birding

Category Archives for // birding
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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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9.5.16 Maddie Chico education birds-3
April 2, 2017

Bird Banding

Each spring and fall, the Chico maintains a bird banding station in partnership with the Bird Conservancy of the Rockies. It’s a perfect opportunity for school kids to experience scientific research first-hand.

March 29, 2016

Short-eared Owls

When I first talked with Duke about Mountain Plovers 10 years ago he said “they are up on the hill.”  A casual observer would see Chico as flat grasslands, a few ponds and some riparian areas, but no hills.  But, a careful observer sees the prairie as a multitude of microhabitats, each habitat supporting a unique flora and fauna.  Short-eared Owls sometimes winter on the Chico but since they roost on the ground, they need dense cover from predators and

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March 10, 2016

European Starling

There is only one species of cowbird in Colorado, Brown-headed Cowbird, the well known brood parasite. But, this isn’t one of them.  This is the non-native, European Starling. There are about 75 starling species in the world but none of them are native to North America.  Like cowbirds, European Starlings take advantage of grazing livestock whose feeding habits stir up insects while they graze.  Also, insects hide out in thick fur so cattle tolerate and even encourage a visit by

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September 17, 2015

Lady Bird Banders Lean In!

I’d heard about the bird banding station that Chico hosts every year and finally got my chance to check it out while assisting one of our education sessions with community school kids. We invite these groups out to the ranch to learn about everything from the destructive effects of the oh-so iconic “tumbleweed” (it’s actually an invasive species called Russian Thistle and it’s a total menace to trees and fences alike so don’t be wooed by all those Westerns) to

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August 5, 2015

Nighthawk

We passed this little Nighthawk resting atop a Choya cactus while driving out to prep a pasture for cows; despite their name it’s not uncommon to see them out in the day! He was sitting so still (maybe waiting for some unsuspecting insect to fly by) that we almost missed him in our rush to get out and start working on some fences! One of the best parts of working out here is getting to see all the critters, large

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April 1, 2015

Getting into Things

I am a serious collector of hobbies. I have interests in art, nature, community building, ecology, and horseback riding. I’m also what you could call a joiner. If there’s a group of folks out there doing work or hosting activities surrounding one of my interests and I happen to get invited, I always say yes.

That’s how I ended up meeting the ranch’s resident birder, Bill Maynard. He maintains the Birding Blog for this sight. I heard Bill needed

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February 6, 2015

8-5

My 8-5 is nearly always spent answering calls, taking reservations, assisting with marketing strategies, updating our social media, preparing for the guest season and anything else that may come up at the lodge. During the winter we have a fairly small crew, so I am sometimes asked to assist with larger-scale livestock moves. Yesterday was one of those days.

We trailered our horses down Lane 6 to the “Idaho-Utah” pasture– two pastures that when combined by an open gate expand

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April 30, 2014

Glossy vs. White-faced Ibis

Ibis must be ancient flying dinosaurs.  They look out of place wherever I see them.  Two look alike species often occur together in migration and they hybridize with increasing frequency.  To separate the eastern Glossy Ibis from the western species, White-faced Ibis, first look at the feathering around the eyes.  If you see narrow bluish or blue-white narrow feathers around the eye but not encircling it, you spotted the rare Glossy Ibis.  Check the eyes, they should be brown, not red,

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April 29, 2014

White-eyed Vireo – a rarity

My nemisis Chico bird, White-eyed Vireo, is an aptly named eastern species that prefers dense woodland scrub.  Finally, I caught up to the one found this morning at the headquarters willows below the small pond where lots of visiting birders were able to see it actively foraging.  Although this bird was not singing, their song is very distinctive. In the U.S. there are 15 vireo species all in the same genus, Vireo, so the common name and the genus name is the same. 

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April 18, 2014

The Subtleties of Field Identification

Finally, a few sparrow species are on the move.  Here are two different sparrow species out in the cholla grassland.  The upper species was singing a very distinctive song so if heard it is easy to I.D.  This one has a  lookalike relative that is also found at the Chico, so the thin crown stripes without a wider white central streak, longish tail, shortish bill, thin eyering, and basically colorless face help to separate this Brewer’s Sparrow from the more colorfull, tan-breasted Clay-colored

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