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? ;-)

Thursday, December 31, 2009


What a way to end this year!

Just as I was becoming content with the "almost 300" total of 294 species for 2009, the Howe Christmas Bird Count came along ...

yesterday around 5PM I was in the movie theater with my family, anxious to get home and START packing for the Boise State trip to Kenya which Jay and I are leaving for tomorrow (1/1/10). yikes! I had a lot to do! I had no time to waste...

then...I got the text (in the middle of a fight scene during Sherlock Holmes): "CRESTED CARACARA IN HOWE!!!" (Howe, ID is a 4 hour drive from Boise) My first thought: "crap! no way can we chase that!" My second thought: texting Jay back "what time are we leaving tomorrow?"

YUP, we truly are insane birders! We both rushed home to start packing after our respective movie and soccer game (as of 8PM 12/31/09 neither of us are done). Our plan: to leave Boise at the terrible-horrible hour of 5AM, in order to hopefully miss the correctly forecasted snow storm now hitting us.

We were up Dark and Early :) Sunrise from the road near Arco

After ~4 hours of sleep, we hit the road... *yawn* :O As fellow Africa-traveler/birding buddy Rob Miller put it when he heard of our plan: "you guys are hardcore insane"

Starting @ around 920am, we scoured the area near Howe where the bird had been seen by Steve Butterworth, Kit Struthers, Mike Munts, and Marv Lambrecht the day before, but didn't have any luck. After about an hour, we received one of many calls from fellow birders who were scouring the area...this time it was Larry and Brian with the words we'd been waiting for: "any interest in a Caracara?"

We rushed to drive to the street they described, and arrived to see the group of birders with scopes aimed at a snowy field.....and there was the CARACARA!!!!!

The caracara and his snack....Happy New Year, Caracara. you look miserably cold

We drove in closer and watched for 45 + minutes as the young bird chowed down on a delicious looking piece of carrion. I dont think he realized he was only the 2nd (and probably the coldest) Caracara reported in Idaho. :) He was so cool with his long legs and bare face! woohoo! there were high-fives all around...What an awesome last year bird of 2009!!!

mmmmm, tasty! cow leg? dead cat?

the successful "hardcore insane" new years eve caracara chasers!! :D

The road home.....the snow hadn't hit yet!

this means:

FINAL TOTAL for 2009:

Jay: 298 species---4 of these were Jay state birds

Heidi: 295 species---133 of these were Heidi lifers

The birds Jay saw that Heidi didn't: Chestnut-collared Longspur, Western Scrub-jay, Gray Partridge

Heid saw her ENTIRE 'prior to 2009 Idaho lifelist' except for: Red-shouldered Hawk, Gyrfalcon, and Gray Partridge
you may ask: what's the plan for next year now that "Bird Idaho 2009" is over??? Well we dont know, but we ARE beginning the year birding in Kenya, so......Bird the WORLD 2010???? hmmm.....this could be dangerous! (and interesting...so please keep checking our blog :)


--Heidi and Jay


  1. What a way to end a fun year! And what a way to start a new birding year in Africa! Please keep the blog going with your birding adventures. You guys are some of my favorite people to bird with and to read about.

  2. Sweet! Happy Birding and safe travels in 2010.

  3. Amazing! The bird looks like a juvenile, which I guess is not surprising. Every once in awhile one of these unusual raptors shows up in a strange place. Probably a disperser surviving on carrion. A few years ago one was seen in SD. Oftentimes they are reported in LA, CA, OK, or NM.
    Send any caracara sightings my way please as these are extremely valuable bits of info!
    --joan morrison