Sunday, April 6, 2014

Sage Grouse on their Leks

The sage grouse are lekking again and with the area between Highway 33 and the Egin/Hamer road open for travel, I have been able to observe this magnificent bird in action again.  But their population continues to decline.  I am working with the Idaho Fish and Game to try to locate new leks or traditional leks that might be used by birds.  I have found a few leks with a few birds, but the large leks with over 50 to 100 birds on them now have from 20 to 0 birds on them.  Here are a few of the show-off birds from this last week.

Last weekend we had a great snow storm and with one day left of spring break, I started searching for birds on leks.  On a lek that had 40 birds on it last year, I found only 23.  This handsome dude attempted to attract one of the three females.


He even battled other male to take control of the center of the lek where the females look for the king of the lek.


Soon a female showed up, but with the snow and cold, was not ready to start her family this year.  She showed up, but did not get too close to the ruler.


The battle bruises can be seen on the air sacks of this warrior that I found yesterday as he tries to attract a female.  



This gentleman has beautiful large combs above his eyes as he sits on top of a ridge with eight other males but no females are visiting them.




I saw a lot of different birds, elk, deer, coyote and even a mouse while spending a wonderful wild day in the wilds of Idaho

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring snow storm

Sunday morning it started snowing and snowing hard.  The flakes were so big our cat, Flurry, was chasing them, but there were so many he finally just watched them fall.  So before church, I decided to see how the birds were reacting to the heavy snow.

The bald eagles were still courting - the wet snow could not dampen their desire to pro-create.


The newly arrived female Burrowing owl looked mad about being caught in the snow while Mr. continued to clean out their chosen burrow.


A pheasant cock with his tail covered with wet snow runs from me to some cover - or maybe to visit a setting hen.


This robin in my backyard is fluffing up trying to stay warm by shaking the snow off its back while the trees are covered.


Sandhill cranes continued to look for food in the marshes - who knows some dumb rodent may scurry past and become lunch for today.


Not only a wild day in Idaho, but an answer to prayers for more moisture.  Shake off the crap of life and have a bless'ed day.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Elk and Steller's Jay

Back teaching has cut into my outdoor time and blogging, but I am having some evenings and Saturdays to get out.  Yesterday was one of those unforgettable days.  I started out by looking for snow geese and found about 1000 of them but these two antelope were feeding near the field the geese were in.


Next I headed for Camas National Wildlife Refuge to see what I could find.  On the way there I found a pair of Burrowing owls.  They might be the same couple I saw last year as they are just 100 yards from where a pair nested last year.


At Camas there were not a lot of waterfowl and I did not find the Great-horned owls, but I saw my first Steller's jay that kept me entertained for an hour.  They are very pretty and very noisy. 


On the way to Market Lake I hiked some back roads and found 19 head of bull elk; all still wearing their armor.


At Market Lake I searched for a Long-eared owl but did not find it.  The Russian Olive trees were filled with Cedar and Bohemian waxwings eating the berries.  It was a lot of fun.


Just another unforgettable day in the wilds of Idaho.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Weird Tuesday at Market Lake

There were some weird sights and actions at or near Market Lake today as I spent the day watching and photographing birds as the ice is melting fast.

The first weird thing was what appeared to be a racial relationship.  This snow and Canada goose appeared to be a couple. But every time the couple got close to a flock of Canada geese, they were chased away. Eventually the two flew off together only to come back about an hour later.  It seems that even some geese engage in racial prejudice.

The goose in the air was trying to steal the mate of a Canada gander.  As he was attack and tried to fly over the pair, the gander leaped into the air, grabbed the foot of the intruder and pulled him back into the water and the fight was on.


With the receding ice some winter-killed fish draw eagles to feed on them.  This mature Bald appears to be leucistic with one pure white feather on the left wing, two on the right wing with a white chest and belly that extends over the front of the wings.



This pair of Canadas are practicing "agnostic aggression."  Usually geese practice this with intruders, but after driving off the intruder, the gander flies back to his mate who in a submissive pose.



She holds that pose as he slides up to her in his domineering pose with wings out stretched. 


He then shows more dominance by raising his head and honking several times. 


She remains in the submissive pose until he starts leading her away to the bull rushes they have been protecting for their nesting area.


Just another interesting, weird and educational day in the wilds of Idaho.