Site Details

descriptions and directions

Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Chico Basin Ranch - El Paso County
Aliases: Rose Pond
Ownership: Private (see directions for access)
Description: This is a private ranch located out on the plains and straddling the El Paso/Pueblo County line. Day passes are $15 per person, and for groups over 6, $10 per person. Yearly passes are available. Birding is open year round. For those interested in going birding on the Chico Basin Ranch, follow directions to the ranch HDQ where a kiosk can be found. Detailed instructions are available at the kiosk. Visitors will be asked to fill out a liability waiver and a registration form. Bird lists, birding trail, map and ranch policies and rules are available at the HDQ check in station.

The bulk of the ranch is in Pueblo County but there is an excellent migrant trap on the El Paso side where Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory bands birds each spring. There are also 5 warm water, spring-fed lakes, which can provide some interesting waterbirds on occasion. The area on the El Paso side that is birded consists of a huge grove of Russian Olives with a few Peachleaf Willows and a number of large Plains Cottonwoods. One of the Cottonwoods has hosted a Golden Eagle nest over the years. The banding station area is near the Holmes residence and is probably the most birded spot on the El Paso side.

The Casita is just southwest of the Holmes and also provides excellent birding. Most of the warbler species that have occurred in Colorado have been recorded here and in some years there are amazing numbers of thrushes that pass through (e.g., 1200 Swainson's Thrushes on 20 May 2000). Long-eared Owls can be found in migration and even Flammulated has occurred -- twice! -- during spring migration. Common Poorwills are usually found in migration and even a Whip-poor-will has been recorded in this area.

From the Holmes house, the olive stand bends to the southeast to a nice set of Plains Cottonwoods that have hosted many warblers over the years. This area also usually has some water where one can find Wilson's Snipe. Apart from the riparian area, there is good semi-desert shrubland that supports such species as Scaled Quail, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Greater Roadrunner, Curve-billed Thrasher, Cassin's Sparrow, and Brewer's Sparrow.

For the most part, the Ranch is fairly slow outside of migration periods but can still be a fun place to bird. For instance, in the winter there are usually a handful of Chestnut-collard Longspurs mixed in with the Lapland Longspurs. The other interesting winter bird is Loggerhead Shrike which is found annually in the winter yet there are only two Ranch records for Northern Shrike and both of those were migrant birds. So you can count on seeing something fun on every trip to the Ranch. With over 275 species recorded as of May 2005 you have a good chance of seeing something that interests you.

Habitat: Grassland/Prairie, Cholla, Lowland Riparian, Pond
Directions: From I-25 take Exit 122 East. This is the same exit for Pikes Peak International Raceway. Head east on Old Pueblo Road approximately 1.5 miles to Hanover Road. Travel approximately 12.3 miles to Peyton Highway. Turn right and head south to the main gate of the ranch. Upon arriving, proceed directly to ranch headquarters (about two miles in on the main road) in order to check in and pay the entrance fee.
Other Wildlife:
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CBRC Records from Chico Basin Ranch

SpeciesAccession No.Date(s)
Black-billed Cuckoo2003-117 8/30/2003
Black-billed Cuckoo2012-129 10/5/2012
Black-billed Cuckoo2015-065 05/25/2015
Lesser Nighthawk2008-075 5/25/2008 - 5/28/2008
Eastern Whip-poor-will2006-073 5/20/2006
Rivoli’s Hummingbird2002-041 5/19/2002
Short-billed Dowitcher2007-033 5/7/2007
Least Tern2006-040 4/25/2006
Arctic Tern2011-059 5/24/2011 - 5/26/2011
Glossy Ibis2003-1225/11/2003
Glossy Ibis2007-022 4/12/2007
Glossy Ibis2008-036 4/30/2008
Common Black Hawk2021-019 7 May 2021
Northern Saw-whet Owl2007-035 5/12/2007
Great Crested Flycatcher2006-077 5/20/2006
Great Crested Flycatcher2008-105 9/12/2008
Great Crested Flycatcher2008-106 9/12/2008
Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher2022-044 10 Sep 2022
Tropical Kingbird2017-040 09/17/2017
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher2005-032 4/25/2005
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher2008-057 5/11/2008
Eastern Wood-Pewee2003-1208/30/2003
Eastern Wood-Pewee2007-048 8/13/2007 - 8/16/2007
Eastern Wood-Pewee2012-065 5/31/2012
Eastern Wood-Pewee2016-081 05/18/2016
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher2006-086 5/24/2006
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher2017-058 09/20/2017
Acadian Flycatcher2023-021 22 May 2023
Alder Flycatcher2006-055 5/14/2006
Alder Flycatcher2006-068 5/16/2006
Alder Flycatcher2006-076 5/20/2006
Alder Flycatcher2006-092 5/29/2006
Alder Flycatcher2007-050 8/16/2007
Alder Flycatcher2007-052 8/22/2007
Alder Flycatcher2010-059 5/23/2007
Alder Flycatcher2008-098 9/3/2008
Alder Flycatcher2009-108 5/23/2009
Alder Flycatcher2010-038 5/22/2010
Alder Flycatcher2014-077 05/25/2014
Vermilion Flycatcher2002-0585/11/2002
Vermilion Flycatcher2006-025 3/18/2006 - 3/19/2006
Vermilion Flycatcher2006-038 4/21/2006
Bell's Vireo2012-009 9/4/2011
Gray Vireo2003-026 5/9/2003
Blue-headed Vireo2006-060 5/15/2006
Blue-headed Vireo2007-037 5/19/2007
Blue-headed Vireo2009-028 5/7/2009
Blue-headed Vireo2009-062 9/11/2009
Blue-headed Vireo2009-116 9/16/2009
Blue-headed Vireo2010-021 5/6/2010
Blue-headed Vireo2012-145 9/14/2012 - 9/18/2012
Philadelphia Vireo2005-054 5/18/2005
Philadelphia Vireo2008-053 5/7/2008 - 5/8/2008
Philadelphia Vireo2008-068 5/17/2008 - 5/22/2008
Philadelphia Vireo2011-049 5/12/2011 - 5/26/2011
Philadelphia Vireo2012-178 10/05/2012
Purple Martin2006-083 5/23/2006
Purple Martin2009-042 5/21/2009
Pacific Wren2017-059 09/23/2017
Sedge Wren2008-124 10/21/2008
Sedge Wren2011-126 9/30/2011
Sedge Wren2012-141 10/16/2012
Long-billed Thrasher2006-006 1/14/2006 - 2/3/2006
Gray-cheeked Thrush2002-048 5/12/2002
Gray-cheeked Thrush2006-048 5/11/2006
Gray-cheeked Thrush2006-059 5/15/2006
Gray-cheeked Thrush2006-065 5/16/2006
Gray-cheeked Thrush2007-030 5/3/2007
Gray-cheeked Thrush2008-060 5/14/2008
Gray-cheeked Thrush2008-061 5/14/2008
Gray-cheeked Thrush2008-066 5/17/2008
Gray-cheeked Thrush2012-056 5/16/2012
Gray-cheeked Thrush2012-161 5/6/2012 - 5/8/2012
Gray-cheeked Thrush2014-017 05/10/2013
Gray-cheeked Thrush2014-022 05/13/2013
Gray-cheeked Thrush2014-023 05/16/2013
Swainson's Thrush (Russet-backed)2006-071 5/19/2006
Swainson's Thrush (Russet-backed)2006-093 5/30/2006
Swainson's Thrush (Russet-backed)2010-026 5/13/2010
Wood Thrush2002-183 10/4/2002
Wood Thrush2006-094 5/31/2006
Wood Thrush2010-018 4/29/2010 - 5/5/2010
Wood Thrush2011-124 9/21/2011
Varied Thrush2009-117 10/15/2009
Sprague's Pipit2015-118 10/20/2015
Purple Finch2004-0035/5/2002
Field Sparrow2006-047 5/11/2006
Field Sparrow2006-075 5/20/2006
Field Sparrow2013-030 10/05/2012
Fox Sparrow (Red)2006-028 4/5/2006
Fox Sparrow (Red)2010-172 10/12/2010
Fox Sparrow (Red)2012-149 10/20/2012
Fox Sparrow (Slate-colored)2007-021 4/12/2007
Golden-crowned Sparrow2008-063 5/15/2008
LeConte's Sparrow2011-121 9/17/2011 - 10/5/2011
LeConte's Sparrow2012-147 10/12/2012 - 10/20/2012
Nelson's Sparrow2012-148 10/19/2012 - 10/20/2012
Eastern Towhee2006-002 1/6/2006 - 2/3/2006
Eastern Towhee2007-028 4/27/2007
Eastern Towhee2012-052 5/3/2012
Eastern Towhee2015-128 05/24/2014
Worm-eating Warbler2010-025 5/9/2010
Golden-winged Warbler2012-144 5/2/2012
Lucy's Warbler2012-045 4/20/2012
Connecticut Warbler2010-029 5/17/2010
Connecticut Warbler2013-029 09/10/2012
Mourning Warbler2001-202 5/19/2001
Mourning Warbler2005-049 5/15/2005
Mourning Warbler2006-054 5/14/2006
Mourning Warbler2008-073 5/23/2008
Mourning Warbler2015-070 05/18/2015
Kentucky Warbler2009-026 5/1/2009
Cape May Warbler2008-078 5/27/2008
Cape May Warbler2010-097 9/13/2010
Bay-breasted Warbler2004-024 5/19/2002
Bay-breasted Warbler2003-118 5/10/2003
Bay-breasted Warbler2005-155 5/5/2005
Bay-breasted Warbler2006-079 5/22/2006
Bay-breasted Warbler2008-064 5/17/2008
Bay-breasted Warbler2011-0155/29/2011
Bay-breasted Warbler2011-069 5/28/2011
Blackburnian Warbler2008-102 9/6/2008
Blackburnian Warbler2009-044 5/23/2009
Yellow-throated Warbler2004-122 5/14/2004
Yellow-throated Warbler2005-030 4/25/2005
Yellow-throated Warbler2007-032 5/5/2007
Yellow-throated Warbler2011-118 9/12/2011 - 9/13/2011
Prairie Warbler2005-036 5/8/2005
Prairie Warbler2015-049 04/29/2015
Prairie Warbler2021-033 13 May 2021
Canada Warbler2003-1198/31/2003
Canada Warbler2008-081 5/28/2008
Canada Warbler2016-082 09/08/2016
Hepatic Tanager2002-104 5/11/2002
Scarlet Tanager2006-057 5/14/2006
Scarlet Tanager2011-064 5/26/2011
Painted Bunting2014-104 05/18/2006
Painted Bunting2009-089 9/27/2009