January 24, 2016

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Bill Maynard, a botanist and former high school biology teacher, has worked for various government agencies from Alaska to South Florida and for The American Birding Association. He discovered the 87,000 acre Chico Basin Ranch to be the perfect natural laboratory to study and photograph birds, dragonflies, grasshoppers and other insects. Chico Basin Ranch Natural History Resources : BIRDING CHECKLIST // BIRDING MAP // DRAGONFLY & DAMSELFLY CHECKLIST //

American Tree Sparrows are poorly named because they aren’t found in trees, more often the weeds next to trees, and they breed on arctic tundra far from trees and winter mostly on the plains in weedy habitats.  Beginning birders are often intimidated by sparrows, they all look  the same, but American Tree Sparrow has a distinctive bicolored bill, a rufous crown, wings, and back, and the clear breast with a central spot or “stick pin” makes I.D. fairly easy.  They are related to the more common Spizella sparrows such as Chipping Sparrow, but Chipping Sparrows move south of Colorado for the winter as do other Spizella sparrows like Brewer’s and Clay-colored Sparrows.  Tree Sparrows leave by mid-March so winter is the best time to study them on the Chico. Search dense areas of tumbleweeds on the plains and you should find some.

Photography by Bill Maynard