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Although not in the clouds, Canjilon Lakes, circa 10,000', are close enough to allow a visitor to feel the vapors. With no steep peaks towering above, this series of broad valleys give the place a "top-of-the-world" air. A green kingdom of young aspens and scattered matriarch spruce with thick nurseries of offspring below. Myriad wildflowers sprinkled everywhere like magic elfin dust attest to the rampant fertility of the place.

The birdlife follows suit. Exuberant robins carol from 5am to 9pm, declaring their optimism for the continuance of life. Warbling Vireos forage the aspen stands singing throughout the day. The background chorus of Green-tailed Towhees, Lincoln's Sparrows, Western Tanagers, and MacGillivray's Warblers continues non stop except for the windy bursts of mid to late afternoon. Above all of this, the Violet-green and Tree Swallows twitter out the sheer vibrancy of midsummer.

The next avian generation is everywhere, clamoring from tidy, woven nests secured to branches or from the safety of tree cavities in the ranks of dead standing aspens. The local Canada Goose clan, of three adults oddly, shepherded four teenage sized goslings from pond to pond. A lone female Mallard braved the demands of motherhood without help, her 8 ducklings eagerly swimming wherever mother led.

Bird diversity reigned as, during our stay, I observed 7 species of woodpeckers (including both sapsuckers and Three-toed), 5 species of flycatchers (including Olive-sided, Dusky, and Hammond's), 5 corvids (including Clark's Nutcracker), and 3 species of grosbeaks. In the latter group, we had two encounters with Pine Grosbeak, both adult males perched up high and singing heartily. And all this was enjoyed at such a high altitude that we were not affected by the pall of forest fire smoke blanketing the rest of the state.


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