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The Boise River Project

The Intermountain Bird Observatory is embarking on a new project along the Boise River, near the Barber Pool Conservation Area. Since the spring of 2015 IBO has been using 20 acres of riverside habitat to provide research and education opportunities to students and families throughout the Treasure Valley.

This property makes hands-on-science opportunities similar to our Lucky Peak research station more widely available at an easily-accessible site that is open year-round.

Learn more:

  • Get there

    Our property is located near the intersection of Warm Springs Avenue and the Highway 21 bridge, close to Diversion Dam. The parking area is located here on google maps . The banding station is located on the south end of the property just upstream of the highway 21 bridge (banding station here on google maps).

    Read our Visitor FAQ page.


    • There is Poison Ivy here! Please stay on trails until you have talked to IBO staff about the location of poison ivy patches.
    • There are no restrooms on site. The nearest facilities are a 4 minute drive from the site, at Discovery State Park. We recommend a visit to Discovery before you come to see us :)
    • This site is handicap accessible (vehicle access to banding station). Email us for more information:

    Directions to the banding station:

    Approaching from Warm Springs Ave: From where Warm Springs Ave makes a T with Highway 21, drive straight across highway 21 (heading southwest) onto the gravel access road. Drive down toward the greenbelt (past chain link fenced area and “no access” signs) to reach the parking area.

    from Warmsprings Ave, drive straight across Highway 21 onto the gravel access road that leads to the parking area.

    Approaching from Highway 21:
    From the west (Federal Way): Follow Highway 21 and cross the tall bridge over the Boise River. Immediately after the bridge, turn right onto the gravel access road and down toward the greenbelt (past chain link fenced area and “no access” signs) to reach the parking area.

    From Idaho City/Lucky Peak Reservoir: Drive northwest on 21 until you near the intersection with Warmsprings Ave (on the right/east) and the large bridge. Use the center turn lane to turn left (west) onto the gravel access road to reach the parking area. Drive down toward the greenbelt (past chain link fenced area and “no access” signs) to reach the parking area.

    School buses and cars may park in the gravel parking area by the old dam turbine (red star on the map). Walk across the greenbelt and around the gates (there will be a “bird banding today” sign). Follow the access road (orange on the map) down to the banding station (marked in purple). If parking is full, use the overflow parking area off of Warm Springs Ave. marked in green. Walk down the greenbelt to the orange access road.

    Cross the greenbelt. Follow the "bird banding today" signs and walk down the gravel road to reach the banding station

    Cross the greenbelt. Follow the “bird banding today” signs and walk down the gravel road to reach the banding station.

    View the interactive map below, or download a printable version of the Boise River Map to send to field trip participants.

    Map Key:

    Yellow shading: IBO’s 20 acre property
    Purple: banding station location (We don’t band every day. Banding Dates page)
    Red star: parking area–school buses and cars
    Orange: access road
    Green: overflow parking or muddy day parking
    Yellow pin: Restrooms

  • Field Trips

    To see the most up-to-date schedule for bird banding on the Boise River, visit our Banding Dates page.

    Leading a group? Get more information here: River Site Visitors Signup.

    Available months: April to October

  • Our Vision

    • Outreach

      Introduce the community to accessible, real science

    • Education

      Create an open ‘outdoor laboratory’ for students, teachers, and citizen scientists

    • Community

      Share this area with the community to relax, recharge, and immerse themselves in the outdoors

    • Enjoy Nature

      Increase awareness and appreciation for the Boise River ecosystem in the Treasure Valley community

  • Education

    Citizen Science — Pre-K to University — Field Trips — Lesson Plans — Hands-on Experience

    Band birds on the Boise River!

    Our Boise River station provides a location for teachers throughout the Treasure Valley to bring their students for hands-on science activities. This site is the perfect “outdoor laboratory” where students can conduct their own investigations of habitat and vegetation, water quality, insects, or bird life.

    Watch a video clip of a field trip from Fall 2015. This could be you!

    Visit this site to introduce elementary students to the joys of being outside, show middle schoolers what real science looks like, or introduce complex ecology and conservation topics to high schoolers through first-hand experience.

    • Birdwatching

      Students birdwatch with their teacher--Photo by Bryce Robinson

    • Students Photographing

      Students taking picture of bird--Photo by Ken Miracle

    • Song Sparrow

      Song Sparrow--Photo by Bryce Robinson

    • Bird Banding

      A school group learns about bird banding research--Photo by Ken Miracle

    • Field Trip

      Field trip participants gather at the banding station--Photo by Ken Miracle

    • 5th Grade Class

      A 5th grade class traveled by bicycle to visit the site

    • Yellow-breasted chat

      Yellow-breasted chat spotted on a school field trip--Photo by Kim Liebich

    • Songbird

      Extracting a songbird from the mist nets--Photo by Ken Miracle

    • Yellow-rumped Warbler

      Yellow-rumped Warbler with papparazzi --Photo by Ken Miracle

    • MacGillibray’s Warbler

      A migrating MacGillivray's Warbler graces us with its presence --Photo by Ken Miracle

    Teachers: to schedule a field trip, register on our signup page: River Site Visitors Signup. For a classroom presentation, or to learn more about our lesson plans, email

    With both riparian and upland habitats, this location is the perfect field trip destination for science or ecology topics. Issues at the site such as human-altered landscapes, invasive species, and erosion provide an ideal setting to discuss these and other conservation-related topics.

    IBO’s bird banding research at the site is the perfect avenue for introducing students to real science in action. Students will watch IBO biologists catch and band songbirds, and can help record the data and release the newly banded birds back into the wild. What better way to learn about the joys of science!

    We are building a lesson plan library for pre-K thru 12th grade levels that integrates concepts discussed during bird banding field trips into classroom work. It includes subjects like creative writing, math, physics, and geography lessons. Simplified IBO data sets are available.

    Students will meet real-life biologists and learn that anyone can be a scientist!

    Image of scientist

    Some scientists look like this…

    ...and some scientists look like this

    …and some scientists look like this

  • Community Outreach

    We believe that conservation requires community support. We want to share the beautiful riparian ecosystem of the Boise River with everyone. If our family and friends value nature, they will be more likely to want to preserve it for future generations.

    We want our new river property to be a place for everyone to visit and enjoy nature. The Boise River is one of the gems of the Treasure Valley and we believe inviting the community to appreciate this treasure first-hand is the best way to conserve it and other riparian habitats.

    IBO offers an unique way to experience nature by inviting the community to participate hands-on. Along with our bird-banding research we also hope to begin other community activities at the site.

    Future community goals:

    • create a looped walking trail with interpretive nature signs
    • restore riparian habitat that was destroyed by a history of mis-use
    • encourage responsible use of the river

  • Help us out!

    We need your help to make this project a success!

    Community service opportunities for:

    • community volunteer groups
    • scout troops
      community service Boise River
    • Eagle Scout projects
    • church groups
    • class projects

    Help us to:

    • build our trail system
    • clean up trash
    • fund raise to build interpretive signs
    • finance habitat restoration plantings
    • apply for grants to fund our research
    • find funding to purchase additional land at the site.