Shelledy Elementary

Awesome Adaptations

Colorado Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals

Step 1: Choose One of the Life Zones or Choices Below

Life Zones Menu Bar
Colorado Life Zones General Information Interactive Elevation & Life Zone Diagram Colorado Maps: Life Zones and More Semidesert Shrublands (West CO) Shortgrass Plains Life Zone (East CO) Foothills Woodlands & Shrublands Montane Forests Life Zone Subalpine Life Zone Alpine Life Zone Riparian Life Zones

Foothills Life Zones: Seasons, Plants, & Animals

Step 2: Choose a Topic from the Foothills Life Zones & Scroll Down

Foothills Life Zones General Information
General Information

Foothills Life Zones Through the Seasons
Through the Seasons

Foothills Life Zones Woodlands and Shrublands
Woodlands and Shrublands

Foothills Life Zones Awesome Adaptations
Awesome Adaptations

Foothills Life Zones Plants and Trees
Plants and Trees

Foothills Life Zones Mammals

Foothills Life Zones Birds

Foothills Life Zones Reptiles and Amphibians
Reptiles & Amphibians

Foothills Life Zones: Awesome Adaptations

Colorado and the Rocky Mountains have many different plants and animals that have made awesome adaptations to live in the different life zones. Here are just a few.

Collared Lizard
Eastern Collared Lizard

Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon


Gambel Oak or Oak Brush
Gambel Oak

Awesome Adaptations: Eastern Collared Lizard

The collared lizard is one amazing lizard. The eastern collared lizard has beautiful spotted bright green and yellow skin. It has black collars around its neck and a yellowish head. When the lizard gets stressed its skin on its head turns orangish-red. When a predator or human tries to catch it, the lizard is not afraid to bite and the bite is strong for the lizard's size. Yet, most of the time it will choose to run away. The collared lizard can run using its back legs only making it look like it can run standing up. The lizard can jump large distances also. Like other lizards when grabbed by the tail, it may loses its tail and regrow a new one. If that is not enough, the collared lizard will eat most any animal that can fit in its mouth, like other lizards, insects, baby mice, and other small creatures. The bright green collared lizard may be easy to spot on the reddish sandstone rocks, but its athletic ability and attitude make it one fascinating lizard.

Sources of information and to find more information: CO Herp Society, Utah Div of Wildlife, eNature

Collared Lizard Collared Lizard
Collared Lizards Collared Lizard

Awesome Adaptations: Peregrine Falcon

The peregrine falcon has one of the most remarkable attacks of the animal kingdom. They will fly up high in the sky riding warm drafts of air. The peregrine falcons has amazingly strong eyesight.They will circle really high in the sky and look for their prey, like birds, rabbits, and rodent. Once they found their prey, they can stay locked on and focused to it. When the falcon is high enough, it will tuck in its perfectly curved wings and fly nearly straight down zeroing in on their prey like a self guiding missile. The falcons can reach up to 200 miles per hour in their controlled fall. Then they stick out their claws and stab the prey with their sharp talons in the air or on the ground. Either way, the hunt happens so fast that the prey almost never sees it coming and has no time to react.

The peregrine falcon is amazing in other ways too. The falcons like to live in the mesas, plateaus, mountainss, and canyons where there are large cliffs. They find a partner and mate for life, making their nest on a safe ledge on tall cliff. The tall cliff gives the nest a safe place from predators, a great place to look down to spy for food, and an easy place to take off from so they can fly high in the sky.

Peregrine falcons nearly became extinct due to the use of DDT and other pesticides. Farmers would spray pesticides on their fields to get rid of the insects and other small creatures that eat their crops. The birds and other small animals would eat the poisened insects or seeds. Then the peregrine falcon and other birds of prey would swoop down and eat the poisened birds and small animals. The DDT would then possibly kill the peregrine falcon or make it so the babies would die. Peregrine falcons nearly became extinct before humans woke up to the dangers of the pesticides. It is an important lesson that if we put a pesticide or poisen into the food web, then it wiill spread throughout the whole food web eventually affecting humans too.

Sources of information and to find more information: Peregrine Fund, CO Div of Wildlife, Mercerburg's Academy



Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon
Peregrine Falcon Peregrine Falcon



Awesome Adaptations: Coyote

Coyotes are one the most adaptable animals. They live everywhere in Colorado from the dry shortgrass prairie and semidesert shrublands to all the way up in the high alpine life zone. Coyotes even have adapted to living in cities. One of the major reasons they can live in so many places is that they are not picky eaters. They will eat insects, rodents, rabbits, eggs, birds, lizards, snakes, frogs, toads, sick larger animals, carrion (dead animals), fruit, berries, and vegetables. They are about the size of medium-sized dog so they do not need as much food as the bigger wolves and mountain lions.

Coyotes are adaptable in other ways too. They can have grow a thick coat of fur to stay higher in the mountains or a thinner coat of hair to stay in the hot semidesert shrublands. They can be active in the night or during the day, but they prefer the early mornings and late evenings. Coyotes are very social animals and usually live and hunt in packs. Coyotes communicate with their eerie howl, yips, and growls. There is a very good reason why they are usually the tricksters in Native American legends. Coyotes can live up to their reputation of being sly, sneaky, and tricky. Large numbers of coyotes have been killed by humans. Yet, they reproduce quickly and their overall population still is healthy. Coyotes are one of the most remarkably adaptable animals.

Sources of information and to find more information: Nature Works, CO Div of Wildlife, Southwest Wildlife

Coyote Coyote
Pack of coyotes Coyote

Awesome Adaptations: Gambel Oak

The gambel oak can survive well in the cold snowy winters and the dry warm summers of the upper foothills or montane shrublands. Gambel oak is also called scrub oak and oak brush. The gambel oak grows in thick bushy patches on the upper foothill mountainsides. They can grow so thick and dense that the gambel oak can make hiking in the upper foothills seem like a giant maze. The tree has rounded irregular shaped leaves. The gambel oak grows lots of acorns to make a new plants. In the fall their leaves turn the upper foothills orange and red and then fall off for the winter. In the spring new leaves grow turning the mountain-sides green again.

The gambel oak has helped many animals survive in the mountains. They provide important leaves and nutritious acorns for animals to eat. The thick bushy gambel oak's roots help protect the soil from eroding in the sometimes strong spring snowmelt. But, most importantly the gambel oak provides lots of shelter for the many different animals that live in the foothills through the seasons. Large numbers of deer and elk can seem like they instantly disappear in the thick oak brush. Many birds, chipmunks, squirrels, and smaller animals hide from birds of prey and other predators in the thick tangle of the oak brush. The gambel oak may not seem like impressive plants by themselves; but, what they do for the montane shrublands life zone and the many animals that live there is incredible.

Sources of information and to find more information: SW CO Plants, Canyon Dave, Bird & Hike LV

Gambel Oak or Oak Brush Gambel Oak Acorns
Oak Brush in the Fall Montane Shrublands