CONSERVE

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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.

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 28, 2017

Grass Talk

Right now the Chico is in the prime of growing season. We had plentiful moisture in the spring and we are just now entering the wet season. This week a storm came through dumping 3 inches across the Holmes and Wolf pastures. Combined with warm temperatures in the nineties, the grass is going crazy.

This weather is bread and butter for short-grass prairie like the Chico. The dominant species for the Chico is blue grama grass. It’s 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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July 5, 2017

Grasshopper Sparrow

All habitats have grasshoppers.  Native grasslands have the most grasshopper species and they become food for all grassland birds. It is not surprising then that one bird species is name Grasshopper Sparrow. This species is an uncommon breeder on the Chico but they are found in the northeastern most Chico grasslands. All members of the Ammodramus genus are secretive but during the breeding season they can often be seen perched high on a grass stem singing. Grasshopper Sparrow has a

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