Great Horned Owl at the Brinton
Great Horned Owl at the Brinton

The Quarter Circle A Ranch has long been home to many of our fine feathered friends.  Bradford Brinton was an avid collector of books about birds (including the octavo set by John James Audubon and Rex Brasher’s limited edition folios) and nature art, most of which can be found in the Library of the Historic Ranch House at The Brinton Museum.

The Brinton Museum partners with Science Kids and the Big Horn Audubon Society and offers bird watching events every third Saturday morning year-round and other gatherings.  Visit our events page or call (307) 672.3173 to learn more.

Wyoming Community Naturalist Zach Hutchinson, Bighorn Audubon Society President Jackie Canterbury and Museum Director Kenneth Schuster (Dec. 2016)

The Brinton Museum’s Quarter Circle A Ranch Designated as an Important Bird Area

To both protect and conserve many important birds, Bighorn Audubon Society, in cooperation with Audubon Rockies, and The Brinton Museum have formed a partnership to designate 620 acres of the Brinton property as an Important Bird Area or IBA. IBAs are part of a global conservation strategy that focuses attention on habitats and key bird species. Dr. Jackie Canterbury, President of the Bighorn Audubon Chapter, describes the power of such a designation:

“The IBA designation provides legitimacy to the notion that the Quarter Circle A Ranch is really an important place for birds. Birding at the Brinton takes place on the third Saturday of each month and has provided an insight into the birds that depend on the property at some time in their life cycle, and there are many. For example, the resident Brown Creeper depends upon the tall cottonwoods, the Sandhill Crane needs the surrounding grasslands and wetlands, and the warblers that flit about like feathered butterflies to breed briefly in the woodlands before leaving for winter grounds from Mexico to South America. During our birding events we have identified over one hundred bird species on the Brinton grounds. This work has led to the most critical piece of information necessary to designate the Brinton property as an IBA. And most importantly, this IBA designation gives birds stakeholder status, a place at the table, in a changing world.

One recent Saturday was perfect for viewing; it was calm as we were walking amidst the tall cottonwoods that line the lane leading to the museum. A small, wood-brown bird landed on one of the old cottonwoods, and promptly magically disappeared into the woodwork  – it was the elusive Brown Creeper, a year-around resident that uses the craggy bark of century-old cottonwoods to pry into, searching for tiny insects. A few moments later we were strolling along

Little Goose Creek listening to Sandhill Cranes calling in the distance, their haunting voices echoing off the steep and snow-draped mountain slopes. This is the magic of the Brinton!”

Alison Hollaran, Executive Director of Audubon Rockies, could not agree more, “IBAs provide essential habitat for one or more species of breeding, wintering or migrating birds. Through the identification of these places (both small and large, public or private), the program is stitching our fragmented landscapes back together, and that takes a unified effort across the states, nation and globe. Many people think of distant rain forests or coral reefs when thinking about global conservation issues, the IBA Program teaches us that places right in our backyard can be important to birds on a national, continental, or even global scale. Finally, as we recognize, elevate and protect these important areas for birds, we are also protecting important places for people. Where birds thrive, people prosper.”

“We are very pleased to collaborate with the Bighorn Audubon Society and Audubon Rockies and are proud to have gained this Important Bird Area designation. It is the type of effort and designation that Helen Brinton, our institution’s initial founder, would be very pleased with since it was her wish that the Quarter Circle A’s ranch lands be preserved as bird and wildlife habitat,” said Kenneth L. Schuster, Director and Chief Curator of The Brinton Museum.