Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Idaho Birding Hotspots: Black's Creek & Indian Creek

Just southeast of Boise is a great little pocket for birding, especially for waterfowl and shorebirds: Black's Creek and Indian Creek Reservoirs.  Both reservoirs are near enough to each other that you almost can't go to one without checking out the other.  Both seem to have different species happening on the same day.  Several acres of shallow water and mud flats in the middle of the desert are very enticing for migrants.  At both locations are also small clusters of trees and bushes where migrating song birds congregate to fuel up for further travels.  Both of these locations can sometimes be absolutely barren of bird life while the next day it is a teeming avian smörgåsbord.  It is always worth stopping and checking it out.  Remember, a spotting scope is really essential for getting the most out of these two reservoirs.

The birding gods smiled upon us Saturday afternoon when we stopped at both locations.  We observed 54 species at Black's Creek and 44 species at Indian Creek.  Add in the nearby Mayfield loop and I had 18 first-of-year birds, including the lifer Snowy Plover.

American Avocets in awesome breeding plumage at Black's Creek Reservoir on 8 May 2010.  The two Avocets in back must have been having a territorial dispute with the two in front as they chased and yelled at them.

American White Pelicans and a Northern Shoveler at Indian Creek Reservoir.  I had never seen the raised plate or horn on the bill before, but it grows large during breeding season. It was fun to watch them as they simultaneous dipped their heads to catch fish.

Wading American Avocet and butt-shot of the Snowy Plover.

Birding with Jay, Heidi, and Harry is a real treat.  Their birding skills, talents, and experience are very impressive.  I feel pretty competent when I am out birding on my own or leading a group on a bird walk, but when it comes to field identification skills by sight and sound, these three are pretty amazing birders.  We probably identified a dozen or more species as a group that I wouldn't have been able to do on my own.


  1. Looks like some awesome birding..Cant get enough of the Avocet..beautiful in breeding plumage!

  2. Great day at the reservoirs Robert! That first shot of the American Avocets is fantastic.

    I also really enjoy heading out with other, more knowledgeable birders, especially the ones that can ID many birds by call. My bird call repertoire is getting better (although not so my hearing) but there are a couple of people in our Audubon group that know many more calls than myself and that leads to actually spotting more birds.

  3. Looks like they are dancing in the first photo, MB

  4. The Avocet photos are beautiful.

  5. The Snowy Plover is so cute. I'd love to see one someday, and I always love seeing Avocets. Their bills and coloring are beautiful. Love the photo of the White Pelicans with the shoveler swimming "against the current!"

  6. Excellent photos, especially the Avocets!

  7. Great shots, I love both the Avocets and the pelicans.