A (mostly) friendly competition between 2 avid birdwatchers that are also friends/co-workers. Who can observe more bird species in Idaho in 2009? Will they still be friends at year's end? ;-)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Dams, Dumps, and Cemeteries

Jay and I had a pretty cool day of birding today! 61 species total!
Raven mobsters, Rosy Finches, dashed hopes, gazillions of Robins and more! :D

We started out the morning heading to Swan Falls Dam. On the way, we spotted a couple bunches of Horned Larks (even a couple that were singing) and raptors, including Rough-legged hawks, Golden Eagles, Ferruginous Hawks, Red-Tailed Hawks, and a Prairie Falcon.
We also saw tons of Ravens.

On the road, we spotted some big bird chasing a much smaller bird, flying very fast! We realized it was a raven, chasing a pigeon! the raven followed right on the pigeons tail, and then totally took it to the ground! (poor pigeon) Then a mob of about 6 ravens started attacking the pigeon while it was on the ground. They would swoop over the pigeon's head and tumble it, or walk up and poke at it.
A rough-legged dropped by for a while to check out the action, but didnt end up taking the pigeon, even though it was right in front of him!
(we wondered why the mob didnt kill the pigeon after going to all that trouble....maybe the dude owed them money? ;)
After a while most of the ravens left, and we decided to continue on the road, leaving one dorky raven dancing around not knowing what to do with himself.

At the dam not much was happening. Besides some ravens goofing around on the canyon walls, we saw a bunch o' coots on the water, along with a few common goldeney and a western grebe.

BUT, on the road out of the dam we spotted a flock of unusual looking birds. They flew up by the car, then landed on the side of the road. gray-crowned rosy finches!!!

A LIFE BIRD for me! :D

They ate on the side of the road and worked their way to within a few feet of the car, and we were able to watch them for about 10 minutes. We counted 15 birds. Mostly Hepburn's, with at least 2 of the interior race. They flew and landed a couple more times as we drove up the road.

it was awesome!

Then it was off to Canyon Hill Cemetery for the crossbills. On our way we spotted other birds including a pheasant, meadowlarks, collared-doves, some cute kestrel-couples and some more of the same raptors as before.

At the cemetery we saw pretty much everything except the crossbills! Creepers (one climbing up the side of a tombstone), both kinglets, BC chickadees, yellow-rumps, townsend's solitaires, siskins, house finches, nuthatches, A. goldfinches, starlings, robins, flickers, canada geese, green-winged teals, a cormorant, and mallards. Also a pair of cool displaying red tails!
after more wandering, we finally heard crossbills! a group of four came in and landed in the tree tops. All females, and no white-wing's!

next we headed to Pickle's Butte, where we ran into the SIBA gull group, lead by RL Rowland; just leaving after not finding much there. We tootled around with them for a while, searching for barn owls, and seeing mostly song and white-crowned sparrows and one northern harrier.

A short drive took Jay and I to the park in Marsing, where the third time was not the charm, and the Green Heron still eluded us. (this wasnt surprising though, since with the warm weather came lots of families and fisherman)

We saw plenty of other birds though, including a few immature herring gulls (mixed in with the ring-billed' s and california's) marsh wrens, ring-necked ducks, a pied-billed grebe, common mergansers, and 5 red-breasted mergansers-3 males and 2 females
There were plenty of goldeneyes, but sadly (oh so sadly!) for Jay's year-list situation, not a single barrow's could be found!
He scanned and scanned with the scope (in the shade of course, because DUDE it was HOT!...yes, this was coming from the previously-dubbed tropical flower :) Thats at least one species on Heidi's Idaho year list that's not on Jays! hahah!

then we returned to Canyon Hills Cemetery, with no luck on crossbills. But we were able to find one of both a Cooper's and Sharp-Shinned hawk's.

Our last stop, just at sunset was to Dry Creek Cemetary on Hill road. The hoped-for Eurasian Wigeon wasnt spotted, but in the cemetary itself were TONS of robins, starlings, and california quail! We guessed there were at least 1,000 robins, flying in to roost from all directions. And who knows how many starlings and quail (enough birds that we were surprised we made it out without being poo'd on :) and it was crazy-loud!
we also saw brewers blackbirds, cedar waxwings, juncos, house finches and a great-horned owl there.

it was a totally sweet day! :)



  1. I'm just gonna let you know now that you'll be getting further comments from me to the effect of "AAAARRRGH" or "WHAT SO JEALOUS" or maybe even "@#$!!&*&%"

  2. didn't you know that's my goal in life? to make you jealous of us Idahoans?