Category Archives for // 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.

December 8, 2016


In 2002 Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society founded eBird, an electronic method to submit bird sightings including both abundance and distribution to birders around the world.  So much data has been entered that in May, 2015, more than 9.5 million bird records were uploaded.  How does this affect birder/birding on Chico Basin Ranch?  In addition to data submission via computers or from apps on cell phones, participant may also use eBird to search posts and photos,

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December 1, 2016

Birds of a Feather Flock Together

Birds (and other animals) do whatever is necessary to survive.  Now long past the breeding season when Scaled Quail are found in pairs, the remainder of the year they form flocks.  Although this photograph shows only one individual , it was a part of a flock of about 30 birds. Most groups of birds have interesting names like a “murder of crows” so it isn’t surprising that a covey of quail is also called “a drift”, “a flash”, or “a rout”.

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November 29, 2016

Autumn Tree

A cottonwood tree prepares for winter.

November 28, 2016

Bison Works 2016

“Magnificent, bizarre and iconic”: read about our encounters with bison and see photos from an action-packed week.

November 21, 2016

Prairie Falcon Chases Short-eared Owl

While I was driving out in the sand, a normally nocturnal Short-eared Owl was observed flying in the middle of the day. Perhaps a coyote flushed this ground roosting species.  As the owl flew west, I saw a wintering Chico Prairie Falcon flying towards the unsuspecting owl.  The resulting encounter brought both species inches away from each other and both birds raised their talons in defense. The owl was quite vocal, hissing at the falcon. When the falcon and the

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November 21, 2016

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Over the past 30 years, an eastern species, Red-bellied Woodpecker has been found to be slowly moving west into eastern Colorado counties.  It is a rare bird on the Chico with only a couple records, so it was a pleasant surprise when one was reported at the banding station on Saturday and she remains there as of the 21st of November (and now seen on the 1st of December). Separation of sexes is fairly easy with males having red in

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November 16, 2016

Canyon Towhee

The Canyon Towhee is a large, dull sparrow who is at home in the Desert Southwest, its northern range extending only slightly north of Chico into Colorado Springs.  It is considered a desert species and its nesting is triggered by spring or summer rains and therefore in some areas they can nest twice in a year. Over the past 10 years, this species has seemingly become more common on the Chico usually seen in open arid areas.  Water is the

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November 4, 2016

Lingering Migrant

Gray Catbird will sometimes winter in southern Colorado if there is enough food and for a catbird the food choice is fruits such as Russian olives and seeds. As the photograph indicates, this mimid (sings other birds songs during the breeding season) is found in dense thickets.  They usually leave Colorado by the first week of October but there is usually one or two found throughout winter somewhere in Colorado’s foothills. This one was trying to hide in the brush

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November 4, 2016

Lapland Longspur

The best way to find a longspur on Chico is too search big flocks of Horned Larks near water.  This longspur species, Lapland Longspur, is a long distance migrant, breeding on the tundra in Alaska and all the northern Canadian provinces and in Greenland and Siberia. Compared to the Chestnut-collared Longspur (see the fifth entry below), Lapland has longer wings, a stronger face pattern, and always has the rufous wing coverts not found on the other longspur species.  It is

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