Elk

Do you keep your windows open at night during October? If you do you are in for a wonderful treat!

The bugle of the bull elk is truly the music of autumn in Colorado. During the fall mating season, bulls bugle to attract females and challenge other males. They may shadowbox trees and shrubs with their antlers, leaving as evidence shredded bark and leaves. Occasional sparring matches occur between rival males, but more encounters consist mainly of bluff with noise and display of antlers. Evening is the best time to hear bugling.

Where to find them: Mountain parks and clearings throughout the mountains. Sites: Rocky Mountain National Park; Genesee Park; and the Aspen Park/Conifer area.

Fox

The fox is an intelligent animal that belongs to the dog family. They are smaller than wolves and have longer, bushier tails and longer hair. Their muzzles are more pointed and their jaws straighter. Foxes have large, furry, triangular ears. All foxes dig dens in the ground but they do not hibernate during the winter.

A female fox is called a "vixen" and they breed in early spring after they are a year old. A vixen will produce four to nine "pups" each year. The young foxes grow in the mother's body for about 51 days before birth. Both parents watch over the young for about two months. The mother feeds the pups with her milk for about three months.

The fox cries with a yelping bark. Sometimes, when a fox is captured, it will pretend to be dead. But it will run when freed.

Foxes play an important part in our region. They feed on mice and other rodents, insects and fruits. Sometimes a fox may catch poultry or lambs, which are not properly penned and tended. Foxes will eat anything they can catch and its is thought that they may have found unsuspecting domestic cats as their prey.

The Red Fox is native to our area, but not all red foxes have reddish-brown fur. Some are black sprinkled with white (silver fox), and some reddish-brown with a blackish stripe down the back and another across the shoulders (cross fox).

You are bound to see a fox as you drive around Hilldale's streets especially at dusk or at night.

Raccoon

Raccoons have been sighted often in Hilldale Pines. The common raccoon is about 32 inches long from its nose to the end of its tail. It weighs from 20 to 25 pounds. It has a stout body covered with long, course hair that is grayish, with black tips. The underfur is pale brown. The raccoon has a bush, grayish-white tail, with black rings. Its face looks like that of a fox. The nose is sharp and delicate. A black patch around each eye has a ring of white hair around it. This gives the raccoon a cunning look that fits its mischievous nature.

Raccoons have long legs and strong claws. They are famous tree climbers, and like to live in hollow trees. In cold climates, they sleep there during the winter. Raccoons also make their homes in dens in rocky ground or ledges.

Like bears, coons eat almost anything that comes their way. Perhaps their worst faults are robbing bird's nests, raiding chicken coops and going through garbage cans. (Secure, locking lids are the only thing that might keep them out). Also, according to Kathy Green of the Colorado Division of Wildlife, some of our domestic cats may have been prey to the strong raccoon.

Raccoons have from three to six young at a time, usually in April or May. The baby raccoons are blind and helpless at first, and the parents care for them at least until early winter. When they cry, they sound like human babies.

Albert's Squirrel

If you find the shredded remains of pine cones beneath a Ponderosa Pine, you've likely discovered the "kitchen" of the Albert's Squirrel. Also called the tassle-eared squirrel due to tufts of hair on it's ears, this large, handsome squirrel lives exclusively on the seeds and tender shoots of the Ponderosa Pine. It occurs in two color phases - all black, or a salt and pepper gray with white belly and black side stripes.

Where to find them: Active all year, Albert's squirrels can be found wherever there are Ponderosa Pine forests.

Sites: Pine forest around Evergreen, Conifer, Durango, Pagosa Springs.

Woodpecker

Colorado Woodpeckers are 7-10 inches long, have short legs, sharp-clawed toes and a stiff tail. Most common to our area are the Common Flicker, Red Headed Woodpecker and Red-napped Woodpecker. Most are characterized by a long white wing patch, barred back and white rump. They have a red nape, forehead and throat and black chest band separating throat from yellowish belly.

Woodpeckers feed mainly on insects extracted from bark, thus keeping down the number of boring insects that destroy healthy trees. They enjoy sap and drill holes around a tree trunk in horizontal lines or checkerboard patterns.

Woodpeckers can, however, also cause an annoyance by hammering or "drumming" on houses and can cause property damage by drilling holes in wood siding and eaves.

Woodpeckers hammer to attract mates, establish and/or defend a territory, excavate nesting or roosting sites and search for insects. Wooden shingles, cedar or redwood siding, metal or plastic guttering, television antennas ans light posts are selected as drumming sites because these produce loud sounds.

Control Methods: Prompt repair of large holes may encourage the woodpecker to leave or discourage other woodpeckers. The holes can be covered with aluminum flashing or metal sheathing and painted to match the siding. If damage is occurring near areas that provide perch sites, elimination of these sites with metal flashing or other materials will usually solve the problem. If a single board on the house serves as a toe hold, heavy monofilament fishing line or stainless steel wire can be tightly stretched approximately 2 inches outward acros the landing side to exclude the bird.

Owl effigies mounted on top of roofs, chimneys or hung from the eaves near the damage sites also can frighten woodpeckers. Owl effigies can be purchased at garden, nursery or sporting goods stores or ordered through most hunting supply catalogs.

Some woodpeckers can be frightened away with persistent loud noises such as banging pots and pans together. Other woodpeckers can be discouraged by deadening the sound producing area by filling the hollow space behind the wood.