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A Visit to the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch

Updated on April 19, 2014

A Stop at Picacho Peak

Forty some miles north of Tucson, Arizona is the the town of Picacho, Arizona whose main claim to fame is the picturesque butte, known as Picacho Peak, laying just west of Interstate 10. In a addition to being an Arizona State Park, Picacho Peak was also the scene of the western most battle of the Civil War. Although not a major player in the war, Arizonans tended to be sympathetic to the Southern cause and the territory (Arizona did not become a state until 1912) was annexed by the Confederacy at the start of the War. On April 15, 1862 a Confederate patrol encountered and attacked a small group of Union soldiers at what was known as Picacho Pass killing U.S. Army Lieutenant James Barret and two of his men. Knowing that Barret and his troop were part of a larger Union force operating in the area, the Confederate troops then quickly left the area. Thus, ended the westernmost battle of the U.S. Civil War.

Picacho Peak
Picacho Peak
"Oh, give me a home, where the ostrich roam, and the ...
"Oh, give me a home, where the ostrich roam, and the ...

Ranching in Arizona Now Includes Ostrich Raising

In recent years Picacho has gained fame as home to the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch. No, this has nothing to do with the fictional U.S. Marshall of that name played by John Wayne in the 1969 movie True Grit or its 1975 sequel Rooster Cogburn.

Instead, the ranch is owned and operated by one D.C. Cogburn, who has had the nickname Rooster since his youth in Oklahoma, and his family. The ranch, which is located along the west side of Interstate 10 just south of the State Park, is one of the oldest ostrich ranches in the United States, having been started during the ostrich and emu raising fad of the 1980s. Unlike many of the other ostrich and emu raising ventures started in that period, the Rooster Cogburn Ostrich Ranch is a serious business that makes money. In addition to raising ostriches for meat, feathers, eggs, hide and oils as well as sales of live ostriches within the U.S. and abroad for breeding, Rooster has turned this venture into a thriving local tourist attraction. 

Only those between 6 and 106 years old have to pay
Only those between 6 and 106 years old have to pay
                      Chow Time!
Chow Time!
                "Heh, we're hungry too!"
"Heh, we're hungry too!"

Adults over 106 Admitted Free With Proof of Age

Over the years I have seen the ranch with people lined up feeding the ostriches hundreds of times as I have whizzed past it on Interstate 10 while driving between Tucson and Phoenix. However, as my wife, daughter and I were leisurely driving back from a brunch with friends in Phoenix a few Sunday's ago I finally decided to stop and get some pictures of the ostriches.

Well, in addition to the ostriches, we quickly discovered that the ranch also included a sizable herd of miniature deer and some miniature parrot-like birds known as Lorikeets, these latter two varieties I suspect are mainly for the tourists, although the ranch may be raising these commercially as well. The $5 entrance fee, which applies only to kids aged 6 - 106 with youngsters under six and adults over 106 admitted free, includes one large cup of grain pellets for feeding the deer and ostriches and a small cup of nectar for the lorikeets. Refills are $2 each. I gave my feed cup and nectar cup to my wife and proceeded to take pictures. The highlight was the lorikeet enclosure where the lorikeets literally swarmed all over you seeking the nectar. Looking at my wife, with birds perched all over her, all I could think of was the bag lady in the movie Home Alone II who always appeared covered with the pigeons she loved.

Feeding the Ostrich

They're nice to visit, but you don't want to take one home with you.
They're nice to visit, but you don't want to take one home with you.

Next, We Feed the Lorikeets

Having fed the deer and ostrich, our next stop was the avery that housed the squaking lorikeets. They look like mineature parrots and squak just as loudly. But they were glad to see us - at least my wife and daughter who carried the little containers of sweet nectar that they craved.

Hungry Lorikeets

           My wife's balancing act.
My wife's balancing act.
This little fellow wants to help with the clean-up.
This little fellow wants to help with the clean-up.

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