I'm back!  The last week was spent at Yellowstone National Park with my brother and his family, gawking at bears and Mountain Bluebirds and all that.  I drove out there with a couple stops in Idaho on the way there and the way back.  Since the idea of going through all my YNP photos is overwhelming, I have decided to begin with just the small Idaho stops. 

There are some farm roads outside of Boise near the Snake River Birds of Prey Natural Conservation Area that looked interesting on eBird.  I was hoping for Burrowing Owls but never located any, perhaps because it was damn hot by the time I got there.  There were other birds though...

Swainson's Hawk

 Long-billed Curlew

This area was crawling with ground squirrels.  There were road-killed squirrels everywhere, and sadly even I contributed to this mess.  The cleanup crew was not at all who I expected though:

That's right.  The living ground squirrels were eating the dead ground squirrels.  Wow. 

On my drive back from Yellowstone I stopped at Camas National Wildlife Refuge in Hamer, Idaho.   Unfortunately most of the areas labeled "marsh" or "pond" on the map were actually completely dried up.  The brochure mentions sometimes there's not enough water from the river and they have wells and pumps to provide extra water.  Apparently, this was not the case. 

Another Swainson's Hawk
The ponds closest to the entrance did have water and that's where I saw most of the birds, like a million Yellow-headed Blackbirds.

I don't remember ever seeing Northern Shoveler ducklings before so I was psyched to see these guys:

Red-tailed Hawks

Other interesting birds around the refuge included Western and Eastern Kingbirds, Common Nighthawks, Northern Harriers, Redheads, Sandhill Cranes, American Kestrels, Black-billed Magpies, and Bullock's Orioles.  Now for the interesting mammals...

White-tailed deer

Despite how many photos of this last mammal were posted around the refuge, I was still shocked when I found one grunting in the reeds:


He just slowly walked deeper into the reeds till I couldn't see him anymore.  Wild.  This earned Camas NWR some major redemption in my book. 

After leaving the refuge I made a roadside stop along I-15 when I saw a big pond with a ton of birds flying around it.  Mostly Franklin's Gulls, but also Forster's Terns, Black Terns, a California Gull, and an American White Pelican.  White-faced Ibises flew by in the distance.

Four of the above-mentioned species

That was about it for Idaho.  It was my first time birding there (beyond the Safeway in Moscow), and I hope to explore the more northern forests and mountains there someday.  It's really a beautiful state.

 Goat-walking on the train tracks

Good times!  Yellowstone to come soon.


  1. Sounds like an awesome trip, Jen! I love all the hawks and the Curlew in flight is wonderful.. Cool sighting of the moose.. Great post and photos. Happy birding!

  2. Your Swainson's hawk shots are so beautiful. I love their skinny wings. .I was listening to Swainson's thrush this morning but no sign of Swainson's warbler...

  3. Cool stuff! I love that moose!

  4. Ground squirrels have no taboos and little sense. I've seen them form roadkill chains as one after another gets squished while eating its fallen comrades.

    1. Woah! Like in the La Brea tar pits--layers & layers of carnivores trying to dine on tar-captured spp., and they then join the chain. Super interesting.

  5. Oh, man, great post, fabulous shots (SO many rockin' spp.), and I'm psyched you got a photo of ground squirrel eating ground-ground squirrel.

    Here's why: I was reading stuff someone posts LAST WEEK about "animals behaving badly" & they talked about animals not behaving how you expect them re: what they eat.

    And I could not remember if it was bunnies eating roadkill bunnies I saw, or ground squirrels doing the same (in a NP site where visitors cooed over that spp. ALL the time). So, perused a mammals field guide & ground squirrels was most likely as they eat (among other things) eggs and BIRDS. Never knew that.

    So, I love when wildlife confounds people's expectations. "Look at that cute little squirrel, Johnny! What is it eating? Oh... wait... it's... Hey, Johnny, look at that nice flower over THAT way!" =) As the blood drains from the adult's face. =)

    Wild life. Separating those syllables is a useful reminder.

    Swainson's hawks are SO beautiful. Your photo really captures how SLEEK they are.

  6. Grisly Ground Squirrels, and that cannibal is fat with friends!!

    I really dig that gigantic Red-tail Hawk walking along the horizon too, plus everything else.

    IUTHB at its finest.

  7. WOW my eyes are poppin with all this the Curlew really got me!..not to mention the mammals!!


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