Posts tagged: birding
WILDLIFE WATCHING — While most snowy owls that migrated to the lower 48 states during winter are well on their way back to their arctic breeding grounds, at least one is still hanging out in Eastern Washington.
Last week, a snowy owl — standing out like a white beacon against the spring landscape — was reported by Inland Northwest birders in Whitman County.
Last month, Spokane author and naturalist Jack Nisbet reported seeing a snowy owl just north of U.S. Highway 2 in Lincoln County.
On Monday (May 20), Nisbet, traveling again in Lincoln County, snapped the photo above of a snowy owl — possibly the same one — 8 miles west of Odessa on Hwy 28.
Some birders speculate the late-to-migrate bird could be sick or injured rather than smitten with the scablands.
BIRDING — “I haven't seen any hummingbirds up here, yet, but I did find out what to call a group of them when they do arrive: a 'charm' of hummingbirds,” said Janis Woolbright of Woodland, Idaho, in an Inland Northwest Birders post last week.
“We don't have to resort to saying group or flock for all our different species,” she said, noting some of the chucklers in the bunch, such as a conspiracy of ravens.
OUTDO – National Migratory Bird Week events organized by area Audubon Society chapters are for the birds––and people who want to learn more about them.
A three-day Learn-to-Bird Workshop starts Monday and continues Wednesday and Friday, 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. at Spokane Falls Community College Science Building, Room 28/119. A field trip will follow on Saturday.
Events set for Saturday include:
Turnbull Wildlife Refuge tree and native plant restoration work party, 9 a.m.-noon, followed by a group potluck. Meet at refuge headquarters south of Cheney.
Info: (509) 235-4723.
Lake Coeur d’Alene family birding fair at Blackwell Island Boat Launch, 9 a.m.-1 p.m., includes adult and family activities such as migration obstacle course, scavenger hunt, bird feeder projects, feather painting, 'bird friendly” coffee, guided bird walks, Bird Bingo and live owls.
Directions: From Coeur d’Alene, drive south on Highway 95. Cross the Spokane River and turn right to Blackwell Island.Info: Coeur d’Alene Audubon, (208) 769-5048.
BIRDING — “As soon as I looked at it closer, I knew right away it was a Baikal teal,” said Western Montana birder Radd Icenoggle. “There have only been 11 or 12 of them spotted in the continental U.S. south of Alaska.”
He immediately going online Sunday night with his photo and observations of the rare sighting — in an irrigation ditch.
Like the storm that blew in last weekend, he created a flurry of activity among birders who wanted to bag a life-list bird they'd otherwise have to travel to another continent to see.
The male Baikal teal is unmistakable, with its striking green nape and its long-dropping dark scapular feathers. It breeds in eastern Russia and winters in eastern Asia.
Read on for the story from the Missoulian.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Hummingbirds have been known to begin trickling into the Spokane-Coeur d'Alene area as mid-April.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Organizers have assembled a collection of field trips and speakers while nature is supplying the wildlife for the 16th annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival. Sign up in advance on the website; many activities fill quickly.
Events kick off Friday (April 5) with boat tours on Potholes Reservoir and a “biking for cranes” tour.
Saturday’s events include tours of burrowing owl/ground squirrel habitat, tours that feature geology shaped by prehistoric flooding, tours of prime crane viewing locations, and dozens of lectures at Othello High School. Lecture topics this year will cover everything from crane biology to wildlife photography.
Vendors, children’s activities, and the opportunity to view raptors up close and in person will be also available throughout the day on Saturday. More tours will be available on Sunday.
The Othello farming community plays a central role in supporting crane migration each year. Cranes and other migrating birds feast on corn and grain left over from last year’s harvest, and some fields are left open through the migration season to allow birds the chance to rest during their travels.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The headline attraction at the annual Othello Sandhill Crane Festival has already arrived for the April 5-7 series of programs, field trips and banquets based out of Othello and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
Of course, plent of other birds, including long-billed curlews, and waterfowl, are enjoyed by viewers on festival field trips.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — As spring returns to northeastern Washington, Mike Munts, wildlife biologist at the Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge has resumed his periodic updates on refuge wildlife watching.
“It has been a bit of slow start,” he reported Sunday. T”he lakes and ponds are just starting to break up but the river has mostly thawed and Hatch Lake on the drive out from Colville is opening up so it should not be too much longer here.
“Temperatures have in the 50s the last couple of days and birds are starting to trickle in.”
One notable species seen this weekend is a white-winged crossbill.
Click continued ready for Munts' list of birds seen on the refuge in the past two weeks:
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A group of Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society members has a little contest to see how many species they can see in a year from their homes. You can bet the binoculars and spotting scopes are always on hand.
While all members of the club set a record of 209 species in 2012 for their Kootenai County big year, this group of 10 couples chipped in a whopping 110 species without venturing beyond their back yards.
Click here to see the report of the species they recorded.
Read on for a summary of their findings compiled by member Dough Ward.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — The great gray owl, widely distributed in the boreal forests of the north, also is found in a narrow swath of home range that runs south through far Eastern Washington, the Idaho Panhandle and Western Washington.
But seeing them is rare. I know birders who'd drive hundreds of miles to watch a great gray owl.
That's why Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson knew he was privileged to spend hours on three different occasions last week — shooting thousands of frames from his cameras — with a couple of the owls as they fed in a Montana forest meadow.
This particular bird kept flying and landing near me. She would then sit quietly listening. Often, she would look directly toward the snow and then lose interest.Every once in a while, she would not lose interest. She would silently fly and dive into the snow on the ground. She would go completely under the snow – Just her wing tips would stick out. Then, she would right herself and enjoy the fruits of her hunt. Sad for the mouse, but it is the circle of life.
She was probably 20 feet away on this dive. One cool thing, check out the bottom half of the beak – cool curve!
Even though great grays are huge owls, they have a taste for small rodents. They locate hidden prey with the help of large facial disks that funnel sound to their ears. Using their heft, they've been known to dive for a rodent with enough force to crash through a snow crust that's thick enough to hold a 180-pound person.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spokane Valley birders Marlene and Bob Cashen carefully watched a new bird on their block over the weekend to make this observation.
Saturday, February 16th, we had six female Pine Grosbeaks in our yard in Veradale — definitely a new yard bird for us. They were not actually eating berries but rather were extracting and eating the seeds from within the berries and discarding the pulp. In the picture you can see how the berries have been opened up and the seeds removed.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — There's a difference between seeing wildlife and observing them. Here's a thought just posted by Moscow birder Terry Gray:
I have been spending some time over the past years watching birds that eat fruit or which some think eat fruit and do not!
Example: American Robin and both Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings pick a berry or small crabapple from the tree and swallow it whole. There is some documentation that states that a Pine Grosbeak is a Fruit Eater. I disagree!
Whenever we have had the Pine Grosbeak in town I have made a point to watch them carefully eat. The DO take the berry or small crabapple from the tree BUT they do not swallow it. They pulverize it with their bill and tongue and spit out the pulp and swallow the small seeds that was in the fruit. To me that means that the bird is not eating the fruit but eating the product of the fruit, the seed.
I personally do not think that people pay enough attention to detail when making statements and even writing up articles about what they have observed because they have not observed the total picture before making their statements or writing their articles.
Just an observation about the way bird watchers do or do not watch birds very accurately!
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Unless there's a stray report still to come in, Inland Northwest Birders and Spokane Audubon tallied 238 species in their 2012 Spokane County “Big Year” effort to spot as many types of birds as possible.
Following are highlights compiled by Tim O'Brien of Cheney:
Black Scoter found by Jim Acton on West Medical Lake - October 25.
Gyrfalcon found by Terry Little on the West Plains - January 5.
Northern Hawk-owl found by the McKanns on the West Plains - January 7.
Red-breasted Sapsucker found by Becky Goldner near Mount Spokane - December 10.
American Three-toed Woodpecker found by Warren Walker on Mount Spokane - December 13.
Black and White Warbler found by Terry Little on Holcomb Road - September 3.
Tennessee Warbler found by Lindell Hagin at their residence by the Little Spokane - August 16.
Purple Finch by Terry Little at Peone Prairie - November 22.
Hoary Redpoll by Greg Falco near Cheney - November 23.
BIG MISSES: quite a few shorebirds such as Black-bellied Plover and Semipalmated Plover. Great Egret. Well, you can't find them all!
O'Brien said he's already started compiling reports for the 2013 Spokane County Big Year as well as documenting first found dates and locations for all species.
“2013 looks promising with a lot of winter birds around including snowy owl, common redpoll and pine grosbeak,” O'Brien said. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
RECORD SPOKANE COUNTY BIG YEARS247 species in 2006 — cumulative list from everyone all birders making sightings in the county during the year.230 species in 2006 — single birder record by Craig Corder.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Shirley Sturts has just posting this detailed wrap-up of the Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society's annual Christmas Bird Count. It's one of thousands of Christmas Bird Counts underway this month in the region and throughout North America.
Here are the details from CdA, where participants logged the highest number of individual birds in 22-year history of the club's participation in the century-old count:
The CDA CBC was held Dec. 15 with 30 field counters 12 feeder counters.
- We had 73 species and 10,223 individuals.
- In 22 years of this count, this is our highest number of individuals. Previous record was 10,119 in 2007.
- We tied with ‘03 and ‘07 for the most species.
The highlight of our CBC are the high number of hawks we counted:
- Northern Harrier 8
- Sharp-shinned Hawk 1
- Cooper’s Hawk 3
- Red-tailed Hawk 43 (previous record 26 in 2001)
- Rough-legged Hawk 19 (previous record 20 in 1993)
- Buteo sp 7 (previous record 3 in 2011)
- American Kestrel 18 (previous record 15 in 1999)
- Merlin 1
- Possible Peregrine or Prairie Falcon
- Gray Partridge 4
- Snowy Owl 1
- Spotted Towhee 1 ( observed three other CBC but only cw)
New to the count:
- Greater White-fronted Goose
- Ruby-crowned Kinglet
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A graphic design student at Eastern Washington University has captured the grace of the Othello Sandhill Crane Festival's featured attraction in artwork that has won the $500 top prize in the festival's annual art contest.
Xengyeng Xiong's computer-generated design, inspired by traditional origami cranes, will be featured on brochures and posters for the April 5-7 festival based out of Othello.
“I knew that one of (the committee’s) main goals was to attract a wide range of audience, so I wanted to make the poster modern…that’s how I ended up with a very geometric and clean layout design for the poster,” she said.
Biologists, geologists, birders, local farmers, authors, and historians will be leading tours and lectures at the annual event, which highlights the annual migration of the large cranes through the area.
The theme for this year’s festival will be “Migration” in honor of the dozens of bird species that travel through central Washington every spring and fall.
The Othello Sandhill Crane Festival is a nonprofit event chaired by an all-volunteer committee, and proceeds generated by the event go toward providing the following year’s festival activities.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A bird that migrated all the way south from the arctic helped Kootenai County birders break a record on Monday.
Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society members working on the annjual Big Year challenge for Kootenai County spotted a snowy owl — the 208th bird species verified in the county since Jan. 1.
The previous record was 207 species set in 2004, said Shirley Sturts, count coordinator.
Prompted by an unverified report of a snowy owl at Tubbs Hill earlier in November, Sturts joined Ed and Kris Buchler to scope out Rathdrum Prairie on Monday.
“We found an adult sitting on top of irrigation sprinklers on Huetter Ave north of Wyoming Ave.,” Sturts said.
“To get there go west from Highway 95 on Hayden Ave. to Huetter Ave. or east from Highway 41 on Hayden Ave. to Huetter Ave. Then turn north on Huetter, crossing over Wyoming. The irrigation sprinklers are in a field on the east side of Huetter, a short distance north of Wyoming Ave. Wyoming Ave. (running east/west) is on both sides of the airport. The Snowy Owl was west of the airport. Huetter runs north/south.
Grant County update: “Matt Yawney of Ephrata, doing a county Big Year, has found 235 species in Grant County so far this year!” says Inland NW birder Charles Swift.
BIRDING – Wildlife biologist Jeff Kozma, who specializes in cavity-nesting birds with the Yakama Nation, will present a program on the reproductive ecology of the white-headed woodpecker in Washington’s ponderosa pine forests on Wednesday, 7:30 p.m. at Riverview Retirement Community, Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave.
Click here for directions to the meeting location.
“We need to support natural winter processes,” said WDFW biologist Chris Anderson of Mill Creek, “and that includes shifts in foraging areas for migrating species like hummingbirds. Taking nectar feeders down at this time of year is probably more natural and avoids the potential for keeping birds dependent on them when they should be moving on. Wild birds are not pets that need to be taken care of through feeding. But if you want to maintain feeders, be responsible and committed to it. Keep those feeders clean, filled, and heated with lights if necessary.”
BIRDWATCHING — While the new commander at Fairchild Air Force Base is looking into options for bringing back the big Air Show, area birdwatchers are finding their own aerial displays of high-speed flying.
You simply have to know where to look.
Check out this Tuesday report from local birder Jon Isacoff:
Quick run to Sprague sewage lagoons today. A pleasant surprise was a PEREGRINE FALCON that bombed shorebirds and waterfowl several times, losing a chase with with a Wilson's Phalarope. Shorebird species present:
The conference offers choices of daily field trips ranging from northern Pend Oreille County south into Whitman County.
See online details of speakers, field trips and conference registration.
Evening speakers include Jeff Kozma on the white-headed woodpecker and Michael Schroeder, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department wildlife biologist and expert on the region’s mountain grouse.