Friday, July 26, 2013

IBO Bird Banding at Lucky Peak

Greetings from Boise, ID

Over the past couple of weeks I have been learning how to band birds at Idaho Bird Observatory's Lucky Peak field station.  It's a great spot, as it is the last bit of forest before miles of desert to the south for migrating birds to stop and fuel up.  Believe it or not, we have already had a couple species that were obviously migrating (you can tell by the large fat stores).  But, for the most part we are catching resident birds, although many are post-breeding dispersal birds.  

A couple of the biggest highlights has been catching a Sharp-shinned Hawk in a songbird net, a juvenile Yellow-breasted Chat, and a Northern Flicker.  

It's been a busy start to the season with 100+ individuals most days; hopefully it will keep up through the fall.

To follow along with the Lucky Peak Field Station season more closely go to the IBO Facebook page at:

A male Black-headed Grosbeak

The first hawk I've held; a Sharp-shinned

A Black-chinned Hummingbird in my hand, it looks tiny!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Book Reviews: Princeton Pocket Guides to Mammals of China and Wildlife of Australia

I had no idea that China has so many or such a great variety of mammals until I opened up Mammals of China! China is actually home to more than 10% of the world's mammal species and some of them are absolutely amazing.

Most profiles have a wonderful drawing of the species and information on distinctive characteristics, distribution, natural history, and conservation status. The distribution maps are also quite useful and detailed.

I would recommend this book for anyone that is travelling to China and hopes to observe and study any of the 558 mammals that occur in this diverse country.

This book can be purchased for $17.60 on Amazon.

The Wildlife of Australia covers 350 birds, 70 mammals, 30 reptiles, and 16 frogs, all of which are likely to be seen in Australia's major tourist destinations. This makes this book perfect for those people making their first trip to Australia or those that are not visiting Australia just for birding.

While this book is from the same pocket guide series as the previous book, it has a distinctly different feel due to the use of photos rather than drawings. This book offers a good section on the habitat zones of Australia and has wonderful photos of each habitat and species that is discussed. For such a small guide, there is quite a bit of information about each species as well.

This book can be purchased for $14.75 on Amazon.

We received a copy of this book from the publisher to review on The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Book Review: The Warbler Guide

There are not a lot of books out devoted exclusively to the breeding warblers of North America but The Warbler Guide is easily the most comprehensive guide on this subject that has ever been published.

While the book is aimed at more experienced birders, I feel that  newer birders will find the chapter titled "What to Notice on a Warbler" extremely useful and applicable not just to warblers but all birds. One part of that section, The Face, is something that Eric and I have been talking about for years! Almost every North American warbler can be identified by its face alone so pay particularly good attention to that section including the Visual Finder for faces that is located on pages 100 - 101.

At the beginning of each species profile, the authors have created fantastic icons to indicate silhouette shape, color, tail pattern ,range, preferred habitat, and behavior. Each profile also offers a large number of photos of warblers of all ages, sexes, and plumages. I have never seen a guide offer so many photos!

One of the biggest new and different sections of this book are the sonograms of each species songs and calls. There has been a ton of research in this field especially by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Macaulay Library and this book puts all of that research to good use! While it might be a little hard for some birders to follow, I believe that the audio companion should really help improve the usefulness of these sections. I will post another review once I am able to check out that portion of the book.

Title: The Warbler Guide
Author: Tom Stephenson and Scott Whittle
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication Date: July 24, 2013
Official Website:

We received a copy of this book from the publisher to review on The links are to our Amazon Affiliate account.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Bird Banding at Lucky Peak

Rob writes: Eric is a little busy right now learning how to band birds with the Idaho Bird Observatory at Lucky Peak outside of Boise but he has had a chance to send me a few photos of the awesome birds he is seeing! The banding season started just a few days ago and Eric is having a great time. The project on Lucky Peak has been going on since 1993 and is IBO's longest running and most well-known research and education efforts. Eric will be up at the peak until October 15th so be sure to stop in and observe some of the banding if you are in the area! You can learn more about visiting the site on the IBO website.

Brown Creeper
MacGillivray's Warbler
Western Tanager

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Hummingbird Banding in Idaho

Greetings from Boise,

I was lucky enough to be able to join in on some hummingbird banding in Idaho City this morning.  It was definitely the day to be there!  Not only did we catch an unusual hummingbird for Idaho, we also caught a hybrid hummingbird!  Of course catching quite a few Rufous, many Black-chinneds, and lots of Calliope will make any day a good one.

A hybrid hummingbird-what are your
thoughts on this hybrid?
A fairly unusual bird in Idaho, an Anna's Hummingbird
A head on look at the Anna's Hummingbird

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Idaho Bird Surveys

Greetings from Boise, ID

The second half of my time conducting bird surveys in Idaho was quite different from the first.  It started out with lots of rain; for 4-5 straight days it was tough to get much done but at least on most days I was able to squeeze in enough points between rain showers.  From then on it got hot, many days were around 100 in the lower elevations; luckily I was working in the higher elevations at that point.

Some of the highlights . . .
A White-headed Woodpecker on a survey as well as a pair in Hells Canyon
Many Dusky Grouse; some with chicks
One transect with Pine and Evening Grosbeaks, White-winged Crossbill, Three-toed Woodpecker, and a pair of Spruce Grouse
One more Black Bear that allowed great looks
My first Northern Goshawk of the summer

I thought this would be about the end of my time in Idaho but now I will be working up on Lucky Peak, just outside of Boise, through the middle of October!