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, May 16, 2009

Quest for the Hermit Warbler

Jay and I started off Saturday at the celebration of International Migratory Bird Day at the MK Nature Center in Boise. As part of the activities that day, the Idaho Bird Observatory was doing a banding demonstration for the visitors. We had a bunch of fun with the kids, and I enjoyed banding some new species, like Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds! (though my fingers enjoyed it less because of their surprisingly 'large talons' *insert obscure Napoleon Dynamite movie reference here ;)

But throughout the day, the plans we had made the day before were constantly in the back of our minds: a Hermit Warbler had been sighted in the nearby Owyhee Mountains on Friday, and we were all set to chase it down once banding was over.

So, after lunch and packing up the nets, we followed in 'hermit-finder' Jim Holcomb's footsteps: down the highway, and a few miles up a dirt road, 'till we reached a pretty riparian area. We walked up the draw, birding our way until we reached the rock-pile marker of the bush where the Hermit Warbler had been spotted :) Though we birded the draw for a few hours, we never ended up spotting the Hermit...though we did see tons of other awesome spring birds!

We saw lots of singing Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers, singing Chipping, Brewer's and Vesper sparrows, Hermit Thrushes, Spotted Towhees, Hammond's Flycatchers, and lifers: Gray Flycatchers, Green-tailed Towhee, and 2 singing Male Townsend's Warblers (once, we had both of them in the same binocular view!)

After leaving the draw, we explored a rocky hillside in search for Black-throated Sparrows. We didn't find these either, but we did get a chance to hear my first singing Sage Thrasher, and I got to see another Lifer: Lark Sparrows! (I also got a whirlwind tutorial of the sage-dwelling sparrows, as we were able to see in flight and hear call notes of 4 different species in a short time: Lark, Vesper, Chipping and Brewers...we'll see how much o' that sticks when we start doing point counts later this week...yikes!!)

We didn't find the species we were searching for, but found some pretty sweet birds in the process!

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