Bird Banding Begins September 1st
Category: Birding at the Chico
 Chico is a bird migrant trap. Southbound birds heading to the southern U.S., Mexico, and for some species even to South America need to stop to restore their fat reserves.  A great place for them to do that is at Chico Basin Ranch. School groups, new birders and veterans alike, all see an amazing array of bird species at Chico.  Why don't they look like they do in Spring? Come to the Banding Station to find out?  How do you separate the sparrows? Come to Chico to find out? What about flycatchers? How do I identify them? Come to Chico to find out.  Here, one of the few remaining summer breeding birds, a male Blue Grosbeak.  He WILL be caught at the banding station and so will the female.

Banding begins on the first of September. 
Posted by Bill M. on 08/30/2016

Teal Season
Category: Birding at the Chico
 For duck hunters, the first week of teal season is the first of September east of I-25.  Although ducks can't read, teal start leaving the state with the passage of the first cold front in late August.  Thus, it wasn't surprising to observe 150 plus teal packed along the shoreline of the large headquarters pond.  They were in the small cove on the southeast end where they weren't visible from the road. But, I was on foot and when I saw the cove the teal saw me, took off and circled five or six times before moving south.  At this time of year teal are not so easy to identify and there are three species to look for.  Waterfowl pamphlets often show color drawings of the three teal species in flight and they look like this photograph.  Most of the birds are Blue-winged Teal but Cinnamon Teal also have wide blue patches on their wings so a careful inspection of the head color of the upper middle bird (arrow) shows the remaining cinnamon head feathers of a Cinnamon Teal.  What about Green-winged Teal.  To the left, compare the wing patterns of all the teal and the one without blue in its wings is the smaller Green-winged Teal, some who remain in the state for the winter.  
Posted by Bill M. on 08/23/2016

Green Fool
Category: Birding at the Chico
 One of the primitive appearing grasshoppers is called Green Fool Grasshopper.  It is found in rolling sandy hills with little vegetation so the creek bed of Black Squirrel Creek is a good place to look for this uncommon species. Most striped slantfaced grasshoppers, of which this is one, feed on grasses but this species specializes on broad-leafed plants in the Borage Family such as the cryptantha, stickseeds and stoneseeds. In the northern parts of its range, Green Fool Grasshopper is entirely green but in the Chico area and the southern parts of its range green is interspersed with white blotches. The elevated round bump on its thorax makes identification easy.  
Posted by Bill M. on 08/15/2016

State Bird
Category: Birding at the Chico
 Young birds look like females, not males, to avoid detection while they develop.  If this individual is in fact a male Lark Bunting, and if it survives the winter in New Mexico or areas to the south, it would return with a mostly black coloration with the broad white wing bars.  There is still some controversy regarding the naming of Lark Bunting as Colorado's state bird.  Some argue in favor of larger resident species but Lark Bunting is a beautiful representative of Colorado's eastern plains. In years with abundant moisture, it can be seen in spring nesting on the Chico and then again in late summer assembling in big flocks as young birds and adults feed together out on short grass prairie.   
Posted by Bill M. on 08/09/2016

Grasshopper Field Trip
Category: Birding at the Chico
 The local Mile High Bug Club visited Chico on Saturday to learn more about the amazing diversity of grasshoppers found here.  Grasshoppers are part of the order, Orthoptera, which also include katydids and crickets.  Chico's microhabitats provides the perfect place to study these interesting insects. The huge Plains Lubbers were recently emerged and the sandy wash at Black Squirrel Creek gave the 10 participants a chance to get to see egg-laying, mating, feeding and resting grasshoppers.  Did I mention our group saw an amazing 41 species including a species, Toothed Dune Grasshopper (photo) relying on its cryptic coloration to avoid detection by avian predators.  The pink hues blend perfectly with an area on Black Squirrel Creek having pinkish pebbles on the river bed.  
Posted by Bill M. on 08/09/2016

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