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

Dark Plegadis Ibis

Is it possible to separate White-faced vs. Glossy Ibis juveniles in the fall?  A close examination of this individual's face shows the thin facial skin on either sides of the bird's eye.  If I used Photoshop to color this area light blue, the brown eye would point to Glossy Ibis.  However, in the past five years, more and more hybrids show up in Colorado each spring, often, but not always, red-eyed birds, some with violet facial skin.  This bird is most likely NOT a White-face Ibis, but  a F1 (first generation) hybrid White-faced Ibis x Glossy Ibis can probably not be safely ruled out.

Posted by Bill M. on 09/24/2010

Sabine's Gull - 2nd Chico Record
On the 22nd of September, John Drummond found the second Chico record of Sabine's Gull.  Luckily the gull was still present on Thursday morning.  Sabine's Gull is a small high arctic species nesting in coastal Alaska and Canada, unmistakable as a tricolored gull with a forked tail. Even though this is a pelagic species wintering in the Pacific's Humboldt Current off Peru and Chille, on occasion it can be seasonably fairly common in Colorado as a fall migratant.  It is one of the hooded gulls, always elegant in appearance, with young birds like this one appearing scaly, caused by the light edgings to the newly grown dark feathers on the wings and biack.  Once found they are often tame.
Posted by Bill M. on 09/23/2010

Yellow-headed Blackbirds
In fall, Yellow-headed Blackbirds seem to be attracted to the weedy vegetation at the edges of the Chico alfalfa field.  Yesterday, over 300 were seen perched in a tree above Rose Pond.  Most blackbird species are gregarious, especially in migration and during winter months.  For example, on the Phoenix-Tres Rios Christmas Bird Count in Arizona, over 16,000 Yellow-headed Blackbirds were recorded.  Of course, those numbers pale compared to the 225,000 Brewer's Blackbirds, 1 million Great-tailed Grackles, 2 million Brown-headed Cowbirds, and the 5 million Red-winged Blackbirds recorded on the Sooner Lake, OK, Christmas Bird Count last year.
Posted by Bill M. on 09/22/2010

Wednesday, Sep 22, 2010
A resident of south Asia, Chukar is raised in many areas in the U.S. to be released for hunting.  They are established in some of the western counties of Colorado and can be seen on occasion on the Chico.  In areas where they have become established, Chukar, named for the chuKAR, chuKAR calls, prefer dry canyons with exotic grasses such as cheat grass. 
Posted by Bill M. on 09/22/2010

Pueblo County Fall Bird Count
Saturday was the annual fall bird count in Pueblo County.  I spent almost 8 hours tallying the birds in the Pueblo portion of Chico Basin Ranch finding 88 species plus an additonal introduced species, 7 escaped Chukars.  Highlights included two Chestnut-collared Longspurs and a Cattle Egret (photo).  The pond at headquarters yielded the most species unrecorded in other areas of Pueblo County, mostly shorebirds in the good mud flats there.  Noticeably missing were the resident Scaled Quail.  The following is a partial list.



 American Wigeon



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