Roaring Fork Valley Phenology | October 28, 2013

ACES Staff

October 30, 2013

Roaring Fork Valley Phenology | October 28, 2013

Since spring this blog has paid special attention to the shrubs in the Aspen area.  We witnessed an amazing flowering season, followed by more berries than anyone can remember. Now we’re focusing on our feathered and furry friends that feast on the shrubs’ fruit, berries! Bear conflicts have almost been a non-issue in town this summer and fall because of the bumper crop of berries. They should be going into their dens full and fat in the next couple of weeks. 

Last week on the Rio Grande trail near Aspen I observed a group of five mule deer moving from one wild rose plant to another, selectively foraging on rosehips, the shrub’s fruit. No scurvy for these deer as rosehips are rich in vitamin C.


The highlight of my end of October walks have been the flocks of Cedar Waxwings around town. These medium sized songbirds must be in heaven right now as they mostly eat sugary fruits. First I hear their high pitched calls and when I walk closer I find them in the shrubs, camouflaged with the changing leaves, red berries, twigs, and grey sky behind. I watched them for a while recently and was able to follow their feasting process: reaching for berries, swallowing them whole, then flying off to the cottonwood trees only to return to the chokecherry a few seconds later for more berries. 

With so many berries still hanging, the waxwings may be around for a while. This may cause some trouble as the berries they eat can become fermented in the cold, damp weather, which can lead to intoxication. As a wildlife rehabilitation center, ACES has helped out a few intoxicated waxwings, grosbeaks, and robins over the years. As you would with a friend, give them space, get them to a safe place (in this case a small box in a quiet comfy place away from other animals), and a little bit of time to sleep it off! 

~ Jim Kravitz, Director of Naturalist Programs