Breeding Bird Survey Results 2012
Compared with past surveys, we observed similar patterns of bird abundance among those species that are typically the most numerous. In 2012, the five species that were documented in greatest abundance were horned lark (Eremophila alpestris, n = 897), western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta, n = 621), sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus, n = 298), Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri, n = 172), and sage sparrow (Amphispiza belli, n = 161). During 26 years of breeding bird surveys on the INL Site these species have been the five most abundant 19 times, and in the remaining seven years they were among the six most abundant species. Considering reported declines in populations of sagebrush-obligate species throughout the intermountain west, this trend indicates that the quality of sagebrush-steppe habitat on the INL Site remains stable.
Although three new species were added in the past four years to the list of birds that have been observed at least once during BBS on the INL Site, no observations of new species were made in 2012. One species was observed during the surveys that had been recorded in ≤ 6 of the past 26 years. This species was the Canada goose (Branta canadensis).
Species observed during the 2012 BBS that are considered species of conservation concern in Idaho included the Franklin’s gull (Larus pipixcan, n = 15), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia, n = 1), ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis, n = 7), and greater sage-grouse (Centrocercus urophasianus, n = 4).