Laine Chester
Bird watching
Ponderosa Ranch Bird Trails
Ponderosa Ranch, a 3,600 acre ranch, in the Pine Ridge area boasts a diverse habitat for many species of birds. Open rolling grass meadows, steep hills, ridges studded with Ponderosa Pine trees and ravines with Choke Cherries, Green Ash, Hackberry, Cottonwood, and Box Elder trees and spring-fed creek bottoms create an ideal environment for birds unique to the Panhandle of Nebraska.

In one prime spot, the mini waterfall area, the spring flows out the side of the ridge and gurgles as it falls to the bottom of the ravine where a mini elongated pond creates a palace sized birdbath. As one descends down the ravine into the creek bottom choruses of birds serenade the visitor. Bushes covered with berries dot the scene and a variety of wildflowers attract fluttering butterflies. On a hot day, as watchers carefully descend the deer trail, the dropping temperatures provide a friendly greeting. When the bird watcher picks a good resting spot by the spring, the rhythmic trickle of the mini waterfall is an alluring call to bird life. If lucky, a pygmy nuthatch might land on the watcher's camouflage cap.

After a thoroughly relaxing visit at this site of gurgling water, spring fed Clay Creek is in the same area of the ranch and runs its course for a couple miles, which is a great trek for bird watchers and has a similar habitat described above. It is accessible by skilled four-wheel driver; the path goes down a long logging trail. This a great sight for bird watchers who like to hike.

At the entry to the ranch by the log house is another spring feeding Saw Log Creek. This sight is probably the easiest walk for the bird watchers. Starting at the log house and walking up that ravine takes you by a pond, a cave, through a meadow and up a ravine which could be soggy in places at the bottom during a rainy time or spring snow melts.

On the eastern part of the ranch is another spring feeding Squaw Creek. Visiting this area would not be easily accessible and would be good for the very adventurous person who has a GPS or compass. When guests enter this area it is like a maze of ravines and ridges going in different directions and seemingly designed to confuse visitors. On high spots one might be able to see a neighbor’s house and thus get his bearings. Over in that area, but not in the maze, a ridge caved in and dammed up a creek to form a pond, surrounded by Pine covered ridges. That area would provide great bird habitat as well.

 A Pygmy Nuthatch Headquarters of Nebraska working ranch
Pine Sisken Lunch on Nebraska working cattle ranch The ranch is a bird watchers paradise waiting to be tapped.

Birds sighted on our ranch: Western and Eastern Kingbirds
Northern Flicker
Red Headed Woodpecker
Pygmy Nuthatches
Rock Wren
Mountain Bluebird
Red Crossbill
Spotted Towhee
White Crowned Sparrow
Western Tanager
Brewers Sparrow

Dark Eyed Junco
Gold Finches
Pine Siskins
Brewers Blackbird
Red Wing Blackbird
Yellow Headed Blackbird
Black HEaded Grosbeaks
Orchard Oriole
Blue Jays
Meadow Lark
Kill Deer
Cedar Wax Wing
Morning Dove
Wood Ducks
Sharp Tailed Grouse
Coopers Hawk
Red Tail Hawk
Smaller Hawks
Turkey Vultures
Wild Merriam Turkeys
Golden Eagle
Bald Eagle