Chico Basin Ranch

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about CHICO BASIN RANCH

The Chico is an 87,000 acre cattle ranch on the eastern plains of Colorado. Its sprawling ranges of short grass and sandsage prairie, spring-fed lakes, and creeks are home to diverse populations of birds, pronghorn, deer, fish, prairie dogs, coyote, badgers, and much more. Owned by the Colorado State Land Board and managed by Ranchlands, the Chico also offers education, farming, recreation, sporting, arts, and hospitality programs.

August 16, 2017

Playa Lakes

Ephemeral lakes are full and attracting birds.

August 5, 2017

Grasshopper Walk

Twelve people joined Saturday’s grasshopper field trip sponsored by Chico Basin Ranch and the Mile High Bug Club. Participants were able to see way more insects than just grasshoppers and the three young girls present seemed impressed by the two preying mantises, a black widow spider, and of course the colorful grasshoppers, including ones called barber-pole, dinosaur, great crested, ebony, plus more than 30 other species.

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August 1, 2017

Mourning Doves

Mourning Doves nest on the Chico and nest in 48 of our 50 states. Their common name comes from their song with sounds mournful to many.  They nest early and often.  The species name, macroura, comes from the Greek macros (long) and oura (tail) and adults have a long tail making this species 12 inches in length. Their song is low-pitched, soft and mournful and sounds like oo-ah cooo-cooo-coo. Because it so soft, the song can easily go undetected.  This species usually leaves Colorado by mid-September although a

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July 26, 2017

Second Annual Grasshopper Walk

One of the most important food items for nesting birds is grasshoppers. Last year the Chico grasshopper field trip tallied 41 grasshopper species. On August 5th, starting at 0730 at headquarters, we will try see what new species we can add to the list that already has over 50 grasshopper species on it. Because there are so many different micro-habitats, we will visit as many as time allows.  We hope to see representatives of all the grasshopper groups, Pygmy Grasshoppers

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July 25, 2017

Insect Bird Food

The majority of the over 10,000 bird species on planet Earth feed their young insects.  The flush of insects in the summer months in temperate North America is the reason migratory birds leave their home in the tropics and subtropics to fly north to breed.  Tons of food is available for their young. This week is National Moth Week and Chico Basin Ranch along with the Mile High Bug Club hosted the first moth night at Bell Grove.  Thirteen enthusiastic

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July 25, 2017

Black Lights and UV Lights Attract Insects

Chico’s first ever Moth Night was held on July 22 at the Bell Grove.  Four setups including this one were erected in various parts of the grove including the platform where bands play.  This setup used an incandescent light source while others used ultraviolet light and black lights to pull in insects from far away. Studies have shown that black light and UV wave lengths attract more insects than incandescent light goes. The UV light seemed to attract the most

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July 6, 2017

Polygyny

In the species called Great-tailed Grackle (perfect name), neither the male or the female is usually faithful = it is a polygynous species.  Males defend a small territory but only after they reach three years of age. But, it doesn’t matter because females may switch the area where they nested either during the current breeding season or between seasons.  Great-tailed Grackles are sexually dimorphic and the brown females are half the size of the big, purple-hued glossy male with the

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July 5, 2017

Nesting Season

Since the majority of Chico is a prairie, most of the breeding birds here are species that nest on or close to the ground. Lark Sparrow, a brightly colored bird and a loud singer, by necessity becomes secretive after eggs have been laid. Here is the completed nest and four well hidden eggs of a Lark Sparrow out in the dry wash of Black Squirrel Creek. The eggs are not brightly colored, but perfectly camouflage with a broken color pattern.

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July 5, 2017

Breeding Season

During years of good spring moisture, Lark Buntings find Chico as a good place to nest and raise their young.  The Colorado State Bird, Lark Bunting, is an excellent example of sexual dimorphism, males looking quite different from females.  Here a male mates with a female. Surprising to me, the pair mated three separate times within a 40 second time frame.  The female will lay eggs on the ground underneath a small plant like sand sage.

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