Water water everywhere
Category: Birding at the Chico
All birds need water.  Some desert species can get enough water from eating dry seeds and seabirds have special glands to excrete the salt from the salt water they drink, but most birds drink rainwater, dew from plant leaves, or sometimes they find cattle watering troughs from which to drink. 

I watched as five different bird species came to drink from this trough.  Northern Mockingbird seems to be one of the most common breeding birds on the Chico this summer. 

In mid-July, Chico grasses were turing brown, but afternoon showers from monsoonal moisture pumped north from Mexico, has made the Ranch as green as can be.  Coveys of Scaled Quail with many young birds are forming and only a few bird species continue to sing, Cassin's Sparrow and Blue Grosbeak.

Southbound migration has begun with a flock of 7 Chipping Sparrows seen, a probable White-faced Ibis and a few shorebirds landed briefly at HQ pond.  A flock of Lark Buntings, mostly males, are passing through.
Posted by Bill M. on 07/28/2009

Monday, Jul 13, 2009
Category: Birding at the Chico
In July and August, the total number of birds north of the Equator more than doubles.  Take for example, a pair of Burrowing Owls.  By July, the young are out of the burrow and they are test-flying their wings.  This group of five watched patiently as I drove close enough to get a photograph of them hanging out by their burrow.  Examination of their pellets,  found by checking the tops of praire dog mounds, reveals their diet is varied but a lot of it consists of insects. 

Adult Burrowing Owls are busy finding food for this year's group of cute owls.
Posted by Bill M. on 07/13/2009

Chico Dragonflies
Category: Birding at the Chico

Birders are now more and more intested in other critters and the two groups that are of most interest to them are butterflies and dragonflies, both groups offerning similar challenges as the identificaiton problems in trying to I.D. some plumages in birds.

From top to bottom are three common dragonfly species on the Chico. 

Top - 12-spotted skimmer female
Middle - band-winged meadowhawk female
Bottom - widow skimmer male

Posted by Bill M. on 07/06/2009

Sunday, Jul 05, 2009
Category: Birding at the Chico
Lark Sparrow is the most  distinctive looking sparrow that breeds on the Chico.  If you are walking in cholla grasslands you are sure to see one during the late spring and summer months. 

The clear breast with a dark spot is distinctive, but the face pattern with rusty colors and long, graduated tail with outer white tail feathers makes this I.D. easy.
Posted by Bill M. on 07/05/2009

Sunday, Jul 05, 2009
Category: Birding at the Chico

This morning a young mule deer fawn jumped up when I drove close to her bed site on the low  road to Holmes Ranch house.  To reduce rsiks of a predator locating a fawn, the doe finds a secluded spot prior to birth, and after birth the does keeps the fawn in hidden locations, relying on the fawn's white spots to break up the coloration. Does usually bed and feed some distance from the fawn's bed site.  Leading the fawn to the fenceline by the low road to Holmes seemed like a great idea, except the fawn was only 20 feet from the road and jumped up when I drove by. 

A doe will also consume the fawn's urine and droppings to keep the fawn scent-free. Fawn droppings actually have a lot of nutritional value for the doe.  Fawns lose their spots about 90-120 days after birth, coresponding to growing a winter coat. 

Posted by Bill M. on 07/05/2009

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