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Cottonwood Marsh photo by Peter Burke

Bohart Ranch - El Paso County
Ownership: Private (see directions for access)
Description: This private ranch is open to the birding public only during special field trips sponsored by Colorado Field Ornithologists and The Nature Conservancy in Colorado. The Bohart Ranch is situated within the Chico Basin, and it lies about 15 miles northeast of the well-known Chico Basin Ranch. The birding opportunities at the Bohart Ranch are in many ways analogous to those at the Crow Valley Campground/Pawnee National Grassland complex in Weld County: The Bohart Ranch offers extensive habitat for many speciaties of the Central Shortgrass Prairie eco-region (that's the Crow Valley part of the analogy), and plantings around the ranch headquarters are good for eastern vagrants and common western migrants (that's the Pawnee Grassland part).

Despite the paucity of coverage, the Bohart Ranch has produced an impressive bird list, and it is expected that future visits will produce additional good birds.

The vast bulk of the habitat at the Bohart Ranch is sand-sage prairie, considered by experts at The Nature Conservancy to be one of the best representatives of this habitat type on the planet. The diversity of grassland birds to be found here is on par with what is offered by the Pawnee National Grassland, but the mix of species is surprisingly different. Prairie specialties that have been found during the four spring visits to date include Scaled Quail (common), Ferruginous Hawk (a few), Mountain Plover (a few breeding pairs), Burrowing Owl (a small colony), Short-eared Owl (scarce), Common Nighthawk (common), Common Poorwill (a few), Cassin's Sparrow (abundant), Brewer's Sparrow (common to abundant), Lark Bunting (abundant), Grasshopper Sparrow (scarce), and McCown's Longspur (scarce by mid-May).

The plantings around the ranch headquarters are modest, but they attract many migrants. The ranch managers turn on sprinklers for visiting birders, and most of the unusual bird species have a way of visiting one of the sprinklers every 15 minutes or so. Avian activity levels seem to be quite high in the plantings around the headquarters, and it is invariably the case that each new circuit around the plantings turns up something that wasn't there just 30 minutes earlier. Notables that have been found in these plantings include Gray Flycatcher, Purple Martin, Gray-cheeked Thrush, Black-and-white Warbler, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Bobolink, and Lesser Goldfinch. Some other species have included Lewis's Woodpecker, Red-headed Woodpecker, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Loggerhead Shrike (several breeding pairs), Canyon Towhee, Swainson's Thrush (abundant in migration), and Brown Thrasher.

Habitat: Sand-sage prairie, planted trees
Directions: PRIVATE. ACCESS BY WRITTEN PERMISSON ONLY. 10 miles south of Yoder on Yoder Road, then 3 miles west on Shear Road. Contact TNC Colorado Springs Office: 719-683-7171
Other Wildlife:
Other Attractions:

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