DFO Conservation

The Conservation Committee was created in 2019 in response to our members’ wishes for a more active conservation presence. The committee works to: 

  • Inform and engage DFO members on conservation issues where we bird locally, statewide,and beyond
  • Represent DFO in forums where decisions affecting birds and habitat are made
  • Recommend action, as needed, by the DFO Board of Directors 
  • In concert with our allies, monitor, report on and react to threats to birds and habitat primarily in the metro Denver area, but occasionally in other parts of Colorado, the region or nationally

The Conservation Committee meets at least quarterly and any DFO member is welcome to join. Contact the committee chair for more information on opportunities to get involved. For contacts and for information on current and past Committee issues actions, refer to the organization pages near the front of our club newsletter The Lark Bunting.

TOPICS OF CONTINUING INTEREST 

CHICO BASIN RANCH UPDATE 

This state-owned, 86,000-acre cattle ranch in El Paso and Pueblo counties is one of the richest birdlife locales (more than 350 species recorded). Chico Basin is also one of DFO's most popular field trip destinations. But the longtime policy of year-round, open-gate access to birders will end on Feb. 29, 2024 as a new ranching lessee prepares to take over on Jan. 1, 2025. The Colorado State Land Board, which leases the ranch and other properties to generate income for schools, will severely restrict Chico Basin birding to only 10 weeks a year (spring and fall migration) of half-day visits by no more than 20 birders a day. This is despite pro-habitat actions to preserve the ranch as a single, uninterrupted parcel and to classify birding there as a scientific, non-revenue activity worthy of wider access, not restrictions. (Birders have recorded more than 11,000 checklists at Chico Basin and a bird banding station has operated there in spring and fall for two decades.) Despite the impended loss of Chico Basin access for 80 percent of the year, DFO and the birding community continue to press for greater focus on the ranch's conservation profile: One of the largest, uninterrupted stretches of short-grass prairie left in America, and vital habitat for birds and other Plains wildlife. 

BIGGEST THREATS TO BIRDS 

The three greatest threats to birds are free-roaming cats, window strikes and habitat loss. Learn more about each of these issues and what you can do to address the problem by clicking on the issue below. 

Feral & Free-roaming Cats
  • THREAT
    Whether abandoned to fend for themselves or cuddly, beloved house-pets allowed outdoors, today’s domesticated cats are an invasive species that kills well over 1 billion birds every year. SOLUTIONS
    To help diminish the threat, visit the American Bird Conservancy’s “Happy Cats, Healthy Birds” solution.
Bird/Window Collisions
  • THREAT
    Millions of birds die annually via collisions with windows, wind turbines, and other structures, especially during migration. SOLUTIONS
    Make your home windows safer and participate in the Lights Out Denver project
Habitat Loss
  • THREAT
    Deforestation, sprawl and development, pesticides and non-native plants all contribute to shrinking habitat.
    SOLUTIONS
    Think about making your home’s landscape friendlier to birds and pollinators, and encouraging your local government to do the same on public lands.