Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Long-billed Curlews are returning!

'And, why does this matter to IBO?', you might ask. Because, in cooperation with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG; http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/), IBO will be launching a couple of new studies in 2009 with the goal of building a long-term partnership with IDFG to cooperatively study bird species that are considered especially sensitive in the state (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/apps/cwcs/index.cfm?category=5). Thus, in 2009 our focal species will be Long-billed Curlew and Flammulated Owl.

Long-billed Curlew - photo by Mike Baird

Long-billed Curlews (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/tech/CDC/cwcs_appf/Long-billed%20Curlew.pdf) nest in grasslands throughout the central and western US. An area of Bureau of Land Management (BLM) land roughly bordered by Emmett, Middleton, Parma, and Sand Hollow in SW Idaho has historically hosted one of the densest breeding populations in the state and this is where we'll be working. I'm excited to get a chance to work (scientifically, that is) with a new species!! Field work is set to begin in April and we may be seeking volunteers so keep in touch if interested.

Flammulated Owl - photo by Greg Lasley

Flammulated Owls (http://fishandgame.idaho.gov/cms/tech/CDC/cwcs_appf/Flammulated%20Owl.pdf) nest in coniferous (mostly Ponderosa Pine and Douglas Fir) and aspen forests throughout the western US and parts of Mexico. They are a neotropical migrant (winter range largely in the New World tropics; in this case, pine and pine-oak forests of Mexico and northern Central America) that typically arrives to the state in early May and departs in September or early October. We've studied this species at Lucky Peak during fall migration for a decade but this will be our first opportunity to study these birds during the breeding season. Partly because of its nocturnal habits and possibly also its vocal similarity with the larger Long-eared Owl, relatively little was known about this species & its distribution until the last 30+ years and there's still much to be learned - including population status. We're working together with IDFG to develop a long-term monitoring program for this species and 2009 will be a pilot year. Survey areas are yet to be determined but field work will begin in mid-May.



Birding Competition between IBOers ;-)

Back in January, Heidi (new IBO volunteer in 2008 who's quickly become a birding fanatic) and I decided to each keep track of how many bird species we see in Idaho in 2009 and pretty soon we got carried away, made it into a (mostly ;-) light-hearted competition, and decided to create a blog. It's been going for about a month but I keep forgetting to post a link to it here on the IBO blog - so here it is finally:

In addition to birding a lot of areas I haven't often (or ever) birded and/or at different times of year, we're also endeavoring to bird with as many Idaho (or visiting) birders as we can and we've done pretty well so far and enjoyed it! If interested, please check it out (and maybe add it to the list of blogs you follow) and you'll see that we've spent far too much time checking out gulls (including an adult Iceland Gull we found!) but we've also seen a bunch of other cool birds, including a male Black-throated Blue Warbler that showed up in Boise for a couple days in Feb (!) as well as the many great birds that occur regularly in Idaho, and many great areas - like the Snake River canyon.

Enjoy & happy birding!

Mission: to contribute to the conservation of western migratory landbirds through cooperative research and public education