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

Lapland Longspurs
Large flocks of Horned Larks are currently on the Chico grasslands, best found near water troughs.  Mixed with the common Horned Larks and greatly outnumbered by them, are some Lapland Longspurs, nervous members of the flock.  Both species land cautiously near water troughs in search of precious water.  Even the sound of my camera's auto focus sent the flocks spiraling out of sight, followed by a cautious returing for a needed drink.

Of the four species of longspurs, the one most likely encountered on the Chico in the winter are Laplands, winter vistors from the far north.  Listen for any flock of larks for the dry Lapland Longspur rattle calls followed by one or more "tews" and with patience the entire flock may land near your car blind.
Posted by Bill M. on 12/05/2010

In Cooleridge's poem "Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner", sailors were becalmed in the ocean where they soon ran out of fresh water ... "water, water, everywhere, but not a drop to drink." On ranches, water troughs, set up to keep livestock wattered throught the year, freeze during winter months sending some bird species farther south to search for needed water.  Howerver, before a hard freeze, cattle keep water tanks open providing water for prairie birds.
Posted by Bill M. on 12/05/2010

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