Thirsty Thursday’s C is for Coney and Colorado

Howdy from Colorado!Coney the Pine Squirrel

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

Ol’ Wally has let me have his water column during this alphabet challenge to give you folks an update on my home in Jamestown Colorado. Back in September a flood damaged much of this mountain town in the Front Range. If you’d like to read my report from back then, start back at September 15th and read the blog. Some of my best photos are October 5 and October 10th.

These days the creeks are getting a rebuild.

James Creek, Jamestown, CO

Flood debris like tree trunks have been removed (so it doesn’t damn up the creek again), some portions of the stream beds returned to their previous channels around human homes, and giant boulders are being dredged from the creek and brought in to armor the banks. A lot of snow has fallen in the mountains this winter. The humans, and us wildlife, are afraid the spring run-off will be high and bad for the damaged flooded land.

Rock Armoring on James Creek, Jamestown Colorado

It looks a lot different. The creek is deeper. Wider. It’s harder to get down to the water over the boulders. But they worked real hard to save our trees and keep the water out of the woods and human homes. Hopefully I can make another report when the work is done. They still have a lot of rock out there to put places.

Thanks for letting me share with you on C day!

Coney

A note from Nutmeg:

C is also for Challenge, as in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. If you haven’t hopped over to the A to Z website to see all the great blogs listed, here’s your link to do it: A to Z. We are number 1951, registered March 31. We kind of procrastinated in signing up, but so did many other bloggers. That ‘SC’ after our name means we’re a science blog. if you’d like to read more science blogs, look for more labelled SC, and have fun visiting!

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Living with Wildlife–Everywhere!

Howdy!Coney the Pine Squirrel

Again, I’m Coney the Pine Squirrel, your Colorado Field Correspondent.

It’s Tuesday, one of the days Nutmeg tells me I can talk about anything I like on the blog. She did warn me not to get off topic. It’s got to be related to nature and squirrels.

That’s as easy here as it is in Virginia, even though my suburb doesn’t have sidewalks for me to run along and discover things like Nutmeg does.

Coney's Rocky Mountain neighborhood

Gravel is the surface of choice here. But that doesn’t matter to me, I stick to the trees, which there are plenty of, spruce and pine in this case.

Pine Squirrel in spruce tree with Pine behind

Those are so common around here, they get rather ho-hum, especially when it comes to eating. But once a year we have a real treat in my neighborhood.

Sour Cherries

Cherries. Every neighborhood should have cherry trees. We squirrels descend on this little grove. Unfortunately, another wild neighbor also discovered them this year, which might ruin things for us squirrels.

Broken Cherry tree

Do you readers know which wild animal it was? Here’s a closer look at clue below the broken limb.

Black Bear scat

A black bear tried to climb this tree. We local squirrels get by pretty well with the humans who have spread to living in our mountains, but the bears aren’t doing so hot. They’re big, eat a lot, and if it’s at a human dwelling, scare the residents.

You might think this is just a western problem, out where there is more wilderness land.

Nope. When I wrote to Nutmeg we’d had several bears in my neighborhood, she said some were spotted in her Washington D.C. suburbs, even getting right downtown into the city. Living with wildlife—even BIG wildlife is something every human needs to be aware of.

They might be just as cute as us squirrels, but some wild animals don’t belong in your backyard habitat. Learn how to keep the bears out of your garbage can, your cherry trees and your house on this information website by Colorado Parks & Wildlife.

KeepBearsWild

Pine Grosbeak Visitors

Howdy for one last dayConey from your Field Correspondent!

These pretty red birds come to visit us in the Colorado mountains every winter.

Pine GrosbeakIt’s hard to believe, but we have less snow than they do in their usual ranges far north of here–like in Canada somewhere. But I guess we do since they make the long flight here just to eat. Pine Grosbeaks hang out in the same trees we Pine Squirrels do—the mixed forests—and luckily the spruce and fir trees produce enough seeds to go around. Though I have heard that these grosbeaks venture into suburbs looking for food. Us Pine Squirrels would never do that.

My tail is sagging. I’ve come to the end of the week sharing my winter from the mountain suburbs of Colorado. Thanks again to Nutmeg for letting me blog as a Nutwork Field Correspondent. And thanks to you human readers for joining us!

Coney

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

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.

A Squirrel’s Life in Colorado

Howdy Squirrel Nutwork Readers!

This is Coney reporting to you on autumn happenings in the mountain suburbs near Boulder, Colorado. Nutmeg said to be sure to tell you about where I live—and to write real slow. I’ll try. Most of the wild animals in Colorado are large, sos we Pine Squirrels have to stay on our toes to avoid them. I’m used to doing everything fast.

From what I read on the Nutwork, my place at the edge of where a small mountain town meets the State Forest land is quite different than their livelihood in Reston, Virginia. For one, we have less settlers. And more trees. Almost all of them are evergreen—pine, fir and spruce. The trees, that is, not the settlers who made their way into the mountains in my great-great-great-and so on-Grandpappy’s day. Most of those who chose to live up here keep their land natural, like it always was. Sos it’s hard to tell where the forest ends and the town begins.

My forest is at 7,000 feet in elevation. Our temperatures swing wildly. You can’t count on any two days being the same, even when it’s not autumn. Middle of last week we had a day in the 70’s, and the next in the 40’s. It’s already snowed higher up, making the leaves change fast and my fur grow thicker.

The settlers here get ready for winter by gathering and storing wood. Their snow covers make a nice shelter for eating on winter days, but until then I take my grub on top.

I’m a young squirrel, sos I’m just starting my midden. See those pine scales collecting on the ground there?

In another few years it’ll be a great midden pile.

A Field Correspondent

While I was off we had this note from a reader:

Howdy Nutmeg and Hickory,

Your Squirrel Nutwork is great. I mean, really great! I never imagined some of the different things suburb squirrels do compared to my life as a Pine Squirrel living in the mountain suburbs of Colorado.

Have an awesome autumn!

Coney

Hmm, I thought, different how? We’re all tree squirrels after all. None of us Eastern Gray Squirrels could think what this Pine Squirrel meant, so I invited Coney to share a week blogging with us as a field correspondent. Here is his answer:

Seriously? That would be great! As soon as I got your msg I dashed out to take a bunch of pics of what’s happening. I know you’re gonna love this:

Great huh? Our fall started weeks ago, so the leaves, you know, have changed color already and this is one of the most brilliant reds in Colorado.

I’m ready to start! I’ll do a great job. I promise! Thanks for the chance to talk to your readers.

Coney,

The Squirrel Nutwork’s Field Correspondent

Sheesh, I had to catch my breath after just reading it. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to talk to him in person. “What have I done?” I asked Hickory, who was reading over my shoulder.

“Hey, a bit spastic, but he’ll do fine. Nice photo. Fits right in, like he knows what we do.”

“He didn’t ever say what it was!”

“It’s Virginia Creeper. Everyone reading this blog knows that by now.”

“Excuse me.” I twitched my tail at him. “We get new readers all the time. We can’t expect everyone to leap all around the old posts and read everything.”
“So tell him he’s got to identify stuff. Besides, you have the chance to edit before he posts. It’s your blog.”

I read over Coney’s letter again and looked at the picture he sent.

A Pine Squirrel. Okay. Maybe mountain squirrels are like this, quick and jumpy.

“I’ll tell him he has to introduce himself and where he lives.”

Hickory rubbed his paws together. “Then the next seven days are his? My columns, too?”
I nodded.

“Yes! Then we both get a week off! Come on, let’s go for a long branch-to-branch run.”