Breeding bird surveys (BBSs) have been conducted annually since 1985 (no surveys were
conducted in 1992 and 1993) to monitor bird populations on the Idaho National Laboratory
(INL) Site. In 2014, we conducted surveys from May 29 to June 27 along 13 established routes,
five of which are part of a nationwide survey administered by the U.S. Geological Survey
(USGS) and eight of which boarder INL Site facilities. We documented 2,677 birds from 38
species during those surveys. Bird abundance was less than the 1985-2013 average of 4,824
birds, and the number of species (i.e., species richness) was lower than the 27-year average of
Compared with past surveys, we observed similar patterns of bird abundance among those
species that are typically the most numerous. In 2014, the five species that were documented in
greatest abundance were horned lark (Eremophila alpestris, n = 771), western meadowlark
(Sturnella neglecta, n = 674), sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus, n = 460), sage sparrow (Amphispiza belli, n = 208), and Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri, n = 125). During 28 years
of breeding bird surveys on the INL Site these species have been the five most abundant 21
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
Species observed during the 2014 BBS that are considered species of conservation concern in
Idaho included the Franklin’s gull (Larus pipixcan, n = 2), ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis, n = 8), long-billed curlew (Numenius americanus, n = 2), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia, n = 2),
and grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum, n = 5).
Full 2014 Breeding Bird
Survey Report (pdf format)