CONSERVE

Category Archives for // CONSERVE

about CONSERVE

Conservation has long been a cornerstone of our operations. Since our livelihood depends on the vitality of the land, we have a vested interest in keeping these ecosystems healthy and thriving. Because we work closely with conservation organizations such as The Nature Conservancy and the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, we are able to take advantage of science-based management methods to which ranchers have not traditionally been exposed.

June 18, 2017

I’m So Special

The bird who sings his name all day long, Dickcissel, seems to me to be singing…”I’m so special” over and over. Most birders miss seeing this bird on Chico because Dickcissels usually arrive in June when most bird migration is over.  This is an eastern species who nests in tallgrass prairies and weedy fields so you won’t find this one out on the Chico shortgrass prairie. Also, sometimes large flocks of non-breeding birds hangout during summer months.  Today, I counted

Continue Reading

June 16, 2017

Lark Bunting

Colorado’s State Bird, Lark Bunting. Males (here) and females are noticeably different in appearance. These sparrows, not buntings, are birds of the Great Plains and prefer to nest in prairies with sand sage like what is found on the eastern regions of Chico. Like a few other prairie species, males skylark while singing which projects their loud song further so more females might here them. They are often very social wintering and migrating in large flocks. In ideal habitat nests

Continue Reading

June 2, 2017

Ground Nesting Bird Warning

American Badger is a resident on the plains and Chico is no exception. Although their primary food source on the Chico is spotted ground squirrels and black-tailed prairie dogs, the majority of birds nesting here nest on the ground and badgers find them easy prey.  American Badgers are nocturnal except when feeding young.  They choose sandy soils so it is surprising more badgers are not seen, especially in early morning hours.  This one came out to see who was present

Continue Reading

May 30, 2017

Black Terns at Headquarters Pond

One of the prettiest birds seen in both spring and fall at Chico is the Black Tern. Terns are notorious for their diving skills plunging head first into the water to grab small fish. But, Black Tern has a different set of hunting skills and they do not dive.  Like their relatives, they hunt over shallow bodies of water but they are hunting dragonflies and other flying insects.  Here, a Black Tern opens its bill to take the most common

Continue Reading

May 30, 2017

Bird Predator

Many birders who come to Chico have never seen a swift fox here. But, driving in the shortgrass prairie 2-tracks gives everyone a good chance to find this very small prairie fox. Even though they are mostly nocturnal hunters, during the breeding season, swift foxes also hunt during daylight hours to ensure enough food can be provided to the kits.  Birds and bird eggs are just some of the food items these small foxes search for and small mammals and

Continue Reading

May 30, 2017

Chestnut-sided Warbler

One of the few warblers with chestnut coloration, Chestnut-sided Warbler is an eastern species so Monday’s birders were happy to see and hear a singing male at Rose Pond. This is a species that prefers second growth mixed woodlands but during migration it is found where the food is.  As in most springs, the food at Chico for warblers is found in peachleaf willows whose blooms attract a variety of insects.  Chestnut-sided Warbler is one of the species where females

Continue Reading

May 22, 2017

Time for Phalaropes

The three species of phalaropes are shorebirds who forage mostly on the water’s surface where there is a midge hatch occurring. First to appear at Chico are Wilson’s Phalarope followed by Red-necked Phalarope (photo).  Phalaropes are in the shorebird family and females are more brightly colored than males which suggests something interesting goes on during breeding. After laying eggs females rarely return to the nest.  Males assume all the duties of incubating eggs and raising the young. An uncommon bird

Continue Reading

May 22, 2017

Pike’s Peak Birding and Nature Festival

Over a two day period three groups of 15 birders plus leaders were taken to the best birding spots on the Chico. Over 100 bird species were tallied and I heard only positive comments about the experiences.  Probably the most exciting bird was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the State Bird of Oklahoma but rare in Colorado with 3-4 sightings over the past 15 years on Chico. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are stunning especially when they fly with their super long tails spread open.

Continue Reading

May 15, 2017

Rare Bird: Golden-winged Warbler

A female Golden-winged Warbler was found on Sunday in the willows below the small headquarters pond.  It was still there on Monday.  This bird is uncommon in its range, mostly northern Midwestern states. It’s problem is its closest relative Blue-winged Warbler.  Both have similar songs, bee-buz for Blue-winged and bee-buz-buz-buz for Golden-winged. Also, they even sing each other’s song at times. Blue-winged Warbler has been encroaching and out- competing in Golden-winged Warbler habitat and so seeing Golden-winged on the Chico was a big and

Continue Reading

May 11, 2017

Watch Your Step

Hawk food for sure but the annual warning here to watch where you are stepping on warm days. I didn’t because it was April and only 60 degrees but luckily this prairie rattlesnake coiled and shook its rattle in its warning defense. Snakes including the prairie rattlesnake are defenseless against the sharp talons of predatory birds of prey who obtain a good meal after catching one of these. The forked tongue increases the surface area where chemical receptors help these

Continue Reading