Home Mountain Living Mountain Wildlife: What You Need to Know Living in the Boulder Foothills

Mountain Wildlife: What You Need to Know Living in the Boulder Foothills

by Rachel Daly
Living in the Boulder Foothills

When we moved from the suburban front range to Boulder’s foothills, we were excited for a new lifestyle – the open air, the space, being surrounded by nature. There are enough stories about wildlife encounters that we knew we needed to be prepared and vigilant with our two young daughters and houseful of pets living in the Boulder foothills.

Living in the Boulder Foothills

Red Squirrel —  Photo Courtesy of Kim Williford

Living in Boulder’s Foothills

Wildlife is a year-round component of living in Boulder’s foothills. Most of all, mountain residents worry about bears, in addition to mountain lions and bobcats. All three are a rare sight, they are very stealthy and they aren’t keen on being noticed by humans.


Although bears are very secretive creatures, they are the most famous of the Boulder wildlife troublemakers, mainly because they are known dumpster divers.  Keeping your trash in a bear-proof trash can and waiting until the day of pickup to take it out to the road can help deter bears from rooting through your garbage. We quickly learned it’s not just the trash you need to be aware of with bears. They are known to come sniffing around open windows and are very drawn to any and all food smells. Be mindful of open windows even if they are only opened a crack. Bears are very strong and can break into compromised windows. I was surprised when doing my research that bears are also known for opening car door handles and climbing inside for any food that might tempt them. Don’t keep food or trash in your car and always keep your doors locked.

Mountain Lions, Bobcats and Mountain Predators

As a general rule, small pets should be kept indoors unless on a leash outside. Cats are easy prey for mountain lions and bobcats. Dogs are better kept indoors as well. If you see a mountain lion or bobcat, consider yourself lucky – they are a rare sight! But don’t be fooled, although you may never see one, they are our wild neighbors and precautions should be taken.

Boulder’s Diverse Wildlife

Living in the Boulder foothills, there are many other creatures you will encounter and most are benevolent. Squirrels and chipmunks, deer and wild turkeys, rabbits and red foxes, mice and snakes.

Colorado Chipmunk Photo Courtesy of Kim Williford

Colorado Chipmunk  — Photo Courtesy of Kim Williford

One of my favorite parts of living in the Boulder foothills is watching for birds! The hummingbirds in the summer, the blue jays in the winter are just a couple of the large variety of birds that have been spotted in Boulder County. Here’s a complete list from Boulder County’s Open Space database:


Photo Courtesy of Kim Williford

Photo Courtesy of Kim Williford

Year-round residents include:

  • black-billed magpie
  • Steller’s jay
  • mountain and black-capped chickadee
  • pygmy nuthatch
  • red- and white-breasted nuthatch
  • pine siskin
  • evening grosbeak
  • brown creeper
  • canyon wren
  • great horned owl
  • northern flicker
  • common raven
  • American robin
  • American crow
  • dark-eyed junco

Summer visitors include:

  • broad-tailed hummingbird
  • western wood-peewee
  • mountain bluebird
  • yellow-rumped warbler
  • western tanager
  • spotted towhee

Winter visitors include:

  • cedar waxwing
  • bald eagle
  • rough-legged hawk
  • ferruginous hawk

You may also like

Leave a Comment