T is for Tree Trunks

Howdy from Colorado!  Coney the Pine Squirrel

I’m Coney the Pine Squirrel, The Squirrel Nutwork’s Colorado Field Correspondent.

I have a great alphabet letter idea from Colorado that Nutmeg agreed to let me post!

I was running along our stream and spotted some tree trunks that were uncovered in our flooding last fall.

Pine tree trunks uncovered by flood waters

See how they look squeezed at the base? I had to hop all around them before I put together what happened: The soil around their bases was dumped there during a previous flood. According to my squirrel lore, that was way back in my many, many times-Great Grandsquirrel’s time! Like the flooding last September, I’m sure the humans back then couldn’t begin to remove the soil from around so many creek-side trees. So it stayed.

And these Ponderosa Pine trees didn’t die!

I’m so surprised to discover this , because trees need air like wildlife do, and they get a lot of it through their roots. As you can see, there are no roots in that uncovered fifteen inches of trunk.

Amazing! We squirrels don’t now quite what to make of this, so if any of you humans have an explanation, please shoot Nutmeg an email.

Thanks for letting me share in the A to Z Challenge!

Coney

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One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Howdy!

Yes, your Colorado Field Correspondent is also filling in on a Squirrel Nutwork favorite—Hickory’s Sunday mystery.  I left out one of our local wildflowers from Wednesday’s post. Do you know what it is?

mystery #71

I’ll post your answer this evening!

~~~

This wildflower, which lives in Colorado as well as Hickory’s home state of Virginia is a Goldenrod. With so many species, I haven’t tried to sort out which this is. It’s been blooming for a month here, but Hickory says it’s just starting up in Virginia. So I got the jump on showing it!

Chokecherries

Howdy!

Coney the Pine Squirrel

In the mountains, my favorite food of late summer is Chokecherries.

They are a bit hard to get to when it’s still a shrub, because the branches are weak, but we Pine Squirrels manage. When the chokecherry grows to a small tree it’s easier for us to reach the fruits at the branch tips.

chokecherries

Unfortunately, we have to share this treat. Bears, fox, coyotes, grouse, and even bighorn sheep like the fruits. In fact, humans do to! But always make sure you have proper identification before you eat a wild plant.

Chokecherries

Chokecherries, Prunus virginiana, can be found coast to coast, but they are pretty famous out west for being one of the ingredients in pemmican, a food that keeps well so was used by the Native Americans and early traders.

Colorado Wildflowers

Howdy folks!Coney the Pine Squirrel

Another report from your Colorado Field Correspondent, Coney the Pine Squirrel.

I might have shown you the wildflowers in my mountain town before, but we squirrels have short attention spans. You humans might also.

A lot of these are western relatives of wildflowers Nutmeg and Hickory show you. I only get a week every so often, so I’m treating you to a whole bouquet today. Except I didn’t pick these. So here we go with some summer blooms, all sun-loving plants in the fields and waysides, which tend to be very dry here on the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains. Ground like this:

Colorado's dry, sunny habitat

But I poked around to find some of the best blooms.Mullein

Mullein

Yarrow

Yarrow

Aster

Asters

Black-eyed Susan and Monarda

Black-eyed Susan and Monarda

Wild Geranium

Wild Geranium

Common Alumroot

I think this last one is Common Alumroot, from a photo on this great Colorado Wildflower website . I don’t have a Miz Flora living in my neighborhood, so my identification isn’t fool-proof. Yet, I still have a mystery. Do any Squirrel Nutwork readers know what this flower–or possibly a seed head–is?

Truffula tree lookalike

I’d like to think it’s a Truffula Tree, but I’m sure it’s not.

Hope you liked our flowers!

P. S. One of our readers solved the Truffula Tree mystery! It’s the seed head of a Pasque Flower and here is a link to another great wildflower site. Thank you, Connie! It’s great to have readers sharing information.

Winter Eats

Howdy!Coney

So, those tress I showed you yesterday? We Pine Squirrels visit them daily. The conifer ones, that is. Food here comes from their cones. Up high the snow is deep, so I bet you’re wondering how we get to them.

lone spruce cone

I’ll let you in on a little secret. The boughs of evergreens hold so much snow, there is a little area underneath that’s bare. Lots of wildlife use it to shelter and find food.

tree shelter

Colorado Tree Day

Howdy from Colorado, Squirrel Nutwork Readers!Coney

Last week Nutmeg featured trees on the Nutwork. I wanted to show some of Colorado’s winter trees, but I can’t afford to use all my field correspondent days on trees. Sos here’s my Tree Day.

Colorado winter trees

The conifers—Colorado Blue Spruce and Douglas Fir—make up our higher evergreen forests. That’s them on the left. The white-barked trees with no leaves on the right—those would be Quaking Aspen. Isn’t this great?

Just so you know, the trees don’t always line up like this over the hills.

Colorado Fall Color

A last howdy from Colorado, Squirrel Nutwork Readers!

While I’ve been your Field Correspondent this week the temperatures at my place have dropped to below freezing at night. We’re hunkering down for winter in Colorado while Nutmeg and Hickory are enjoying a few more weeks of balmy weather in Virginia. I thought instead of running my mouth, I’d let a few fall photos do the talking today.

Close views…

and from afar.

One last one…

It’s been fun! Thanks for having me as your Field Correspondent.

Coney

One of Nature’s Mysteries to Solve

Howdy!

It’s your Colorado Field Correspondent Coney with you again today, taking Hickory’s place to present a mystery plant. I’d like to assure The Squirrel Nutwork readers that the plant I’ve chosen grows other places besides Colorado. Let me know if you recognize it.

~~~

How many of you guessed Poison Ivy? Yes, we have Poison Ivy in Colorado, so good guess, but that’s not this plant. Look again:

Did you notice the stems? Too thick for poison ivy, and those are the plant’s seeds hanging from the branches.

This Poison Ivy look-alike is Box Elder, a tree. Nutmeg says to tell you Box Elder, Acer negundo, is related to Maples. Unlike the many Maples growing in the East, this one–which also lives in the East–has compound leaves and seeds called ‘keys’. Squirrels sometimes eat them.

Box Elders aren’t too common in the mountains and this one is in a yard, so Nutmeg tells me it was probably planted there.

Fall and Winter Berries in Colorado

Howdy from Colorado, Squirrel Nutwork Readers!

Ok, I don’t eat only pinecones. Pine Squirrels also like variety, much like you hear Nutmeg and Hickory talking about back East.

Now I have to admit, I was seriously impressed by the rose hips Hickory showed a few weeks ago. Whoa. Even though he said they weren’t native, I can’t imagine finding one that big. This is what we find in the Colorado mountains.

I can’t be too jealous; ours are very plentiful and if you find them growing in the sun and they get enough water, they are good grub—quite tasty.

These are definitely Wild Rose, Rosa Woodsii. (See, I’m getting better at the names.)

Another plant putting out long-lasting berries for our winter cache is Oregon Grape, Mahonia repens.

Don’t let the name fool you—it really is a Colorado native. Heck, they even grow close to the ground for easy picking.

The bad news is they get covered by snow quick. Then I have to race the mice, voles and ground squirrels to get them. Whoa, that is if I remember they’re there.

No Acorns

Howdy from Colorado, Squirrel Nutwork Readers!

Nutmeg didn’t believe me when I sent her this post. But truth be told, we have no acorns. Me, and all the other Colorado squirrels, eat pinecones.

Not the cone, of course, but the pine nuts in the cones. See, there they are, with their ‘wings’ still attached.

There are two buried deep in each scale. You can see where the wing of the seeds fits the grooves in the scales.

A squirrel pretty much has to tear the cone apart to get to them, thus the midden pile.

And those tasty seeds come in other conifer tree cones, too. Get it, con-i-fer? The others I feed on are spruce and fir. Whoa, I’m slowing down here–Nutmeg said to be sure to put the names on the pictures sos you can see them. First, Colorado Blue Spruce cones:

Second, Douglas Fir:

And the pinecone is from a Ponderosa Pine.

They have very long needles in twos or threes. There, I think I got all the names.