After a couple of years of wishing and hoping, my father-in-law, Lynn Davenport and I finally were able to get up to the Idaho Bird Observatory on the mountain above Lucky Peak. It was really awesome!!! (hopefully some pictures coming soon)
I recommend a visit to the IBO for every birder and non-birder alike. The steep, rutty dirt road is pretty tough and a 4-wheel drive high-clearance vehicle is preferred, but a cute little family did make it up their in a minivan this morning. The location and views are beautiful and the birding is excellent. The mountain is right at the tree line and views can be had of the entire Treasure Valley.
The staff at the IBO are incredible. They are super friendly, super knowlegable, do great with kids, and really know how to show people a fascinating time with birds. They have a series of mist nets set up in the brush to catch birds as well as nets to catch birds of prey. The birds are treated with the utmost care while they are removed from the nets, leg banded, measured many different ways, and then gently released back into the woods.
We got to see up close and in the hand several different species. This morning they were catching dozens of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, White-crowned Sparrows, juvenile Western Tanagers, and Mountain Chickadees. While I was observing at the banding station they had a very cute little Golden-crowned Kinglet, a Lincoln's Sparrow, a pink-sided Dark-eyed Junco, and an Oregon Dark-eyed Junco. They also caught a Wilson's Warbler and a Townsend's Solitaire. It is so amazing to hold these birds in your hand.
They also do hawk-watching from the hilltop. I saw my life bird #310 up their today, the Broad-winged Hawk. We also had a flyover of dozens Townsend's Solitaires and even an early Varied Thrush. My eBird list today had over 30 different species, and a few more were seen or heard by others.
All I can say is that I can't wait to go back again!
Thank you Jay Carlisle, Jay's mom from Connecticut, Caroline, Nate, Erin, the guy from Upstate New York, the guy from PA, and the couple other of you whose names didn't stick in my brain.