Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lucky Peak fall migration update

With many apologies for not posting sooner, here's an update on the migration happenings up at Lucky Peak. It's been a great start to the season and the best few weeks are ahead of us (see below for info on two upcoming Audubon Society field trips) so we hope to see as many visitors/bird fans as possible!

In particular, 2009 has been great for the diurnal raptors - both as far as the numbers we're counting and the numbers we're catching and banding - with numbers much higher than in recent years. As one example of a less common species, the hawkwatch crew counted 31 Broad-winged Hawks yesterday (Sept 21), including a kettle of 21 individuals. That daily total exceeds the season totals for all but two prior seasons!! Meanwhile, we haven't banded any Gyrfalcons yet but we have been getting really big numbers of especially Sharp-shinned and Cooper's hawks and American Kestrels. We've also started to see and catch a few Merlins in the last couple weeks and we're hoping that some Northern Goshawks will start appearing with more frequency in the coming days.

Here's a shot of me holding an immature female Merlin (columbarius subspecies), my best catch of the day last Thursday when MY MOM WAS IN THE BLIND WITH ME!! b/c this is my favorite raptor - photo by Holley Carlisle

Totals thru September 20:

Raptors 4,029 migrants of 15 species
  • Sharp-shinned Hawk 1,002
  • American Kestrel 870
  • Cooper's Hawk 842
  • Red-tailed Hawk 502
  • Turkey Vulture 408
Owls 35 owl captures so far (and Saw-whets are just getting started)
  • Flammulated Owl: 20 (3rd best season total!)
  • Northern Saw-whet Owl: 14
  • Long-eared Owl: 1
Songbirds 3,845 captures of 56 species, several highlights include:
  • a record 40+ Swainson's Thrushes (previous high of 26)
  • adult female Rose-breasted Grosbeak captured on Sept 9
  • immature female Chestnut-sided Warbler seen well by many observers on Sept 10 - found by visiting birder Ron Martin of North Dakota (attending the Western Field Ornithologist's conference that BSU & IBO hosted) - it was a lifer for a couple crewmembers/volunteers!
  • adult female Indigo Bunting captured on Sept 12 - our first ever @ Lucky Peak
  • immature Least Flycatcher captured on Sept 15 - our 2nd capture of this species
Adult female Rose-breasted Grosbeak (left) that was captured in the same net with this immature male Black-headed Grosbeak (right) on Sept 9, 2009 - photo by Caroline Poli

Adult female Indigo Bunting captured at Lucky Peak on Sept 12, 2009 ... the 1st we've ever seen or captured at the site! - photo by Stephanie Coates

Upcoming Golden Eagle Audubon Society field trips to IBO (see GEAS site for details):

Sat. Sept. 26, 8:30am – GEAS trip to Idaho Bird Observatory, Raptor Watch

Sat. Oct. 10, 6pm – GEAS trip to Idaho Bird Observatory, Owl Banding



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