Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Cormorants in Greeley, Colorado

Cormorant at Greeley's Veteran's Park in Sherwood. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

My two oldest grandchildren and I had a wonderful surprise while visitng the park recently. None of us had ever seen a Cormorant before other than in pictures, and there was five or six of them in the lake! There are approximately 40 species of cormorants, and we were blessed to have a small flock at Bittersweet, our local park in Greeley, Colorado. 

When I first saw them drifting across the lake I thought they were the strangest gathering of ducks I'd ever seen. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology website describes them as "gangly" and "prehistoric looking," and I'd say that's an accurate description. 

I was watching them from a distance, so I still thought they were ducks. It wasn't until one flew into a nearby tree that I realized they were not ducks at all. The flight into the tree was odd, as well. The bird chose a tall three with then branches that bent beneath its weight and swung back and forth in the breeze. If I was a bird that size I would have chosen a much larger, sturdier branch, but this bird was perfectly content to sit at the very top of this thin-branched tree, perhaps because it provided the bird with a better view of the neighborhood. 

Cormorant. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Judging from the photos, I believe these birds were Double-Crested Cormorants. They have a wingspan of approximately 3 1/2 feet--not quite the width of a hawk or eagle, which may explain why I thought they were ducks in spite of their size. 

They looked dark. Actually, I thought they were large, black birds. When one flew into a tree and I was able to see it up close I realized it was actually wearing some fine, fancy feathers! It had orange on its face, too, and shimmering blue eyes. 

Cormorants in Greeley, Colorado. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

It's possible they were looking for a nesting spot. It is that time of year! Cormorants also have an interesting home life. According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Double-crested Cormorants often build their nests where they can reach direct sunlight. When the chicks break out of their eggs, the parents provide them with shade and a cool drink of wather that they pour from their own mouths into the mouths of their chicks. Then, when the chicks are big enough to leave home, they hang out in groups, like little cormorant chick cliques, but they always return home for dinner, though. 

Cormorant taking off across the water. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.


Summertime, and the Living is Easy

Love Lies Bleeding, I was also told it is called Bleeding Heart. It's one of the first flowers to start blooming beside my backyard pond and hangs over the stream, flowers dripping into the water.  

In Colorado the last snow comes anytime between April and even the first of June, so it's difficult to say when spring starts and summer begins. I usually go by the temperature. It's been in the high 90s this past week, so I think we can safely say we skipped spring and went straight into summer! 

I've missed my wisteria from Texas so very much and talk about the flowers so often that when I took my 12 year old granddaughter, Layla, flower shopping this spring she recognized them on sight. I now have three large, healthy vines on my sun porch waiting to be planted. I may try to grow one on the sun porch, see if I can create a jungle atmosphere. 

And June is here. My birthday month, and the birthday month that I share with one of my grandsons who calls me his "Birthday Buddy" It's a great honor to be remembered by a young child who first shared his "big day" with you when he was a year old. I still remember that warm afternoon by the pool in Texas, watching him splash in the water, later returning to the river near our home. It was like a dream, like a song. Summertime, and the living is easy. Hush, little baby don't you cry. 

And as the weather gets hot the babies come out of their nests. Our local momma squirrel was once again blessed by God with twin males. They chase each other around the large tree in my front yard for hours. It's great fun to watch. 

The peanut eaters. There's always some controversy over squirrels. I wish people could understand that all of God's creatures have a role to play, but listening to the complains, one sometimes wonders if humans believe the earth was created only for them. Sometimes, it's best not to listen. 

Pansies. Photos by Darla Sue Dollman. 

My grandchildren call these "Happy Face Flowers." I have one granddaughter in my collection of grandchildren and these are her favorites. It's already getting too hot for them, though. 

Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

And the warm, summer colors are already making their appearance, preparing for the bright Fourth of July red white and blue arrangements. I've thought of planting a Fourth of July garden before, but I like the natural arrangements best. 

Whie Iris. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Scarlet Iris. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Blue Iris. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Purple Iris. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

White Iris in the Rain. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

The surprise blessing in our neighborhood this year and such a wonderful gift from God was the wide variety and abundance of iris blooms. It's been spectacular, and they're still going. My neighbors and I have been exchanging gifts of flowers for months now--flowers are best when shared. 

Photo by Darla Sue Dollman.

Photo by Darla Sue Dollman\
Two of my favorite colors. 'Feel free to share with us if you know the name of this flower. I have a wide variety of colors growing alongside my backyard pond.

Blue Iris in bloom. Photo by Darla Sue Dollman. 

Another view of the many blue iris in our neighborhood. This beauty made its appearance next to my mailbox--as I said, flowers are best when shared!