A Travellerspoint blog

Idaho Day 10: Muldoon Canyon & Idaho Trip Wrap-up

Blaine County, ID

semi-overcast 80 °F


After the crazy 16-hour birding day yesterday, Kathleen and I were up at 7am again, this time joined by Jean, to bird Muldoon Canyon and the nearby Little Wood Reservoir outlet. My target bird for the morning was Greater Sage-Grouse, the last Wood River Valley summer bird I still needed to find and an incredibly tough one at that because, apart from the lekking season, they disperse into the vast sage wilderness. Our first photographed species of the day was a classic western bird, the BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE:

Then, all the sudden, we flushed a GREAT HORNED OWL from the road! Thankfully, it perched up on a branch that was barely visible to us.

Then it hopped onto another!

But not before the aforementioned Magpies could start harassing it!!

Kathleen also spied its owlet offspring in the field halfway between the road and the parent. Awesome! That makes two days in a row with a Great Horned Owl family.

The underwing view of an owl, even a young one, is always super impressive. Those wings are made for silent, stealthy flight.

And onward. Female LAZULI BUNTING:

This nice Chipmunk posed for us at one point. Probably a Least.





This beautiful RED-TAILED HAWK decided to perch up on a snag right next to the road.

Then, we saw a few more in the sky and one on the road ahead of us!

Upon rounding the bend, we found what it was feasting on. Mormon crickets! A cool, but rather disgustingly huge insect famous from this part of the US in the heat of summer. This particular cricket was devouring another of its own kind. Wow.

Further down the road, we spotted gamebirds ahead which got my hopes up for Sage Grouse!

Unfortunately, Jean pointed out that they were lacking the black bellies of Sage Grouse so we settled on the positive identification of DUSKY GROUSE, still a fantastic bird and a year bird for Kathleen and Jean! These birds tend to dish out the most soul-crushing looks.


Possibly my favorite sighting thusfar came when we flushed a group of three EVENING GROSBEAKS into a bush alongside the road! This species was a huge surprise to me in the mainly arid, sagebrush desert that surrounded us so I was absolutely delighted to find this beautiful, increasingly-rare finch. Here is the male:

And soon thereafter, we found another wonderful bird in the form of a GOLDEN EAGLE:


And yet another wonderful, uncommon species with a unique kind of beauty: the LEWIS’ WOODPECKER! So glad I didn’t walk away from Idaho this year with this species left unphotographed.


Unfortunately, we never found a Greater Sage-Grouse, as expected, but it was still an absolutely fantastic morning of birding, especially for August! Bird-of-the-day for me goes to the Evening Grosbeaks with runners-up to the Dusky Grouse, Golden Eagle, and Lewis’ Woodpecker. Lots to choose from.

Before boarding my flights home to Chicago, Kathleen, Marian, and I had to snap a quick selfie in front of Einstein. Thank you, K & M, for so kindly hosting me these past four nights. It was a positively delightful time and I am grateful from the bottom of my heart.

Bird-of-the-trip for me goes to the Pygmy Nuthatch which was my sole lifer from Idaho this year. Runner-up to the Spruce Grouse which is a bird that can seldom be outdone in rarity, though it was not a lifer for me this year. I was most happy and thankful to share both of these birds with other wonderful friends and birders: Poo, Nubs, and Kathleen.

I have attached my buddy list with Kathleen from these past few days below in banding code form (the 4-letter abbreviations birders use to avoid writing out full species’ names). Props if you can identify some, most, or even all of the banding codes (some of which might be incorrect on my end too). We came out to 130 species over four days of birding which is pretty darn good all things considered, especially keeping in mind again that this is August in dry country! With the addition of Gray Jay, Peregrine Falcon, American Dipper, Pileated Woodpecker, Cassin’s Vireo, Black Rosy-Finch, Red Crossbill, Pygmy Nuthatch, Gray Flycatcher, Virginia Rail, Redhead, and Wilson’s Snipe seen prior to these past four days with Kathleen, that brings my Idaho trip total up to 142 species, my highest total EVER for an Idaho trip despite it being my shortest trip out here yet. I credit this with getting out to bird every day with many of the days being full days of birding thanks to the generosity of my friends Will, Poo, Nubs, Kathleen, and Jean. It was so nice to meet and reconnect with these special people and I am already so looking forward to next time. Will lives close to NYC so next time will be soon for us!

Do stay tuned! I have 5 Oak Park Bird Walks coming up this week (email me at [email protected] to catch the last few remaining spaces on these!), and then on September 1 I fly back to New York City to start my senior year at the Manhattan School of Music.

Happy birding,
World Life List: 1139 Species

Kathleen/Henry Buddy List 2022:
10. RUDU
11. RNDU
12. SPGR
13. WITU
14. DUGR
15. CAQU
16. EAGR
17. WEGR
18. CLGR
19. PBGR
20. ROPI
21. MODO
22. ECDO
23. CONI
24. BCHU
25. RUHU
26. SACR
27. SORA
28. BNST
29. KILL
30. BASA
31. WESA
32. SESA
33. LESA
34. SOSA
35. SPSA
36. LEYE
37. GRYE
38. WILL
39. MAGO
40. WIPH
41. FRGU
42. RBGU
43. CAGU
44. CATE
45. COTE
46. FOTE
47. DCCO
48. AWPE
49. GBHE
50. SNEG
51. GREG
52. BCNH
53. WFIB
54. GHOW
55. TUVU
56. OSPR
57. GOEA
58. NOHA
59. RTHA
60. SWHA
61. WISA
62. RNSA
63. DOWO
64. HAWO
65. LEWO
66. NOFL
67. AMKE
68. PRFA
69. WEKI
70. EAKI
71. HAFL
72. DUFL
73. WIFL
74. OSFL
75. WWPW
76. LOSH
77. WAVI
78. CLNU
79. BBMA
80. AMCR
81. CORA
82. TRSW
83. VGSW
84. NRWS
85. BARS
86. MOCH
87. RBNU
88. BRCR
89. HOWR
90. MAWR
91. ROWR
92. GCKI
93. RCKI
94. MOBL
95. HETH
96. SWTH
97. AMRO
98. SATH
99. EUST
100. CEWA
101. HOSP
102. EVGR
103. PIGR
104. HOFI
105. CAFI
106. AMGO
107. PISI
108. WEME
109. REBL
110. BRBL
111. YHBL
112. BHCO
113. GTGR
114. MAWA
115. YEWA
116. YRWA
117. TOWA
118. WIWA
119. WETA
120. LABU
121. LASP
122. CHSP
123. BRSP
124. SASP
125. DEJU
126. LISP
127. SOSP
128. WCSP
129. VESP
130. SPTO

Posted by skwclar 13:46 Archived in USA

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