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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

Rusty Blackbirds

Rusty Blackbird is uncommon in its northern Canadian and Alaskan breeding range.  It is a declining species although the reason for the decline is currently unknown.  During winter the plumage of Rusty Blackbirds is edged in rufous, rust and cinnamon which gives this species its name.  While some might say "just another blackbird", the two birds on the Chico on Sunday represent only the second time this species has been detected here. Unlike other blackbirds, Rusties diet is composed more of insects which it looks for while walking on the ground.  During spring when food is scarce they can pursue and prey on small songbirds.  Suprisingly they only eat the brains, possibly because they are not able to tear open the thicker skin covering the breast meat.

Posted by Bill M. on 11/19/2012

Butterflies Still at the Chico
As of Friday and just before the latest cold blast, there were still four species of butterfly at May Camp Pond.  As the name implies, Common Checkered Skipper, this is a common species in Colorado and in all western states.
Posted by Bill M. on 11/12/2012

Winter Sparrows
More LBJs, little brown jobs, are moving in for the winter.  One of the less common species on the Chico, and not around during some winters is this White-throated Sparrow.  Two were around last week seeking out Russian olive fruits that had fallen on the ground.  There are two color morphs in this species, one with a yellow lore (above) and the other, a tan striped bird.   They are not different subspecies just different color morphs and both types could be found in the same nest.  Tan striped individuals outnumber yellow-striped birds by a small amount and they result from assortative mating where the tan-striped gene is dominant so when two yellow-striped birds produce young, it is still possible to produce a tan-striped offspring. 
Posted by Bill M. on 11/12/2012

Northern Shrike
Loggerhead Shrike is a summer breeder and occasional winter resident on the Chico. During some years the less common Northern Shrike (photo) comes south from northern Canada to winter.  Northern Shrike is lighter gray, longer-tailed, longer billed and the black mask around the eye is narrower.  This is only the second year I have seen this species on the Chico although it is in the surrounding area almost every winter. Like Loggerhead Shrike, Northern Shrikes eat the smallest rodents and small birds.  They have a hooked bill and in that way they are similar to birds of prey.  On occasion they will impale their prey on a barb of a barbed wire fence to store it for a short period of time.
Posted by Bill M. on 11/12/2012

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CONTACT US 719.683.7960 info@chicobasinranch.com