Category: Blog

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Hudson Gardens with Chuck Aid, July 30

Thirteen of us spent Saturday morning in and around Hudson Gardens.  In this period of post-breeding, things were a bit slow, and we only recorded 27 species (see list below).  However, we still managed to see a variety of interesting birds.  First of all, a month ago on the last Hudson Gardens walk we recorded a female Wood Duck with five little ducklings.  This time, while we did not see mom, we did once again see the five ducklings, which are close to adult size now, and a couple of them were starting to show the beginnings of the male’s spectacular plumage.  We also noted at least one juvenile Canada Goose.

Looking at Mallards we had to once again talk about eclipse plumage.  A reminder that eclipse plumage is when male ducks at the end of breeding season molt from their brilliant breeding plumage to a dull, cryptic plumage.  As the Birder’s Handbook says, “Their brilliance is dimmed – they go into ‘eclipse.’”  This all happens at the same time that the main flight feathers are moulting, and some ducks actually become flightless for a few weeks.  It makes good sense, if you are temporarily flightless, that it might be to your advantage to be more cryptically colored.  The duration of the eclipse plumage varies between species, lasting for some just a couple of weeks, and for others persisting into early winter.  With the next molt the brilliant male colors return.

One interesting thing to contemplate in all this eclipse plumage business is to think about the inherent advantages in remaining cryptically colored for a longer period of time versus regaining one’s brilliance more rapidly. To be camouflaged longer is to be less visible to predators; while to regain breeding plumage more rapidly is to have a “leg up” on impressing the females, but may be deleterious if you really can’t quite fly yet.

Here are an eclipse plumage male Mallard (http://www.photosbygregstrong.comand) and male Wood Duck ( Note the bill color in both – a give away that you’re looking at males.

MALL Eclipse

WODU Eclipse

Another highlight of the morning was that we got to see a pair of juvenile Cooper’s Hawks hanging out in the cottonwood grove just downstream from Hudson Gardens. I believe that Cooper’s Hawks have been successful breeding in that same grove now for the last four years.

On a personal note, this has been a great year for Hummingbirds at my house. Lots of zipping around and high drama!

The next Front Range Birding Company bird walk is going to the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield this coming Saturday, Aug 6. Please call the store to register – 303-979-2473.

Good Birding!  Chuck


Hudson Gardens

Jul 30, 2016

27 species

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  35

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  5

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  18

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  5

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  10

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)  1

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  2

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1

Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)  4

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  2

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  3

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  5

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  4

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  2

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  7

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  2

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  1

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  1

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  1

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  1

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  3

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  25

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  12

Evergreen Audubon’s Breeding Bird Atlas


Evergreen Audubon began the Bear Creek Watershed Breeding Bird Atlas (BBA) in 2008, and like other BBA’s that are conducted world-wide we are engaged in an attempt to provide information on the distribution, abundance, habitat preference, and breeding success of birds in a specific region.

Currently in its ninth year, Evergreen Audubon’s BBA focuses on the local breeding bird community throughout the Bear Creek Watershed – from Mount Evans to the South Platte River. Within that vast area we have focused on 45 parcels of public land where we look for any signs of breeding: from singing males setting up territories, to courtship behavior, to nest building, to finding recently fledged youngsters. This article is to help you gain familiarity with our atlas website, and to walk you through a few fun pages of the website related to our progress thus far.

When you open the website, here is what the Homepage looks like, and if you click on the Progress tab at the top you will be taken to the initial Progress page (see below).

Atlas Home


Progress all areas

This initial Progress page summarizes the amount of time that has been expended in the 45 different public lands, and how much time overall has been spent in the field on a yearly basis. You can see that some areas have received far more attention than others (Bear Creek Lake Park with over 140 hours, and Bergen Park with less than 8). This discrepancy is due to our small pool of volunteers, the individual enthusiasm with which some folks embrace this project, the amount of time they can afford to spend in the field, and the emphasis that we choose to place on some locations and habitats over others.

From this screen you can then click on one of the green bars in the bar graph in order to learn more about a specific area. For example, here’s a portion of the screen that comes up for Flying J Ranch telling you that 71 species have been recorded, and that we’ve been able to confirm breeding there for Broad-tailed Hummingbird (nest building) Williamson’s Sapsucker (nest with young), and Red-naped Sapsucker (fledgling). If you were then to scroll through all 71 species, you would see that thus far we have been able to confirm breeding at Flying J for 29 species.

Progress Flying J

By scrolling to the bottom of that page you can also see who has entered data for Flying J and the date that they were there.

Progress Participants

One of the more interesting aspects of the “Summary” pages is found by going to “Summary by Species.” There, you can bring up maps for each species known, or suspected, to breed in the watershed. For example, here’s the map for American Dipper. The red makers indicate where we have confirmed Dipper breeding, and you can click on any of the markers for additional information related to that sighting. No surprise that the red markers are primarily along Bear Creek, with one on Cub Creek. And, though there have been additional sightings along Upper Bear Creek, nothing thus far indicates breeding that far up the valley.

Progress AMDI

Here is the map for Mountain Chickadee, a species that we know well, and for which we have been able to document breeding throughout the watershed in various habitats from 6500 to 11,500 feet.

Progress MOCH

In contrast, here is the map for Pine Grosbeak. We have found them at higher elevations in Spruce-Fir Forest, but have yet to document breeding, again largely a factor of our limited volunteer pool.

Progress PIGR

Here’s another one of our high elevation species, Golden-crowned Kinglet. We do see them occasionally at mid elevations, but when it comes to breeding they prefer dense Spruce-Fir Forest. The three confirmations below are from Beaver Meadows, Beartrack Lakes Trail, and the Elk Management Area. Again, when you are actually on the website you can click on the various markers to obtain this specific location information.

Progress GCKI

Next is our map for Western Tanager. While they have been recorded in the edge of the foothills and up in the Elk Management Area, our map confirms that they prefer to breed in the foothills and lower mountains, with a preference for Ponderosa Pine Forest.

Progress WETA

Finally, here is our map for Bullock’s Oriole, which breeds in riparian forests of the plains and lower foothills. Our farthest west confirmation on the map below is from Lair O’ the Bear.

Progress BUOR

I encourage everyone to visit our Breeding Bird Atlas website and enjoy more of these maps. While there you can also find out more about what a breeding bird atlas is, and learn how we go about our business in the field.

Meyer Ranch with Chuck Aid – July 2

Dear Front Range Birders!

It was an interesting morning this past Saturday.  It had rained much of the night in the foothills, and when I arrived at Meyer Ranch for our bird walk I was wearing my full rain outfit.  Then, things cleared up sufficiently, though still with a bit of that “accumulating ominous” look on the horizon, that I ditched the rain gear.  Six folks then arrived, having driven up from the Front Range Birding Company, and we had a fantastic bird walk, tallying 29 species of birds (see list below).

The lower portion of Meyer Ranch is noteworthy because of the expansive area of wetlands and sub-irrigated pasture that create a wonderful habitat for Wilson’s Snipe, Red-winged Blackbirds, Vesper Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, and Song Sparrow; and then there’s generally extensive ariel feeding going on by a variety of swallow species.  All in all a good show for the initial part of our walk.  The following sparrow songs are from

Vesper Sparrow

Savannah Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Then, as we got across the open space and up into the “timber,” we had good luck with a number of other species.  In particular, it’s one of the better areas I know for having a good Hammond’s Flycatcher seminar.  Visually, this member of the Emidonax genus (who all look almost identical), has a small, dark bill; a “squared-off” head-shape, and long primary wing feathers (making the tail seem a bit short).


Once you’ve been suitably overwhelmed by the difficulty of making a definite visual identification, it helps significantly if the bird vocalizes.  This is its song (from

You end up trying to use all the clues you can get to identify these guys, and one additional piece is the habitat where they’re found, which tends to be lush, closed-canopy, coniferous forest – primarily high-elevation Spruce-Fir forest, but in the case of Meyer’s Ranch they are found in Ponderosa forest and dense Douglas-Fir forest with a mix of spruce and aspen.

Fortunately (I’m being fecetious), in the mountains of Colorado there are, for the most part, only two other members of the Empidonax genus that you have to also consider as possibilities.  Here are the Cordilleran Flycatcher and Dusky Flycatcher.

Codilleran Flycatcher

dusky-flycatcher (1)

So, there’s always more for us to be learning in this bird identification game.  Isn’t it great!!!

Good birding!



Meyer Ranch Open Space

Jul 2, 2016

Front Range Birding Company

29 species


Wilson’s Snipe (Gallinago delicata)  2

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  7

Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis)  1

Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group])  2

Hammond’s Flycatcher (Empidonax hammondii)  4

Cordilleran Flycatcher (Empidonax occidentalis)  3

Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  1

Steller’s Jay (Interior) (Cyanocitta stelleri [diademata Group])  2

Common Raven (Corvus corax)  2

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  1

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  1

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  40

Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli)  5

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1

Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea)  3

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  5

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (Regulus calendula)  2

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)  5

Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)  3

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  5

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) (Setophaga coronata auduboni)  1

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina)  3

Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed) (Junco hyemalis caniceps)  3

Vesper Sparrow (Pooecetes gramineus)  1

Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis)  5

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2

Western Tanager (Piranga ludoviciana)  1

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  12

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2


Hudson Gardens with Chuck Aid – June 25

Fifteen of us had a great outing at Hudson Gardens this past Saturday. The weather was not too hot and we recorded 35 species of birds (see list below).

Things were hopping from the outset. Before I could even introduce myself we had a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk calling from a nearby tree, and a female Wood Duck with five youngsters in tow right below the Cooper’s.

Another highlight as the morning progressed included either a single American White Pelican cruising by periodically, or a few different individuals doing the same. We also had great looks at the “golden slippers” of a very cooperative Snowy Egret. Photo from


We saw four species of swallows, including nesting Tree Swallows in a box at the south end of the wetland area. I was surprised to not see more Cliff Swallows as in the past they have nested in large numbers (100+) under the Bowles Ave. bridge over the South Platte. I guess their young have already fledged and moved on, but it seems a bit early to me.

Perhaps the most interesting observation was of a pair of Red-tailed Hawks that were hanging out side-by-side for much of the morning. One was a typical light-morph western Red-tail – the one we see the most frequently, but the other one was a darker intermediate-morph with a gorgeous, rich rufous (rusty red-brown) breast – photo courtesy of Bill Schmoker.


Finally, the last bird of the morning was the most colorful – a male Bullock’s Oriole.


It was a wonderful morning! Hope to see you soon on another Front Range Birding Company outing.

Good birding!

Chuck Aid


Hudson Gardens, Front Range Birding Company

Jun 25, 2016

35 species


Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  13

Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)  1     1 female with 5 youngsters

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  23     Several females with young

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  8

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  1

Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  1

Cooper’s Hawk (Accipiter cooperii)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  2

Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  2

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) (Columba livia (Feral Pigeon))  3

Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  4

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  9

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  4

Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon)  1

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  3

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  8

Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  4

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  1

Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  2

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  5

Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  7

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  3

Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  4

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  3

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  26

European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  3

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  19

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  2

Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  13

Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  18

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2

Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  1

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  3

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  1

American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  3

Windows and Birds: A Deadly Combination

It is estimated that around 100 million birds are killed each year by collisions with windows. Some birds are only stunned and recover shortly after the collision; however, window hits often lead to severe internal injuries and death. Just this morning, I found a beautiful juvenile male red-winged blackbird that most likely died due to a window strike.

It is thought that birds hit windows because they see trees, sky and clouds reflected on the glass which confuses the bird into thinking they are flying into open space. In addition, birds that are fleeing from a predator are more likely to fly into windows.

How to Help a Window Collision Victim

Fortunately, not all collisions are fatal. If you find a bird that is dazed from a window strike, you should take the following steps, as recommended by The Cornell Lab of Ornithology:

  • Place it in a dark container with a lid such as a shoe-box and leave it somewhere warm and quiet, out of reach of pets and other predators.
  • If the weather is extremely cold, you may need to take it inside. Do not try to give it food and water and resist handling it as much as possible.
  • The darkness will calm the bird while it revives, which should occur within a few minutes, unless it is seriously injured.
  • Release it outside as soon as it appears awake and alert.
  • If the bird doesn’t recover in a couple of hours, you should take it to a veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator.

How to Protect Birds from Window Collisions

If you feed wild birds in your backyard, you should be aware of and try to prevent window strikes. Identify which window is the problem. You can do this by going outside near your bird feeders and look at your windows from a birds point of view. If you can see the reflections of trees and sky in the window, the birds can too. While there are many ways of making windows safer for birds, we recommend WindowAlert UV Decals.

Birds have sharper vision than humans and are able to see certain light frequencies that humans cannot see, such as ultraviolet. In fact, many songbirds have feathers that reflect UV light to help communicate species, gender, and perhaps even social standing. Birds can see UV under normal daylight conditions, while humans require a black light. Since birds can see UV light, the use of WindowAlert UV Decals and Liquid will substantially lower the amount of birds hitting your window. The WindowAlert UV Decals appear as frosted or etched glass to the human eye but birds see it as a brilliant glow like a stoplight. are small clings that are placed on the outside of your clean window. Birds see the decal and know that is not a clear direction of flight.

We stock a few different designs including butterflies, leaves, hummingbirds, and snowflakes. Each packet contains about 4 decals that should be replaced every 6-9 months. They retail for $6.95 each.

For more information, visit WindowAlert and/or The Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Front Range Bird Walk with Chuck Aid – June 18, 2016

Nine of us visited Roxborough State Park for a few hours this morning, and recorded 26 species (see list below).  The highlight was the nice long, relatively close look we had of a soaring Golden Eagle. They have nested out there in recent years, and tend to be a regular feature during breeding season. Here’s a photo from that looks fairly close to the bird we saw.

Golden Eagle

We also got great looks at singing Lesser Goldfinches.  Here’s their song from –


Finally, we got to hear one of the more crazy vocalizations that we get around here, this recording of a Yellow-breasted Chat is from  The photo is from


Breeding season is in full swing, so I hope that you are all getting out and getting to see harried parents feeding their fluffy offspring.

Good birding!

Chuck Aid, Front Range Birding Company


Bird list for Roxborough SP, Jun 18, 2016

9 human participants, and 26 bird species

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  3

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)  1

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1

White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)  7

Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  6

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1

Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  1

Cordilleran Flycatcher (Empidonax occidentalis)  1

Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)  4

Western Kingbird (Tyrannus verticalis)  1

Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus)  1

Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  5

American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  1

Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  11

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  1

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)  1

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  6

Mountain Bluebird (Sialia currucoides)  1

MacGillivray’s Warbler (Geothlypis tolmiei)  1

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  8

Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)  3

Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  20

Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  2

Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  1

House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  1

Lesser Goldfinch (Spinus psaltria)  7

Front Range Birding – Red Rocks Park June 4

Eleven of us did the Red Rocks Park Front Range Birding walk the past Saturday, June 4th. It was a great walk and we had some very good surprises. I, of course loved the 
Prairie Falcon, but my favorite of the day were the courting Canyon Wrens singing their signature “dying laughing” song. We had great views of Bullock’s Orioles and Black-headed Grosbeaks as well. All in all, a great day with great people.

Don’t forget the Front Range Birding Open House on Saturday, June, 18. We will have 2 bird walks that morning. One walk will be at Roxborough State Park with Chuck Aid and the other will be at the Denver Botanic Gardens- Chatfield. See more information at ;

Thanks to Cheryl Wilcox, I have this great report to share:

Red Rocks Park
June 4, 2016 8:30 AM – 11:50 AM
Weather:  Sunny 57 – 73°F
Protocol:  Traveling    Distance: 1.5 miles
Observer:  Tom Bush    Party size: 11
26 species
House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)  3
Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)  7
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  6
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)  5
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  18
White-throated Swift (Aeronautes saxatalis)  10
American Goldfinch (Carduelis tristis)  2
Black-headed Grosbeak (Pheucticus melanocephalus)  5
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  6
House Finch (Carpodacus mexicanus) 2
Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)  2
Western Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma californica)  6
Rock Pigeon (Columba livia)  7
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)  2
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)  6
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  1
Yellow-breasted Chat (Icteria virens)  3
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  1
Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)  1
Prairie Falcon (Falco mexicanus)  1
Broad-tailed Hummingbird (Selasphorus platycercus)  1
Lazuli Bunting (Passerina amoena)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  1
Canyon Wren (Catherpes mexicanus)  2
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  25
Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)  1


Front Range Bitding Hudson Gardens Walk 28 May 2016

Thirteen of us had a most enjoyable walk At Hudson Gardens yesterday morning, and were able to record 31 species of birds (see list below).  Yellow Warblers were singing everywhere, and we had great views of American Goldfinches.
One of our first treats of the day was a very cooperative pair of Bushtits, who stayed foraging right in front of us long enough for everyone to get great views.  A few of us even got to see that the female has yellow eyes and the male has dark eyes.

Then, we had a Say’s Phoebe that hung out out near us, and kept singing and singing.
Here’s a recording of a Say’s Phoebe song from

On top of a power pole across the river we got to see and intermediate-morph Red-tailed Hawk.  Very striking with it’s rufous breast coloring.

The Cliff Swallows were thick, as they foraged for aerial insects.

All in all, another great morning at Hudson Gardens!

Hope to see you soon either at Hudson Gardens or on another Front Range Birding Company bird walk.

Chuck Aid
Front Range Birding Company
Snowy Egret
                                                                      Snowy Egret picture by Dick Vogel
Hudson Gardens
May 28, 2016 8:10 AM – 12:00 PM
31 species
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)  18
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)  16
Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)  9
American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)  2
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)  2
Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)  1
Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus)  1
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)  1
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)  3
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)  1
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)  2
Western Wood-Pewee (Contopus sordidulus)  6
Say’s Phoebe (Sayornis saya)  1
Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)  2
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia)  2
Northern Rough-winged Swallow (Stelgidopteryx serripennis)  1
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)  1
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina)  3
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)  5
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota)  100
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)  2
Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)  3
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)  35
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)  4
Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)  17
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)  3
Red-winged Blackbird (Agelaius phoeniceus)  13
Common Grackle (Quiscalus quiscula)  10
Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)  2
House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus)  7
American Goldfinch (Spinus tristis)  6

Welcome To Front Range Birding

This is a window to our world of field and backyard birding. Please welcome our bloggers as we explore the many fascinating aspects of wild birds, their habitat, and unique behavior. Our stories will not only come from our local area in Colorado but also include travels all over the country. This blog will include features on backyard habitat, birding hot spots, photography, digiscoping, and have features on many specific birding subjects.