Category Archives for // bird
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    Zapata Tent Camps

    “We’ve got an hour before the sun sets, should we ride out and find some bison?”

    And so kicked off our camp out on the Medano among the wild bison. A combination of laid-back spontaneity and the freedom of having 55,000 acres to yourself set the tone for the evening. With the tents set up and fire ring built, Kate, Jessie and I had our chores done and could go have some fun. We set off north in search of some

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    by Emily Paxson

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    Christmas in Spring

    Photographer Matt DeLorme reflects on his first branding experience at the Chico.

    by Ranchlands Review

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  • Chasing the Green

    This spring feels like it’s pregnant. As if it is about to burst out unchecked as a living being.

    by Duke Phillips

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January 29, 2017

Sandhill Crane Migration

Every spring and fall, Sandhill Cranes stop over on the Medano-Zapata Ranch during their annual migration.

Photos by Matthew DeLorme and Madeline Jorden

Birds 2016
December 19, 2016

The Year in Birds

Large plains cottonwoods and riparian areas surrounded by sedges, rushes and cattails make the Chico an avian oasis.

Sandhill Cranes fill the skies of the San Luis Valley every spring prior to dispersing to their northern nesting grounds.
October 26, 2016


Yesterday morning we rode from headquarters in the dark to get a jump start on the cattle. We hit the back of the pasture right at 7 o’clock when the sun was rising. In the distance I could hear an unfamiliar sound at the nearby reservoir. As I went about moving cattle, a flock of Sandhill Cranes took flight from the water and continued on their migration.

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The bird banding station at the Chico, operated each spring and fall, netted birds traveling on migratory pathways that pass over the ranch.  Meanwhile, birders at Zapata were treated to the second-ever Colorado sighting of a brown-crested flycatcher.
July 8, 2013

Myiarchus Flycatcher

On the afternoon of Saturday 29th June we came across a Myiarchus Flycatcher. Having not seen any members of this family here at Zapata we watched it for a while and took some photos. At the time we began to think there were some structural features that really didn’t fit with the only species that should occur here, that being the Ash-throated Flycatcher.

We sat with the photos for a while and began to look at the possibility of it being

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September 22, 2012

Zapata Bird Diary

15th September

Calm fine conditions with no real wind continue, the number and passage of birds seems to have reduced slightly. Certainly less Robins and Chipping Sparrows around.

The first Western Tanager for me this morning, a species I found to be quite wide spread here in late June. An immaculate male Williamson’s Sapsucker followed yesterday’s imm. female. And a Gray Flycatcher allowed close and prolonged views mid afternoon.

SS Hawk 3

RT Hawk 3

Peregrine 1 juv.

American Kestrel 3

Broad-tailed Hummingbird 2

Black-chinned Hummingbird 1

Flicker 20

Red-napped Sapsucker

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September 13, 2012

Zapata Bird Diary Day 3

Overcast with a stiff southerly wind developing that brought a few showers.

Scrub Jays, Robins and Audubon’s Warblers have discovered the feeding station and drip I set up yesterday. Hopefully there’ll be a few more unusual visitors over the coming weeks.

The Common Nighthawks put on an amazing display at dusk coming within inches of me as I stood at the edge of the field, just beyond the HQ buildings. With a Coyotes calling in the distance, it made an atmospheric end

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September 12, 2012

Zapata Birding Diary Day 2

Another warm, calm day with a light southerly wind at dusk.

Covered most of the wooded areas of the ranch, the northern most fringe by the pivot being particularly lively, perhaps this is because this is the first stand of trees encountered by south bound migrants coming in off the plains.

Chipping Sparrows and Audubon’s Warblers continue to be the most numerous passerines. There’s still an apparent SE track to the direction in which the birds are travelling. An immature Summer Tanager,

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September 11, 2012

Zapata Birding Diary Day 1

This is first of a series of posts recounting fall bird migration through Zapata ranch and surrounding areas.

I’m hoping to see some really exciting bird migration over the next 3 weeks whilst at Zapata ranch. This is all a leap of faith, as the ranch itself has had no continuous monitoring during this period so fingers crossed! Check back regularly as I’ll be posting reports as things happen.

Most of the day spent on the ranch itself. A relatively quite but

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July 8, 2012

Bird life and the surrounding areas

By: Laurence Pitcher

I didn’t really know what exactly to expect in terms of Bird watching at Zapata as it is not often mentioned in the bird guides, especially as I arrived after the bulk of spring migrants had moved through. But I left truly enlightened to what this “oasis” in the plains produced.

Upon arrival I was immediately struck by how much bird activity there was around the Ranch HQ, Yellow Warblers sang from the Cottonwoods, Mountain Chickadees could be heard

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