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2012 Christmas Bird Count - Wrap Up

Christmas Bird Count birdwatching in Aspen

The Audubon Christmas Bird Count is the longest-running citizen science survey in the world, drawing some 60,000 participants throughout North, Central and South America.  Running since 1900, the count data provide a picture of how bird populations have changed in time and space over the last 113 years. This information helps conservation biologists and interested individuals study long-term health and status of bird populations, revealing such factors as habitat fragmentation and environmental threats like groundwater pollution, misuse of pesticides, and impacts of climate change


Winter Songbird Flocks

Like a famous musician thronged by fans, or the popular kids at school who students gather around, chickadees often form the nucleus of mixed flocks of birds in winter. Among people the advantages are usually obvious: social stature by association, access to the latest gossip, and insulation from shunning or bullying. Popularity brings a wealth of advantages for people, yet what could it do for the little chickadee?


Winter Solstice

Winter ice and snow in Aspen

Today is Winter Solstice!  Traditionally different cultures throughout the northern world honored the sun and celebrated the return of the light on this, the shortest day of the year.  It marked the end of the fall harvest season and the beginning of winter, a time for turning inward and of telling stories.  Often rituals, involving fire, song, dance, and gift giving were performed, followed by feasting, to insure that the sun would indeed return.  “Solstice” is derived from the Latin “sol” for sun and “stitium” meaning stopped.


Northern Saw-whet Owl Banding

A couple of weeks ago I was able to experience a saw-whet owl banding project near Rifle, Colorado with Kim Potter, a wildlife technician with the US Forest Service and a licensed owl bander. Kim has been banding owls near Rifle for many years, and over a couple of nights throughout the fall Kim invites the public to come watch the banding.


Being Bear Aware

Bear looks trough two trees
One of the most enjoyable aspects of living in Aspen is the ease of access to nature.  The close proximity also gives many animals easy access to the city. As Aspen dwellers, we must live responsibly in this place in order to facilitate safe urban/wildlife interactions.
 
In September, bear activity goes into hyperdrive.  Bears will begin hibernating in late October/early November, so now is their final push to gain as much weight as possible.

Smuggler Mountain Restoration Work

Overgrown gamble oak on Smuggler Mountain
ACES' Forest Health Program (formerly For the Forest) is excited about upcoming collaborations with local and federal government agencies to promote healthy, resilient forest.
 
Beginning today ACES, the City of Aspen, and Pitkin County Open Space are working together on three restoration projects in the wildland-urban interface on Smuggler Mountain. Each project seeks to improve wildlife habitat, and reduce fuel loads in different vegetation types: Gambel oak, lodgepole pine, and aspen.

A Sapsucker's Busy Work

What's more important in life than surrounding yourself by beautiful people? The answer is nothing, however a close second goes to beautiful places. The conclusion of this summer was a difficult period for me.

Don't Leaf Aspen Without Peeping Those Colors!

Leaf Peeper: (n.) One who travels to view and photograph changing leaf colors in the fall.

Getting to Work

I registered for Pandora (internet radio) in the Bay Area, where I grew up.  Every so often, they’ll play a commercial for California’s ‘Spare the Air’ program, which encourages residents to leave their car at home and take alternative transportation when the local Air Quality Index reaches unhealthy levels.  This index was developed by the EPA and establishes a minimum threshold for when ground level ozone pollution, commonly known as smog, reaches unhealthy levels.

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