Colorado is primarily a mountain state though 40 percent of its area is taken up by eastern high plains, according to the Western Regional Climate Center. While the climate of Colorado is often cool and the summers hot and dry, a variety of plant and wildlife exists in the eighth-largest state in the U.S.
Mammal species in Colorado include the big-horned sheep, the state mammal of Colorado. Such sheep feature large, curling horns and parka-like fur, according to Colorado.com. They grow an average of 5 to 6 feet. The mountain lion, also called a cougar or puma, is the only big cat species native to the U.S. They have short, tan fur and grow between 3 and a little over 5 feet with long tails. Other mammal species that dwell in Colorado include black bears, river otters, black-tailed prairie dogs and coyotes.
Bird species in Colorado include the U.S.'s national bird, the bald eagle. With white heads, brown-to-black bodies and yellow feet and beaks, bald eagles grow between 34 to 43 inches in height with wingspans of 6 to 8 feet. The red tailed hawk, found in Colorado, has red tail feathers and brownish body feathers. They grow between 18 and 26 inches in height with wingspans of 38 to 43 inches. Other Colorado bird species include the gray jay, common flicker and turkey vulture.
Trees native to Colorado include the Rocky Mountain white oak, an oak species with narrow green leaves and the narrow-leaved cottonwood, which features yellowish green to grayish brown bark and narrow light green leaves. The ponderosa pine has orange-brown bark with thin green pine needles that grow 12 to 28 centimeters in length. The quaking aspen features dark green, rounded leaves and chalky white to olive gray bark. Other tree species found in Colorado include the Rocky Mountain maple, the Russian olive and the Rocky Mountain juniper.
Colorado shrubs include the red raspberry, a type of raspberry bush with bright red berries used in jams and jellies. Horehound, a member of the mint family, is a shrub with small, blunt-toothed, oval, mint-green leaves that grows to about 3 feet. The red elderberry is mainly poisonous however the flowers are used for medicinal purposes while the berries are edible once cooked. Berries are in bright red clusters, leaves are long and green, and the plant can grow up to 15 feet.
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