We’re excited to announce this “Benefit for the Birds” coming up on October 7th. Follow this link to read more and to purchase your tickets for this fun morning activity: Waffles and Warblers Eventbrite Page
By Jay Carlisle
To read the tribute to Gary written by his family, follow this link.
On March 30th, the IBO family lost one of our greats – Gary Robinson, who has been one of the most valuable and dedicated volunteers in our history. Gary passed after a battle with pancreatic cancer and we, along with his family and many friends, will miss him greatly. It’s important to point out that he didn’t “lose” the battle to cancer – he was active, happy, and at his creative/mischievous best until his last few days!
Gary showed up on Lucky Peak unannounced one day in August 2004 and told us he had banding experience and wanted to get involved if we’d have him. At first glance, I wasn’t sure if this “old-timer” would be up for it but he quickly proved himself! We went on a few net runs together and he demonstrated his ability to quickly extract birds from mist-nets and, though he huffed and puffed at times, he was always able to hike the trails to the nets. It wasn’t long before he joined Carol and Dave Wike to form the “Three Amigos” – our team of ever-reliable volunteers that have been invaluable to IBO’s long-term banding studies for most of our 20+ year history. They’ve been around for almost every MAPS (Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship – a continent-wide breeding season protocol) banding day, lots of early-season days during our Lucky Peak fall migration project, and – more recently – became stalwarts of our hummingbird monitoring project. Through all this effort, they’ve all been instrumental in helping us train scores of seasonal field assistants and the next generation of IBO volunteers while being invaluable members of the team themselves.
Gary, in particular, was well-known for his “magic fingers” at the mist-nets. Field assistants would often exclaim, “How did he just do that?!” after he’d removed a tangled-looking bird from the net in 10 seconds or less, sometimes with one hand! Many field assistants fondly remember net runs with Gary as he effortlessly removed 75% or more of the birds in a given net in the same amount of time as they got the rest and, if they were lucky, he shared some of his secrets too!
Just as much, we’ve all enjoyed the many stories from Gary’s younger days – a sip of Lord Calvert in the evening often unlocked a story or 3 for the Lucky Peak crew :) He was a veritable Swiss Army Knife of a man who tried and excelled at many professions during his career, starting as a Marine out of high school and, among other roles, enjoying spells as a biologist, police officer, zoo keeper, game warden, school teacher, and animal caretaker at a retirement home. Similarly, he also carried everything you could think of, and more, in his jeep– so much so that if we ran out of something at Lucky Peak, we asked Gary as the first option. He had a mischievous side as well, pulling pranks such as placing small sticks, pine cones, or even a lizard into bird bags and delivering them as if they were birds, usually with a straight face – and maybe a wink later. We also heard several humorous stories about how he and the love of his life, Sandy, re-found each other after several decades – I’m so glad they did and, Sandy, thanks for sharing him with us!
Most of all, Gary was a loving friend to all of us and we will miss his big heart as much as his deft skills with the tiny birds we study. As Sandy said to us as we gathered with her and Gary on his last day, “he’ll be with you when you go up to Lucky Peak” (certainly for hummingbirds and the river site too!) and I’m sure I’ll ask him for help the next time I’m struggling with a tangled bird. We love you Gary and thanks for EVERYTHING!
At the request of his family, memorials, in lieu of flowers, may be directed to the Intermountain Bird Observatory. We’ve started a Gary Robinson memorial fund. Our mailing address is 1910 University Drive, Boise, ID 83725-1515. Please include a note letting us know if you are donating in Gary’s name.
We held a contest to name our pair of birds that live on the Orchard Combat Training Center south of Boise. Read more about HH and KA on the “OCTC pair” tab on our curlew profiles page.
This year we asked schools that participated in our “Curlews in the Classroom” program to come up with name ideas. Check out their creative ideas below.
After a Facebook vote, our winning names were Zeus and Athena! Way to go Middleton Middle School :)
Names for HH
Ginger–from Gilligan’s Island! (Marsing Elementary Kindergarteners)
Hoppin’ Heather–because her leg flag is HH and Heather Hayes is the Curlews in the Classroom project leader and a member of the Curlew Crew field team. (Liberty Elementary)
Katherine–named after famous Idahoan Katherine Albertson (Liberty Elementary)
Athena–The Goddess of Wisdom, War, and Craftsmanship. (Middleton Middle School 7th graders)
Rose–Signifies beauty, elegance, favor, grace, and kindness. (Middleton Middle School 7th graders)
Denise–named after their teacher. (Trail Wind Elementary School)
Bella–after the Twilight movies (Shadow Butte Elementary 3rd grade)
Valentina–because it is a Mexican name and curlews spend most of their time in Mexico (Andrea, Andrea, JJ and Alex from the Parma Learning Center after school program)
Frost–Frost is a good female name because the females leave Idaho first before the frost. When females are on the nest, they freeze when predators come close. (Homedale Middle School)
Star— The star garnet is the state gem of Idaho. (Homedale Middle School)
Fluffy–because 4th graders like cute names, and curlews have fluffy feathers! (Trail Wind Elementary 4th grade)
Elica–We’re not sure why? (Sage International Kindergarten)
Chopstick–because curlews have long beaks! (Sage International 6th grade)
Cherry–Because Emmett is known for their Cherry Festival (Kenneth J. Carberry Elementary School 4th graders)
Girlie-girl–because, Kindergarten :) (Kenneth J. Carberry Elementary School Kindergarteners)
Names for KA
Professor–from Gilligan’s Island! (Marsing Elementary Kindergarteners)
Shorty–because he has the shortest beak ever measured of all the IBO curlews (Liberty Elementary)
Albert–after famous Idahoan Joe Albertson (plus KA are his wife’s initials). (Liberty Elementary)
Austin Powers–Both names together mean “very handsome”. Separately, Austin stands for “majestic dignity”, while Powers implies is a “force measured by how much work has been done”. (Middleton Middle School 7th graders)
Zeus–Highest of all the Gods Zeus was the “Ruler of the Heavens”. In the sky, Zeus wielded thunder and rain to protect humankind from the other Gods. (Middleton Middle School 7th graders)
Butterball–we’re not exactly sure why? (Trail Wind Elementary School)
Edward— after the Twilight movies (Shadow Butte Elementary 3rd grade)
Tapatio–because it is a tasty Mexican hotsauce and curlews spend most of their time in Mexico (Andrea, Andrea, JJ and Alex from the Parma Learning Center after school program)
Yoda–Yoda in the movies is like a male Curlew because when help is needed, he comes to assist. The force is with him. (Homedale Middle School)
Disco–because male curlews do a fancy dance to attract a female. (Homedale Middle School)
Zoomer–because male curlews race back to their breeding grounds to get there first. (Trail Wind Elementary 4th grade)
Saber–perhaps because of their long bills? (Sage International Kindergarten)
Gandalf–because curlews are magical (like the wizard from Lord of the Rings). (Sage International 6th grade)
Zippy— curlews fly fast! (Kenneth J. Carberry Elementary School Kindergarteners)
Rocky–after the Rocky Mountains (Adams Elementary)
By Jay Carlisle
I’m lucky in that I am able to fulfill my passions for birding and international travel most years and it’s always fun to visit new places. This started with a birding trip with friends to western Mexico almost 20 years ago, then Panama and Peru the next 2 winters, and I’ve been addicted since. In recent years I’ve started co-leading 1 or 2 group trips each year, starting with trips to Guatemala and Trinidad & Tobago in which I served as an “apprentice guide” assisting my friend Alvaro Jaramillo of Alvaro’s Adventures. Alvaro taught me many key aspects of guiding and we’ve continued to collaborate since, which has included me running most of “my” trips through his company, sometimes piloting new itineraries and other times benefitting from trips he’s already planned.
In April 2016, I met Liliana Chavaria-Duriaux (Lili) and Georges Duriaux, owners of the El Jaguar coffee farm and private forest preserve in Nicaragua, at a bird conservation meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico. We quickly hit it off, especially while on a birding field trip, and we soon decided to collaborate on a birding trip for some of my Idaho birding friends to visit Nicaragua – a country I’ve long wanted to visit, especially after flying over the extensive forests on the Atlantic/Caribbean slope on return trips from Panama and Costa Rica.
Georges and Lili worked with Alvaro and I to create a diverse and exciting itinerary to explore four key regions of Nicaragua: (1) the north-central highlands, (2) the shores of Lake Cocibolca (aka Lake Nicaragua), (3) the Caribbean lowland forests, and (4) the Pacific slope.
One twist worth noting is that Hurricane Otto made landfall in November 2016 and affected many forest areas in southeastern Nicaragua, including blowdown of canopy trees and this affected areas of Refugio Bartola and the nearby Reserva Biologica Indio Maiz. Lili and Georges initially worried that we’d struggle with forest species there but patches of intact forest remain within relatively short walking distance of the lodge and we still found amazing diversity there.
Though we didn’t see every bird we hoped for (does this ever happen? :-), the trip far exceeded my expectations in terms of bird diversity and was a great experience overall. Lili and Georges were great to travel and bird with, we employed knowledgeable local guides, we stayed in comfortable lodges/hotels, we ate great food, and the group made for a fun and cohesive birding team!
- We recorded 366 bird species during 10 birding days – of these, 14 species were “heard only” (i.e., owls, Great Tinamou, and a torturously distant Three-wattled Bellbird) and 15 were only seen by 1 or 2 observers but 337 were species that were seen by all or most of the group!
- Some of the most exciting/interesting species included:
- The near-endemic Nicaraguan Grackle (San Miguelito)
- Nicaraguan Seed-finch (distant views from moving boat; Rio San Juan)
- Scarlet Macaw (Rio Bartola)
- Green Ibis (Bartola)
- Pacific Parakeets coming to roost near a waterfall in El Chocoyero
- a Golden-crowned Spadebill that visited our lunch table at Bartola!
- Great and Northern Potoos (daytime views of both)
- 20 hummingbird species – all gorgeous but I was most excited about the Black-crested Coquette (El Jaguar), a too-brief view of a male Snowcap (Bartola), and the range-restricted Green-breasted Mountain-gem (El Jaguar)
- Several antbird species including brief but exciting views of a small group of Ocellated Antbirds (Bartola)
- Other highlights:
- Unexpected (inland) sightings of a Magnificent Frigatebird over San Carlos, a Red Phalarope floating (well, spinning) downstream past Refugio Bartola, and 3 Brown Pelicans heading southeast over the forest in Bartola
- 7 species of kite, including sightings of Swallow-tailed on the first 8 days of the trip!
- Great views of 3 motmot and 5 kingfisher species
- 27 warbler species including Golden-winged and Golden-cheeked as well as a pair of Buff-rumped and singing Olive-crowned Yellowthroats
- 5 Euphonia species plus the Blue-crowned Chlorophonia
- A close Long-billed Gnatwren (Montibelli) and good views of Green Shrike-vireo in a small flock (Bartola)
- A mixed-species flock comprised entirely of medium-sized landbirds, including nunbirds, woodpeckers, woodcreepers, and mourners (Bartola)
- Non-avian highlights:
- Jaguarundi (Montibelli)
- 3 monkey species in 1 afternoon hike (Bartola)
- False coral snake (El Jaguar)
- Sloths (El Jaguar & Rio San Juan)
- Numerous bats, squirrels, and frogs/toads
- 1 small army ant swarm (Bartola)
Places we stayed/birded:
- Managua airport area (1st night after evening arrivals)
- El Jaguar Natural Reserve (4 nights)
- Hotel San Francisco in San Miguelito (1 night)
- Afternoon boat trip along the lake shore and morning birding on the malecón
- Refugio Bartola (3 nights, 2 full days)
- Trails at Bartola plus 2 boat trips up smaller rivers flowing into the Rio San Juan (in the Reserva Biologica Indio Maiz)
- Montibelli Private Reserve (2 nights, 1 full day)
- Morning birding on the trails at Montibelli then a late afternoon walk at the Reserva Natural El Chocoyero-El Brujo
The itinerary required relatively extensive travel, including a couple of long travel days moving between regions, but we timed it to be able to bird at least the morning and/or late afternoon of the travel days – and the boat trips on the Rio San Juan (to/from Bartola) provided many good sightings. And, we tried to balance the travel with multiple night stays at several places. Importantly, we continued to find multiple new species on each day of the trip and the group stayed excited/engaged throughout.
All in all, I highly recommend Nicaragua for birding exploration! It hosts an impressive diversity of habitats and birds, including a great mix of Neotropical migrants and species characteristic of both further north and south in Central America, and some great birding destinations. Ask Alvaro if you’d be interested in going to Nicaragua :)
IBO will have a table at the upcoming Boise State Engineering and Science Festival!
This is an excellent free event for the whole family. Be sure to stop by and visit us to learn all about the research we do. Kids will meet IBO ornithologists and learn all about what it’s like to be a scientist. IBO’s “touch table” will have all kinds of interesting bird artifacts from skulls & feathers to bird banding equipment & satellite tracking maps.
Visit us on Saturday, February 4th 2017 from 9am to 4pm
More information at: http://coen.boisestate.edu/STEMExploration/
If you visited us at the event and need a digital brochure, click here.
For information about our banding dates, check back on this page in March.