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.

July 25, 2017

Black Lights and UV Lights Attract Insects

Chico’s first ever Moth Night was held on July 22 at the Bell Grove.  Four setups including this one were erected in various parts of the grove including the platform where bands play.  This setup used an incandescent light source while others used ultraviolet light and black lights to pull in insects from far away. Studies have shown that black light and UV wave lengths attract more insects than incandescent light goes. The UV light seemed to attract the most

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July 6, 2017


In the species called Great-tailed Grackle (perfect name), neither the male or the female is usually faithful = it is a polygynous species.  Males defend a small territory but only after they reach three years of age. But, it doesn’t matter because females may switch the area where they nested either during the current breeding season or between seasons.  Great-tailed Grackles are sexually dimorphic and the brown females are half the size of the big, purple-hued glossy male with the

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July 5, 2017

Nesting Season

Since the majority of Chico is a prairie, most of the breeding birds here are species that nest on or close to the ground. Lark Sparrow, a brightly colored bird and a loud singer, by necessity becomes secretive after eggs have been laid. Here is the completed nest and four well hidden eggs of a Lark Sparrow out in the dry wash of Black Squirrel Creek. The eggs are not brightly colored, but perfectly camouflage with a broken color pattern.

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July 5, 2017

Breeding Season

During years of good spring moisture, Lark Buntings find Chico as a good place to nest and raise their young.  The Colorado State Bird, Lark Bunting, is an excellent example of sexual dimorphism, males looking quite different from females.  Here a male mates with a female. Surprising to me, the pair mated three separate times within a 40 second time frame.  The female will lay eggs on the ground underneath a small plant like sand sage.

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July 5, 2017

Grasshopper Sparrow

All habitats have grasshoppers.  Native grasslands have the most grasshopper species and they become food for all grassland birds. It is not surprising then that one bird species is name Grasshopper Sparrow. This species is an uncommon breeder on the Chico but they are found in the northeastern most Chico grasslands. All members of the Ammodramus genus are secretive but during the breeding season they can often be seen perched high on a grass stem singing. Grasshopper Sparrow has a

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June 18, 2017

I’m So Special

The bird who sings his name all day long, Dickcissel, seems to me to be singing…”I’m so special” over and over. Most birders miss seeing this bird on Chico because Dickcissels usually arrive in June when most bird migration is over.  This is an eastern species who nests in tallgrass prairies and weedy fields so you won’t find this one out on the Chico shortgrass prairie. Also, sometimes large flocks of non-breeding birds hangout during summer months.  Today, I counted

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June 16, 2017

Lark Bunting

Colorado’s State Bird, Lark Bunting. Males (here) and females are noticeably different in appearance. These sparrows, not buntings, are birds of the Great Plains and prefer to nest in prairies with sand sage like what is found on the eastern regions of Chico. Like a few other prairie species, males skylark while singing which projects their loud song further so more females might here them. They are often very social wintering and migrating in large flocks. In ideal habitat nests

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June 2, 2017

Ground Nesting Bird Warning

American Badger is a resident on the plains and Chico is no exception. Although their primary food source on the Chico is spotted ground squirrels and black-tailed prairie dogs, the majority of birds nesting here nest on the ground and badgers find them easy prey.  American Badgers are nocturnal except when feeding young.  They choose sandy soils so it is surprising more badgers are not seen, especially in early morning hours.  This one came out to see who was present

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May 30, 2017

Black Terns at Headquarters Pond

One of the prettiest birds seen in both spring and fall at Chico is the Black Tern. Terns are notorious for their diving skills plunging head first into the water to grab small fish. But, Black Tern has a different set of hunting skills and they do not dive.  Like their relatives, they hunt over shallow bodies of water but they are hunting dragonflies and other flying insects.  Here, a Black Tern opens its bill to take the most common

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