Thursday, November 8, 2012

Visit to the Idaho Bird Observatory

Last month Teresa of Seasonal Wisdom talked me into accompanying her to the Idaho Bird Observatory.

I'm really glad she did.

The Idaho Bird Observatory is located just outside of Boise for many reasons.  Turns out this area is a great place to observe and study many types of birds since it is on a main migration route.

One of the first things we did upon arriving at the IBO was to watch the volunteers collect and enter data from the many birds they had already caught that morning.  Each of those bags strung across the opening contain a bird.  We watched, fascinated, as each bag fluttered with its content.

Here is one of the birds trapped in a pocket of the trap fence.  The volunteers very delicately extract each bird, place it in a pouch, and then transfer them to the volunteers to gather information.

The information gathered from each bird was surprisingly long and included the bird having a breath of air blown onto it.  Blowing the feathers out of the way revealed how much fat deposit the bird held, among other things.

Most of the birds we watched being measured were Ruby Crowned Kinglets.

Each bird was banded during the process.  You can see how tiny and delicate these bands were.

As a contrast, there are larger bands reserved for the bigger birds.

Teresa and I were also allowed to watch as hawks were trapped for studying.  This is a completely different and trickier method involving live pigeons as bait.

When caught, the hawks are brought into a blind where they are measured and banded.

Keep in mind these are wild birds.  I was impressed at the careful handling and the calm nature of the volunteers.

One of the beautiful Cooper's Hawks.

And who is holding that beautiful bird?
Yes, that's me.

The volunteers allowed us to take turns releasing the birds.

Teresa with a lovely Merlin.

You can find more and better details at Teresa's blog post.

I highly recommend taking a trip to the IBO. Check out their website for more info.

Things to keep in mind; the road up is mostly for 4 wheel drive, take your own water, food, and other conveniences, it's basically camping out up there for the day. The volunteers appreciate any snacks or baked goods you bring them and there are shirts and hats for purchasing. And cash donations are greatly appreciated.


Ajax said...

Cool! Those Kinglets are amazing little birds. I'll have to get down there to check it out sometime. Thanks for posting!

Randy Emmitt said...

Hey pretty exciting isn't it seeing all those birds. Glad you got to handle and even release some of them too. Meg's daughter has done the job of banding for years! She once caught a Bald Eagle the second one is 20 years at the banding station.

Goneferalinidaho said...

Wow, the hawk is beautiful I love those photos of you!

Teresa @ Seasonal Wisdom said...

Victoria: We had such a nice day, didn't we? Glad those photos of you and the Cooper's hawk turned out so well... A good memory of a fun day. Best, Teresa

Kathleen said...

Wow, what a thrilling experience Victoria! I never knew the process to band a bird. I bet they are stressed at being caught. Hopefully that is short lived. It looks like they are handled very carefully. I'm glad you got talked into that trip so you could share it with us. So cool to see.

Janet, The Queen of Seaford said...

What a super outing!! How fun. Thanks for taking us along with you.


Wow!! What a fun trip. I love how you were able to get so up close and personal with the birds. The staff must be really friendly. That last bird shot is just incredible. And that view, outstanding. Great post, Victoria.