The sand hill crane is a common resident of Wyoming during summer breeding seasons. These elegant birds have distinct vocalizations that can be heard from miles away. Sand hill cranes nest in open grasslands, meadows, wetland, and riparian areas. We’ve seen a number of breeding pairs around the ranch, including many with small offspring! http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/sandhill_crane/lifehistory
History! In 1932, an Iowa land company decided to build a town at the junction of routes 14 and 16, the current location of Ucross. Despite obtaining permits and drafting detailed plans, development never occurred. Many years later, Mike (an employee of Ucross Foundation) and Lynn Latham discovered that their recently purchased, undeveloped, agricultural land Read more about Ucross historical map[…]
Mike Latham shared this gem with us! 100 years of family histories from Ucross and three adjacent towns. More historical posts to follow as Devin pores through this next week and Charlie works on some historic maps and photos.
A tour of the Ucross team’s Acoustic Monitoring Program — Phase 1 — with Charlie:
Setting up a permanent station for collecting audio recordings of birds requires more than just a knowledge of the birds themselves, it requires the know-how and expertise to put together the actual electronic / digital recording equipment. Though the bulk of our team’s future recording units will be independently powered (via rechargeable batteries), the two Read more about Testing acoustic recording units[…]
Clear Creek, the largest waterway on the ranch, has it’s origins in the southern reaches of the Bighorn Mountains in the Cloud Peak Wilderness. Last weekend, Charlie headed up into the mountains to the North Fork of Clear Creek (nearly 50 miles upstream of Ucross) to do some fishing and thinking – check out that Read more about Exploring the Bighorns[…]
The loggerhead shrike is a small, rather innocuous bird occupying the open areas of the high plains. Despite its demure appearance, the loggerhead shrike is a vicious killing machine! It uses anything spiky – barbed wire, thorns on plants, shrubs or trees, – to impale freshly killed insects, lizards, snakes, and even small mammals and Read more about Loggerhead shrike[…]
By far the most common ungulate — a technical term roughly meaning “hoofed animal”, though not all hoofed animals are ungulates — at the Ucross ranch is the white-tailed deer (Latin name: Odocoileus virginianus). There are actually a variety of white-tail subspecies populations that stretch from the eastern coasts of North America all the way Read more about Ugulates![…]
It’s true that scientific fieldwork includes a lot of time spent assessing particular pieces of land — using GPS units, taking transects, or undergoing another method of data collection. On a place that’s the size of the Ucross Ranch (≈22,000 acres), it’s also true that fieldwork includes a lot of time spent traveling to the Read more about Cruising the ranch[…]
Charlie and Devin were collecting data near the Stone House South pasture in the northern half of the ranch and in quick succession spotted a coyote and a badger den (see photo). This led to some speculating about carnivore competition and interaction, especially since we were near a number of prairie dog ‘towns’ at the Read more about Badgers and coyotes hunting together[…]
For the past week, we’ve been digitally recording bird calls from behind the Raymond Plank Creative Center at Ucross. The recorder (the SM2+ from Wildlife Acoustics) will automatically turn on to record ambient sound every day for 30 minutes before and after sunrise/sunset — thus recording the morning and evening choruses of local bird species. Read more about Recording bird calls[…]
One of the major tasks our field team is tackling this summer is mapping and modeling the distribution of leafy spurge (see earlier post) on the ranch. Its distinct yellow flowers and vibrant green leaves become more and more evident as the plains turn from green to brown in the dry heat of July. It Read more about Targeting leafy spurge[…]
Charlie found this common mullein that is nearly 2 meters tall!
Common Mullen (Verbascum thapsus) is an invasive biennial plant, often referred to as “pioneer’s TP” As it is easily crowded out by native species, it is not of significant ecological or agricultural concern. Common Mullen requires a period of winter dormancy to flower in its second growing season.
Our project website is now live: