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Birding at the Chico

The Chico Basin Ranch is a major flyway for migratory birds, due to the abundant springs, lakes and bird habitat on the ranch. The ranch works closely with Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory and has over 300 birds on the ranch bird list. Many people come to the ranch in the spring and fall to bird.

Bill Maynard is one of birders that comes most frequently. When we asked him if he would keep the ranch birding journal, he was pleased and agreed to do it. Thank you Bill! Bill has taught high school biology, worked as a naturalist for the National Park Service and as a biologist for a variety of government agencies. He has also worked for the American Birding Association at their national headquarters in Colorado Springs. 

Click Here to download the Ranch Bird Checklist

Click Here to download the Birding Trail Map (4mb PDF)

Click Here to download the Ranch Dragonfly and Damselfly Checklist



More Bird Food
A great example of the relentless pursuit of food by birds, in this case a Western Kingbird and a cactus dodger type of cicada (Cacamas sp). This cicada was securely in the kingbird's mouth but as I slowly drove closer to get in range for a photograph the kingbird opened its mouth and the cicada tried to escape.  A meal this size is prized so the kingbird went after the cicada and successfully recaptured the cicada and maneuvered it head first so it would slide down more easily. Often birds will first remove wings and heads of insects first before swallowing. 
Posted by Bill M. on 08/06/2017

Grasshopper Walk - 5 August 2017
 Twelve people joined Saturday's grasshopper field trip sponsored by Chico Basin Ranch and the Mile High Bug Club. Participants were able to see way more insects than just grasshoppers and the three young girls present seemed impressed by the two preying mantises, a black widow spider, and of course the colorful grasshoppers including ones called barber-pole, dinosaur, great crested, ebony plus more than 30 other species.  
Posted by Bill M. on 08/05/2017

Mourning Doves
 Mourning Doves nest on the Chico and nest in 48 of our 50 states. Their common name comes from their song with sounds mournful to many.  They nest early and often.  The species name, macroura, comes from the Greek macros (long)and oura (tail) and adults have a long tail making this species 12 inches in length. Their song is low-pitched, soft and mournful and sounds like oo-ah cooo-cooo-coo. Because it so soft, the song can easily go undetected.  This species usually leaves Colorado by mid-September although a few sometimes remain if there is abundant food.  It is popular with hunters and 42 of the Lower 48 states allows hunting of this species which sometimes, but not lately, concentrates in large numbers in or near large sunflower patches where the birds forage on the ground feeding on the sunflower seeds. They are fast in flight, sometimes flying over 40 mph.  This one was recently perched on the metal cowboy marking the turn towards the bird banding station. 
Posted by Bill M. on 08/01/2017

2nd Annual Grasshopper Walk
 One of the most important food items for nesting birds is grasshoppers.  Last year the Chico grasshopper field trip tallied 41 grasshopper species. On August 5th, starting at 0730 at headquarters, we will try see what new species we can add to the list that already has over 50 grasshopper species on it. Because there are so many different micro-habitats, we will visit as many as time allows.  We hope to see representatives of all the grasshopper groups, Pygmy Grasshoppers (haven't found any yet), Slant-faced Grasshoppers, Band-winged Grasshoppers, Spur-throated Grasshoppers, and the large Lubber Grasshoppers. We will also look for katydids which are close relatives of grasshoppers and along with crickets are a part of the Orthoptera order. Pictured above is the sleek Mottled Sand Grasshopper hitching a ride on my car windshield. 
Posted by Bill M. on 07/26/2017

Black Lights and UV Lights Attract Insects
 Chico's first ever Moth Night was held on July 22 at the Bell Grove.  Four setups including this one were erected in various parts of the grove including the platform where bands play.  This setup used an incandescent light source while others used ultraviolet light and black lights to pull in insects from far away. Studies have shown that black light and UV wave lengths attract more insects than incandescent light goes. The UV light seemed to attract the most insects but hundreds to thousands of insects came to investigate each white sheet. The people wearing white T-shirts made a mistake with color choice.  Moths were not the most common insect studied, but the moth species were diverse.  All thirteen participants tried their luck at night photography. Although Common Nighthawks which breed on the Chico hunt in early evening and early morning they don't need lights to attract insects, their night vision allows them to successfully see and catch insects flying in the low light levels. 
Posted by Bill M. on 07/25/2017

Insect Bird Food
 The majority of the over 10,000 bird species on planet Earth feed their young insects.  The flush of insects in the summer months in temperate North America is the reason migratory birds leave their home in the tropics and subtropics to fly north to breed.  Tons of food is available for their young. This week is National Moth Week and Chico Basin Ranch along with the Mile High Bug Club hosted the first moth night at Bell Grove.  Thirteen enthusiastic buggers came to find interesting bugs, moths, beetles, a damselfly, grasshopper nymphs, and other fascinating insects. Although no nocturnal owls came to visit, predatory insects did show up including a praying mantis, a mantisfly (scary looking), carrion beetles (orange insect in photo), and a robber fly (called the wolf of the insect world).  The photo shows the variety of insects attracted to a white sheet with a black light used in one setup and an ultraviolet light used in one of the other setups.  A species of moth new for Colorado might have been discovered on Saturday evening. 
Posted by Bill M. on 07/25/2017

   
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CONTACT US 719.683.7960 info@chicobasinranch.com