Outdoors – The Pagosa Springs SUN http://www.pagosasun.com The most trusted source for news and information about Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Thu, 23 Jan 2020 22:03:50 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.5 Camp Colorado Scholarship offered by Audubon Society http://www.pagosasun.com/camp-colorado-scholarship-offered-by-audubon-society/ Fri, 24 Jan 2020 12:00:06 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195941 By Jean Zirnhelt
Special to The SUN

Applications are now being accepted for the Michael P. Ward Memorial Scholarship sponsored by the Weminuche Audubon Society.
Camp Colorado is a week-long science camp with a focus on birds for students between the ages of 13-18. It is operated by the American Birding Association and based at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park. This year’s camp takes place from July 18 to 24.
Campers will explore Rocky Mountain National Park and nearby areas to learn about bird identification, painting, field journaling, photography, careers in ornithology and more. It is an opportunity to meet students from across the country with similar interests. A description of the camp is available at www.aba.org/camp-colorado.
The application deadline is March 1. Please check the Scholarship tab on the website, www.weminucheaudubon.org, for more information and for application directions. All of our previous recipients have reported having a great time at the camp.
This is the sixth year that we are able to offer this exciting opportunity thanks to the generosity of Joan Ward, who provides the scholarship in honor of her late husband Mike, who died in 2014. He was an active board member of the chapter and involved in many of the projects and events furthering the Audubon mission of “protecting birds and the places they need.”

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2019 YEAR IN REVIEW http://www.pagosasun.com/2019-year-in-review-4/ Thu, 23 Jan 2020 22:00:45 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195937 2019 was a busy and interesting year in Pagosa Country. There was no want for good news, bad news, controversial issues, and no lack of interesting news events to keep SUN readers focused on local events, situations and personalities.
The SUN is taking a look back at some of those events, selected by SUN staff writers. This week, we look back at October, November and December.

OCTOBER

• The Archuleta County Board of County Commissioners (BoCC) approved upon first reading a revised noise ordinance and adopted the Model Traffic Code upon second and final reading at the board’s regular meeting on Oct. 1.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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Audubon Society meeting to feature Roger Organ’s trip to Africa http://www.pagosasun.com/audubon-society-meeting-to-feature-roger-organs-trip-to-africa/ Mon, 20 Jan 2020 12:00:50 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195447 By Jean Zirnhelt
Special to The SUN
The Weminuche Audubon Society will hold its January meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 22, at the Methodist Church on Lewis Street at 6 p.m. Join us for refreshments and socializing before the meeting begins at 6:30 p.m.
“Botswana, the Okavango Delta and the Birds of Southern Africa” is the title of a presentation to be given by Roger Organ. He said the trip to the Okavango Delta this past July with his wife, Joan, was the trip of a lifetime. The lack of seasonal rains had cut down on vegetation, making the animals and birds more visible and easier to find as they clustered around the remaining water holes. Southern Africa is rich with bird life and has 962 species of birds, of which 98 are endemic. The presentation covers the animals and birds with some up-close encounters. We saw previews of Organ’s photographs at our October meeting and they are fantastic.
This event is free and open to the public. If you would like to become a member of our chapter, memberships are available at our meetings with a $15 dues payment. To show our appreciation to the Methodist Church for our meeting space, we ask that you bring a contribution of nonperishable food to be donated to its food bank.
Call Jean Zirnhelt at 731-2985 for more information or check our website at www.weminucheaudubon.org.

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Bird of the Week http://www.pagosasun.com/bird-of-the-week-116/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 12:00:32 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195517

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the house finch.
Often seen in large flocks of a few tens of birds to perhaps a hundred birds or more, house finches (haemorhous mexicanus) are frequent visitors to bird feeders in our area. Although they thrive in urban and suburban environments, they may also be seen in many forest and grassland habitats below 6,000 feet across the southwest.
House finches are sparrow-sized birds with large beaks that they use to crack open hardened seeds or that serve them well for feasting on fleshy fruits of various kinds.
The males are distinctively rosy red around their face and upper body, with dark streaking in the tails and along their undersides. Females lack the reddish coloration of males and are grayish-brown with dark streaks.
Their cup-shaped nests made of small stems, leaves, string, wool, and other fibrous materials can be found almost anywhere — in trees, shrubs, rock ledges or on buildings, and even in hanging planters. Each brood of two to six chicks may mature in a little less than three weeks, allowing them to lay up to six broods per year in warmer climates, but three or four in cooler areas.
House finches typically do not migrate from their home ranges and are common across North America, but that has not always been the case. Originally native in the American west and southwest, in the 1940s, they were illegally sold as pets in the New York City area. These birds were released by vendors and owners, and Audubon Christmas Bird Counts document the rapid spread of the species from the east and midwest. In the mid-1990s, a rapidly spreading eye disease caused a steep decline in their numbers, primarily in the east. While the disease is still a concern, house finch populations have recovered and they continue to thrive as human developments expand across the continent.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

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Bighorn sheep research project continuing http://www.pagosasun.com/bighorn-sheep-research-project-continuing/ Sun, 19 Jan 2020 12:00:00 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195433 By Esther Godson
Special to The SUN
To gain a better understanding of wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) and the U.S. Forest Service will continue their efforts on a five-year project to study the cliff-dwelling mammal.
Starting in late January or as conditions allow, a helicopter crew will be used to locate and capture bighorns and fit them with GPS telemetry collars. The collars will allow biologists to follow daily movements of the animals and determine what areas of the wilderness they use.
Crews may also swab nasal tissue and take blood samples that could be used to determine if the bighorns have been exposed to diseases that can adversely affect the animals. These actions will help the agencies achieve conservation objectives for bighorn sheep herds on National Forest System lands. This will be the third year that helicopter crews will be used to capture and collar bighorns in the Weminuche Wilderness.
The remote nature of the Weminuche bighorn herds has made detecting and monitoring the animals from the ground difficult. Consequently, the U.S. Forest Service Rocky Mountain Region has approved landing the helicopter in the wilderness for the project. Weather permitting, the capture crew will attempt to capture up to 15 animals. They anticipate one to two days of flight operations with no more than 34 landings. In the primary capture area, roughly between Vallecito Creek and Wolf Creek Pass, there are about 395 bighorns that reside primarily in the Weminuche Wilderness.
“We don’t know a lot about how these bighorns use the landscape,” said Brad Weinmeister, a terrestrial biologist for CPW in Durango. “We know that this area provides good habitat, but we’d like to get more information to help us with management plans.”
Four of the five Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep herds occurring on the San Juan National Forest are in the Weminuche Wilderness.
CPW considers the Weminuche population to be a top priority for statewide inventory and monitoring, habitat protection and improvement, disease prevention and research. The project is being funded by the U.S. Forest Service, CPW and the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society.
If you have specific wildlife questions, please contact Joe Lewandowski, public information officer, CPW Southwest Region, at 375-6708.

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2019 YEAR IN REVIEW http://www.pagosasun.com/2019-year-in-review-3/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:00:45 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195423 2019 was a busy and interesting year in Pagosa Country. There was no want for good news, bad news, controversial issues, and no lack of interesting news events to keep SUN readers focused on local events, situations and personalities.
The SUN is taking a look back at some of those events, selected by SUN staff writers. This week, we look back at July, August and September.

JULY

• At a Future of Power Supply Information Series meeting held in Pagosa Springs on July 1, La Plata Electric Association representatives discussed the future of energy and a potential buyout of its existing power-supply contract with Tri-State Generation and Transmission.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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Wolf reintroduction initiative qualifies for 2020 ballot http://www.pagosasun.com/wolf-reintroduction-initiative-qualifies-for-2020-ballot/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 22:00:06 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195431 The Restoration of Gray Wolves Initiative has qualified for Colorado’s 2020 ballot.
The Colorado Secretary of State’s Office made the announcement in a press release on Jan. 6.

The full version of this story is available in the print edition and e-edition of the Pagosa Springs SUN. Subscribe today by calling (970)264-2100 or click here.

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Elk after the storm http://www.pagosasun.com/elk-after-the-storm/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 11:55:50 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195325

Photos courtesy Beth Tollefsen

After the storm these elk look for food and a way to stay warm. More snow is in the forecast beginning today.

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Ice fishing season http://www.pagosasun.com/ice-fishing-season/ Thu, 16 Jan 2020 11:54:30 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=195317

Photo courtesy Jeff Monafo

Ice fishing season is in full swing on Pagosa Lake. Man, dog and blue heron appeared to enjoy each other’s company while out on the ice.

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Bird of the Week http://www.pagosasun.com/bird-of-the-week-115/ Tue, 14 Jan 2020 12:00:25 +0000 http://www.pagosasun.com/?p=194653

Photo courtesy Charles Martinez

This week’s Bird of the Week, compliments of the Weminuche Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies, is the hooded merganser.
When spotted on one of our area lakes or on the river, the hooded merganser demands a second look. In breeding plumage, the eye-catching, fan-shaped white hood on the male’s black head gives a regal look to this small duck. Black back, chestnut-colored sides and a white breast cut by a black side stripe complete the male’s color scheme. Females and immatures show a brown color pattern and cinnamon-colored shaggy head crest.
These ducks use their slender, toothed bills for catching and holding onto prey, which is usually swallowed whole. Legs set far back on the body assist them in diving for fish, aquatic insects, crayfish, amphibians and even some plant matter. They will also feed by swimming with only the head submerged. An extra transparent eyelid, the nictitating membrane, protects their eyes and allows them to locate food underwater by sight.
These mergansers are restricted to North America, where they nest in tree cavities in forested, shallow-water habitats. They will also use nest boxes. Once incubation starts, the male disappears, leaving the female alone to defend the eggs from predation by raccoons, minks, snakes, bears and other birds. Within 24 hours of hatching, ducklings jump from the nest, up to 50 feet to the ground, and are led by mom to water. They need little parental care.
Although not frequent visitors to our area, they are certainly ones worth watching for.
For information on local bird-watching events, visit www.weminucheaudubon.org and www.facebook.com/weminucheaudubon/.

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