Though Bert Raynes’ Far Afield column has been temporarily suspended, bird and wildlife watchers are still calling and emailing in their sightings. — Eds.
Every species has its own migration schedule by coincidence or as a result of natural events and other influences. Birds and other animals may show up at the same time.
Just now in mid-May a couple of handfuls of species are showing up simultaneously.
Dennis and Marian Butcher report a (currently seldom seen) Eurasian collared dove on the refuge. Dennis enjoyed a nice mating display of spotted sandpipers at South Park Feedground. They also report western tanagers, American goldfinches in blinding color, black-headed grosbeaks and winnowing snipe courting displays. And on Sunday, a Franklin’s gull also at South Park.
On May 12 Bernie McHugh had a male lark bunting fly by him on Antelope Flats.
Diane Birdsall and Richard Hardy had their first female broadtail hummingbird visit on May 11, just before the hailstorm.
Lazuli buntings have been reported at several locations in the valley by Bill Long, Diane Hazen, Lorie Cahn, Doug Brown, Wes and Shirley Timmerman and Joe Burke.
Bullock’s orioles reported throughout the valley by Diane Birdsall and Richard Hardy, Joan Lucas, Dennis and Marian Butcher, Joe Burke, Diane Hazen and Connie Leavell.
A possible Bullock’s oriole/Baltimore oriole hybrid adult male has been visiting the feeder and suet in East Jackson and a western tanager showed for suet as well.
“What a glorious morning for FOYS at our feeder,” Lorie Cahn and Doug Brown reported.
The Cooper’s hawk that has been seen around Skyline was watched on May 10 by Caroline McPhee and Bert Raynes.
This past week, in addition to calliopes, broadtails and black-chinned hummers, Wes and Shirley Timmerman have seen two lazuli buntings (male and female), white-crowned sparrows, a white-breasted nuthatch, at least a dozen Cassin’s finches, a half dozen house finches, two pairs of nesting black-capped chickadees (in two nest boxes except one female is a mountain chickadee — “This must be the fourth year she has nested in our yard with a black-capped male,” they report).
“We can hear ruby-crowned kinglets. Tree swallows have taken one nest box for sure. Recently, we saw a western tanager in the South Park feedground area, along with many tree swallows and yellow-rumped warblers,” they wrote. “Kestrels are often seen, or heard, in our neighborhood, as well as northern flickers. A downy woodpecker was at the feeder yesterday.
“A pair of red-tailed hawks are nesting in our neighborhood, and ravens are also nesting in the neighborhood again, so once again there will be aerial battles overhead this summer,” the Timmermans said. “Hope we can weather the storm.”
Kay Modi saw a raven flying by with a large (goose) egg in its beak. The sight was very odd since the egg appeared to be the same size or larger than he raven’s head.
Franz Camenzind reports the following sightings: female black-headed grosbeak, mallards mating, ruby-crowned kinglet and a FOY green-tailed towhee! And the usual cast of (other) characters on Flat Creek in Jackson.
Tim Griffith had a really good sighting of six long-billed curlews on the National Elk Refuge.
The area around feeders at Joan Lucas’ has been busy this week with a black-headed grosbeak, house wren, hermit thrush, calliope hummingbirds, black-capped chickadees, a yellow warbler, a sphinx moth and Cooper’s hawk all looking for a meal. Joan also reports three pelicans circling at Snake River bridge. “Sun is out, hooray!” she wrote.
The Sage Grouse survey this week produced a bald eagle, reported Joe Bohne, among other sightings.
“We did see a cow elk with a really little calf running across the meadow just east of the refuge visitor center but no predators were seen in pursuit,” he wrote.
“Male sage grouse numbers did not rebound in JH but did not decline further it appears,” he said. “High count on the lek up the Gros Ventre was only three males but WGFD/USFS will survey it one more time.”
In Alpine, Joe has orioles, lazuli buntings and black-headed grosbeaks that showed in the past week up at his feeders. He has at least 10 hummers working the feeders over too.
“The back yard is alive with birds now,” he wrote.
A blackpoll warbler was reported May 14, by Julia Spencer and Charlotte Cadow on West Boyles Hill Road.
Blue jays were seen by Chuck and Carol Schneebeck (up to four), as well as Charlotte Cadow on the Flat Creek bike path and Franz Camenzind at his feeder on Saturday.
Marian and Dennis Butcher report western tanagers, American goldfinches in blinding color, black-headed grosbeaks and winnowing snipe courting displays.
In Moran Deb Patla had black-headed grosbeaks show up on May 13. She reports a peregrine falcon dining on a duck in a wet pasture, only 30 feet away from a calm group of wigeon, teal and mallards. A red-tailed hawk flushed the falcon off its lunch. The falcon flew to a fence rail, where it wailed and stamped its feet for at least 10 minutes before flying away.
Deb also watched an immature sharp-shinned hawk tearing into and eating a red-winged blackbird male under the suet feeder. The feathers were almost all gone by the next day ... home furnishing for other birds?
Peak bird migration won’t last too much longer locally. Any day now will come a report of a western wood peewee and it will be summer.