~A new bird, Willows and an old Beaver Dam

On Monday, while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park, I observed two small sparrow like birds in a bush near the water. Turns out they are Brewer’s Sparrows. I was grateful to get these photos; they sure didn’t want to be seen.

I haven’t seen this bird before so it becomes number 386 on my Birding Life List!

Brewer's Sparrow
Brewer’s Sparrow. Note the complete and conspicuous white eye-ring.
#386
Brown crown with fine black streaks. Upper parts buffy-brown and streaked.
Hiding
Hiding! Number 386.
Close-up of a Willow Bush, just starting to bloom.
Close-up of a Willow Bush, just starting to bloom.
Willows are the dominant woody shrub on almost all wet meadow or riparian areas in the park. They establish on point bars, abandoned beaver ponds, and abandoned channels or ox-bows.
Fun Facts:
  • Willows can establish from seeds or from willow roots or stems that implant into the ground. Shoots from the roots are important because they allow existing willow plants and root systems to maintain themselves for long periods of time.
  • They provide shade to streams and critical habitat for a large number of terrestrial and aquatic species.
  • They slow water flow and allow the ground to absorb water and nutrients.
  • They stabilize stream banks.
  • They provide food and construction material for beavers and their dams which benefit ecosystem processes.
  • Willow growth and height in the park is determined by large ungulate and beaver browsing. Willows have evolved defenses against browsing. They can grow tall very rapidly beyond the height of browsing or they can produce defense compounds that make them less palatable to large ungulates like moose and elk.
  • Willow have declined in Rocky Mountain National Park meadows because there are fewer beaver and elk overbrowse their leaves and stems.

Info taken from park web-site:

An old Beaver Dam
An old Beaver Dam. Notice the Willows.

2 thoughts on “~A new bird, Willows and an old Beaver Dam”

  1. Congratulations on a new bird Sheila. And what a cute little thing he is!
    The willows are so pretty! We have enjoyed them around Oak Creek here as well. I love the fun facts!

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