CONSERVE

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about 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.

May 30, 2017

Bird Predator

Many birders who come to Chico have never seen a swift fox here. But, driving in the shortgrass prairie 2-tracks gives everyone a good chance to find this very small prairie fox. Even though they are mostly nocturnal hunters, during the breeding season, swift foxes also hunt during daylight hours to ensure enough food can be provided to the kits.  Birds and bird eggs are just some of the food items these small foxes search for and small mammals and

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May 30, 2017

Chestnut-sided Warbler

One of the few warblers with chestnut coloration, Chestnut-sided Warbler is an eastern species so Monday’s birders were happy to see and hear a singing male at Rose Pond. This is a species that prefers second growth mixed woodlands but during migration it is found where the food is.  As in most springs, the food at Chico for warblers is found in peachleaf willows whose blooms attract a variety of insects.  Chestnut-sided Warbler is one of the species where females

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May 22, 2017

Time for Phalaropes

The three species of phalaropes are shorebirds who forage mostly on the water’s surface where there is a midge hatch occurring. First to appear at Chico are Wilson’s Phalarope followed by Red-necked Phalarope (photo).  Phalaropes are in the shorebird family and females are more brightly colored than males which suggests something interesting goes on during breeding. After laying eggs females rarely return to the nest.  Males assume all the duties of incubating eggs and raising the young. An uncommon bird

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May 22, 2017

Pike’s Peak Birding and Nature Festival

Over a two day period three groups of 15 birders plus leaders were taken to the best birding spots on the Chico. Over 100 bird species were tallied and I heard only positive comments about the experiences.  Probably the most exciting bird was a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher, the State Bird of Oklahoma but rare in Colorado with 3-4 sightings over the past 15 years on Chico. Scissor-tailed Flycatchers are stunning especially when they fly with their super long tails spread open.

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May 15, 2017

Rare Bird: Golden-winged Warbler

A female Golden-winged Warbler was found on Sunday in the willows below the small headquarters pond.  It was still there on Monday.  This bird is uncommon in its range, mostly northern Midwestern states. It’s problem is its closest relative Blue-winged Warbler.  Both have similar songs, bee-buz for Blue-winged and bee-buz-buz-buz for Golden-winged. Also, they even sing each other’s song at times. Blue-winged Warbler has been encroaching and out- competing in Golden-winged Warbler habitat and so seeing Golden-winged on the Chico was a big and

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May 11, 2017

Watch Your Step

Hawk food for sure but the annual warning here to watch where you are stepping on warm days. I didn’t because it was April and only 60 degrees but luckily this prairie rattlesnake coiled and shook its rattle in its warning defense. Snakes including the prairie rattlesnake are defenseless against the sharp talons of predatory birds of prey who obtain a good meal after catching one of these. The forked tongue increases the surface area where chemical receptors help these

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May 11, 2017

Big Bad Bird Predator

This winter I reported up to 14 Long-eared Owls were roosting in the banding station woods. The need to keep out of view from both above and below and a need for a horizontal perch keeps their wintering locations to a minimum. When that many large birds roost side-by-side they will eventually be seen by birders and bird predators. In this case a large bobcat has been seen walking in the areas where the owls had a winter roost but

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May 11, 2017

Ovenbirds

One of the warblers that is an annual spring migrant on the Chico, Ovenbirds are necessarily dull in plumage because they nest on the forest floor building an oven-shaped nest, a character used for naming this species. They are best know for their loud songs, singing “teacher teacher teacher” for long periods.  The orange crown stripe is sometimes visible and the breast spotting is reminiscent of thrushes.  Its scientific name, Seiurus aurocapillus comes from Greek words meaning to shake its

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May 11, 2017

One Of Our Dullest Sparrows

The dull sparrow named for John Cassin, a Philadelphia ornithologist,  is far more often heard than seen.  That is until breeding season when males sing from either a song perch like a cholla cactus or by skylarking.  When skylarking these sparrows are easy to see as they flutter their wings as they drift towards the ground trying to attract a mate. Although described as a dull sparrow, a closer examination proves the opposite to be true, the beauty subtle, not

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May 7, 2017

Who’s The Most Colorful

Male Bullock’s Orioles are loud and brightly colored yet are surprisingly difficult to see well except when they first arrive from the tropics to breed on the Chico.  Related to meadowlarks and grackles, the feature that all Icterids have is a strong, straight and pointed bill. Most passerines have 10 primary feathers on each wing; not so the Icterids which only have 9.  Bullock’s Orioles place their nests far out on thin branches hanging their basket-shaped nest away from predatory

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