Random Shots: Central Idaho August 13


Some photos from the deck of the Ertter family cabin on Payette Lake. It’s Ponderosa forest habitat, at about 5,000 feet, so it’s very different avifauna than Boise.

Brown-headed Cowbird Juvenile

Brown-headed Cowbird Juvenile

It’s not fun to think about why this Brown-headed Cowbird was hanging around with a flock of much smaller Pine Siskins. Maybe it’s best to think of this kid as a step-brother. Cowbirds, of course, are nest parasites; the female always lays her egg in another bird’s nest, letting the other bird raise her nestling. That often results in the death of the host bird’s hatchlings, who are smaller and can’t compete for food. This youngster was trying to decide what to do with raspberries that had fallen to the ground.

Mountain Chickadee

Mountain Chickadee

A cousin to Alaska’s Black-capped and Boreal Chickadees. The nesting pair double-clutched, meaning they successfully raised two successive broods. As a result, there were a lot of young Mountain Chickadees flying around.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Among WC’s favorite birds, the distinctive, nasal “snee-snee-snee” call is a favorite. This nuthatch usually forages down the tree, poking in the bark, in contrast to the Brown Creeper, that forages upwards. Important things to know if you are photographing the species.

Steller's Jay

Steller’s Jay

During Vitus Bering’s ill-fated 1740–1742 expedition, naturalist Georg Steller’s ship St. Peter spent only one day anchored off Kayak Island, near present-day Cordova, Alaska, before heading back to Siberia. Steller spent that July day in 1741 frantically collecting specimens and observing wildlife on the island. He was impressed with a black-crested, blue jay common on the island, but did not recognize it from the boreal forests of the Old World. Its similarity to the painting of the Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata) that he had seen in Mark Catesby’s 1731 portfolio The Natural History of Carolina, sent to him by fellow naturalist Benjamin Franklin, convinced Steller that the expedition had reached America.

We think of this as a species of the northern region, but in fact it breeds all the way to Guatemala in Central America.

Western Tanager Juvenile

Western Tanager Juvenile

This chubby juvenile Western Tanager was sitting on a branch, waiting for its parents to come and feed it. In vain. The parents had decided it was time to let the kid feed himself.

All these photos were taken by WC from the deck at the cabin. Altogether, there were 11-12 species hanging around. Not the deck at Asa Wright Nature Center in Trinidad, but still pretty cool.

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