Latest from The Spokesman-Review
BIRDING — A burrowing owl chick knows when it's feeding time; knows when the meal's only half finished; and knows when the cricket is consumed and it's time to quickly retreat into the vacated prairie dog burrow that's become its nursery.
Check out this short video by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson for a ground-dwelling bird's eye view of the action.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spokane birder Kim Thorburn treats us to her July 10 observation of Spokane River bald eagles of the year taking their first flight from their nest in Riverside State Park.
This morning I watched the maiden flight of the second Riverside State Park-Deep Creek eaglet to fledge. The first and largest sibling left several days ago. The final pipsqueak remained branched by the nest, squealing as its second sibling tried its wings. The soaring went well but landing looked pretty hairy.
First, there was the matter of selecting a perch that was solid enough to receive pretty significant mass arriving with considerable velocity. Then there was figuring out and coordinating the wing rotation and tail rutter to reduce the velocity enough to light on the perch. The success of it all seemed quite remarkable.
A little while later, I watched a juvenile bald eagle soaring with a kettle of turkey vultures on top of Pine Bluff. I assumed it was the first sibling and wondered if it had already figured out that this might be a good crowd to hang with to improve the chances of the ever-constant foraging that it now faced. It seemed unphased as the only bird of the group that an adult sharp-shinned hawk persistently dive bombed.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — A boat-load of people will get a close-up view of wildlife biologists capturing and banding young osprey during a wildlife-watching boat cruise on Lake Coeur d'Alene on Saturday (July 13).
Space is limited, so sign up now for this event, which includes onboard presentations by osprey experts.
Make reservations through the Coeur d’Alene Chamber of Commerce, (208) 415-0110.
Online reservations are planned, but the option is not yet posted on the Chamber's website.
Cost: $15 for adults, $30 maximum per family.
The trip will run from 9 a.m. –11 a.m.
Read on for more details about the cruise, the speaker and the birds.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Spring reports of snowy owls postponing migration back to their arctic breeding areas to hang out in Eastern Washington have continued into summer. Here's a notice from the Palouse just posted by Inland Northwest birder Bill Siems:
A Snowy Owl with a fair amount of dark mottling was spotted while driving by the Plaza exit on US195 at 9:30 AM today. The bird was perched on the tall light pole over the N-bound entrance. In surprise, I turned around and parked just under the pole to recheck and get a photo.
22 days from hatch to leaving the nest. Just for some perspective, here are pictures of the empty nest. Yes, that is a standard, store bought chicken egg, so that is how big the nest is. And the picture of the empty nest lets you know that the final nest was actually spread out larger, as the chicks got bigger. The original nest into which the eggs were laid was more like a cup, than the final soup bowl shape.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Dusky grouse males seemed to be especially testy during mating season. One of the feathered bruisers even took on a Washington Fish and Wildlife policeman.
Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson was glad he was safely inside his vehicle when a different dusky made sure he knew whose territory he was in.
Check out his short video and live in FEAR of grouse.
We decided to head back to where we had the encounter with the crazed Dusky Grouse a week ago. Realizing that lightning doesn’t often strike twice in the same spot – it seemed worth a try.This time, we were prepared. The GoPro video was ready.As we rounded the corner where we had last seen the grouse, there to our surprise was our little friend standing in the middle of the road. I stopped the truck and shut it off. The grouse came running.It was almost a complete replay from last week. He flew to the roof of the car and tried to get in the Sun roof and drivers window (see image of grouse on roof looking into drivers window from the roof). The window was only rolled down about 2 inches.He eventually flew back to the ground and continued to circle the truck. I got out and hand-held the tiny GoPro video camera. He attacked the camera with a vengeance. He did manage to draw blood twice during the encounter! He targeted the fingers holding the camera.I returned to the truck and we drove away in defeat. This little guy is cranky…He was still standing in the road as we left.
WILDLIFE — You're living well when hummingbirds chose your yard for their nursery.
This is the second consecutive year Bill Bender has had a nest off the back porch of his South Hill home.
The chicks are seven days old in this photo from the weekend.
OUTDOORS – Experts in wildlife, wildflowers and geology will combine their talents for a festival of nature walks, youth activities and educational information on Saturday (May 18) at Turnbull National Wildlife Refuge.
The second annual “Floods, Flowers, and Feathers Festival” – completely free, including no entry fee into the refuge – will include nature hikes dealing with topics such as Ice Age Floods and Channeled Scablands, spring birds, wildflower and insects.
The refuge is 4.2 miles south of Cheney, off Cheney-Plaza Road. Drive to the refuge headquarters.
- Space is limited for some activities so it’s best to pre-register here.
Info: Turnbull Refuge, (509) 235-4723.
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.
UPDATED 12:30 p.m. with info from Idaho Fish and Game.
WILDLIFE — May is family time for bald eagles, which have been steadily gaining a greater foothold in the Inland Northwest as they're considered one of the shining examples of Endangered Species Act recoveries.
This bald eagle family was photographed at Lake Coeur d'Alene over the weekend by Larry Krumpelman and posted on the Coeur d'Alene Audubon Society website.
Idaho will conduct a bald eagle nesting survey next year, the first since 2008, when more than 50 breeding territories were documented in the Panhandle from Lake Coeur d'Alene and northward. Surely there's that many or more.
Spokane County alone has 15-20 active nests, said Howard Ferguson, Washington Fish and Wildlife Department area wildlife biologist.
The bald eagle, one of the first species to receive protections under the precursor to the Endangered Species Act in 1967, was been removed from the Federal List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants in 2007. After decades of conservation efforts, the bald eagle exhibited a dramatic recovery, from a low of barely 400 nesting pairs in the lower 48 states in 1963, to more than 10,000 nesting pairs.
Nesting bald eagles can be resiliant.
A bald eagle nest surveyed near Post Falls Dam blew down during an early July 2008 windstorm. The nest was home to 3 chicks at or very close to fledging. All chicks were observed after the windstorm and presumed to have successfully fledged.
The eagle pair rebuilt their nest in the same tree in December 2008, according to the IFG survey report.
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 — Washington Fish and Wildlife police officers are accustomed to dealing with testosterone-charged males strutting their stuff.
But officer Curt Wood stood up to a bird-brained attacker to get these photos. Here are the details from an edited version of the agency's Enforcement Division's weekly report:
While patrolling Lincoln County for turkey hunters, Officer Wood encountered a male dusky grouse that was strutting head on a primitive road. Officer Wood pulled his patrol vehicle up to the grouse and stopped.
Within seconds, the grouse jumped up onto the front of the officer's pickup and started strutting on the hood. Officer Wood was able to get one picture with his cell phone camera before the grouse jumped back onto the ground in front of the truck.
Wood got out of his vehicle and eased to within a foot or so of the grouse. While the officer was snapping more photos, the grouse suddenly attacked Wood’s hand, sending his camera flying several feet.
Wood was able to get a few more pictures (and a few more pecks to the hand) before he returned to his vehicle and tried to get out of there with his ego intact. While driving away, he observed the grouse chasing his vehicle for quite a distance down the road.
At last report, no charges have been filed.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Mating season is in full bloom around the region, and rooster pheasants are dressed to kill.
Check out the colors this cock displayed Wednesday for the lens of by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson.
WILDLIFE–The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council once again will be distributing pheasant chicks to people who have facilities to raise 25 or more birds for around six weeks before releasing them into the wild.
The council provides the day-old birds in lots of 25 and charge a fee to cover costs:
- 40 cents a hen
- $2.25 for roosters
- $1.50 for half roosters, half hends.
Starter feed is available, 50 pounds for $20.
The first shipment will be April 23 and continue every Tuesday until orders are filled, said program coordinator Larry Carey.
Reserve chicks in advance: 328-6429. Pickup will be at the council office, 6116 N. Market.
NATURE – Local Audubon chapters are sponsoring free 7 p.m. nature progams this week:
Wednesday (April 10): “For the Love of Ants: a Superorganism,” by Laurel Hansen, EWU natural science professor, at Riverview Retirement Center auditorium, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave., sponsored by the Spokane Audubon Society.
If you fish, hunt, dig clams or enjoy watching birds, keep your eye on the calendar this month:
April 9-14 - A six-day morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various Washington ocean beaches.
April 15 - Washington's general spring turkey hunt opens for hunters of all ages and runs through May 31.
April 24-30 - The month’s second morning razor clam dig is tentatively scheduled on various ocean beaches.
April 26-28 - The Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival, based in Hoquiam, celebrates shorebirds.
April 27 - Hundreds of lakes, including West Medical and Williams in Spokane County, open to trout fishing across the state for the biggest “opening day” of the year.
See The S-R's special 2013 Fishing Section coming Thursday.
WILDLIFE WATCHING – If you don’t think crows are cool, you haven’t read “In the Company of Crows and Ravens,” (Yale University Press) by John Marzluff, a University of Washington professor of Wildlife Science.
It’s one of many fun events set for EWU’s Get Lit! literary festival.
Marzluff’s latest book, “Gift of the Crow,” (Free Press) combines biology, conservation and anthropology to present an in-depth look at the way humans and crows have mutually influenced each other. The illustrated book reveals how crows share human behaviors such as delinquency, risk-taking, and even language.
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 — Idaho will allow up to two peregrine falcons a year to be taken from the wild by selected falconers under rules adopted by the state Fish and Game Commission Tuesday.
Rules allow the take of nestling or juvenile wild peregrine falcons during open seasons from 2013 through 2015. The capture season runs May 1-Aug. 31.
Read on for more details and history.
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 — At least one bird species in the Inland Northwest was way ahead of the crowd on the procreation front, as I mentioned in today's Outdoors column.
But birdwatcher reporting from Pend Oreille County Wednesday said they a raucus bunch of hungry nestlings proved that common ravens weren't far behind.
FALCONRY — For the first time in more than 40 years, up to two falconers in Idaho may once again get limited opportunity to capture and keep a wild peregrine falcon — a species federally listed as endangered from 1970-1999.
The Idaho Fish and Game Department proposes to allow the capture of two juvenile peregrines from the wild for falconry purposes in 2013 and has developed a set of draft rules for public comment through March 11.
The American peregrine falcon has continued to rebound since being delisted to the extent that in 2004 the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service authorized the capture of nestling peregrines from the wild for use in falconry.
In 2008, the Fish and Wildlife Service also allowed capture of post-fledging first-year peregrines – hatch year or “passage” birds.
States have the authority to manage the capture of up to 5 percent of annual production. Based on Fish and Game surveys, the most juvenile peregrines that could be taken from the wild in Idaho in any given year would be two birds.
Montana, Washington, Oregon, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona also allow the capture of peregrine falcons.
The peregrine has been used in falconry for more than 3,000 years, beginning with nomads in central Asia. Captured wild migratory peregrines were used regularly by North American falconers from 1938 to 1970 when the species was added to the federal list of threatened and endangered wildlife and plants.
Until 2004, nearly all peregrines used for falconry in the United States were captive-bred from the offspring of birds captured before the Endangered Species Act was enacted.
The successful recovery program involved a collaboration of Boise’s Peregrine Fund along with state and federal wildlife agencies. Falconers provided the needed expertise through a technique called “hacking,” the release of a captive-bred bird from a special cage at the top of a tower or cliff ledge.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — I've seen flocks of American robins off and on around Spokane this winter, but nothing close to the locust-like congregations found earlier this month near Walla Walla.
Carl Kjellstrand sent these two photos from the Walla Walla area and noted that the robins dimmed the afternoon sunlight.
HUNTING – “I hunt therefore I am (what)?”
Everyone might have a different word to fill in the blank in that phrase: condemnable, capable, cold-hearted, complete….
Fill in he blank as you see fit, but not before you give me a shot at explaining why an animal lover and wildlife conservationist would chose to be a hunter.
I’ll be giving a program on the topic Wednesday (Feb. 13) for the Spokane Audubon Society’s open meeting, 7:30 p.m., at Riverview Retirement Community, Village Community Building, 2117 E. North Crescent Ave.
- Click here for directions to the meeting location.
Sportsmen are among the most ardent year-round wildlife watchers and they contribute generously to wildlife conservation.
Moreover, animals are delicious.
But those are just a few of many reasons I hunt.
WILDLIFE WATCHING — Some wildlife photos happen spontaneously, the product of being ready to capture a surprising moment.
Other great photos are the product of planning, such as this great horned owl image by Montana outdoor photographer Jaime Johnson:
We knew where this guy was, so we packed up the camera gear, tripod, light stands, lights, Radio controls and did a 5 mile hike in 8 inches of snow to get to where he was roosting.A three second burst of images and it was all over….
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 — Although plenty of bald eagles are still hanging around, the annual congregation at Lake Coeur d'Alene peaked around Dec.19 and numbers are declining.
Carrie Hugo, U.S. Bureau of Land Management wildlife biologist, counted 157 bald eagles Thursday in cold, clear weather in the Wolf Lodge area where the eagles gather from November into January to feed on spawning kokanee.
That's down from 183 bald eagles counted Dec. 28during BLM's weekly survey.
A record 273 bald eagles was countedat Lake Coeur d'Alene on Dec. 29, 2011.
Hugo said she counted 31 immature bald eagles Thursday and126 adults, which have the white heads. Snow in the trees around the lake help camouflage adult eagles, making them more difficult to see – and easier to miss — than on a day with no snow in the trees.
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.