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

Botany 101
This immature Rufous Hummingbird, lower right, comes for nectar produced in the flowers' nectaries.  During each minute of the day, every flower produces varying amounts of nectar so the hummingbird flies from flower to flower searching for the mother lode. The anthers or tips of the stamens produce a load of pollen, some of it sticking the hummingbird's head and turning it yellow.  When the hummer flies to other flowers some of the pollen brushes onto the flower's style or tip of the ovary.  When attached there, pollen grows a tube which eventually extends into the ovary where ovules get pollinated and eventually a seed or seeds are produced.
Posted by Bill M. on 08/17/2013

White-lined Sphinx Moth

Before transforming into this hummingbird mimic, a White-lined Sphinx moth is first and egg and then a caterpillar (inset) as seen today crawling across a Chico Road.  Mimics sometimes resemble toxic or bad-tasting species.  The classic example is the edible viceroy butterfly mimicing the foul-tasting Monarch.  For the sphinx moth, its flight pattern is so much like that of a hummingbird that it might get passed off by a predatory bird as something not worth chasing although the moth is a slow and deliberate flier as compared to a hummingbird.  

Posted by Bill M. on 08/16/2013

Barn, Cliff, Northern Rough-winged, and Bank swallows were on the move today.  Most of them are birds of the year, the adults having mostly left the area.  Here a juvenile Barn Swallow easily told by the fresh plumage (no nicks on the flight feathers) the shorter forked tail, and the lighter orange breast and lighter blue back as compared to adult Barn Swallows.

A juvenile American Bittern flushed from the bulrushes at Upper Twin Pond and quickly disappeared into the shore vegetation.
Posted by Bill M. on 08/16/2013

Blue Grosbeaks
One of the latest nesting birds on the Chico is Blue Grosbeak, here a female (dull) and male (blue) perched and in the inset a juvenile.  Notice the juvenile bird's tail is very short and is still growing. On the juvenile bird you can see a light yellow area at the base of its bill, the gape.  This is basically a target for the adults.  When the adults bring food to the nest and even before the nestlings' eyes are open, the gape gets pecked which triggers the young birds to open their mouths to get fed.  Lots of young birdsmigrating through the luxurient green prairie.
Posted by Bill M. on 08/16/2013

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