The Morning After

On this cold, cloudy morning along the Colorado Front Range, the snowstorm had moved on but large patches of heavy, wet snow still covered most of our Littleton farm.  Cottontails were everywhere, taking advantage of the prolonged darkness and nibbling at the greenery that emerged from the retreating snow; at least half were young bunnies, likely the second litter group of the season.

As the potent Colorado sun took a toll on the gray overcast, birds began to emerge and the cottontails retreated to the protection of the shrub lines.  House finches and American robins dominated the morning bird population, joined by downy woodpeckers, house wrens, chickadees, doves and an amorous pair of cedar waxwings, huddled in a large western juniper.  Two Cooper's hawks zigzagged across the property, hoping to snare an unwary songbird, while Canada geese, mallards and a lone great blue heron cruised overhead.

The highlight on this chilly, May morning was an olive-sided flycatcher, perched at the top of a large Siberian elm.  Among the last summer residents to arrive, this large flycatcher is one of the few avian species to nest near timberline; no doubt, he was not intimidated by the cold air and spring snow.