Original followers of this blog might remember that it started as the Avimor Birding Blog, named for the Boise foothills community where I lived and worked. This last Saturday morning I made a trip back up the hill to Avimor to do a little birding. It was delightful and nostalgic. The area consists mostly of desert steppe hills, worked over and abused for over a hundred years by sheep and cattle. There are several small canyon draws with a little running water. Those draws are packed with birds. I enjoyed dozens of Lazuli Buntings and Black-headed Grosbeaks. The young birds were capable of flight and appeared to play and chase one another, but were still food-begging from their parents. Hundreds of California Quail, with still very tiny chicks - perhaps a second brood.
Not only is Avimor breeding ground for Lazuli Buntings and Black-headed Grosbeaks, but at least 60 other species that I have documented in past years. One of my favorite local breeders is the Yellow-breasted Chat. Do you know where you can go and see a dozen or so chats in a half-hour walk? Avimor is such a place. This bird is so un-warbler like that certainly it must soon be rearranged on the taxonomic lists. The chat photographed below was in the company of a juvenile which was much more shy and mostly remained concealed.
Western Wood-Pewees are another abundant breeder in the relatively lush draws among the desert hills. I often hear them before I see them, but they're not too shy. Soon you'll spot them hawking insects from the sky. If you listen closely, you can even hear the snap of their bills while they are on the wing.