Back to the Birds

Dry Canyon
The desert is as green as Yellowstone was white.  All the plants, from the cheatgrass to the low larkspur to the antelope bitterbrush to the willows in the drainage bottoms, are putting their photosynthesis skills to use.  Many are displaying their brightly colored billboards, declaring to all passing insects that this is the best place to dine.   

Low Larkspur

A small scale predation event (pretend the ants are wolves and the beetle is an elk)
It feels great to be back in the sagebrush desert of Idaho; I have missed it greatly.  My position with the Idaho Bird Observatory has brought me to the BLM Shoshone District, where I spend my days scrutinizing canyons, power lines, and buttes for the nests of raptors, ie golden eagles, prairie falcons, ferruginous hawks, etc.  So far, I have only found one nest...that of a red-tailed hawk, but Heidi, my coworker who has been here for 1.5 months already, has found several, including golden eagle and prairie falcon nests.  It is an exciting time out in the real world (yes, the real world); all the birds are going nuts building nests, laying eggs, flirting with their boyfriends, incubating, and some are already feeding youngsters.  I am stoked to be observing it all happen.

Short-eared Owl
Our BLM diesel truck...very fun to drive.
My living conditions are nearly as plush as in Yellowstone.  We are staying in a six bedroom, three bathroom, three fridge bunkhouse with everything provided (even a washer and dryer).  I think I'm becoming a marshmallow biologist.

The super comfy, brand new couches with big screen TV
The kitchen, with Heidi demonstrating one of many uses of a kitchen table.
 It is also the case that I am living in an extremely beautiful area, that being Fairfield, ID.  With the Soldier Mountains to the north, the Bennett Hills to the south, and surround by the Camas is a fantastic area.

 More pictures to come....


  1. As usual Jessie you've got some amazing photos here and just delicious little nuggets of writing. Keep it coming; I'm excited to see how the coming months unfold for you.

  2. What a great job of setting the scene, Jesse. Terrific camera work. Ditto on the writing. I didn't know that stat about raptors. You inspire us to learn more. Friends monitoring them for science showed us a ferruginous hawk nest, and the fuzzy grey heads bobbing within. Do you have a favorite hawk ID guide?

  3. So far, I have not needed a guide other than my Sibley Field Guide to Western Birds...maybe because we know what to expect in the habitat we are looking in...? Though, there are many times that I wish I had a reference for aging or color morphs. So if you run across a good guide, let me know!

  4. Jesse, our friends showed us this one and it looked very good. The two-page spread for each species shows different angles, ages, color morphs...

    Hawks from Every Angle: How to Identify Raptors In Flight (Paperback)
    ~ Jerry Liguori (Author), David Sibley (Foreword)


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