Taken on Thursday morning this week's photo features a male Red Crossbill perched in a young Aspen tree along Many Parks Curve in Rocky Mountain National Park.
The Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) is a Medium-sized finch with red-orange body, brighter red rump, and dark brown wings. Bill is dark and crossed at tip. Tail is notched. Female has yellow-orange crown and rump, olive-green body, and gray-brown wings and tail. Juvenile is streaked brown overall.
The Red Crossbill breeds from southern Alaska, Manitoba, Quebec, and Newfoundland, south in the west to northern Nicaragua, and in eastern U.S. to Wisconsin and North Carolina (in mountains). They spend winters irregularly south to the Gulf coast; also in Eurasia. Preferred habitats include coniferous forests; visits ornamental evergreens in winter.
The crossed mandibles of the bill of these unusual birds are specialized for opening pine cones. Holding the cone with one foot, the bird inserts its closed bill between the cone and the scales, pries the scales apart by opening its bill, and extracts the seed with its flexible tongue. Because of its dependence on pine seeds, the Red Crossbill is an erratic and nomadic species appearing in large numbers, then not appearing for several years. When the cone supply fails, these birds gather in flocks and may wander far from their normal haunts.
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Chemicals being applied to LCR41H on
September 12, 2007
March 22nd - Road Crews Cited By State...
Roads crews from the Cedar Park
and Cedar Springs subdivisions on Storm Mountain
were recently cited by the State for violation of
the Colorado Water Quality Act.
The Colorado Department of
Public Health and Environment Water Control
Division recently served the road crews who were
responsible for the chemical application with a "Notice
of Violation" and "Cease and Desist
Order" for the negligent use of dust
control chemicals on LCR41H, leading to contamination of
Residents have repeatedly
complained about the applications of dust control
chemicals running onto private lands and into the
area streams since 2004. This runoff has
reportedly killed many large, mature trees and
various shrubs in its path.
In 2005, an area dog was
reported to have died from exposure to the road
chemicals running through private property. Toxicology revealed the presence of arsenic in the
deceased dog's liver and kidneys. Testing off the
runoff in 2004 confirmed high amounts of arsenic,
barium and chromium to be present in the sludge
left on private land by the runoff from the road.
In addition to the roads crews,
the chemical manufacturer, Enviortech, and
trucking company which applied the chemicals were
also cited for this violation.
This evening at
6:07PM MST The Vernal Equinox will occur signaling
the the official start of the Spring here in the
Northern Hemisphere, and Fall in the Southern
The Vernal Equinox is the first
day of Spring and on this day the sun is directly
over the equator (0º latitude). The lengths of
day and night are about equal (hence Equinox), and
the sun rises due east and sets due west.
Since the winter solstice the
sun has been traveling northward. The days should
now become longer and warmer in the northern
It is just the opposite in the
southern hemisphere where it will be the autumnal
equinox "down under." It will be Fall
there and they are moving towards Winter while we
are moving towards Summer.
Many of the ancient cultures
made buildings or had stone calendars using
shadows or a beam of sunlight to mark this day.
The Mayans in Southern Mexico built solar
alignments into their buildings. On the vernal
equinox at Chichen Itz, Mexico, a shadow, in the
form of a serpent will appear on the main
staircase of the great pyramid. Then it will move
down the stairs as the sun moves across the sky.