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? ;-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Wishlist for the rest of 2009 ;-)

As we head into the 2nd half of October, we've already far surpassed expectations. It's been a really fun year of birding & fieldwork - I mean, how could a year full of bird surveys for work and birding trips to almost all corners of the state not be fun!?! We've both seen more bird species than we realistically expected and Heidi's already seen 130 life birds!

I originally predicted a year-end total somewhere between 260 & 280 and now we stand at 290 and 293 with over 2 months to go! Our ability to exceed our own expectations is due to several factors:
  1. the help & generosity of many other Idaho birders
  2. conducting bird surveys across a broad spectrum of habitat types
  3. (last but not least) a shred of craziness that drives us to bird as much as possible ;-)
Big Wood River riparian habitat, June 2009
(where we conducted bird surveys this summer ahead of habitat restoration efforts)

A skein of American White Pelicans over American Falls Reservoir, September 2009
(where we took a birding trip last month)

Our new goal is to both see at least 300 species in Idaho in 2009 and that means finding 10 more species for Heidi (actually, maybe 11 since the unique taxa known as the "South Hills" Crossbill - which we've both seen this year & hoped might be 'split' by now - is still considered to be conspecific with Red Crossbill). CAN WE DO IT? As we look ahead to the rest of 2009, here are some of the bird species that are regular in occurrence in Idaho (or at least somewhat regular; species in italics & parentheses are less likely) that we will be searching for:
  • Pacific Loon (check!)
  • Surf Scoter (check!)
  • White-winged Scoter (check!)
  • American Golden-plover
  • Short-billed Dowitcher
  • Barn Owl (check!)
  • Pinyon Jay
  • Western Scrub-jay
  • Blue Jay
  • Lapland Longspur
  • (Black Scoter)
  • (Red-shouldered Hawk)
  • (Gyrfalcon)
  • (Mountain Quail)
  • (Western Gull)
  • (Black-legged Kittiwake)
As you can see, it'll still be an uphill battle to reach 300. Much as I loathe to 'chase' introduced species, maybe Heidi'll hold a gun to my head & force me to look for one of the Gambel's Quail now established in the Salmon area (or maybe even make a big effort to find her a Gray Partridge ;-).

Of course, we're hoping we'll continue to get lucky with some out-of-range species (such as the Glossy Ibis, several rare warblers, and Rose-breasted Grosbeaks we've seen earlier in the year) so feel free to send us any tips on the above species or anything else that shows up!

Thanks & happy fall!



  1. Jay & Heidi,

    I've had Gray Partridge here at Avimor, in a little spot right off Highway 55. I'll have to check if they are still here. The old Spring Valley Ranch barn shows sign of a Barn Owl too, so I'll go check and get back to you.

  2. Go Robert! (but feel free NOT to find the partridge as I've already seen 'em this year ;-)

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  4. Hi,
    Perhpas you saw this IBLE post? It mentions the Blue Jay you seek ...

    "Along with Ralph and Sheri's Blue Jay we seem to have another eastern visitor making its presence known. Linda Yearsley emailed me on October 8 and let me know that she has a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak that is hanging out at her feeders. She sent me a couple of pictures to confirm. This makes 166 for the Boise County list for 2009.

    Spencer Walters
    Garden Valley, Boise County"

  5. yeah, we noticed...I think I had a request sent out to the Footes for BlueJay-updates within 10 minutes of them sending out the email ;)
    we're a little nuts, haha!

  6. Hi Heidi! It was fun to hear from you. I'm glad you liked the picture of yourself with the sharpie. I enjoyed reading several of the blog posts. You guys are nuts! It's nuts in a good way, though. I'm recording my birding adventures (though perhaps not as exciting as yours)on my birding blog at http://katesbirdblog.blogspot.com/. Hope we run into each other again soon. Happy birding! Blessings, Kathleen