Friday, May 29, 2009

Lucky to Live in an Idaho Birding Hotspot - Avimor!

Robert had a new and totally unexpected "life bird" this morning along Spring Valley Creek, a Gray Catbird. This makes "life bird" #299 for him. When, where, and which lucky bird will make #300?

Another cool Avimor first was a Spotted Sandpiper spotted on on the rocky shore of Avimor Town Lake.

Some other cool stuff:

56 species of birds were seen at Avimor in May 2009. That's pretty darn good for our foothills location. A pretty great month for birding at Avimor considering that 58 species have been seen here year to date.

The Parks boys discovered a Mourning Dove nest on the ground on the side of the hill very near the homes. Robert had seen Mourning Dove nests on wide horizontal branches before, but never on the ground. The All About Birds website says that it is common for them to nest on the ground in the west. Below is photo by Robert on Sunday, May 31st. An Avimor customer whose home will start soon observed the Swainson's Hawks mating the other day. Robert observed them mating again this morning. The nest is very near the Avimor Entry Tower, so it will be fun to watch more chicks being raised. Photo below by Robert.
There are now no Great Horned Owl chicks in the nest. I don't see them in nearby trees, but hopefully they are alive and well and just concealed by the dense foliage.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Avimor Birding Quick Update!

Swainson's Hawks are nesting just north of the Avimor Entry Towers. Very cool!

There are three or four Red-Tail Hawk nests with growing chicks up in the draws.

One of the Great Horned Owl chicks is missing. Shon says he saw it jumping from branch to branch recently, so it could still be around and just hidden. I hope it didn't join the great circle of life already. The other chick still seems to prefer the comfort of the nest.

The Lazuli Buntings seem to have moved on, or at least up into the draws to nest.

Black-headed Grosbeaks and Bullock's Orioles are still abundant.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Come Celebrate Urban Birds at Avimor!

Saturday May 16th
1pm to 4pm


Art projects for kids
Bird Walks
Native Plant Gardening

Live music by Bellamy Rose
4pm to 7pm

Bring a picnic and come and join us!

Warblerville at Avimor

This morning we had lots of Warblers at Avimor including Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Yellow-breasted Chat, Orange-crowned, Nashville, and the new one for the Avimor life list, Wilson's.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Idaho Bird Photography at Avimor

I get daily e-mails from the Yahoo Group called IBLE (Idaho Birders Linked Electronically). It’s a great central place for birders from around the state to share what interesting birds they’ve been seeing. The birding at Avimor has been so fabulous the last few days that I made a couple of posts to the IBLE site.

A photographer named Matthew Deren from McCall saw my post and contacted me to get photos of the Yellow-breasted Chat and the Bullock’s Orioles that we’ve been seeing here. Matt has been working on a book tentatively called “West Central Idaho: Transition in the Rockies” for the Brundage Nature Foundation.
He showed us a small sample of what the book will be. His photography is absolutely amazing. He has captured some amazing moments in wildlife as well as stunning photos of wildflowers that left us at the Avimor office ooing and awing. You can look forward to this book being available for purchase this fall. This blog post today displays a few of the un-edited shots Matt was able to get this morning and he graciously gave me his permission to use them.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Idaho Birding at Avimor in May

Birders in Idaho really enjoy the month of May as every day has new surprises. Today at Avimor we had a Swainson's Hawk hanging out near the entry towers nearly all day long. I have been seeing Swainson's Hawks in the valley for a month or so now, but this is the first I have seen at Avimor.
We had Black-capped Chickadees this morning. These cute little birds hang out year round, but I haven't seen them at Avimor for a couple of months. We had a good sized flock of Cedar Waxwings today mingling with about four dozen Lazuli Buntings. A mother Killdeer was running around with two little Killdeer hatchlings. I saw a handsome male Black-headed Grosbeak today as well.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Avimor Bird Walk: May Report

What a glorious day for birding! We saw 33 species today and lots of beautiful and colorful birds.
The birds of the day were a Lewis's Woodpecker, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Yellow-breasted Chat, Lazuli Buntings, Bullock's Orioles, Nashville Warblers, and the GH Owl and Red-T Hawk chicks. The Lewis's Woodpecker was particularly surprising for me today as
I had not seen one in Idaho previously.

Mallard 4
California Quail 7
Red-tailed Hawk 3
American Kestrel 4
Killdeer 2
Mourning Dove 12
Great Horned Owl 3
Lewis's Woodpecker 1
Downy Woodpecker 1
Northern Flicker 3
Western Kingbird 5
Black-billed Magpie 2
Bank Swallow 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 4
American Robin 12
European Starling 12
Orange-crowned Warbler 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Yellow Warbler 8
Yellow-rumped Warbler 12
Yellow-breasted Chat 1
Western Tanager 1
Spotted Towhee 2
Song Sparrow 5
White-crowned Sparrow 2
Black-headed Grosbeak 1
Lazuli Bunting 12
Red-winged Blackbird 24
Western Meadowlark 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 4
Bullock's Oriole 3
House Finch 3
American Goldfinch 12

Friday, May 8, 2009

Idaho Birding at its Best: Avimor

This morning I saw the return of a friend from last year: our Yellow-breated Chat, in the same place as last year along the greenbelt going toward the Water Reclamation building. I was surprised to see a Great Blue Heron down in our creek this morning too. Another cool bird to add to the Avimor list is a pair of Nashville Warblers that I observed near the owl nest. Another fine morning for birding at Avimor!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Magnificent May Morning at Avimor

I took a stroll along the greenbelt and Foothills Heritage Park this morning. The birds of color were in incredible abundance. Two dozen Lazuli Buntings deocrating a tree. Several American Goldfinch in their bright lemon yellow plummage. A handful of Yellow Warblers singing from the tree tops, and solitary orange-flamed Bullock's Oriole. I found a Black-billed Magpie nest where the parents were feeding Magpie chicks. Brown Headed Cowbirds were courting. Now that is how to start a wonderful day at Avimor!

The next beautiful bird to be looking out for is the Western Tanager. Last year we exprienced an "irruption" of Tanagers in this area. An "irruption" is a sudden upsurge in numbers.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

May means great Idaho birding!

I took a lunchtime hike with Shon and Ian today up the draw going east created by Spring Valley Creek. We saw all kinds of great wildflowers and butterflies. The birding was pretty great, especially for being a mid-day excursion. I think Shon just found a great birding hotspot at Avimor.

We found a Red-tailed Hawk on a nest. We found three young Great Horned Owls that are right at that stage where they are losing their baby-fuzz and are growing flight feathers. Two of them were snuggled up close together. The Momma-owl was also there nearby. In that same area we saw the first Lazuli Bunting of the year, along with an Orange-crowned Warbler. I heard at least three Yellow Warblers, but did not see them. There were several Yellow-rumped Warblers flitting about. I heard a Black-capped Chickadee. We saw White-crowned Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Northern Flicker, American Robin, European Starling, Swallows that I couldn't identify, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Willow Flycatcher, Black-billed Magpie, Meadow Lark, and lots of California Quail. I expect to see Bullock's Oriole any day up here at Avimor. I saw one on Sunday at Shadow Valley Golf Course on my way home from church, so they are getting closer.

Here are some warbler pictures that will help you identify some of the warblers common to this area:
Yellow Warbler

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Avimor has twins!

This evening my family took a walk with some good friends of ours along the green belt at Avimor. We just had to show off our owl. We noticed Momma Owl sitting up really high on the nest and she flew off to a nearby tree. Up popped a fuzzy white head with ginormous yellow eyes and a bill that looked too big for its face. The kids were all thrilled and fought over my binoculars to catch a glimpse of the new baby owl.

I went back later this evening to try and get pictures, but the beautiful sunset in the background didn't cooperate for good photography. This time Papa Owl was sitting on the edge of the nest and as he shifted over two white fuzzy heads popped up. Twins!

Names will be judged on how well they fit the theme and feel of Avimor. The prize will be a WoodLink Deluxe Cedar Bird Feeder! (Thanks to Habiscapes for the prize donation. You must be able to pick up the prize at Avimor.)

Avimor Backyard Birding

We've been living in our Avimor home for just over a week. I put out some birdseed and so far we've had visits from:

Red-winged Blackbirds
Mourning Doves
House Finches
California Quail
Say's Phoebes (not seed eaters)
American Robins (not seed eaters)
Black-billed Magpie
Brown-headed Cowbird

I have seen online posts recently in the birding world that Lazuli Buntings have come back to the Boise area, so we should be seeing them soon around here. Keep an eye out for this amazingly beautiful bird often seen singing from the medium-high tree tops in this area!