A Nature-Lover's Haven for Animals
Character is not a word many would use to describe the neighborhoods outside Denver. A modest brick rancher is the exception to the rule.
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"The house had everything that we wanted — a fireplace, a big yard," he says.
But the ground was covered only with sparse grass. So Forrey picked up a shovel and planted a tree. It was the first of 95; they include aspen, green ash, crab apple, apple trees, maples, Chinese elm, black walnut, blue spruce and juniper.
By the mid-1970s, Forrey had decided to indulge his interest in bird-watching. A woodworker in his spare time, he set to building dozens of birdhouses.
"It just seemed like the natural thing to do, and it kept growing," he says.
Besides common birds like sparrows and house finches, Forrey attracts American goldfinches, brown thrashers, oven birds, blue jays, black-capped chickadees, mountain chickadees and house wrens.
Forrey also built an artificial 20-foot stream connected to an 11-by-16-foot pond, an irresistible fixture for red-winged blackbirds, starlings and robins. Edged with rock, it comes complete with a waterfall and a small bridge.
Raccoons, squirrels, garter snakes, hawks, butterflies, dragonflies, ladybugs, bees, paper wasps and yellow jackets also can be found, and some of them can pose problems.
Forrey's habitat even holds his interest in the middle of the night. Often awakened by his sprinkler system at 2 a.m., he gets up, sits at his kitchen table and looks out.
"If I see something moving, like a raccoon, I turn on the floodlights," he says. "The raccoons are so urbanized they don't care one way or another."
Forrey plans more projects for his back yard. He's hoping to find tadpoles for his pond next spring. He also wants to train chickadees to eat from his hands.
"Chickadees are the ones that seem to be less afraid of people," he says. "I'd like to see if I have the patience and see if I can get the birds to trust me."
(Betsy Lehndorff writes for the Rocky Mountain News. Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service.)