Sunday, August 29, 2010

Flocking to the Peak

As my season winds down (my final descent from the mountain will occur on September 10), others' just begins.  A barrage of new faces have ascended the peak, all accompanied with the fresh excitement that all field biologists feel when beginning a new job working with wild critters.  The hawk watch crew arrived first, psyched to begin counting all the migrating raptors that use the ridgelines to travel southward.  Two days ago, less than ten raptors were counted.  The following day, the counts jumped into the 40's.  Let the migration begin!  

Next, the owl crew showed up, struggling to adjust their sleeping schedule to survive the long nights.  "The first night [Sept 28] of Owl trapping resulted in one sleepy Common Poorwill (not so common to see in the owl nets!) and one angry Flying Squirrel! no owls yet" from IBO's facebook update. 

Alongside the raptor counting and owl banding, hawk trapping has commenced.  A skilled trapper and bander hidden in a blind; puppeted lure birds to attract the in-flight, migrating predators; a series of different traps set to snare them...providing for a very intriguing operation and allowing for some very up-close encounters with raptors.  I hope to dedicate a post to it before I leave, but don't hang your hat on it.

A few photos:
Hawkwatch International migration counters (Sarah and Ian) on the tippy-top of the peak, scanning for 'dem birds.
Our biggest catch yet...two red-shafted Northern flicker siblings

Common poorwill caught (with my bare hands!) on the dirt road that winds up to the peak

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Three Birds with One Stone

Finally...enough time (just enough) to get out another post!  I rarely come down from the mountain to get internet (and a shower...!), so I have three topics to cover, as follows:

1) Suby Tales Victory!  
Several posts prior, I posted my submission to Outside Bozeman magazine's Suby Tales contest.  After much prolonged anticipation, I discovered that I had won! (Coincidentally, the first person that told me I had won was the Steph in my story.  A coworker showed her a copy of Outside Bozeman, asking "hey, is this you in this story?").

I sent my buddy Trax to represent me at the Suby Tales Party held at the Montana Import Group in Bozeman (because I live on a mountain in the sky) and to collect my winnings.  During the party, Trax gave me a call and everyone there congratulated me (as well as laughed at me), which was very cool (except for the laughing).  I later found out that they had a bet going on whether I was male or female (since they only knew my name was Jesse...the male spelling by the way!) which is the reason for the laughter.

What did I win?  They were very generous:  a free detail (inside and out) for my car and $500 cash.  But wait!  They liked it so much that Montana Import Group decided I deserved more ("more?!!" I asked myself).  $250 extra.  Wow...who would have thought that losing your car to a fire could feel so good!

2) The Answers
The bird ID challenge was undertaken by a whopping 4 participants!  It was quite difficult, but two people came out victorious with a tie:  Kathy B and Glenn DeVoe (my pa)!  Good work! 

The correct answers:
1-Yellow-breasted Chat
2-Lazuli Bunting
3-Western Tanager
4-Bullock's Oriole
5-Nashville Warbler
6-Brewer's Sparrow
7-Spotted Towhee
8-Hairy Woodpecker
9-Golden-crowned Kinglet

3) Recent Happenings
The past two weeks have been quite slow...down to our lowest of 10 birds in one day, but most regularly 30-40 per day.  But, birds are starting to move now!  Yesterday we had 72, and today 102 boids!  With two rarities included:  a Tennessee Warbler (only 7 previous records at Lucky Peak) and a pacific variation of Orange-crowned Warbler (which typically hang out on the pacific coast area).  Hopefully I will get some pictures of them posted (none taken by me so I don't have any for this post). 

The IBO Research Station complete with a sketchy, dilapidated trailer for a kitchen 

The banding shack...where the processing of birds takes place.  Placed in the newly constructed "amphitheater."  From left to right: Gary (a very skilled bird extractor from the nets and a very appreciated volunteer), Jesus (from Spain, very skilled birder trying to learn all he can about North American birds), and Heidi (the most knowledgeable about processing the birds besides the boss...her presence is positively correlated with processing efficiency).

The amphitheater for groups to view the banding process.  With Gary, Heidi, and Jesus.
 Round 2!  Any guesses?!


#1 (same as above)




#5   (seen on shorebirding trip outside of Boise.  Very difficult!)

Monday, August 2, 2010

Idaho Bird Observatory

For those of you that are more interested in the Idaho Bird Observatory, you can check out their website and/or join their Facebook group (search for "Idaho Bird Observatory"), where you can get daily updates of the number of birds we are banding, as well as any special catches!