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A wildlife population explosion takes place around this time every year and anyone can stumble onto a baby critter virtually anywhere outside. “Wild bird and mammal species typically produce young in the spring and early summer,” says Phil Cooper of Idaho Fish and Game. “This allows the young to have time to gain the strength and size needed to survive the challenges of winter, or the rigors and dangers of fall migration.”
The graying look of moose you might see in the field this spring isn’t the result of old age. It’s likely the work of blood-sucking ticks.
The past week of snow and frigid weather has been but a minor setback. Bird migrations will be getting into full swing through the Inland Northwest this month as sure as the sun will rise tomorrow. Birdwatchers already have been reveling about new arrivals at their feeders and favorite birding hot spots.
A resident of Silver Lake emailed a concern this month that he’d seen no nesting red-necked grebes around the lake. He wondered if motor boat traffic was foiling the waterfowl’s ability to raise clutches on their nests of reeds and grasses that float on the lake’s surface.
We’d like to think we live in a relatively pristine area without need for environmental regulations or Superfund help. But 150 or so tundra swans a year tell us something contrary as they slowly die during their migration stopover along the Lower Coeur d’Alene River.
Growing use of smartphone applications, field access to the Internet and recordings to flush out bird species for better viewing and photography could be impacting the survival of some birds. Experts recently interviewed by The Seattle Times say overuse of high-tech apps can stress male birds that believe a recorded song signals a rival invading their territory.
On any given day in the spring, a shed surrounded by rolling vineyards on the fringe of Kennewick holds about 20 young barn owls. They’re confined until they grow big enough to eat a whole mouse.
The albatross has had more ups and downs with Japan’s seismic events than the courtship flight of a snipe. While the world focuses on Japan’s March 11 earthquake disaster, a small group of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service biologists is tending to the ripple effects of the tsunami that washed over little specks of Pacific Islands 1,200 miles northwest of Honolulu.
Several of the 11 owl species that inhabit most parts of Idaho and the region are already well into their courtship and production of a new generation, according to Jim Lukens of the Idaho Fish and Game Department. They get the early start so the hatching of owlets will coincide with peak prey abundance in spring. That gives owlets a long summer to become skillful, self-sufficient hunters, he said.
It's the shedding season for the area's deer, elk and moose. Even the biggest bucks and bulls have been getting rid of their head-gear and looking a lot like the girls.
Kris Buchler, who was teaching a beginner bird-watching class for Coeur d’Alene Audubon this spring, was tentative when a novice asked her, “What’s the best field guide to birds?” “Everybody has their favorite,” the expert birder said, noting that birder watchers come up with lots of nits to pick.
Heavy equipment operators could sometimes be accused of being on a power trip when they’re maintaining the huge transmission lines that traverse wildlife habitat in this region. But neighbors say a Bonneville Power Administration crew working near Colbert last month deserves a tip of the hat for their sensitivity to a just-hatched family of woodpeckers that could have been regarded as pests.
Experts from across the U.S. attending the burrowing owl symposium last month in Umatilla, Ore., may have outnumbered the species’ dwindling population in the Mid-Columbia. Thirty-five wildlife specialists concerned about the future for the diminutive owls talked about why they believe the endangered bird seems to be losing habitat and population across the Western U.S. and Canada.
Artificial burrows might help turn the tide on declining burrowing owl numbers in Washington Volunteers are helping state and federal biologists encourage more of the owls to nest by expanding a network of artificial burrows that have been successful in encouraging owls to nest in Oregon.
In a natural area, killdeer lay their eggs in a slight depression of gravel, perhaps near a stream. But these prairie-loving shorebirds are remarkably adaptable to rearing young among the feet and tires of humans and other beasts.
The term “falling in love” is especially appropriate for breeding bald eagles. Although most pairs in this region are nesting by now, their passions were revved up during late winter or early spring with a gripping plunge into their relationship.
The 1953 archive photo of a white skunk published with a Critter Watch column on March 14 hit home with local reader Priscilla Brash Martin. “What a surprise to see the albino skunk that I grew up with,” said Martin in an e-mail.