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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

Banded Warbler at Chico winters in El Salvador
Very rarely bird banders capture a bird that was banded in another state, let alone in another country.

On 16 May 2009 a previously banded male Wilson's Warbler was recaptured on Chico, a bird that was not from Chico Basin Ranch or from any of RMBO's other banding projects.  It normally takes a few months for banding data to be submitted to the Bird Banding Lab.  The Chico Wilson's Warbler recapture was banded on 24 Sep 2008.  It was captured at Finca Nuevos Horizontes, 6.2 km, ESE of Juayua, Sonsonate, El Salvador by Oliver Komar, whose brother, Nick, is a birder/research biologist who lives in Fort Collins.
Posted by Bill M. on 10/19/2009

New Ranch Bird!
Today, October 15, I found the newest ranch bird, number 323!  It is a Varied Thrush, a bird that looks superficially like an American Robin, in the same family, but not closely related.  It breeds in the Pacific Northwest, is often said to be tied to old growth forests, and is known for its far-ranging vagrancy. 

The scientific name for this species is Ixoreus naevius which translates to a spotted mountain bird that likes mistletoe berries.  I first found this bird at the edge of the Moons' yard, close to a juniper that had a few clumps of berries on it.  It is often found foraging on the ground.

Other interesting birds today include a Chestnut-collared Longspur at Rose Pond, an immature Broad-winged Hawk near the banding station, and Evening Grosbeaks near Holmes. 

Photo is courtesy of Brandon Percival who came in the afternoon to see this new ranch record.
Posted by Bill M. on 10/15/2009

Painted Bunting
One of the sharpest-looking birds north of Mexico is the Painted Bunting.  Painted Bunting males in breeding plumage, that is.  Painted Buntings molt during migration in the western populations into a somewhat drab plumage, although the bright green plumage stands out.  This could be a young male which resembles the adult female but usually with yellow on the breast.  This bird was banded and photographed by Steve Brown.

Both western and eastern Painted Buntings are declining in numbers but no one seems to know the reasons why the western birds are on the decline.  This is a very rare bird in Colorado in the fall and rare on Chico anytime, spring or fall, where there are only a few records. 
Posted by Bill M. on 10/01/2009

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