by Scott Sanchez
Most of us had big spring break plans. Europe, Hawaii, the desert or a river trip. That all changed pretty quickly. The annual exodus didn’t happen. However, if you have to be stuck somewhere Jackson is a pretty good option.
Wildlife viewing and photography is a fun activity and we are in one of the best places to do it. While we always think about the exotic and big animals, there are plenty of other creatures to look at. And some of the big critters do show up in our yards. Neighborhood watching doesn’t require a lot of time or effort and can be a nice diversion from work or chores. What better way to take a break? Looking out your window is a great way to see animals in a natural state, since they are oblivious to your presence. Besides the house, wildlife viewing can also be combined with a walk, bike ride or a drive. A stroll down uncrowded streets may become a wildlife safari.
Wildlife viewing is a superb activity for family and kids, and this will captivate them for hours. It is fun to spot a bird, look it up in a book or on the Internet, identify it and learn about it. This is the catalyst for us to learn about them and teach others. Children are mesmerized by animals and the chance to see them magnified through binoculars or spotting scopes. The magnification gives you the feeling that you could almost touch them. A game of how many birds or animals you can find in your yard is gratifying. Extend that to how many animals you can find on your walk or drive. Take the bird ID book along.
Spring is prime time for finding birds and other animals. Seasonal and migratory birds are showing up and others are getting more active as mating starts and more food sources become available. Waterfowl are moving into just about any piece of water big enough to hold them. On the Elk Refuge, and in large open spaces you can easily find elk, and there is also the Miller Butte bighorn sheep. Just make sure you give them space for their safety and yours. Look up at the sky too. What you thought was a raven may turn out to be an eagle or even a vulture. Recently, I saw a bald eagle perched on a telephone pole at the corner of Kelly and Redmond.
The short list of animals I’ve seen around my house are: mule deer, elk moose, foxes, coyotes, Swainson’s Hawks, Ruffed grouse, house finch, grosbeaks, Great Horned Owl and many more.