Visitors attuned to the natural world (as most Sylvan Dale guests are) often comment on the diversity of the Ranch—wildflowers, butterflies, birds, and mammals. Sylvan Dale lies at a sort of “crossroads,” between the mountains and the plains and also between north and south. And in recent decades there have been subtle changes.
Fifty years ago, there was one jay here, Stellar’s jay, a bird typical of ponderosa pine woodlands. Then folks increasingly noticed blue jays—birds of the eastern deciduous forests—in the riparian corridor of the Big Thompson and in ornamental plantings. Soon thereafter, hybrids between Steller’s and blue jays began to appear along the foothills of the Front Range, first in Boulder and now more widely, including Sylvan Dale.
Then this week, Susan saw a pinyon jay in the yard. Native to the pinyon-juniper woodland of southwestern US and México, these birds occur mostly from the southwestern half of Colorado, in pinyon-juniper woodlands. Sylvan Dale has the junipers, but not the pinyon. Nonetheless, this season at least the Ranch apparently is attractive to these birds. Perhaps it’s because the junipers (“cedars”) are particularly beautiful this year, with a huge “cone” crop. Whatever the jays’ inspiration, bienvenida, amigos!
- David Armstrong
Sylvan Dale Resident Naturalist
Mammals of Colorado, 2nd edition is now available:
Check your hometown bookstore or use the link above