Finding diversity: Community helps spot area wildlife during BioBlitz at Wildcat Hills | Education

Tiffany Hort points out birds to Lalaiith Hort, 3, during the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies’ BioBlitz at the Wildcat Hills on Saturday, July 16.

On Saturday, July 16th, the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies gave the public a chance to pitch in during its annual BioBlitz at the Wildcat Hills.

Participants in the BioBlitz help count all of the species from birds to reptiles that call the area home.

The BioBlitz kicked off on Friday with a dinner and orientation. There was some fun sprinkled in with nature trivia and a sunset outing.

The Saturday events started at 8 a.m. to take advantage of cooler temperatures, Laura Smedsrud, with the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, said.

“Birds are out in the morning and it’s nicer (outside). Then we do insects, wildflowers and reptiles,” she said.

While the event is fun for adults and youth alike, it is also a good learning opportunity, Smedsrud said.

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Delanie Bruce, education manager for Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, reminds participants in the bird counting event to be as quiet as possible while hiking so they may hear birds singing.

“(BioBlitz) is community science,” she said. “We teach kids that anybody can be a scientist. This morning is like the gateway, so kids can get comfortable being outside. They can then go and do this in the backyard.”

After the bird count, there was a wildflower outing and insect investigation. The morning wrapped up with a reptile survey.

“Everybody is usually pretty excited for the reptiles,” Delanie Bruce, the education manager for Bird Conservancy of the Rockies, said.

To assist with the reptile survey, covered boards are set out to help attract them.

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A lesser goldfinch stops to eat with some red crossbills at the Widlcat Hills Nature Center on Saturday, July 16.

With the BioBlitz participants a safe distance away, Amanda Filipi, the outdoor education specialist at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center, lifts them up in hopes of revealing a snake. Using a hook or her hands, depending on the species of the snake, she will let participants observe it from a safe distance, Bruce said.

Bruce said they spotted a one-eyed toad and five varieties of milkweed on Friday.

Bruce said there have been some pretty interesting discoveries during the Bio Blitz.

“We’ve had hummingbirds out here before. We can get a couple of different hummingbird species from Colorado. We’ve had a violet green swallow, which is exciting because a lot of people don’t see swallows up close. This one is pretty striking. It’s all white underneath with a shiny green head and back. That one was pretty exciting to see,” she said.

Filipi said there is something for everybody at the BioBlitz.

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Laurie Zitterkopf points out different wildflowers during the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies BioBlitz on Saturday, July 16 at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center.

“Some people get really excited about flowers. Last year, we caught a deer on one of our trail cameras, so that was pretty cool. We’ve seen some really cool lizards,” she said.

The Bird Conservancy of the Rockies had quite a bit more help for this year’s BioBlitz, Bruce said. Last year, there were two families consisting of eight people who attended the event. This year, there were around 30 people registered.

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