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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



Circumpolar Species
 Of the four species of longspur, Lapland Longspur is the most abundant with a worldwide population estimated at 150,000,000 breeding over a large circumpolar range.  On the Chico, they are seen on occasion in November into early December if you walk in shortgrass prairie and get lucky. Like all longspurs, their hind toe is elongated as implied in their scientific name, Calcarius laponnicus, Calarius from Latin calcar, or spur, referring to their very long hind toe.  In summer they are beautiful birds, but like the other longspur species, they are dull-colored during winter months and unlike many songbirds who molt to obtain a breeding plumage, longspurs obtain their breeding plumage by a slow wearing of their feather tips. 

On November 9th I saw a few flocks totaling over 300 individual Lapland Longspurs on the Chico, by far the most I have seen here. There was a report of over a million birds in one flock seen in a snowstorm last winter on agricultural fields in eastern Colorado where they search with Horned Larks for waste grain.  During a blizzard in southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa a number of years ago, an estimated 1,500,000 Lapland Longspurs were killed as they flew into unseen structures.  Given Lapland Longspurs breed in tundra where there are no structures, it is not surprising that this type of avian accident could occur outside their breeding range during blizzard conditions. 

Because most birders do not drive out in the huge expanses of shortgrass prairie, few see the large flocks of this species that could be flying about anywhere there is prairie habitat. 
Posted by Bill M. on 11/10/2017

   
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CONTACT US 719.683.7960 info@chicobasinranch.com