and you may spot where they nest. During 2004 people from 14 states and provinces provided valuable nest records to the lab. Join the lab to help out one of our most favorite backyard visitors. You can contact the Cornell Lab at www.birds.cornell.edu or call them at (800) 843-2473 (BIRD) for a wealth of birding resources.

    THE BLUE IS BACK by Mary Hafner

    The azure blue of the male Mountain Bluebird is back in our open spaces and meadows, and is looking for nesting sites. The males returned in February to stake out territories. Bluebirds are secondary cavity nesters, so they look for old woodpecker holes in open woodlands, meadows and orchards. Due to the modern forest and orchard management of removing dead trees and limbs, natural cavities have become scarce. Adding to the decline is the pressure from competing swallows and introduced species such as House Sparrows and Starlings, who also use cavities. In the last twenty-five years the popularity of providing boxes for the bluebirds has resulted in growing their populations. The Audubon Society of Greater Denver and the Colorado Division of Wildlife are jointly sponsoring The Colorado Bluebird Project to identify current bluebird trails and recruit new volunteers to monitor bluebird boxes. If you are interested please email bluebirdproject@denveraudubon.org or phone 303- 973-9530. Bluebird boxes need to be made to certain specifications and spaced about 100 yards apart on a fence post or pole. Come into our store to see the variety of nest boxes, kits, and information that can be used for bluebirds. We also have bluebird feeders and the bluebird's favorite snack - live mealworms. Two of the three North American bluebird species nest in Colorado. The Mountain Bluebird nests above 5,000 feet, and the Western Bluebird frequents the western slope and southern Colorado. Bluebirds can have two broods during the breeding season. They lay four to six pale blue or white eggs, which hatch in two weeks. The male brings food to the female on the nest, and the hatchlings fledge in two to three weeks. After nesting they gather in flocks and go to the southern part of their range. In the wild bluebirds usually live only one to two years, in captivity they can live up to ten years.

    THE DAY TRIPPER by Caroline Hancock

    On March 22 I went birding in Chatfield State Park. The sun was out and the birds were singing. The first bird to catch my eye was an American Robin. The birds I sighted were some Canada geese along with a Western Meadowlark, Magpie, Dark- eyed Junco ( Slate colored ), Spotted Towhee, Northern Flicker, and a Red-tailed Hawk. My favorite sighting of the day was an immature Bald Eagle that was sitting in a tree overlooking the new Blue Heron Nesting area. I drove over to the ponds south of the lake and spotted some Ring-billed Gulls and a Common Merganser. I took the road over the dam to the northern area of the park all the way to the end. From there I walked north along the South Platte river. The birds I found here were Gadwalls, Belted Kingfishers, Red-winged Blackbirds, Mallards and some American Widgeon. Following the trail further, I crossed the bridge over the Platte and headed north on the Greenway trail under C-470. Under the freeway there are colonies of swallow nests made of mud from previous years. No swallows were sighted but they should return soon this spring. North of the freeway is South Platte Park which can also be accessed from C-470 west of Santa Fe at no fee. There are a couple ponds in the park. Here I spotted a Common Goldeneye, a Song Sparrow and some Green-winged Teal. The binoculars I used were the 8x42 Audubon Raptor series. The neck strap was very comfortable and the light weight made it easy for me to focus on the birds. Come into the store and try out a pair. They are affordably priced at $159.99 as is the entire Audubon series from Sheltered Wings Optics.


    HawkQuest's is a one-of-a-kind raptor education program. HawkQuest's "feathered teachers" (eagles, hawks, owls, and falcons) can be observed from just a few feet away. We will have them right at the store and expert handelers will answer questions you may have about these incredible animals. We will free fly a Harris's Hawk in the Shopping Center lot right in front of the store. You will gain a greater appreciation of the birds of prey and their essential role in the environment. Be sure to bring the whole family. http://www.hawkquest.org

    • Come see a Harris's Hawk fly!

    The 2005 Dove Race For Youth!! April 30th

    Sponsor a Dove in the name of The Greater Littleton Youth Initiative or The Jason Dahl Metro State Scholarship Fund, two very worthy charities for our community's youth. These homing pigeons will "race" back to their pads in Lakewood with your registered number attached to a leg. Sign up for a chance to win 1st, 2nd, or 3rd place prizes. First place will win a pair of Equinox Audubon Binoculars worth $240! Our goal is to release 300 sponsored Doves. They should fill the sky with delight and provide much needed funds for these two great local charities! Check with us for details on how to participate and race rules. Check out both charities on the web.http://www.glyi.org http://www.unitedheroes.com/ Jason-Dahl.html

    • Register a dove with your name on it right in the store.

    Join the Pepper Card Club!
    After just $100 of purchases your Pepper Card is worth $10 Front Range Birding Cash.

    In case you haven't noticed, Pepper is our lovable Black Lab and official greeter to all who visit our store. He just had to have his own club and more reason for you to keep coming back than just to see him. Say hi to Pepper the next time you come in and thank him for starting a club in his name.

    check out our web site...

    Buy 2 and get 1 free!Our 5 1/2 lb jugs of Nyjer and Superfinch are on sale while supplies last. These clear plastic jugs are a great way to store your Finch food and are super convenient. The jug sale gets you the Gold and House Finch's most favorite diet at a 33% saving!

    Learn More

    Help bring back the native bees! Our Orchard Mason Bees are still available but now ready to spring out of hibernation.We have a large variety of live both live bees and supplies right in the store. Our experts from Knox Cellars and Cougar Ridge Farms are ready to help with any of your questions on how to establish a super pollinator colony in your personal garden.

    The Mason is known as the "gentle bee" and will not sting unless severely provoked; even then the effort resembles that of a mosquito. Check with us for supplies and tips to help insure their success. Get buzzing!

    Read more about Orchard Mason Bees from Knox Cellars


    Spring has sprung on the Front Range and we hope all of you are enjoying it. In celebration of the springtime return of our migratory friends from down south, on April 30th we are having an old fashioned open house. Diane and I cannot think of a better way to show our appreciation to all of you who have continued to patronize our store. It's hard to believe it has only been five short months since we opened! Here are the top 10 reasons we think you should attend our open house (Letterman style.)

    1. HAWKQUEST!!! Get a close up view of a live Bald Eagle, Barn Owl, Peregrine Falcon, and a Harris's Hawk. The featured event will be a free flying Harris's Hawk!
    2. A WHITE DOVE RACE!! 300 white homing pigeons will be released for local charity drives. Sponsor a dove in the name of The Greater Littleton Youth Initiative or The Jason Dahl Scholarship Fund for a chance to win prizes as they "race" back to their Lakewood lofts. We call it "The 2005 Dove Race For Youth."
    3. IT'S INTERNATIONAL MIGRATORY BIRD DAY! Join us celebrating IMBD. We will host migratory education booths and have cool IMBD merchandise available for all ages.
    4. A NATURE CRAFT FAIR. All day acclaimed local craftsmen, artists, and authors will host booths in the shopping center common area. Everything from glass etchings to chain sawed bears will be available. Check out these talented folks of Colorado.
    5. BIRD WALKS. In association with the Audubon Society of Greater Denver, you can join expert guides at the Audubon Center "Discovery Pavilion" at 8AM on Sunday Morning, May 1st. There you will see the wonders of spring by observing birds in their natural habitat along the Platte River in Chatfield State Park.
    6. GET GOOD DEALS! Many Jefferson Village restaurants and businesses are giving discounts to customers who attend the open house. If you are hungry or thirsty, come on down!
    7. THE FRBC SPRING SEED SALE! Everything in a Jug is on sale. Buy 2 Jugs of Nyjer or Superfinch and get 1 free. You will feed all of our favorite Finches at a 33% saving!
    8. SAVE GAS! Have a great time with the family without going very far. Not a bad idea with prices now well over $2 bucks a gallon.
    9. GET IN GOOD WITH THE KIDS. No one under the age of 94 can pass up a Peregrine Falcon or Bald Eagle tattoo.
    10. SAVE ON EXPENSIVE ANALYST FEES. Come May, and you realize you missed the FRBC open house, you may need therapy.
    See you on at the Open House! Tom & Diane Bush and of course, Pepper.

    Find out more
    Quick Links...

    Cornell Lab of Ornithology

    North American Bluebird Society


    International Migratory Bird Day (IMBD)

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