Spring Wildlife Scavenger Hunt

With everything going on in the world right now, one of the great treats we’ve enjoyed at camp recently has been the emergence of lots of beautiful wildlife. We’ve started to see bluebirds, elk, wild turkeys, ground squirrels, and all sorts of other amazing animals! Learn about some of the critters we call neighbors here in Florissant.

  • Animal: Mountain Bluebird
  • Scientific name: Sialia currucoides
  • Description: The bluebird is a classic sign of spring! Around camp we’ve started hearing some bluebird chirps and catching flashes of these bright birds. These small birds can be found over a large swath of the western part of North America, ranging all the way from Mexico to northern Canada.
  • Fun fact: Mountain bluebirds are quite resourceful, building their nests from the detritus of various alpine plants such as pine needles and shredded aspen bark.
  • Animal: Wild Turkey
  • Scientific name: Meleagris gallopavo
  • Description: These large birds can usually be found waddling in small flocks. Recently we’ve seen lots of wild turkeys on the southern part of property, along the road to PPRS. A relative of the domestic turkey, the wild turkey is easily identified by its size, naked head, colorful plumage, and distinctive gobbling, clucking, and purring.
  • Fun fact: After wild turkey populations were reduced due to hunting, conservation and reintroduction efforts have helped restore their population numbers.
  • Animal: Steller’s Jay
  • Scientific name: Cyanocitta stelleri
  • Description: These quick birds are a common sight at camp throughout the year. The Steller’s Jay is easily distinguished by its blue tail feathers and pointy black crest on top of its head. Not only do these birds eat various nuts, seeds, and insects - they won’t hesitate to pick at crumbs from your campsite.
  • Fun fact: Steller’s Jays travel far, ranging all the way from Alaska to Nicaragua.
  • Animal: Elk
  • Scientific name: Cervus canadensis
  • Description: These impressively large mammals can be found in large herds throughout Colorado. Recently a herd of elk has been spotted passing through camp around Potts Meadow and PPRS. A cow (female) elk usually ways about 500-600 pounds, while a bull (male) elk can weigh as much as 1,000 pounds. Especially in the fall, you can identify an elk by its loud, distinctive bugle.
  • Fun fact: There are four different subspecies of elk: Rocky Mountain elk, Roosevelt elk, Tule elk, and Manitoba elk.
  • Animal: Wyoming Ground Squirrel
  • Scientific name: Urocitellus elegans
  • Description: These small, light brown critters are plentiful during the spring and summer and can usually be found scurrying in and out of their holes. Recently we’ve begun to see them poking their heads out of their holes after a long period of hibernation. Ground squirrels live in burrows underground connected by long systems of tunnels. During the summer you have to watch where you’re walking, or you might step in one of their holes!
  • Fun fact: Some species of ground squirrel can hibernate for up to 8 ½ months out of the year.

These animals all have their distinctive signs, whether it’s a brightly-colored feather or a large hoof print in the mud. Using our printable scavenger hunt, see if you can find some evidence of animals in your neck of the woods and try to figure out what animal it came from!

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Charles Nunziato
About Charles Nunziato

Charles first came to Sanborn as camper when he was eleven. After working four summers as a wrangler and two seasons as a field instructor at HTOEC, Charles joined the year-round staff as the Riding Program Manager for Big Spring. Charles has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Reed College and was an English teaching apprentice in Leadville, CO before returning to camp in 2019. Some of his favorite pastimes are playing guitar, reading and writing, crossword puzzles, and horseback riding.