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Colorado Edition: A Pigeon, A Rock, A Dam And A Railroad

Luke Runyon
Two pigeons perch atop their coop at Rocky Mountain Adventures' Fort Collins headquarters after a flight from Poudre Canyon.

Today on Colorado Edition: we're looking back at some of our favorite reporting from 2019, including a look at how one rafting company uses pigeons, an unusual method a wildlife refuge uses to keep birds from imprinting on humans, and the history of a painted rock. We also remember a failed endeavor in Longmont, and celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad.

Pigeon Carriers

Credit Jackie Hai / KUNC
Rocky Mountain Adventures owner David Terry holds one of the company's pigeons at Picnic Rock Natural Area.

In June, KUNC’s Stacy Nick set out to find out why the pigeon crossed the river. And no, this isn’t some bad joke...

In an era where images can be sent in fractions of seconds, the idea of sending photos via air mail might sound strange. But one Colorado rafting company is continuing a tradition of leaving its delivery in the hands of some fine feathered friends. 

Corvid Masks


Credit Jackie Hai / KUNC
Licensed wildlife rehabber Amanda Manoa wears a mask while standing in the magpie enclosure at Greenwood Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

And the summer is also the busy season for wildlife rescuers, with the greatest number of injured or orphaned animals coming in during those months. 

But how do you stop baby birds from imprinting on their human caretakers before being released back into the wild? One wildlife center in Longmont has a feathery solution. KUNC’s Jackie Hai has more.

Haystack Rock


Credit Matt Bloom / KUNC
Brian Werner, head of communications for Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District, takes a photo of Haystack Rock. Northern Water purchased the land underneath the boulder in the mid 1980s.

Every November, Colorado State University and the University of Wyoming face off in a football game known as the “border war.” But the longtime rivalry between the two schools doesn’t just play out on the field. 

KUNC’s Matt Bloom has the story of a local tradition that captures the curiosity of Northern Colorado residents to this day.



Credit Luke Runyon / KUNC
A photo in the Longmont Museum's archive shows Chimney Rock Dam mid-construction.

There are some parts of history that would be easier to forget, and Colorado is no exception. KUNC’s Luke Runyon came across a lesser known moment in the state’s water past, and the century-old structure that stands as a reminder of it.

Transcontinental Railroad

150 years ago, the first transcontinental railroad in the United States was completed. The Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad companies — who were building westward from Omaha, Nebraska, and eastward from Sacramento, California, respectively — finally met at Promontory Point in Utah. 

The impacts of its construction were felt around the country, even in states like Colorado that weren’t part of the original route. Colorado was later connected to the transcontinental railroad by the Denver Pacific Railroad.

Here to tell us more about the legacy of the transcontinental railroad in Colorado and in the West is William Wei. He is a history professor at the University of Colorado Boulder and the state historian for Colorado.

Colorado Edition is made possible with support from our KUNC members. Thank you!

Our theme music was composed by Colorado musicians Briana Harris and Johnny Burroughs. Other music this week by Blue Dot Sessions:

  • "Wingspan" by Bayou Birds
  • “The Shoes They Wear” by Delray

Colorado Edition is hosted by Erin O'Toole (@ErinOtoole1) and Henry Zimmerman (@HWZimmerman), and produced by Lily Tyson. The web was edited by digital editor Jackie Hai. Managing editor Brian Larson contributed to this episode.

KUNC's Colorado Edition is a daily news magazine taking an in-depth look at the issues and culture of Northern Colorado. It's available on our website, as well as on iTunesGoogle PlayStitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts. You can hear the show on KUNC's air, Monday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Stories written by KUNC newsroom staff.