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

 In 2002 Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society founded eBird, an electronic method to submit bird sightings including both abundance and distribution to birders around the world.  So much data has been entered that in May, 2015, more than 9.5 million bird records were uploaded.  How does this affect birder/birding on Chico Basin Ranch?  In addition to data submission via computers or from apps on cell phones, participant may also use eBird to search posts and photos, explore specific regions, explore "hot spots" (Chico has 8), explore species and or subspecies maps, and examine bar charts to see which days of the year a specific species is most abundant in a specific hot spot location,  From eBird, we see that Barr Lake has the most total species reported from Colorado.  Ah, but Chico Basin Ranch has more!  Chico is divided into 8 "hot spots" so if the total number of species were added, they would surpass the number of birds reported from Barr Lake.  Birders using eBird may report their species and species numbers to one or more of these Chico hot spots: Chico (El Paso County) - 294 species, Chico Wooded Areas (El Paso County) - 215 species, Bell Grove (El Paso County) - 122 species, HQ area (Pueblo County) - 271 species, Rose Pond (Pueblo County) - 206 species, all of Chico in Pueblo County - 285 species, Twin Ponds (Pueblo County) - 83 species, and May Camp Area (Pueblo County) - 74 species.  Counting the three introduced game bird species, Chico's bird  list is 340 bird species giving it the actual highest species total of any birding location in Colorado.
Posted by Bill M. on 12/08/2016

Birds of a Feather Flock Together
 Birds (and other animals) do whatever is necessary to survive.  Now long past the breeding season when Scaled Quail are found in pairs, the remainder of the year they form flocks.  Although this photograph shows only one individual , it was a part of a flock of about 30 birds. Most groups of birds have interesting names like a "murder of crows" so it isn't surprising that a covey of quail is also called "a drift", "a flash", or "a rout".  There are both advantages and disadvantages to being a member of a flock.  The obvious advantage is having more eyes looking for predators which often results in the predator being less successful, especially for ground foraging quail. In times of cold, a covey huddles together providing group warmth.  Also, each member of a flock has greater odds that another member of the drift will be captured.  One of the disadvantages of flocking is the flock movements being more easily detected by a predator than an individual bird foraging quietly by itself.  This is a very good fall to find large numbers of Scaled Quail on the Chico.  The flock almost always spots you before you spot them resulting in a group of flying quail seen heading for cover. 
Posted by Bill M. on 12/01/2016

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