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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quiet Time on the Front Range

This is the time of year around Boulder, Colorado, where the bird life quiets down a bit. Spring migration is over. The birds that winter here have flown north for the summer to raise their young.

So right now we have mostly the local breeding birds, including: robins, jays, hawks, a few bluebirds, grackles, eagles, tanagers, flycatchers, phoebes, swallows, and more...

For me this is a time to take a breather and concentrate on other things. Painting, hiking, visiting Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, photographing other animals like Mountain Goats, Bighorn Sheep, and lizards. Lots of lizards.

The Indigenous cultures of North America included depictions of lizards in their art for thousands of years. Check out these petroglyphs from Dinosaur National Monument, Colorado:

Animals were (as far as we know to date) the first subject matter for North American art. Take a look at this recently-publicized site in Utah where we now have documented evidence of Ancient Americans creating rock art depicting mammoths and ancient, giant bison:

Amazing that this rock art survived over 10,000 years out in the open, and even more amazing that someone actually found it.

So as I take a break from bird photography this summer, I try to enjoy the calm that's come and try to imagine western North America as it once was 11,000 years ago...not a land of sand and dust storms and cactus, but a greenscape where Mammoths, giant bison, saber-tooth cats, cheetahs, and camels made their home alongside the ancestors of the modern day tribes of First Nations People.

1 comment:

  1. Great write up! Here are just a couple thoughts and also a question:
    -The portion south of Pilot Butte will consistently have horses throughout the summer, because there is water in that area year round, so that is a really good place to start/linger in the early morning.
    -Another really good horse viewing option that your readers may be interested would to be get off at the Bar X Rd exit on I-80 and head North. The roads are much better there, though there is also a lot of oil and gas pads detracting from the "wildness" of the place compared with White Mountain. I would strongly recommend the Bar X option for anyone who might be travelling in cars or low profile vehicles. Getting someone up the mesa when you have vehicle problems is all but impossible, and White Mountain roads can be rough on small cars!

    And finally one small question: did you happen to see a young black mare with a star on her face with the roman nosed sorrel stallion in the first and second photo? He was the most likely candidate to woo her away from her family band.