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

Grasshopper Nymphs
 Why is a Northern Green-striped Grasshopper brown and where are its wings? Some grasshopper species overwinter as nymphs and as a result their wings are not fully developed in February or March.  This is a very common Chico species but unfortunately there was a major outbreak last spring and summer and as a result many of the young green ash trees were completely defoliated by this and a couple other grasshopper species  Although green-striped is part of its name, there are two color forms and the brown form seen here is much more common in Colorado than the green form. Birds who forage on or near the ground do consume numbers of these grasshoppers so maybe their abundance will be greatly reduced in 2017. This is the first grasshopper I have seen in 2017 on the Chico where as many as 60 might be seen throughout the year, some quite stunning in coloration. 
Posted by Bill M. on 02/13/2017

Marsh Wren In The Marsh
 Marsh Wren is a secretive winter visitor to the larger Chico marshes where they are heard more often than seen.  Although this species breeds in northern Colorado it does not do so on the Chico.  A Nebraska study comparing the songs of eastern Marsh Wrens with western Marsh Wren led the author to conclude there are really two species of Marsh Wren based on vocalizations and not plumage.  Western type Marsh Wrens, the ones breeding in Colorado, sing well over 100 song types whereas eastern types sing fewer than 50 songs and there are some subtle differences in the introductory notes between eastern and western birds.  The best way to see a Marsh Wren at Chico is to slowly approach a calling bird and then try to imitate its call, but only once or twice.  This method seems to drive the wrens crazy and eventually one will fly up on a cattail stalk to see where the competitor is located.  Here is today's result with this method. They are always in the wet portions of the marsh so getting really close usually doesn't happen. 
Posted by Bill M. on 02/13/2017

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