Summer reading is upon us!

This year, the theme for youth, teen, and adult Library Summer Reading Programs is “Tails and Tales” – combining two of my favorite things: animals and stories! We are so lucky to live in Western Colorado, where opportunities to encounter wildlife are abundant. Our library’s collections reflect or community’s interest in the fauna of our region and our planet. If, like me, you enjoy reading about animals, you will no doubt find plenty to choose from.

“The Animal Dialogues: Uncommon Encounters in the Wild” by naturalist and regional author Craig Childs is one of my absolute favorites.

Childs introduces the reader to a menagerie, using his own personal encounters as a launch pad for mini biographies about each species he includes. In true Childs fashion, each encounter raises questions about the lines between nature and humanity, and highlights the wonders of the wild and natural world.

Searching the library’s stacks for “The Animal Dialogues” led me to its neighbor on the shelf: “Bird Memories of the Rockies.” Published in 1931 and written by Enos Mills, this collection of observations of various species of birds doesn’t disappoint. Mills’ musings on the cooperative nature of bird species, the ways in which they communicate with one another, and the larger benefit to the human race of quietly observing nature, all combine in a sweet, soothing volume of pure reading joy.

If finding animals to observe is more your thing, the library can help you there too! My favorite resource for exploring our vast public lands is the “Delorme Atlas and Gazetteer: Colorado.”

I love this atlas because it contains detailed topographic maps for every section of our state. Landforms are clearly designated, as are roadways, waterways and trails. The next time you plan a trip to a wilderness area or national forest, be sure to check the map first. Once you get to where the animals are, it’s helpful to bring along a guide so that you can identify what you see.

The “Wildlife Viewing Guide: Colorado” by Mary Taylor Young is a great place to start. Divided by region, this guide offers clear and useful photographs of the most common species you can catch a glimpse of, along with the best places and times of year to spot each species. I’d not be a very good Coloradan if I didn’t remind you to never feed or approach wildlife and to enjoy their beauty at a safe distance.

If you’d like to take your naturalist skills to the next level, please plan to join us at 11 a.m. July 21 for a “Scats and Tracks” presentation by our friends at Colorado Parks and Wildlife. This program will be presented virtually and is open to all ages. The CPW rangers will teach us how to identify the traces that animals leave behind so that we can observe the forest in a new way. You can sign up for this program at the reference desk. Teens who participate in the Summer Reading Program can also enter to win one of four prize packages, a “Watching Wildlife” prize, that includes binoculars and everything you need to observe wildlife, whether it’s in your backyard or on a mountain trail.

Please join us for “Tails and Tails,” stop in the library and tell us about your wildlife sightings, and have a great summer!

Sara Rinne is the head of Adult Services. She loves spotting wildlife wherever she goes, especially the owls that live in her neighborhood.

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