Stop 8: Merrick Ranch

Directions: Call ahead to Chamber of Commerce for directions and permission to enter. 580-928-3386. From the prairie dog town, continue along Benton Street. Ranch begins at the end of the road.

This private ranch has a long draw that runs along the main road onto the ranch. Elm and some cottonwoods provide cover for migrant songbirds and a variety of summer breeding birds such as Yellow-rumped Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Carolina Chickadee, and Brown Thrasher. Mississippi Kites are common in the area, and Northern Harrier, Swainson's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and the occasional Golden Eagle may be seen hunting over the prairie. Water snakes live in the pools along the bottom of the draw, and summertime pools attract damselflies such as American Rubyspot and Familiar Bluet, dragonflies such as Common Whitetail and Flame Skimmer, and butterflies such as Common Wood-Nymph and Dainty Sulphur. Great Horned Owls hunt the area at night, and the one-mile walk along the wooded draw makes for a very pleasant birding and walking experience on even the hottest summer days.

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black kettle grassland