While the Lucky Peak project is our most well-known, we also conduct many other important research projects throughout Idaho, especially during spring and summer. We work closely with many agencies (Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) and also private land owners and other non-profit organizations to study many different species and populations. Some of our past research and monitoring projects have included Burrowing Owl surveys in south-central Idaho, Flammulated Owl surveys in southern Idaho, shrub-steppe habitat surveys in southern Idaho, Northern Goshawk productivity and banding in the South Hills, and songbird migration research at Camas National Wildlife Refuge.
Click the links below to read about recent projects:
- Long-billed Curlew Monitoring
- Long-billed Curlew Satellite Project
- Hummingbird Migration Monitoring and Banding
- Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions
- White-faced Ibis Project
- Golden Eagle Project
- Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS)
New, upcoming projects!
- Black-backed, Pileated, and White-headed Woodpecker monitoring in the Boise National Forest
- ‘All species’ woodpecker monitoring in the Caribou-Targhee National Forest
- Songbird surveys in southeastern Utah in the Manti-La Sal National Forest
Long-billed Curlew Monitoring
Abundance and Productivity of Long-billed Curlews in the Long-Billed Curlew Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC) of Southwest Idaho.
In the early 1970’s, BLM personnel began to recognize that an unusually large population of curlews nested on the short-grass rangeland within the Black Canyon Planning Unit of the Four Rivers Field Office of the US BLM. A study concluded nearly 1,000 breeding pairs nested in the area. Since the study, monitoring in the ACEC has been conducted only sporadically using techniques that have generally lacked scientific rigor. In 2006, IDFG began to address this monitoring issue by conducting pilot curlew surveys on the ACEC, with routes based on historical survey routes to the extent possible. This effort continued to expand in 2007 with surveys throughout the ACEC and these surveys have continued annually from 2008-2012. IBO became involved in 2009.
The estimated 2012 population size of adult curlews within the ACEC was 132, slightly lower than the 2011 estimate of 148 birds. Relative to 2009 and 2010, when we located 17 and 20 nests, respectively, results in 2011 were far fewer and only 3 nests were located. In 2012 we located 10 nests. Nine nests failed (eight failed before hatching and one failed soon after hatching). It appeared that only one nest survived to fledging. As with past years, the low nest success rate is reason for concern. During the 2012 field season, we found three dead curlews, two of which appeared to be from natural causes and one appeared to be the result of a shooting. These initial results indicate that the ACEC curlew population continues to decline and several issues and threats need to be addressed
Project Status/Future Direction: We are interested in expanding beyond the ACEC to understand habitat preferences and conservation needs of curlews across Idaho. There is currently no funding for continued monitoring and this will be a deficit in assessing the population trend and assessing the effectiveness of management tools. Although there may be enough potential threats on the ACEC to explain the decline in curlews over three decades, there may exist other threats to this population during migration and/or on the wintering grounds.
- Partners: Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management, US Fish and Wildlife Service
Long-billed Curlew Satellite Project
Read all about our Satellite Project on our Curlew Tracking page!
Hummingbird Monitoring and Banding
From late May until early September each year, we monitor the abundance, breeding condition, and migratory timing of three hummingbird species that use the Boise National Forest during the breeding and migration season – the Black-chinned, Rufous, and Calliope Hummingbird. A more specific goal of this project is to join the Hummingbird Monitoring Network (HMN) and the Western Hummingbird Partnership to establish a study site within the breeding range of the Calliope Hummingbird. Before 2012, there was no HMN site in Idaho and furthermore no HMN sites within the breeding range of the Calliope Hummingbird. This was a gap in the network that the Intermountain Bird Observatory filled. Of note, both Rufous and Calliope hummingbirds are on the Partners In Flight Watch List.
- Did you know that most of the hummingbirds that breed in Idaho fly all the way to western Mexico to winter? That’s a huge distance for such a tiny bird to cover – and they do it twice a year (spring and fall) for their entire life (around 4-6 years)!
- Calliope Hummingbirds weigh about the same as a penny, while Black-chinned Hummingbirds weigh about the same as a nickel.
- You don’t need to add red dye to feeders to attract hummingbirds (it is unhealthy for them). The red color on the feeder itself is more than enough to attract them. Ask us for our printable fact sheet “Top 5 Reasons to NOT use Red Hummingbird Nectar”.
- The Calliope Hummingbird is the smallest bird in North America, and the smallest long-distance migratory bird in the world!
Interested in observing?
We band once every two weeks. Exact dates are to be determined. You must reserve a spot to observe since space is limited. Please email email@example.com if you have questions or would like to reserve a spot.
We are always in need of funding to further our research projects. Please click the “Donate” button to learn how you can make a donation to this project. Whether you mail a check or donate online, please specify which project you are donating towards in the memo line of your check or in the special designation box online, (e.g., General Funds, Long-billed Curlews, Hummingbirds). This is the ONLY way to ensure your donations are routed to the correct project. Thank you!
Thanks go out to Jennifer Alban for allowing us use of the study site. Thanks to the Hummingbird Monitoring Network for valuable advice and guidance. We also thank the US Forest Service (both the International Programs and the Boise National Forest) for financial assistance. Funding provided by the USFS allowed up to purchase the safest and most up-to-date banding gear and traps, and also to covered gas money and the time of trained biologists. Thank you!
Partners: US Forest Service, the Hummingbird Monitoring Network.
Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions
From late May to mid-July, IBO staff conduct point-count surveys throughout most of Idaho as a part of the Integrated Monitoring in Bird Conservation Regions (IMBCR) program coordinated by Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory (RMBO) and partners. We survey close to 100 transects each year, most of which are in northern and central Idaho (funded by the US Forest Service Region 1 and the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative), and the rest are in the Craters of the Moon ecosystem (funded by the Bureau of Land Management). This is a coordinated bird monitoring effort that currently spans 12 western states and we are excited to continue collecting data that contributes at multiple levels. Each field assistant was required to travel extensively to reach the various survey locations and some of the hiking was quite grueling and in very steep and wet terrain.
- Partners: US Forest Service, the Great Northern Landscape Conservation Cooperative, Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory, US Bureau of Land Management, many private landowners
White-faced Ibis Project
Feeding Behavior of White-faced Ibis and Franklin’s Gull
In collaboration with IDFG, especially Rob Cavallaro and Colleen Moulton, IBO conducted a study of White-faced Ibis and Franklin’s Gull foraging behavior in eastern Idaho from late April through July, 2012. Breeding colonies at Market Lake and Mud Lake Wildlife Management Areas comprise one of the largest breeding concentrations for both species throughout their range. We set out to learn more about what agricultural habitats are most important to their feeding with the idea that future management will consider both the marshes for nesting and agricultural feeding habitats. Our study benefited greatly from a very dedicated field assistant, Kate Brenner, and over 15 enthusiastic Master Naturalist volunteers from the Upper Snake chapter that helped us collect much more data than we would have otherwise. Already the results of this study are being used by multiple agencies to explore options for sustaining and enhancing necessary foraging habitats, especially natural wetlands and flood-irrigated agriculture, for the ibis and other wetland species.
- Partners: Idaho Department of Fish and Game, and many Master Naturalists
Golden Eagle Project
In conjunction with the Idaho Department of Fish and Game (IDFG) and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the IBO crew searched across much of southern Idaho for Golden Eagles and their nests in 2011. Our surveys took us to the South Hills, the Albion, Cotterell, and Deep Creek mountains, the Bennett Hills, and beyond! Until this project, Idaho lacked basic information on the distribution, population size and nesting locations of Golden Eagles outside of the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. BLM and IDFG were interested in meeting these information needs by conducting an inventory of nesting golden eagles throughout southern Idaho. Moreover, the recent growth in renewable energy development (specifically wind turbines) in southern Idaho spurred this project since Golden Eagles are sometimes known to collide with wind turbines and/or are electrocuted by their distribution lines. The information IBO collected on this project will help land managers identify potential impact “hotspots” (i.e., near occupied nesting territories), and hopefully enable a proactive approach to evaluating potential impacts to Golden Eagles from energy development. Funding for this project came from the BLM Idaho State Office. The IBO crew located 99 new Golden Eagle nests. Overall the project (in conjunction with IDFG and other partners) discovered or verified 168 distinct Golden Eagle territories and 384 unique nests across the entire state.
- Partners: Idaho Department of Fish and Game, Bureau of Land Management
Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS)
The Monitoring Avian Productivity and Survivorship (MAPS) Program is comprised of hundreds of standardized mist netting stations across the continent. The banding data provides information on the ecology, conservation, and management of songbird populations (see the Institute for Bird Populations website for more information). We conduct this banding at Lucky Peak from June-August one morning every 10 days as per MAPS protocol.
Partners: Institute for Bird Populations