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

Short-eared Owl
A ground owl of the grasslands, Short-eared Owls are crepuscular (hunting at dusk and dawn) but occassionally they are seen hunting on overcast days.  Today was an exception as this bird and another were visible on the ground, and in flight, at 11:15 A.M. in the bright sunlight.

Short-eared Owls that breed in the northern part of their range (arctic tundra)retreat to the south for the winter and are often found in large communal groups.  These two birds were spotted in the sandhills a habitat where they have been seen just north and east of the Chico in winters' past.

As in Long-eared Owl, their "ear" tufts on this species are decorative and aid in their camouflage with their real ears located on the sides of their face. Short-eared Owls are found on every continent except Australia.  Their moth-like flight is distinctive, possibly mimicing the flight of the raptor, Northern Harrier.  Rodents are the main food of this species.  Although rarely reported on the Chico, Short-eared Owl is most likely a regular winter visitor and they could possibly breed on the ground in the sandhills area of the Ranch.

Posted by Bill M. on 12/29/2008

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