Birds of the Month - July 2013 -
Rufuous Hummingbird babies on nest
Photographed by Dan Ratza July 2013 - His Home - Burma Road east side Lake CDA
Calliope Hummingbird on nest
Photographed by Tom Davenport July 2013
Bird of the Month - June 2013
Virginia Rail with two chicks
Photographed by Jo Rita Knopf--- June 6, 2013, Market Lake/Roberts Idaho
This is the first confirmed nesting record for Latilong 21 ---- to see map scroll the species list to Virginia Rail
Bird of the Month -May 2013
Bald Eagle Nest with two chicks
Photographed by Larry Krumpelman --- Turner Bay, Coeur d'Alene Lake
Bird of the Month - April 2013
Blue Jay - and Blue Jay with Steller's Jay
Photos taken by Carla Woempner in her yard east side of Coeur d'Alene Lake.
It first showed up in her yard on April 13, 2013 and was still there as of April 16.
The Blue Jay is common in suburbs and woodlands east of the Rocky Mountains. In the fall, winter and spring, a few will visit us in Idaho and other areas of the west. There have been an occasional summer sighting bringing up the possibility of their breeding here in the future.
Bird of the Month - February 2013
Photo taken by Rod Stamm from Thompson Falls, Montana (sent to Carrie Hugo for our Newsletters and Website
Bird of the Month - January 2013
Photo taken by Jan Severtson on January 3, 2013
Observers: Jan, Herb, Eric and Diane Servertson - a Kootenai County Big Year Bird
Bird of the Month - October 2012
By late September and the first week in October, our Osprey have pretty much moved south for the winter. There is an occasional one that hangs around a bit later. Bill Gundlach reported one as late as October 21, 2002 at Enaville. Lisa Hardy reported one on October 22, 2006 in the Kingston area and found one as late as October 30, 2005 while birding along the North Fork of the Coeur d’Alene River. As the Osprey leave, the Rough-legged Hawk moves in. However, unlike their water-loving relatives, they prefer the open space of fields and meadows where they can find their favorite food item, rodents. They also like to munch on grasshoppers, eating large numbers of them. They don’t seem to bother other birds, leaving those for falcons and accipiters. Around October 1st you should take a good look at hawks sitting on telephone poles where there are open fields. When you see a buteo hawk during the summer in the five northern counties, you can be pretty sure it will be a Red-tailed Hawk. Come October 1st you need to take a closer look. Although an occasional one could show up in September, October 1st seems to be the earliest of the arrival dates. I have October 1st as an arrival date for the years 1989, 1993, 1994, and 1995. Many years, including 2011, it was not reported to me until November. It could have been here in October but no one reported it. The Rough-legged Hawk spends the summers in the far north above the Arctic Circle where if builds nests of sticks and grass on the open tundra or on cliffs. Young are fed a diet of voles and lemmings. They winter in southern Canada and the United States, except for the southeast. There are six different plumages, making identification somewhat of a challenge. There is the light juvenile, adult female and adult male. Then there is the dark juvenile and adult female and adult male. The light phase is the easiest to identify with its dark wrist patch, dark belly band, and white tail with a wide dark band at the tip. Continued on page 3 Rough-legged Hawk Continued from page 2 Records show that the Rough-legged Hawk is a fairly common winter resident throughout Idaho where suitable open habitat is available. It was first recorded in Idaho by J.C. Merrill in 1897, a major and surgeon in the U.S.. Army stationed at Fort Sherman. (“Notes on the Birds of Fort Sherman”, Auk, Vol.14, No. 4, Oct, 1897). William B. Davis was the first to publish sightings of this species in southern Idaho, 1919-1921. (“Analysis of the Bird Population in the Vicinity of Rupert, Idaho”, Condor, Vol. 37, No.5, Sept.-Oct., 1935). I keep arrival dates in a database. Please let me know of any observations in the five northern counties
Bird of the Month - September
Eared Grebe – 1st North Idaho Confirmed Breeding Record
I subscribe to Inland-nw-birders, a list-server for the discussion of birds and birding in the Inland Northwest. On August 1, 2012, Terry Gray and Cindy Hudson reported a pair of Eared Grebes with two chicks on the Genesee Sewage Lagoon, in Nez Perce County. This is a first breeding record that I know of in North Idaho. It would be interesting to know why this pair chose this location for nesting. Eared Grebes, unlike other grebes, are very social and nest in very compact colonies. Their nests are constructed from marsh vegetation heaped together with mud to form a platform that is attached to cattail stalks and other aquatic vegetation.
Thomas Burleigh, in Birds of Idaho, wrote, “This species is extremely sociable and breeds in colonies that are so compact that a group of twenty-five nests will occupy a space not over twenty feet in diameter.” At the time he published this book, 1972, the Eared Grebe was only known to nest on Grays Lake in Bonneville and Caribou Counties. Starting in the 1980s Charles Trost, chairman of the Idaho Bird Records Committee, was reporting nesting colonies from Island Park Reservoir, Camas National Wildlife Refuge, Blackfoot Reservoir, Market Lake Wildlife Management area and other locations in southeastern Idaho with suitable habitat. Island Park Reservoir had as many as 60 nests. Charles reported 85-105 nests in the Duck Valley Indian Reservation, Owyhee County in the summer of 1993.
Do you suppose this pair in the Genesee Sewage Lagoon is a pioneer? Were they finding conditions too crowded in southern Idaho and looked for suitable habitat further north? It seems this small sewage pond fit their needs and they settled down, all alone, to raise a family. Will others of their species join them next year?
In another Inland-nw-birders email (August 6th), Terry recounts the following observation. “Kirsten Dahl and I birded The Genesee Sewage Lagoon and both adult Eared Grebes are busy feeding their chicks. Each adult is busy with one chick each. It was fun to watch as they are constantly finding something to feed the chicks.” This fits the information I found in The Birds of North America No.433, 1999. When the chicks are first hatched the parents take turns carrying the young on their back while the other parent brings food. At around 10 days old, the parents divide the surviving young between them for feeding. In about 20 days after hatching, the brood is on its own.
Another interesting fact from The Birds of North America states, “Immediately after the breeding season, most of the population, adults and juveniles, move either to Mono Lake, CA, or Great Salt Lake, UT, to exploit the superabundant crops of brine shrimp and alkali flies that thrive in those waters.” I’ve been to Mono Lake in late August and saw hundreds of Eared Grebe on the lake.
The Eared Grebes we see in north Idaho are fall and spring transients, plus an occasional winter visitor. They are all in their drab winter plumage, very similar to their close cousin the Horned Grebe and easily mistaken for them. Terry, Cindy and Kirsten had a rare treat when they found this pair decked out in their breeding plumage and tending two chicks.
Additional Information on the Eared Grebe sighting
Charles Swift, eBird editor and Idaho Bird Records Committee Member, says that Eared Grebe nest commonly in eastern Washington. He thinks this would likely be where our Genesee pioneer pair came from. Charles indicates they are opportunistic in their breeding, nesting when conditions and habitat are favorable. He thinks this may be the case with this Genesse pair, rather than this being significant in terms of range expansion,
I asked Jonathan Isacoff, a birder from Spokane, what information he had on Eared Grebe colonies in Washington. Here is the information he had for us: "It is hard to say 100% for sure but here is what the evidence I have without doing surveys suggest:
Reardan (Lincoln Co.) - Confirmed annual breeding population of about 25-40 pairs. Reardan is 3 miles west of the Spokane Co. line.
Sprague Lake (Lincoln Co.) - Not confirmed but strong suspected. Could be more than 10 pairs.
Philleo Lake (Spokane Co.) - I believe Michael Woodruff confirmed adults feeding young there several years ago. Breeding population would be likely less than 10 pairs.
Turnbull NWR (Spokane Co.) - Confirmed breeding with high count of 200 pairs in 1964 per Birds of Washington (Tweit, et. al.)
Sheep Lake (Whitman Co.) - Not confirmed but suspected breeding, likely less than 10 pairs.
They also breed in numbers in the Adams, Grant, Okanogan, Douglas, and Franklin Counties (per Birds of WA).
The largest known E. WA population is at Soap Lake (Grant County). Ryan Merrill reliably estimated 800 birds there several summers ago and Steve Mlodinow reported 1,200 at Soap and Lenore Lakes combined total in 2001."