Summer Wildlife Viewing

yellow-bellied marmot Colorado
Check out Marmot Fest at Staunton State Park this weekend, June 23-24, 2018 and maybe you’ll spot a yellow-bellied marmot! (Photo by David Iliff, License: CC-BY-SA 3.0)

Summer is officially here, and with it comes great opportunities for viewing wildlife in all parts of the state. Some species, like hummingbirds, are only here in the summer. Others, like mountain goats, live in alpine areas inaccessible to people except in summer. Still other species hibernate during the winter. So if you’re interested in viewing Colorado’s many amazing wildlife species, summer is your best bet.

Wildlife viewing is also a great activity for families while the kids are out of school. For a number of years the Colorado Division of Wildlife (now Colorado Parks & Wildlife) published Colorado’s Wildlife Company, a series of illustrated booklets for all ages to learn about the watchable wildlife in Colorado. The booklets have been digitized by our library and provide fun facts and wildlife viewing tips. Several titles were written especially for summertime wildlife viewing, including the following:

Watching Wildlife provides a simple introduction to wildlife viewing – when and where to go, what tools and techniques to use, and a code of ethics.

Summertime Reveals Secrets of the Alpine Tundra. Check out this fun brochure to learn about species that live at elevations above 11,000 feet, such as mountain goats, marmots, pikas, and ptarmigan. Included are suggestions for places to drive to see alpine wildlife, including Mount Evans, Trail Ridge Road, Independence Pass, Pikes Peak, and the Million Dollar Highway.

Summertime, and the Livin’ Ain’t Easy. What do animals do to protect themselves from the heat of summer? How have they adapted to our dry climate? Along with tips on viewing animals in summer, this edition tells about the many fascinating adaptations animals have made to survive and thrive in summertime. Download this title to find out what “daily torpor” and “gular fluttering” refer to!

Summer’s Hummers is all about hummingbirds. Learn about their amazing acrobatics and flight mechanics, and the innovative ways they search for food. You can also find out how to attract hummingbirds to your garden.

The Hawks of Summer profiles a very different kind of bird. Learn about the many different types and sizes of hawks found in Colorado and how to identify them. Many Colorado hawks, such as red-tailed, Cooper’s hawks, and prairie falcons, live in Colorado year-round. But some species, like Swainson’s hawks, spend the winters in South and Central America.

Listen… Wildlife viewing isn’t just about what you see with your eyes — it’s also about using your ears to locate and identify wildlife. From birds to frogs to elk, species have unique calls and sounds. And learning about animal sounds isn’t just about who’s making the sound, but why. Many of the birdcalls you hear in your neighborhood every day are actually alarm calls, warning of danger. Prairie dogs, marmots, and other rodents also sound alarms. Animal calls can also be about mating, or territory, or babies asking for food.