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Avg. High: 46° F
Avg. Low: 22° F
Max. High: 78° F (1954)
Min. Low: -28° F (1936)
Avg. Precip: 0.78"
Max. Precip: 2.44" (1987)
Average Snow: 10.8"
Max. Snow: 28.8" (1997)
Max Wind 100 mph (1970)
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Early Easter Daisy
Great Horned Owls begin nesting during the heart of winter. A pair using this old magpie nest on Marshall Mesa fledged 3 young in late April.
During the coldest time of the year, when trees are still bare and the ground still frozen, Great Horned Owls begin an activity usually associated with spring--the selection and preparation of nest sites. Some pairs on the plains lay their eggs as early as mid-January, and most are incubating by late February.
Early nesting benefits these owls in a number of ways. First, they have their pick of nests used the previous year by hawks, crows, or magpies (owls don't build their own nests). Second, their young fledge in late spring, when rodents they prey on--including prairie dogs, cottontails, and mice--are readily available. Finally, if the first nesting attempt fails, they have ample time to try again.
Great Horned Owls also nest in tree hollows and on building ledges. These cosmopolitan predators have proliferated in
February 2: Candlemas. This festival of lights, a precursor to Groundhog Day and Valentine's Day, honors the stirrings of new growth and passion that accompany the waxing light of late winter.
February 3: Full moon. Early Native Americans calls this the Full Snow Moon because the heaviest snows of the winter often fall at this time. They also called the Full Hunger Moon as hunting was difficult at this time of year.
All photos: Steve Jones
Read Ruth Carol Cushman and Stephen Jones's Nature Almanac column in the Daily Camera "Get Out" section the first Friday of each month: Coons croon during 'Raccoon Moon" ; A winter walk along Clear Creek Trail, Wheatridge Greenbelt
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