We were almost down to our camp when I noticed two beautifully round orbs staring at us from behind a bush. We both froze in our places while we racked our brains on what to do. It did not take long to draw from what we had learned in our training,
Flowers are blooming, birds are singing and kids are learning! The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) at Bird Conservancy of the Rockies has become a place of respite and refueling for both people and nature. Situated on the northwest shore of Barr Lake State Park where the cottonwoods grow tall is our outdoor learning center that provides a unique space for all people to visit and learn about the local ecosystem and all it has to offer.
Mindful birding is a powerful practice that combines the joys of birdwatching with the benefits of mindfulness. Exposure to nature is linked to a host of benefits, including improved attention, lower stress, better mood, reduced risk of psychiatric disorders, and even an increase in empathy and cooperation.
One of my favorite quotes by Aldo Leopold in his book, A Sand County Almanac. A classic read for any upcoming wildlife biologist, nature-lover, or outdoors person. This quote reminds me of the well-known saying “leave it better than you found it”. A saying that had been engrained in me ever since I was just a kid playing in the river behind my house. I am fortunate that I grew up as an “outdoor kid”.
The first time meeting a bull I thought there should be much more care taken. We parked the pick-up in the two-lane adjacent to the white mound napping and chewing his cud. He didn’t move or glace our way as we approached. I walked equal to the rancher; if he was going in, I was, too.
On Sunday, March 13th, I saw my first Mountain Bluebird of the year. He was coming off the south fence of the northwestern pasture. He launched, dipped, then propelled making it to the opposite side to watch me travel on, my car having done more to move him than the cows, or even the coyotes could manage.
By my students’ calculations, we had spent over 50 hours trying to capture this particular Flammulated Owl, dating back two summers. Make no mistake—there have been many challenging owls to capture over the course of this 40-year demographic study, but this owl had drawn extra attention from the nine students working with me that summer, with its Houdini-esque tactics for evading capture at a nest cavity high in a quaking aspen.
From a young age, I felt a disconnect between our culture and nature. I was always curious about the natural world and wondered why anyone would want to study anything else. My father’s idealist view and respect for Indigenous people specifically inspired me. I longed to live more connected to the land, like the Indigenous people whose ways of life I had come to admire.
Update from the field! Seasonal Bird Conservancy banders are working in the Chihuahuan Desert this winter to tag non-breeding grassland birds for our Motus project. Read the blog to learn more about what they are doing and how it will aid in our efforts to help grasslands and the birds that call it their home.
Field Sketching, or Nature Journaling, is a method that can be used to connect with nature through first-hand observations. All you need is a view outside, a pencil, a piece of paper and an open mind.