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.

October 14, 2016

Mountain Bluebirds on the Plains

Like the Cathrus thrushes (see following post), bluebirds are also in the Thrush Family.  If you compared the habitat where Mountain Bluebirds breed with Chico’s prairie grasslands the habitats are similar if you ignore the absence of trees on the plains.  Mountain Bluebirds are cavity nesters so they breed in the mountains but only where there are open grasslands nearby.  So, it isn’t surprising in fall migration to see flocks of bluebirds, here Mountain Bluebirds, taking advantage of the abundant

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October 14, 2016

Hermit Thrushes

Although American Robin is a common thrush on the Chico, another group of thrushes, the Cathrus thrushes are common as migrants and are both the earliest arrival in the spring among that group and the latest fall migrant (rarely spending the winter in Colorado). A Hermit Thrush was skulking by the big willow near the banding station yesterday and somewhat unusual it moved into the light.  A close look at Hermit Thrushes, named because they are often seen

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October 14, 2016

Bird Grasshopper

Bird grasshoppers like this Spotted Bird Grasshopper (Schistocerca lineata) are large (2.5 inches) and can fly a long way which might be why they are referred to as “bird grasshoppers”.  They are still alive even after a couple cold nights and are easily found in the fields behind the banding station where the Russian olives have been hydroaxed but apparently not found in Chico native grassland habitats.  There are 10 species in the U.S. but the common one in Asia,

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October 1, 2016

Heron Food

Adult tiger salamanders are beautiful but… before becoming adults, tiger salamanders have gills and fins and swim in water like small fish.  It is in this dull larval stage they can become concentrated in stock tanks where Great Blue Herons, could, if they were present, get quite a large meal without much effort.

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September 30, 2016

Vultures

Vultures were on the move today, a common species in Colorado but uncommon on the Chico.  Turkey Vultures, the species most often seen in Colorado has a very keen sense of smell.  They eat carrion and for them fresh is better than old.  The chemical ethyl mercaptan is released when mammals die and Turkey Vultures can smell it from high in the air.  Another U.S. vulture, Black Vulture which is rare in Colorado, has a poor sense of smell and

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September 28, 2016

Bluebirds Heading South

Perhaps confused by the sign on their way south, a small flock of Mountain Bluebirds was seen foraging on the ground for grasshoppers and then flying up to perch on this well known Chico sign. This cavity nester often winters in pinon/juniper woodlands, including P/J in Pueblo County, in large flocks feeding on juniper berries.

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September 28, 2016

Chestnut-collared Longspurs

There are four species of longspurs in the world and three of them have been found on the Chico.  The annual September/early October visitor from the prairie provinces or maybe even from Colorado’s northern plains, is Chestnut-collared Longspur.  In spring it is a beautiful bird but come fall, the adults are now dull looking as are the young.  It is one of the bird species whose feather tips slowly wear during winter months to produce a beautiful breeding plumage (right

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September 26, 2016

Northern Saw-whet Owl x3

Prior to Saturday there had been zero Northern Saw-whet Owls banded on the Chico and only two had been seen.  But, on Saturday Laura-Marie caught and banded Chico’s first and then today, Monday, she caught Chico’s second (and two days later a third was caught).  Here volunteer banding assistant, Dr. Anna Joy gets to release the bird before she had to leave to teach anatomy/physiology to a bunch of college students.

Called Saw-whet because one of its calls resembles the sound

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September 16, 2016

Do Sapsuckers Suck Sap?

Although sapsuckers drill holes in trees, especially in aspen and willows in the Colorado mountains, which gets sugary sap to flow, sapsuckers can’t suck. They have specialized tongues with an anticoagulant to lick the sugary sap.  This is a female Red-naped Sapsucker identified to gender by the color on the chin, half white and half red.  A male’s chin would be entirely red.  The genus name, Sphyrapicus, comes from the Greek, Sphurs, meaning a hammer, and from the Latin, picus,

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