Friday, October 17, 2008

Blue Jay #296

I had seen recent e-mail reports that a couple of vagrant blue jays had been seen in the Treasure Valley, but due to time commitments to family and work I didn't see an opportunity to go chasing after new life birds.  About a week later, while up at Avimor, I happened upon Michael Wiegand who informed me that a Blue Jay had been hanging out at his place in Pearl.  Immediately I determined to take the long-way back from Avimor to the office.  It was a slow Friday anyway, so what would it hurt!

The Blue Jay was heard before it was seen.  I didn't recognize the sound as being a Blue Jay, I just knew it was different.  After about ten minutes it popped out into the open to munch on Michael's abundance of seed.  

Blue Jay's are a beautiful bird and I understand that they are very common in other parts of the country, but I was grateful to see one for myself since becoming a birder.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yellow Breasted Chat #295

The Yellow Breasted Chat has been a bit of a nemesis bird for me. I have heard it on three or four occassions, but have never seen it. I remember once on Harris Creek Road outside of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, I risked life and limb to climb through thorny brush and was through the creek trying to catch of glimpse of this little cuss, but without luck.

Recently, the conservation specialist working with us at Avimor asked me for a list of the birds I have seen at Avimor so that they can compile a book for the residents. I asked Michael Wiegand for his list. Michael Wiegand is a landscaper specializing in native plants and wildlife enhancing landscaping, also a contractor for me at Avimor. His company is called Habiscapes. He has a home very near the Avimor property in Pearl, Idaho. His home is surrounded by feeders and native plants that birds like and so you can imagine the thousands of birds around his home.

Anyway, Michael's bird list for Avimor included a Yellow Breasted Chat. Quickly I emailed him back and asked where and when had he seen it. He explained that as they were revegetating the retention pond just north of the water reclamation building that the Chat had made regular appearances in the willow trees along Spring Valley Creek. He and his whole crew got to know the loud little fella.

Finally, Tuesday morning around 8am this week I made it out there and drove down the newly asphalted access road to the water reclamation plant. On my first pass I saw lots of birds, but no Yellow Breasted Chat. On my second pass through I heard him. I started imitating the call and it bounced right up to the top of the trees and as I continued imitating it, it came closer and closer to me so that I could see it without the need of my Eagle Optics Ranger SRT's 8x42.

So the habitat in which I have seen a Yellow Breasted Chat is in a riparian area - creek, just outside of a small canyon, surrounded by shrub steppe, yet along a busy Hwy 55. The weather was mostly sunny. It was on a warm summer morning, Tuesday July 15th.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Short Eared Owl #293

Bear River Bird Refuge, Utah

We had two family reunions in Utah the week before the 4th of July holiday. On our drive home I forced my family to endure a couple hours of birding so that I could see the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. We didn't really even make it to the 12 mile loop where the birds are the thickest due to the kids complaining that they were starving to death. Regardless, the couple of hours we spent driving to the beginning of the loop were very rewarding. We found a Short Eared Owl hopping around in the shade of an olive tree in an otherwise barren field. It was only 30 yards of the road and gave us great chances to look at it. I even think Jessica and the kids were impressed.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Trumpeter Swan #287

My first time identifying Trumpeter Swans was at the Dry Lake Area south of Nampa with my trusty bird-brained father-in-law. There was snow on the ground and the fog over the lake came and went. There were lots of swans on the lake that morning so it was a good opportunity to learn the differences between Tundra Swans and Trumpeter Swans. There are anecdotal difference in how they act and group together, but the really only good way to tell them apart is how the shape of their bills intersect with their heads.