Wednesday 29 July 2015 79 °F
Today was my first full day in the beautiful town of Sun Valley, Idaho on this trip. From 9:00am to 1:30pm, I birded the Warm Springs Trail that leads essentially from our condo's backyard up a large mountain called Mt. Balde, famous for its ski runs in the winter. I bird this trail every year and it is always very, very productive for finding montane bird species.
When I woke up this morning, it was a frigid 39 degrees, but thankfully it was a "balmy" 52 degrees by the time I left the condo at 9:00am. The difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures here in the mountains is always surprisingly drastic. It was a beautiful day, however, with completely sunny skies again and temperatures reaching the upper seventies in mid-afternoon.
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS such as these enjoy roosting on the nearby ski lodge:
A beautiful view along the trail with some nice sunflowers in the foreground:
A little way along the trail, I found a GHO - the title of post! "GHO" is birding lingo for GREAT HORNED OWL, one of the most common and largest owls in North America. This owl is also commonly referred to as a "Hoot Owl" and it is about the size of a large hawk.
I also found its mate hiding in the trees:
Juvenile YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
Doe Mule Deer:
This WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER, typically a hard-to-find species of higher-elevation conifer woodlands, is a relatively easy bird to see about two hours up the trail:
This uncommon OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER was also a great species for the day because they are listed as a declining species, technically federally "near-threatened," mainly due to habitat loss of the naturally disturbed conifer woodlands they prefer.
Female MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD:
I always stop hiking at a ridge with beautiful views of the mountains about two and a half hours up the trail. Here is a beautiful view of the Pioneer Mountains. The third mountain peak from the right in this picture is Hyndman Peak, the 9th highest mountain in Idaho, standing at just barely over 12,000 feet above sea level.
Male WESTERN TANAGER:
Female of the same species:
Juvenile TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE with a very interesting speckled plumage:
This reliable AMERICAN DIPPER was foraging along Warm Springs Creek behind my condo when I returned from the hike around 1:30pm.
I spent the afternoon at the condo and then attended a concert in the evening in which my mom performed as a soloist with the Sun Valley Summer Symphony in a fantastic performance of Bernstein's "Prelude, Fugue, and Riffs." Great job, Mom!
I just realized I have forgotten to do "bird-of-the-day" awards recently! I will resurrect that tradition with the cooperative pair of GREAT HORNED OWLS being the bird-of-the-day. Runners-up to the uncommon OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER.
The full avian species list for the day is below. Stay tuned because tomorrow my dad and my sister will be joining my mom and I here in beautiful Sun Valley, Idaho.
World Life List: 855 Species (no life birds)
31 avian species today:
Great Horned Owl