Daily Discovery: Endangered & Forgotten

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

Daily Discovery: Endangered & Forgotten

National Wildlife Day is September 4, 2020! To celebrate, let’s explore some of the less well known endangered species in Colorado.

We hear a lot about endangered species these days, as the climate changes around us and human activities challenge wildlife survival. Often the articles and advertisements you see feature fuzzy and adorable animals like the Giant Panda or the Sea Otter. Here in Colorado, our featured endangered wildlife tends to be appealingly majestic, like the Grey Wolf (whose reintroduction to Colorado is on November’s ballot for 2020) or even FCMOD’s beloved Black-footed Ferrets. These are species that definitely deserve attention – but there are many more of our wildlife neighbors that need our attention and help that may not be so cute or exciting. There are so many ignored species in the world that are in difficult or dangerous situations thanks to habitat loss, pollution, water loss, and many other human activities.

Here are just a few of our Colorado wildlife neighbors in need:

Least Tern (Sterna antillarum), Federally Endangered

The Least tern is the smallest member of the gull and tern family. They’re only 9 inches long. They nest in the summer on sandbars along major rivers in the central U.S., including in Colorado. This bird was listed as federally endangered in 1985. A lot of nesting habitat in the U.S. has been lost to the birds because of the ways that humans have changed the river systems: dams and reservoirs; introduction of invasive plants; stabilizing river banks, hydropower, and diverting water.

Bonytail Chub (Gila elegans), Federally Critically Endangered

The bonytail is a freshwater fish that lives in the Colorado River basin. It can grow up to 2 feet long and can live up to 50 years. It was added to the endangered list in 1980, and is now the rarest big-river fish in the Colorado. The bonytail, along with numerous other fish species in the Colorado, suffered drastic population declines after the construction of Hoover Dam and other human projects that divert water from the river and change how the water flowed and pooled. These fish also suffer from competition from non-native fish species that humans have introduced into bonytail habitat. At this time, there is no self-sustaining wild population of these fish, and human-run hatcheries are all that maintains the species.

North Park Phacelia (Phacelia formosula), Federally Endangered

The North Park Phacelia only exists in one place in the entire world: the North Park area in Jackson County. It likes to grow on bare slopes and eroding rocks in ravines in the North Park area, where few other plants are able to survive. This phacelia was listed as federally endangered in 1982. It is threatened by livestock, off-road vehicles, commercial and residential development, and petroleum exploration. It also suffers from the loss of pollinating insects in the area, which it depends on to reproduce.

You may be wondering what you can do to be a better neighbor to these species, and the other species in our beautiful state that are threatened or endangered. Here are some steps that you can try:

Educate yourself. Learn about the different kinds of wildlife that live in Colorado with us, and what kinds of things we humans are doing that are putting them at risk.

Take action. Think about how much water you use, or whether the plants in your yard are native or invasive. Consider how much energy you use leaving on lights in an empty room, or streaming your favorite songs rather than downloading them. Look at how much gas your vehicle uses, or how many plastics or other petroleum products you use on a daily basis. Even a small change you can make in your own behavior can be a help to our endangered neighbors.

Talk to your friends and family about why this wildlife is in danger, and why it’s important to you. Your friends and family care about your thoughts and opinions. Help them to understand how important it is to help all.

Contact your representatives in government. These threatened and endangered species do not have a voice in our government, but you do. If you are old enough, vote for candidates that pay attention to wildlife. But at any age, you can make your voice heard! Make sure that your representatives know how important it is that we are good neighbors to all the wildlife in Colorado, in the country, and in the world.

Follow along with our Daily Discovery! Click here for all activities that you can do at home.

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Musicians from Colorado/ Músicos de Colorado

Post written by Eisen Tamkun, Music Programming Lead.

Musicians from Colorado

Colorado has produced some amazing musicians. Explore these groups and individuals! Learn where they are based, interesting tidbits, and more!

Pretty Lights

Band Members (current): Derek Vincent Smith- Born Nov. 25, 1981, Fort Collins, CO

Formed: Boulder, CO 2004

Genre: Electronic

Top Album: A Color Map of the Sun

OneRepublic

Formed in Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2002, OneRepublic has won several music awards with many nominations. Including nominations for American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, World Music Awards, and Grammy Awards.

Band Members (current): Ryan Tedder,, Zach Filkins, Drew Brown, Brent Kutzle, Eddie Fisher, Brian Willett.

Genre: Pop Rock, Pop, Alternative Rock.

Top Album: Native

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

Currently based in Denver, Colorado. Nathaniel Rateliff grew up in Missouri. When he came to Denver he first formed Born in the Flood (2002-2008), which transitioned into a more stripped down solo focused effort called Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel (2007-2014). In 2013, while still preforming in earlier bands and groups, Rateliff began a more upbeat and soulful project with longtime collaborator Joseph Pope III and other collaborators. Thus Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats was born.

Band Members (current): Nathaniel Rateliff, Joseph Pope III, Patrick Meese, Like Mossman, Jeff Dazey, Mark Shusterman, Andreas Wild.

Genre: Soul, Gospel, Folk Rock, Blues Rock, Americana

Top Album: In Memory Of Loss

Gregory Alan Isakov

Currently based in Boulder, Colorado, Isakov originally lived in Johannesburg, South Africa. He and his family immigrated to the US in 1986 and was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He draws influence from Leonard Cohen, Kelly Joe Phelps, and Bruce Springsteen.

Band Members (current): Gregory Alan Isakov

Genre: Contemporary Folk, Indie Folk, Country Folk

Top Album: This Empty Northern Hemisphere

The Lumineers

Based in Denver, Colorado. The original two founding members Fraites and Schultz began writing and preforming music together in Ramsey, New Jersey in 2005. They were influenced by musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Tom Petty.

Band Members (current): Wesley Schultz, Jeremiah Fraites

Genre: Indie Folk, Folk Rock, Americana

Top Album: The Lumineers

30H!3

Duo from Boulder, Colorado. They took their name from the area code of Boulder, 303.

Band Members (current): Sean Foreman, Nathaniel Motte

Genre: Synth-pop, Crunkcore, Trap, Electronic Rock, Alternative Rock

Top Album: Streets of Gold

DeVotchka

Denver band, formed in 1997. They take their name form the Russian word devotchka (девочка) meaning “girl”.

Band Members (current): Nick Urata, Tom Hagerman, Jeanie Schroder, Shawn King.

Genre: Gypsy Punk, Dark Cabaret, Indie Folk, Indie Rock

Top Album: A Mad and Faithful Telling

Big Head Tod and the Monsters

Formed in 1986 by three Columbine High School students. Began

touring clubs in Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder until they built up a following across Colorado and the West. Started touring extensively dubbing their van the “Colonel” who drove over 400,000 miles.

Band Members (current): Todd Park Mohr, Brian Nevin, Rob Squires, Jeremy Lawton.

Genre: Rock, Blue Rock, Alternative Rock, Funk Rock, Southern Rock, Country Rock, Folk, Jass-Fussion, Jam Band.

Top Album: Sister Sweetly

Tennis

From Denver, Colorado, Tennis formed in 2010. The husband-wife duo debuted their album Cape Dory in 2011.

Band Members (current):Patrick Riley, Alaina Moore

Genre: Indie Pop, Dream Pop, Surf Pop, Lo-Fi

Top Album: Yours Conditionally

Yonder Mountain String Band

Formed in Nederland, Colorado 1998 this progressive bluegrass group played their first show at the Fox Theater in Boulder.

Band Members (current): Ben Kaufmann, Dave Johnston, Adam Aijala, Allie Kral, and Jake Jolliff.

Genre: Progressive Bluegrass, Country, Jam Band.

Top Album: Elevation

The Fray

The Fray originate from Denver, Colorado in 2002. They achieved worldwide fame with their song “How to Safe a Live”.

Band Members (current): Isaac Slade, Joe King, Dave Welsh, and Ben Wysocki.

Genre: Rock

Top Album: How to Save a Life

 

Traducido por Károl de Rueda y Laura Vilaret-Tuma.

Músicos de Colorado

¿Sabías que muchos músicos increíbles y famosos han salido de Colorado? Explora los grupos musicales y artistas de nuestro estado, conoce en dónde se basan, algunos datos curiosos y más, mientras escuchas estos géneros musicales diversos.

Pretty Lights

Artista actual: Derek Vincent Smith, nacido el 25 de noviembre de 1981 en Fort Collins, Colorado.

Inició en: Boulder, Colorado, en 2004.

Género: Música electrónica.

Álbum más exitoso: A Color Map of the Sun.

The Fray

La banda The Fray se originó en Denver, Colorado, en el año 2002. Alcanzaron fama mundial con su canción “How to Safe a Life.”

Miembros de la banda (actualmente):

Isaac Slade, Joe King, Dave Welsh, y Ben Wysocki.

Género: Rock.

Álbum más exitoso: How to Save a Life.

Yonder Mountain String Band

Este grupo se formó en el año 1998 en Nederland, Colorado, tocando su primer concierto en el Fox Theater de Boulder.

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Ben Kaufmann, Dave Johnston, Adam Aijala, Allie Kral, y Jake Jolliff.

Género: Bluegrass, Música country, Jam Band.

Álbum más exitoso: Elevation.

Tennis

Originalmente de Denver, Colorado, Tennis se formó en el año 2010. La pareja casada debutó su álbum Cape Dory en 2011.

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Patrick Riley y Alaina Moore.

Género: Música pop/independiente (Indie Pop, Dream Pop, Surf Pop, Lo-Fi).

Álbum más exitoso: Yours Conditionally.

Big Head Tod and the Monsters

Formado en el año 1986 por tres alumnos de Columbine High School, este grupo empezó a tocar música en discotecas y clubs hasta que alcanzaron popularidad por todo Colorado y partes del oeste. Les gusta viajar en su vehículo extensamente, y por lo tanto nombraron a su camioneta “La coronel.” Han manejado más de 400,000 millas recorriendo Estados Unidos.

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Todd Park Mohr, Brian Nevin, Rob Squires, y Jeremy Lawton.

Género: Música Rock (Blues Rock, Rock alternativo, Funk Rock, Country Rock, Folk, Jazz-Fusion, Jam Band).

Álbum más exitoso: Sister Sweetly.

DeVotchka

Un grupo de Denver formado en el año 1997. Su nombre viene de la palabra rusa devotchka (девочка), que significa “niña.”

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Nick Urata, Tom Hagerman, Jeanie Schroder, Shawn King.

Género: Punk gitano, música cabaret oscura, Indie Folk, Rock independiente

Álbum más exitoso: A Mad and Faithful Telling.

30H!3

Dúo de Boulder, Colorado. Tomaron su nombre del código de área de su ciudad, 303.

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Sean Foreman, Nathaniel Motte.

Género: Synth-pop, Crunkcore, Trap, Rock electrónica, rock alternativo.

Álbum más exitoso: Streets of Gold.

The Lumineers

Basados en Denver, Colorado, los fundadores Fraites y Schultz empezaron a escribir y tocar música juntos en Ramsey, Nueva Jersey en el año 2005. Son influenciados por músicos como Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan y Tom Petty.

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Wesley Schultz y Jeremiah Fraites.

Género: Folk y rock independiente, música Americana.

Álbum más exitoso: The Lumineers

Gregory Alan Isakov

Actualmente basado en Boulder, Colorado, Isakov originalmente vivió en Johannesburg, Sudáfrica. Junto con su familia, emigró a los Estados Unidos en 1986 y fue criado en Filadelfia, Pensilvania. Se inspira en la música de Leonard Cohen, Kelly Joe Phelps, y Bruce Springsteen.

Artista: Gregory Alan Isakov.

Género: Folk contemporáneo, Folk independiente, Country Folk.

Álbum más exitoso: This Empty Northern Hemisphere.

Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats

Actualmente basados en Denver, Colorado. Nathaniel Rateliff creció en el estado de Misuri. Cuando se mudó a Denver, formó el grupo Born in the Flood (2002-2008). Eventualmente se volvió un proyecto diferente nombrado Nathaniel Rateliff and the Wheel (2007-2014). En 2013, mientras todavía tocaba en otros grupos, Rateliff empezó a colaborar con Joseph Pope III y otros miembros. Así nació Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats.

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Nathaniel Rateliff, Joseph Pope III, Patrick Meese, Like Mossman, Jeff Dazey, Mark Shusterman, y Andreas Wild.

Género: Soul, música góspel, Folk Rock, Blues Rock, música Americana.

Álbum más exitoso: In Memory of Loss.

OneRepublic

Formada en Colorado Springs, Colorado en el año 2002, la banda OneRepublic ha ganado varios premios musicales y muchas nominaciones, incluyendo algunas para premios de Billboard Music Awards, Premios American Music, World Music Awards, y los premios Grammy.

Miembros de la banda (actualmente): Ryan Tedder, Zach Filkins, Drew Brown, Brent Kutzle, Eddie Fisher, y Brian Willett.

Género: Pop Rock, Pop, rock alternativo.

Álbum más exitoso: Native.

 

Educational opportunities like this are supported in part by Bohemian Foundation.

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BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

Post written by Kim Fraser, Black Footed Ferret Program Coordinator.

BFFs: Black-footed Ferrets or Best Friends Forever

The Black-footed Ferret (BFF) (Mustela nigripes) is the only ferret native to North America and lives on the short grass prairie of the Great Plains. BFFs are members of the Mustelidae family which is often referred to as the weasel family, and includes mink, badger, marten, otter, weasel, fisher, wolverine, and domestic ferret. They are nocturnal, solitary, require large expanses of landscape, and spends their whole life on prairie dog colonies. In the prairie dog burrow systems they seek shelter from predators and weather, eat, sleep, and raise their young. Over 90% of their diet is prairie dog and they eat over 100 per year. BFFs are called fossorial predators, meaning they hunt underground. Their home range is in 12 Western states including Canada and Mexico. Considered one of the most endangered mammals in North America it has been federally protected for over 40 years.  The BFF Recovery Program is one of the most successful recovery programs with over 50 State, Federal, Tribal, NGOs and private landowner partners that all participate in recovery efforts.

Why should we protect black-footed ferrets?

In 1974 when the Endangered Species Act was enacted the Black-footed Ferret was in the top 10 species listed for protection. No one knew then how difficult or easy saving a species from extinction would be. Today, we know recovering an endangered species involves many partners, time, and effort. Since the ESA became law some species have had survival success and some have not. Many people have asked is it worth it?  Is preventing the extinction of an iconic species like the black-footed ferret worth the effort? The answer is yes, it is worth it, and here’s why. The BFF is an important member of the prairie ecosystem and their presence indicates a healthy habitat that supports many other species. Without black-footed ferret conservation efforts, prairie dogs and other associated species such as burrowing owls, swift fox, mountain plovers, ferruginous hawks, prairie rattlesnakes, and many others could easily succumb to current threats. So by conserving black-footed ferrets, we have to conserve prairie dog habitat and that saves an entire ecosystem and its inhabitants that call the short grass prairie home!

  

Why should people care and help save this species from extinction?

Maybe it’s because BFFs capture the imagination that there’s this rarely seen and secretive animal living on the short grass prairie underground. And even though it is one of the most endangered mammals, most Americans will never have the opportunity to see a live BFF.  It’s like a fairytale character of the prairie that represents the wild, and people are passionate about the wild and fascinated about the animals that live there.  When folks learn about BFFs they are amazed that something so cool lives right in their backyard- in America.  We all know about other species that are in trouble across the globe, like elephants, tigers, chimpanzees and rhinos. And it is good to care about what happens to all species on our planet because we are a global living place. Every day we hear about how these other species are doing and how we can help them and that’s important.  But here is an animal that makes its home right here, it belongs to us as Americans as one of our native species. We should care and protect BFFs so they will remain part of the wilds of North America.  One way to help save BFFs is by learning all you can about them.  Because by learning you will come to care about them, and when you care, you will want to help save them. So you see by caring and helping to save them from extinction you are being a BFF or Best Friend Forever not just to black-footed ferrets but to future generations so they too will have BFFs living wild and free on the prairie.

 

The museum is proud to have two black-footed ferrets on-site in partnership with the National Black-footed Ferret Conservation Center. You can see what our BFFs are up to while we’re closed via our Ferret Cam: fcmod.org/ferret-cam!

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World Wildlife Day 2020: “Sustaining All Life On Earth”

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator

Happy World Wildlife Day!

 

Wildlife, while traditionally meaning all non-domesticated animals in an area, has expanded to mean all the fauna, flora, and other kinds of life. All species have evolved to be dependent on each other. Sustaining all kinds of life on our planet can only help the human race survive and prosper.

Some individual species are so vitally important to an individual ecosystem that they are considered to be a keystone species. So many other kinds of life depend on the keystone species that it would have a disproportionate effect if it should be removed from the ecosystem.

Colorado has amazing diversity in its wildlife. With the massive changes in altitude from the Rocky Mountains down to the Great Plains, the wildlife that live here have adapted to a wide range of micro-climates. With the variety of ecologies in the area, there are many keystone species that keep the whole system healthy. Some local examples include:

In the Mountains: Aspen trees

Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) are, for many, a symbol of the Rocky Mountains. They cover 20% of Colorado’s forested land, or 5 million acres.

Aspen are a keystone species, supporting many birds, insects and mammals throughout the year and creating a highly biodiverse ecosystem. Because aspen love sunlight, groves are more open and bright than an evergreen forest. More variety of plant species can grow in the understory below an aspen grove. Additionally, as aspen are short-lived (70-150 years), they quickly add nutrients back into the soil around where they fall. Aspen propagate both with seeds and via cloning. A grove of clones can send up tens of thousands shoots per acre – which many grazing animals love to eat. Aspen shoots are actually higher in fat than many plant species, making it an especially important winter food source for deer and elk. The white bark of the aspen tree can also be used by many species as a food source in winter (elk, deer, beaver, rabbits, voles, mice, etc.), and year-round by a wide variety of insects. Several kinds of woodpecker, chickadees, nuthatches, kestrels, owls, and wood ducks will nest in the aspen.

Aspen trees are unfortunately in decline throughout the Rockies, up to a loss of 60-90% depending on the local climate. The primary cause is believed to be human behavior. Human efforts at fire suppression have allowed conifers to spread into aspen groves, shading the aspen and preventing them from thriving in the sunlight they love. Fire is also a natural part of the aspen’s life cycle: as the older above-ground aspen declines in health it should be cleared out by fire, prompting new sprouts. Without the fire, the sprouts are fewer and grazing animals have more impact on the grove. As the Aspen trees decline, hundreds of species will suffer.

In the Prairie: Prairie Dogs

Prairie dogs (genus Cynomys) are a group of intelligent, burrowing rodents – actually a kind of ground squirrel – native to North American Grasslands. In Fort Collins area, you will see the Black-tailed Prairie Dog (Cynomys ludovicianus). Prairie dog colonies will dig a complex maze of burrows as their colony’s home for breeding, raising their young, and hiding from predators, maintaining the town over several generations.

Prairie dog activities change the grassland ecosystem that they live in; they are often labeled “ecological engineers” for the way they shape the world around themselves. Burrowing will actually alter soil chemistry, as well as aerating the soil. Their grazing (both above and below ground) affects the plant life they live in, encouraging more diversity of plant species and plant productivity. The soil becomes richer in nitrogen and more fertile, supporting both more plants and a wider variety of insect life. Because of the positive effect prairie dogs have on the soil and the plant life above, grazing animals (including domestic cattle) often prefer to eat in the middle of prairie dog towns as the forage is better. Prairie dog burrows provide shelter and nesting habitat for many animals, including black-footed ferrets and burrowing owls. Prairie dogs are also a vital food source for a wide variety of predators: hawks, owls, ferrets, coyotes, badgers, bobcats, and rattlesnakes.

Prairie dogs numbers are vastly reduced from their historic populations. Many people believe that prairie dogs are pests, damaging crops or putting domestic animals at risk, and have actively persecuted the animals (e.g. target shooting, poisoning). Humans have also taken up most of what was originally prairie dog territory for agriculture and suburban sprawl. Between 1900 and 1960, 98.5% of prairie dog habitat was lost. Additionally, humans accidentally introduced the bacteria that caused the plague to spread, which can quickly wipe out entire colonies of prairie dogs. Even if you agree that they are pests, the loss of prairie dogs to our grassland ecosystems would have an enormous negative effect on hundreds of other species.

Celebrate World Wildlife Day

Celebrate World Wildlife Day this year by learning more about your local wildlife! Explore one of our many beautiful natural areas and observe the way that the wildlife interacts with each other. Or, visit the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery this weekend and see our Natural Areas Exhibit. Watch the Ferret Feeding Frenzy at 2:30 on Saturday or Sunday! This is not for the faint or squeamish of heart…

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National Inventors’ Day

Post written by Morgan Wilson, Collections Assistant.

National Inventors’ Day

In the wake of National Inventors’ Day, it is natural that we should honor a local invention that began right here, in Fort Collins.

One invention that has spanned well beyond Fort Collins is the oral irrigator, known to most people as the “waterpik” or “water flosser”. The water flosser is a dental tool which uses a stream of pressurized water to clean between the teeth, like liquid floss! It has a motor and a water reservoir which it draws water from. It was invented by Aqua-Tec, a local company founded in 1962. Aqua-Tec, now known as Water Pik, Inc., has since put forth many more products, such as the Touch-Tronic electric toothbrush and luxury shower heads.

What many people may not know is that at the time of Aqua-Tec’s founding, there was a competing invention, similar to the “water flosser”. In 1958, Dr. C.D. Matteson obtained the patent for his “dental syringe”, which performed a similar function to the water flosser except that it had a metal base which attached directly to a faucet to supply water to the irrigator. In the end, Aqua-Tec’s water flosser became the better-known dental irrigator that we still use and love today.

Water Pik, Inc. is still present in Fort Collins, located on Prospect and Riverside Avenue and will hopefully continue to be an innovative presence in Fort Collins for many years to come.

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National Bird Day: Winter Birds

Post written by Alexa Leinaweaver, Live Animal Husbandry Coordinator.

National Bird Day: Winter Birds

Weather changes, snow is falling. But when you look out your window, there are still a bunch of birds hanging out. Which birds are here in the winter, and how do they survive?

Migration

Migration is a strategy that many animals use to cope with seasonal changes. Generally migration seems to be triggered by birds following their food supply or seeking a new type of food, as well as seeking more comfortable weather conditions.

We are most familiar with migration from an area closer to the poles in summer, and toward the equator in winter. This is known as Longitudinal Migration, as it is on a north-south axis. Migration distance can range from thousands of miles each way to only a short distance. While we mostly think of birds leaving Colorado for warmer weather, we get some migrants coming to stay here from much further north. Some examples of birds that migrate to the Fort Collins area for winter:

  • The Dark-eyed Junco spends its summers breeding in Canada and Alaska, and moves down into the continental United States during winter. Juncos are easily recognized by their behavior, hopping around the ground seeking food, and the black and white flash of their tail when they take flight. They are colloquially known as “Snowbirds”.

  • The Rough-legged Hawk breeds in the Arctic, but winters in the U.S. and southern Canada. It gets its name from the fluffy feathers covering its legs – an excellent adaptation for a bird that spends its summers in the Arctic as well as for our snowy Colorado winters.

  • Most Bald Eagles spend their summers further north in Canada and Alaska. They will migrate into Colorado in winter where they breed, usually January through March. (We do have some year-round resident bald eagles in the area as well.)

There are also birds that migrate a short distance, but for a big change in altitude: Altitudinal migrants. Most of the altitudinal migrants in the U.S. are in the American West, thanks to our Rocky Mountains. Many of us humans have experienced the dramatic difference in weather and temperature between the plains and up in the Rockies.

  • Most Prairie Falcons winter in the Great Plains, hunting Horned Larks and Western Meadowlarks. In summer, they move up to 11,000 feet in search of abundant ground squirrels and pikas.
  • The Townsend’s Solitaire spends its summers in the mountains, then moves to lower elevations in winter. They switch food sources from mostly insects in summer to fruit, mostly juniper berries, in winter. They can get extremely territorial over their chosen patch of juniper trees, defending them against solitaires and other bird species.

  • Immature Mountain Chickadees are known to migrate to lower elevations. However, once they are old enough to select a breeding territory, they will generally stay there year-round. (It can be very challenging to distinguish them from our usual Black-capped Chickadees who stay in Fort Collins area year-round. Look for a white “eyebrow” on the Mountain chickadee that the Black-capped lacks.)

Other Adaptations for Winter Survival

For us humans, it seems logical to escape the cold and snow by going south for warmer weather. But birds have amazing adaptations to help them survive weather that we find daunting.

  • Feathers are the best insulation we know of. Imagine curling up inside a cozy down overcoat – birds have one naturally! They can retain heat by fluffing out their feathers, trapping more air underneath to keep them warm. Birds like chickadees or wrens fluff up so much that they look twice as fat in winter! Many birds, like the American Goldfinch, will also change out their sleeker, brighter summer coat for a thicker, drabber winter one. They get better camouflage as well as better insulation.
  • Some birds, like crows, will cluster together and share body warmth. Smart birds like crows and other corvids can also communicate about food sources and predators.
  • Many birds will also plan for the winter by putting on fat. It acts both as insulation to keep warm and as an energy source if hunting for food doesn’t go so well.
  • Birds are also good at predicting when the weather will turn bad and a blizzard is coming. They will eat extra food in advance of the storm, then hunker down and save calories for body heat while it snows.
  • Several species will change what kind of food they eat. The Townsend’s Solitaire and Prairie Falcon, described above, are great examples. Some birds will also stash food in preparation for the cold – if you have a birdfeeder that gets extra busy in fall, some of your avian visitors are probably caching food for later.

Birding in Winter

Celebrate National Bird Day this year by spending some time outside, looking at our seasonal visitors! But remember, winter can be a difficult season for any wild animal. Keep your distance so they don’t waste their precious energy flying or running away from you when you get too close.

Photo courtesy of  Alexa Leinaweaver.

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A Mountain of Memories: Processing an Archival Collection at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

Post written by Lauryn Bolz, Archive Intern Fall 2019.

A Mountain of Memories: Processing an Archival Collection at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

“To unite the energy, interest, and knowledge of the students, explorers and lovers of the mountains of Colorado; Collect and disseminate information regarding the Rocky Mountains on behalf of science, literature, art, and recreation; Stimulate public interest in our mountain area; Encourage the preservation of forests, flowers, fauna, and natural scenery; and Render readily accessible the alpine attractions of this region.”

The Colorado Mountain Club’s mission statement, written in 1912, has stood as an important pillar of the organization’s 100+ year existence. Its holistic approach to preservation, respect, and exploration of Colorado’s wild lands attracted a diverse cast of characters that are not only interwoven into the history of the club, but also in Fort Collins and Colorado State University.

cmc_large_052: Snowshoeing near Bunce School Road in Allenspark, Colorado

This project was my first experience with archiving, and though I was ecstatic to have been given the opportunity to work at Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, the task appeared very daunting to me. One of the things that struck me was the vast amount of creative freedom given to archivists, despite the very methodical nature of the work. When Lesley Struc, the Archive’s curator and my internship advisor, gave me the “Okay, go!” on my project, I found myself overwhelmed at how there could seemingly be infinite equations that all lead to the same result: a clean, organized set of documents.

Scanning my three boxes of material, I remembered my mother meticulously scanning my grandmother’s old slides into the computer when I was a child, so that is where I decided to start. And wow, did my mom make that look easy.

Blog01: Sleeved slides from the Colorado Mountain Club Records

While some of these slides were organized snugly into appropriately sized boxes, with printed descriptions to match, some were thrown haphazardly into half-disintegrated brown paper bags from the 1960s, bound together with sticky old rubber bands. Though some of these methods were difficult to organize, I couldn’t help but find it fun to get to know each of the photographers vicariously through their styles of handwriting and sorting. Alan Kilminster, who studied at CSU and later took a position there as a biomedical photographer, meticulously laid out each trail the Club took, taking more time to describe ‘neighborhoods’ of rocks than the people photographed around them. Chet Watts was a bit more relaxed, photographing his friends in funny poses as they made their way through Colorado’s dazzling mountain settings. Frank Goeder was a professor of physics at CSU with difficult-to-decipher handwriting, which he used to describe the colors of rocks in his beautiful black and white photography.

Being a transfer student, and still relatively new to Colorado, it has sometimes been difficult to find an avenue to connect to the new culture and free-spirited mindset of my new home. Through exploring this collection, I’ve found that these connections are all around us, through art, literature, science, and our instinctual drawing into the wild lands.

cmc_large_013: Hikers taking a rest

Through conducting this project, I felt extremely connected to my new home in Fort Collins through getting to know the photographers of the CMC and seeing the Rocky Mountains through their eyes. I hope this collection helps other future explorers of the vast, diverse landscapes of Colorado, and prompts them to feel the same respect and inspiration shown by the original members of the CMC.

I would especially like to thank the beautiful, intelligent, and endlessly entertaining ladies of FCMoD’s Archive. Lesley Struc and Jenny Hannifin, along with the cast of volunteers, that made my first experience with archiving fun, educational, and profound in many aspects in my life as I continue to pursue a career in museum work. Seeing new researchers come in every day, met with the wonderment of the archive and the passion of the workers there, has invigorated my interests in public history and Fort Collins’ unique past.

Cmc_large_051: Climbing Mount Audobon

View the finding aid for the Colorado Mountain Club Records on the Fort Collins History Connection here.

 

Local history lives here. Visit the Archive & Collections at FCMoD – open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 12:00 pm, and 1:00 pm to 5:00 pm – and like us on Facebook to see more historical images and artifacts. Archival images are available for research, purchase, and more through the online Fort Collins History Connection website.

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Problem-Solvers or Rocket Scientists? Same Difference.

Post written by Laurel Baltic, Grants Coordinator.

Problem-Solvers or Rocket Scientists? Same Difference.

This is part of our “Museum of Tomorrow” blog series, where we explore 21st century skills – FCMoD style – and learn how they prepare our visitors for the future!

It’s a Wednesday morning in October, and 14 kindergartners are flying through space. As they near each planet, they call out its name and count its place in the solar system. Shouts of “Mercury!” started this journey, though like some of the other planets, that’s not the easiest name to pronounce.

These kiddos are not on a rocket careening through the galaxy. Instead, they’re on a field trip to FCMoD, participating in a Space Explorers Learning Lab.

“Learning Labs give kids the opportunity to learn about something in a focused way, to see a concept from start to finish,” says Angela Kettle, School Programs Coordinator. She invited me to join in on a Learning Lab to see how some of our youngest visitors are working on an important 21st century skill: problem-solving.

Take a moment to picture a child learning. What do you see in your mind’s eye? Chances are, you’re picturing a classroom, maybe a desk or chalkboard. Certainly, lots of learning happens in rooms that look like that. In reality, children and adults are constantly navigating an ecosystem of learning opportunities: interconnected experiences that interact with and influence one another. Some of these are formal: think textbooks, lectures, or classes. Some are informal, like the programs and exhibits at FCMoD.

“In reality, children and adults are constantly navigating an ecosystem of learning opportunities.”

Informal learning is special because it is strengths-based: it builds on what someone already knows and can do. It is about the process and the experience. There is no system of values to assign success or failure, so learners can embrace their curiosity and gain confidence in their capacity to learn.

Let’s meet our kindergarteners in outer space again. Their journey has a goal: by the end of the hour they will have built a rover equipped to explore one of the planets. First, Miss Angela (as they call her) introduces them to the magic of the OtterBox Digital Dome Theater.

“Having fun is step one,” she explains. So, the kids start their Learning Lab by reading a book together. It’s not your average story-time: this book has been blown up to the size of a small building, with stars and comets twinkling in the 360° expanse around them. They are learning about the planets in school, but reading the story together in the Dome gives helps them grasp the immensity of the solar system and apply their knowledge.

While problem-solving is a key skill that these learners will practice, the word “problem” isn’t mentioned once. They simply have a mission: to build a rover to explore a faraway planet. That mission comes with challenges: the problems they’ll need to solve. Mars is covered with craters and huge volcanoes. Surface temperatures on Venus are very hot – up to 900° F! Jupiter is covered with giant, swirling storms, including one that’s larger than Earth.

In this way, problem-solving is a positive endeavor rather than a negative one. To solve a problem, you must first identify what you know. This helps learners build confidence in their ability so they can build on it. It’s also an invitation to try something again but a little differently if it doesn’t go quite right the first time. Angela calls out questions to help the learners show what they know.

“While problem-solving is a key skill that these learners will practice, the world ‘problem’ isn’t mentioned once.”

“It’s called solar because of the sun, and because of all the planets going around it, it’s a system!” explains one participant proudly. The kids also know that Pluto is no longer a planet, that there are other bodies like asteroids and meteors in our solar system, and that 900° F is very, very hot.

After reading the book together, the learners are seated around tables covered with rover-ready materials: cardboard, tin foil, pipe cleaners, and more. Photos of the planets are posted on the wall to spark imagination and remind the learners of what they know. This portion of the Learning Lab is open-ended, making space for problem-solving to thrive. Angela models for the chaperones the types of encouraging questions they can ask to get kids thinking like a rover engineer.

Most of the answers lead to planning their next design move: “I want to be able to see!” shouts an enthusiastic explorer. Another answers that she’d like to go to Canada, and the flexibility of informal learning is on display. Angela asks if she knows what planet Canada is on, and she does: “Earth!” Together, they brainstorm the challenges a rover might face when exploring our home planet, and the explorer begins to engineer.

By the end of the hour, the tables are covered with rovers of all shapes and sizes. Some have wheels for covering rough terrain, others are wrapped in foil to protect from the heat. They all have something in common: they were built by children who walked into the museum as students and walked out as engineers and space explorers. That leap becomes a lot less giant when you believe, as we do at FCMoD, that problem-solving is something anyone can do.

“Problem-solving is something anyone can do.”

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10 Tips for your next visit to FCMoD

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant.

10 Tips for your next visit to Fort Collins Museum of Discovery

The Thanksgiving holiday is right around and the corner. You may be traveling to Fort Collins or staying-in with the family. If you’re planning a trip to Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, for your first or your one-thousandth time, here are 10 tips for your visit to the museum.

1. General admission to the museum includes all-day re-entry. You are free to leave and return the same day, any time, and with your ticket. Special exhibitions can be left and returned during the same visit. Once you leave FCMoD you will not be able to re-enter into the special exhibition without purchasing another ticket.

2. Our Café covers grab and go snack options, as well as some lunch items, such as grilled cheese or personal pizzas. If you forget a lunch or need a light snack let us fuel your discovery. The Café is located in the museum between the Learning Labs and Natural Areas. The hours are 9:30am-4:00pm.

3. Restrooms for everyone are located on the main floor. Ask any gallery host or discovery agent for directions to the nearest restroom or water fountain. These are located near the Learning Labs and Café and inside the giant jukebox in the exhibit gallery.

4. With membership, comes many perks! Did you know your membership card grants you discounts in The Museum Store, Café, Dome, and for events and programs? Just present your membership card and receive a discount.

5. We have multiple free resources for the community. Our Natural Areas, where our Black-footed ferrets are located, is free to view at the museum without paying admission, as well as, researching and discovering the Archive and Collections. Our Café and The Museum Store areas are free and open to all.

6. There are many options for parking—our parking lot tends to get full fast, however there are, 2-hour parking spots, and a parking garage which is located across Mason and Laporte near our main entrance. Check here for more details about parking.

7. There are bike racks on the plaza for you to lock up your bike or park a scooter. Remember to bring a secure bike lock. Don’t forget you can use the pace bikes outside the museum for all your traveling needs. If you walk, bike, or tube to the museum you will receive a 10% discount. Colorado weather can change drastically, check the weather before you plan your trip. Then re-check the weather before you depart.

8. Having a blast and taking a snapshot of a memory? We would love for you to take photos and videos in the museum. Please feel free to tag @FoCoMoD if used for social media purposes.

9. Have a membership at DMNS or another museum? We love partnership and we are apart of ASTC. Check here for more details about ASTC membership.

10. The OtterBox Digital Dome Theater features several full dome films and presentations in 360°. The state-of-the-art digital projection systems and other special effects bring these shows to life, while our booming surround sound system will have you hearing like never-before. Check all upcoming showtimes here.

 

For more information about Fort Collins Museum of Discovery or how to become a member visit our website to discover all the details!

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National Authors Day

Post written by Alex Ballou, Marketing Assistant. 

National Authors Day

Fort Collins Museum of Discovery recently sat down with local author, blogger, and inspirational speaker, Teresa Funke. A friend of the museum, Teresa seeks to provide bursts of knowledge and inspiration through the arts. She sat down with staff for an interview in honor of National Authors Day on Friday, November 1. The following interview has been edited for length and clarity.

1. Hi Teresa! Thanks for chatting with us today in celebration of National Authors Day! Can you share a little about your background as an author?

For the first 27 years as a writer I was involved with writing about WWII. My first two books were for adults. My first novel, called Remember Wake, is based on a true story about the civilian men that were taken prisoners on the Wake Island during WWII and their time spent in the prison camps in Japan and China during the war. It is a fascinating true story. I also look at the women that were left behind, fiancées and wives that were left at the home front. This led to my second book, Dancing in Combat Boots. This short story collection is about different women of different economic, socioeconomic, and ethnic groups. This book is not about nurses, but about the variety of work that women did during the war that contributed in unique ways that we may be unaware about. Lastly, that led to the children’s books, Homefront Heroes, a series that was created because fifth grade classes were inviting me to come share about WWII. Many of the children had not heard of or Pearl Harbor, nor Adolf Hitler, and so a student suggested that I write for them. I never thought I would be a children’s author. But I learned how to write for children and I wrote five books in that series, each based on the five people I interviewed. Something unique about me is that each of my books are based on real people that I interview. That was the last 27 years of writing, and this past October my new book, Bursts of Brilliance, came out and it is based on a blog that I have been doing for over 5 ½ years. The book and blog are based on living in the creative life, tapping into our own bursts of brilliance, and so this book has taken me in a completely different direction than WWII.

 

2. What or who inspired you to become a writer?

That’s a good question! There was not a specific person or book, but I grew up with parents that were avid readers, they loved to talk about literature and authors. So I grew up in a home where books were highly respected and talked about. I was very lucky in that manner. I thought seriously about being a writer after something that happened in 5th grade. That year I was given an assignment to write a poem. For some reason this assignment mattered more to me than most assignments, and I was a good student, but this one was really important and I stayed up past my bed time to get this poem perfect. I could not even explain why. When I turned it in to the teacher, the teacher said: “No fifth grader could write something this good – you must have copied it out of a book. So go home and write it yourself or you are not getting a grade.” A very embarrassing moment, but also a moment of revelation. I thought to myself, I must be a really good writer. I loved writing, enjoyed doing it, and I was good at it. This sparked my interest to becoming a writer.

3. Did you have a favorite book growing up?

 

I have lots of favorite books. As a kid, I liked picture books that had people who were accomplishing things and cared about someone else. I enjoyed Mike Mulligan & His Steam Shovel and Dr. Seuss for his whimsical and imaginative writing. I was found of all the picture books that were bold and had different characters than me. But in high school, I read the classics, as the book worm nerd.

But I would say a book like Anne of Green Gables can be underappreciated– I didn’t read that book until I was an adult, maybe in college, but most of my friends read that book as a child. So they formed an association with Anne the way a kid relates, but when reading it as an adult you can appreciate the messaging, writing, and character development that you may not have picked up on as a kid. I think it is fun to read books that we read as kids, but now as an adult and say: “Oh there is a lot more to this book than I remember as a kid.”

4. How would you describe the process of writing your first novel, Remember Wake?  What was the top thing you learn in that process that helped you in the future?

Remember Wake is based on real people that I had interviewed. Those interviews created a lot of the story such as the plot and chronological order for the story. I was just telling the story of what theses men had survived. I thought I would be capable of writing it easily, but I realized books are first always about character. People connect with the character. I then discerned that I do not know how to write a novel. So I started writing short stories and personal essays and getting those published in magazines to not only learn the craft of writing, but also to find my voice as a writer. Then I went back to the novel a few years later. The book then came together. One thing that people often do not know is that in those early stages of forming who you are as a writer; the craft is very important. Whether you do that in a practice book, where you write an entire manuscript, or if you do it like I did through short stories and essays. Most people who are career writers had to do that, and no one told me about this part of the process. You think you start by writing a book and it is not that simple.

Finding your voice is the connecting point with the reader.

 

5. You mentioned finding you voice, what does that mean?

Voice is that illusive thing that is impossible to describe, but what we connect to in a book. You may love a book and your friend thinks it is okay, yet you both know the writing is excellent – that is the craft. But you probably loved the book because of the voice of the writer. I think through personal essays and short stories I was able to find out what words I use, how I express myself , what matters to me, what is underlying my book, and what I am seeking to discover more about myself. There is a deep emotional connection of discovering yourself when writing a story. Authors write to discover ourselves.

As we write, we discover ourselves more.

6. Your books take an unusual approach because they are based on interviews with real people. How do you balance real stories in a fictional setting?

I am an unusual writer in the sense that I take that approach with all of my books. I like to stir curiosity. In my first book I took the best parts of the interview stories and personality traits and embodied that in the characters of the book. The most challenging part is coming up with the characters. With short story collection, each story has a different voice. Some are told in 1st person, and others in 3rd person. I also have to decide to take a tight-in or lens-out approach. Each story is unique. But, I put an epilogue in the back of each book, because I concluded that people are interested in the real stories too. For my adult novels the stories are directly from the interviews and created to be seamless as the characters develop. For kids books you must have a lot of interest to keep their attention. For my children’s books I tell 50% truth and 50% fiction, but at the end of the book I tell what is real and what was made up. The curiosity of a child is always asking: “Did that really happen?” I want to be able to be honest with the kids and inspire that curiosity at the same time.

 

7. Knowing what you know now, if you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

As my younger self, I learned and did all that you should do – conferences, classes, tangible things you can do to be a writer. But the best thing that you can do, and that I would tell myself, would be to write a lot. Keep writing. Allow yourself to write what may not be good. Develop the thick skin for criticism. My writing clubs made me who I am through their critiques. Don’t give up. You are going to face rejection. You have to believe that you can do it.

8. In your blog Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life, do you ever encounter writers block? If so, how do you overcome it?

I never really encounter writers block in my blog, because in the last 5 ½ years I have let the blog be my creative outlet. The blog is where I do not have any pressure and I can explore and write for writing’s sake. The blog started when life was busy. I gave myself no boundaries on the blog. The wide-open ability to share freely has allowed me to write pen to paper – or should I say keys to screens. However, in writing novels I have encountered writers block and my method to overcome it is to keep writing. I allow the wheels to keep turning. I admit I am stuck, but I give myself permission to keep writing even though I know it may not be my best work or what I will keep in the end. Eventually, I get to where I want to be in writing…  if I keep at it.

9. How did you first get involved with the museum?

 

I got involved with the museum when my kids were younger. We frequented the Discover Science Center and Fort Collins Museum before they became what they are today: Fort Collins Museum of Discovery. My kids would participate in the summer camps and, as a history major, I would frequent the Fort Collins Museum often. Currently, I am a supporter of the museum. We come to the new exhibits, events, and programming that happens. It is great to still be involved as an adult. I love attending the museum for community partnership events. There are still a lot of activities – even as adults – for us to enjoy.

10. How do you feel museums like FCMoD promote 21st century skills, such as creativity, critical thinking, and literacy?

FCMoD stands for discovery, exploration, and hands-on engagement. The museum sparks a new kind of engagement. When kids get to have a tangible experience doing a science hands-on activity or churn the butter at Heritage Courtyard – it makes learning fun! The museum makes these big ideas, like scientific theories, real and accessible. People are able to come in asking: “Who am I?” They are able to explore who they are and what attracts them to history, science, music, theater, etc. People find how they are uniquely themselves, and find themselves, through the culture of the museum. The museum taps into the deeper question’s kids have. The connection the museum creates is wonderful!

The connection the museum creates is wonderful!

11. We heard you love personality tests. What have you found to be the strengths and weaknesses from the tests?

I love personality tests. You can see all of my scores on my website. However, the Enneagram and Strength’s Finder are two of my favorites. People often find personality tests to be fun and quirky, but I refer back to them frequently. I understand a lot more about myself because of these tests. I often consult the Enneagram (which I am a 7) to find insight on my everyday life. Whereas, the Strength’s Finder has been enlightening to my business and work.

 

12. Do you have any projects in the works that we can look out for in the future?

 

We currently just launched a new website – Burstsofbrilliance.com – where we will have a podcast – mainly reading the blog posts and creating an environment where you can experience the book in a new way. Also included will be membership site that has weekly communication encouraging creativity and imagination in quick, easy ways. My new book, Bursts of Brilliance, came out earlier in October. This book, as well as Dancing in Combat Boots can be purchased at The Museum Store!

Thank you to Teresa for her time and for sharing her stories! To learn more about Teresa or find some of her writing resources visit TeresaFunke.com

 

 

 

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