Science Geek Blog

Bitter Cold Brings Birds To the Feeder

Welcome to the Second Day of Winter! Well, actually, this was written on the second day of winter, but it didn’t get posted properly, and so it is now old news. But still interesting? You decide … We hit -15 this morning, prompting the dogs to call off their morning walk by the time they…

Female Cassin’s Finch Brought a Friend

A female Cassin’s finch showed up at our feeder a couple of weeks ago. (New Bird at The Feeder) Evidently, she liked our offerings so much, she brought a friend back. The bird on the left is obviously a male Cassin’s finch — red head feathers raised in a little crest, eye streak of white, and…

New Bird at The Feeder

We had a newly identified bird at the feeder yesterday — a female Cassin’s Finch. The reason I say “newly identified bird” is because all these female finches look a lot alike, and when they are flitting about in a flock at the feeder, it’s hard to realize that I’ve got more than my average…

2022 Pika Patrol, Part Two

My husband and I went up to our second pika site, this one on Halfmoon Creek above Leadville, Colorado, last week, looking for the little rabbit-relatives. If you recall, last year we unexpectedly had to walk an extra six miles to the site and back due to a Forest Service road closure. This year, the…

2022 Pika Patrol Part 1

Every year, my husband and I look forward to hiking up to the high country to check on the pika that live there, as part of the Colorado Pika Projects’ monitoring efforts. We’ve been doing it for five years now, but when pressed by friends as to what it is that we enjoy so much,…

Cooper’s Hawk Snags a Finch

Trigger warning: The small bird died. I was getting ready to start making dinner last night when I saw a shadow swoop over the back porch, low, fast and dark. When I looked up, I saw a squirrel running down the top rail of the fence faster than I have ever seen a squirrel run…

Patterns in Nature

I started off thinking this post was going to be about the fact that sunflowers make two different kinds of flowers, which I think is really interesting. When we think of sunflowers, we think of the big showy flowers around a central disk. But the disk is made up of flowers, too! And actually, the…

Hummer migration

You know I love hummingbirds. I love to see them and I love to photograph them. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to watch them, at least. I’ve been getting up just before dawn (5:30 MDT) and can see them at a feeder in the garden. Photographing them has been a little tougher — at that…

Today is a Good Day to Sploot

The dogs and I have been going for our early morning walks all summer, despite the heat. It’s a good walk — 1.65 miles up and down over 150 feet. Even on a cool morning, it can warm you up. And in our very hot summer, the dogs heat up quickly. Zoe and Tegan have…

Turkeys in Ponderosa Pine

I haven’t been hiking as much as I’d like to these last few years, what with Covid and all. So today, my husband and I headed out to a trail a few miles from our house west of Denver that I used to hike a lot. We picked a rotten time to resume hiking –…

Pollinator Week — Butterflies

It’s Pollinator Week! Pollinators are animals that pollinate plants. As my friend TZ at Notes in Nature (https://notes-in-nature.org/2022/06/20/pollinators/) explains, the group includes bats, birds, and bugs of all sort. This includes butterflies. Butterflies are incredible pollinators, visiting flowers of every type, in all sorts of environments. Western Swallowtails are some of the most common butterfly…

Tegan’s Turn?

As you may remember from before we shut down for the pandemic two years ago, my dogs and I volunteer at a local hospital as Pet Therapy teams. We had to pause through the worst of the Covid onslaught, of course, but we started back up again last spring. The dogs remembered what to do…

Birds of the Bitter Cold

Temperature records fell throughout the central United States yesterday, as a cold front moved down from Canada. We dropped to -2oF, and we aren’t expected to warm up much before the weekend. We always think of our feathered friends on days like this, so I went out early to clean off the feeders. I had…

Owl Serenade

My husband nudged me awake last night at 3:30. “Did you hear that?” My sleep groggy brain struggled to consciousness. “What? A bugler? The fire alarm? Incoming missiles?” “No…there!” And I heard it: “Whoo HOO hoo oo! Whoo HOO hoo oo!” And the response in a different tone, from a slightly different direction: “Whoo HOO…

Snow Pack Improves During December 2021

The good news at the end of a year otherwise filled with less than inspiring events is that the snow pack across the West has improved dramatically in the month of December. If you have been following my blog for a long time, you might have noticed my obsession with snow pack. Snow pack is…

Snow, finally?

A much anticipated storm brought snow to the Denver area today. It remains to be seen whether or not it will produce the one half inch required at Denver International Airport to be recorded as our official first snow of the season. But here is the storm track anticipated by the National Weather Service: REALLY???!!!…

2021 Pika Patrol, Part 1

It’s August, and so it is time for Pika Patrol! Every year, as part of the Denver Zoo’s Pika Project, my husband and I hike up to a couple of places in the tundra to see how the pika are doing. But before we go any further, I need to refer you to an article…

Welcome to AmyLawSciGeek.com!

Thank you so much for joining me at my new blog location on my new website! I started this blog over ten years ago, with the intention of talking about nature in Colorado. While that will be my ongoing default, I’ve found that there are a lot of other areas of interest that I want…

Sleeping Bees

While I was out rummaging in the garden several mornings ago, I made a surprising discovery: I found a bee asleep in one of my hollyhock blossoms. You’ll have to take my word for it, I suppose. But you can kinda tell by the way she is deep inside the flower, and yet not gathering…

Owl Wing Feather Adaptations

It turns out that cottontail bunnies have more to worry about in the neighborhood than just hawks and coyotes. As my husband and I were walking the dogs this morning, we found a Great Horned Owl wing feather lying next to the sidewalk. This stealthy hunter takes birds, skunks, mice — and rabbits. And owls…

Baby Bunny Gets Nailed

Yesterday evening, I heard a hawk screaming in our front yard. When I went out to see what was going on, I saw it “mantling” over something it had caught. When I looked closer, I realized it was a baby cottontail rabbit. We have been overrun by cottontails this year. I’ve heard that it is…

National Nature Photography Day

Today is National Nature Photography Day! In honor of nature photography, I decided to go through my catalogue, and pull out a few of my best photos that I never had occasion to share with you before. Enjoy! My brother enjoys nature photography as well. But he loves taking photographs of big trees. So when…

Less air = bluer skies

We all live in a thick layer of air called the atmosphere. On average it is about fifty miles thick. But as you go up, the atmosphere gets noticeably thinner. At the top of Mount Evans (14,130 feet or 4306.8 meters), there is 1/3 less air than at sea level. That means less air between…

A Flicker and Two Hawks

My husband and I walk the dogs every morning, three quarters of a mile up the hill, then loop around and come back. It’s kept the covid pounds off, mostly. It also provides the occasional benefit of letting us seeing some wildlife. As we started up the hill earlier this week, I saw a funny…

Cold Ducks

In the last three months, we’ve had 8″ of moisture. That’s an incredible amount of water for a region that normally sees 14-16″ for the entire year. It has been a cold, wet, gloomy spring. This morning, the dogs went berserk at something in the backyard. When we looked out, we saw a male and…

A Few Critters in Yuma, AZ

My husband and I took a quick trip to Yuma, Arizona last week. We left in a spring snowstorm that dropped three inches of wet snow on the Front Range area. We arrived in Yuma to 90 degree days. We were lucky to go down in the spring, when the ocotilla were in bloom. We…

Snowmageddon

The Front Range got our long anticipated (some might say dreaded) monster snowstorm over the weekend. Totals for snowfall were in the 22-27″ range where I live on the west side of Denver. While we were all digging out, our furry friends were having problems of their own. Don’tcha just hate it when you get…

Chinooks blow

The Front Range of Colorado is under a high wind warning today — we’re having a Chinook! I’ve talked about chinook winds before at https://amylaw.blog/2014/02/15/snow-eaters-melt-the-snow/ But in the intervening six years, I’ve learned a bit more about them, as well as upgrading my graphics and getting some better photos of what I’m talking about. Chinook…

Dark-Eyed Juncos — Evolution in Action

Once I had a fancy camera that held bird images still so that I could figure out what I was looking at, I began to learn a lot more about LBJs — Little Brown Jobbies — little birds that are around us but we really don’t pay much attention to. And one of the first…

Female Red-tailed Hawk

We’ve had a huge red-tailed hawk hanging around the neighborhood this week. I assume it is a female, because female raptors are bigger than males. And she was big. And I knew she was a red-tailed hawk (Red-Tailed Hawk), even without seeing her tail, because 1) she was big, 2) she had a stocky body…

Birds Before the Storm

This has been such a weird year. Earlier this week, we saw a female broad-tailed hummingbird feeding on the last of a neighbor’s Rose-of-Sharon flowers. Then we had three more forest fires start in the mountains to the west. It’s October! It is time to cool off. But this morning we woke to cold temperatures…

I Voted!

I voted yesterday. It was safe, easy, secure. And oh so important to our democracy. I voted yesterday. If you haven’t yet, you should vote today.

Pika Patrol, Part II

In late August, my husband and I went up into the mountains of the Front Range to monitor pika as volunteers for the Front Range Pika Project in conjunction with the Denver Zoo. At that time, we were shocked at how dry the high country was. Last week, we went on Pika Patrol for a…

Snow in September

Colorado went from 93o on Monday September 7 to 32o Tuesday September 8, 2020 — a change of sixty-one degrees in 24 hours. Prior to that, On September 6, Denver reached 101o making it our latest 100o day. That gave us a 48 hour change of 68o. This weather whiplash was a result of the…

2020 Pika Patrol

Over the weekend, my husband and I went up to the mountains for the first time this summer. We’ve been trying to isolate ourselves, and the mountain trails have been busy with people trying to get out of their houses while being safe. We headed up to do our annual Pika Patrol for the Denver…