Today, my birding friend Poo Wright-Pulliam, who is also an extremely skilled painter, took me down to the South Hills of Idaho to find two would-be life birds: Cassia Crossbill and Burrowing Owl. The crossbill, interestingly enough, is endemic to this region of Idaho and was just recently split from the Red Crossbill after scientists discovered it was, in fact, a unique species! So I was really hoping to see it.
Along a scenic overlook near Twin Falls, we found CANYON WREN and WHITE-THROATED SWIFT, both great birds, but they managed to evade photography. The scenery was beautiful though:
My first photographed species came along once we entered the South Hills when this awesome GOLDEN EAGLE flew over, my first of the year!
Seems like appropriate habitat for a Golden!
We saw this crossbill, but it was giving strange calls so unfortunately we couldn’t decide if it was a Cassia or the more common Red — they must be identified by voice. It got our juices flowing, though!
BOOM! I had the car stop when I saw tiny birds at the top of a dead tree, and lo and behold, they were CASSIA CROSSBILLS (with some PINE SISKINS)!!! Life bird for both of us!!!
After finding the crossbills, we stumbled upon another uncommon sighting, this ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER:
Female LAZULI BUNTING:
On the way to look for the Burrowing Owls, Poo spotted this magnificent PRAIRIE FALCON, just a life bird for me two days ago:
Its relative the AMERICAN KESTREL male was perched on a nearby post, too!
Although we failed to find the Owls, a handful of LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES put on a wonderful show for us and allowed for great photographs!
Back up north near the Richfield Diversion where we were looking for the mockingbird from thursday, we came upon this COMMON NIGHTHAWK:
CINNAMON TEAL with a GREAT BLUE HERON:
And a cool SAGE THRASHER, a relative of the mockingbird, which unfortunately we were never able to find.
Then, we visited a little-known canyon on the opposite side of the highway and were astounded by its beauty and fantastic rock formations!
Then, we found a BREWER’S SPARROW:
And this YELLOW-HEADED BLACKBIRD, very cool!
Bird-of-the-day to the Cassia Crossbill and runner-up to the Golden Eagle. Stay tuned, tomorrow is my last day in Idaho and three days later I arrive in New York to start college!
World Life List: 953 Species (1 life bird today: Cassia Crossbill)