Breeding Bird Survey Results 2016
Breeding bird surveys (BBSs) have been conducted almost every year since 1985 to monitor bird populations on the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site. In 2016, we conducted surveys in June along five routes that are part of a nationwide survey administered by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and eight routes near INL Site facilities. We documented 6,183 birds from 53 species during those surveys.
We observed similar bird abundance patterns for those species that are typically the most numerous including horned lark (Eremophila alpestris, n=903), western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta, n=644), sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus, n=503), sagebrush sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis, n=216), and Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri, n=193). In addition, we observed large numbers of Franklin’s gulls (Larus pipixcan, n=3,082) as they flew over the eastern side of the INL Site. With the exception of the Franklin’s gull, the five species listed above have been the five most abundant 23 times during the past 30 years of surveys, and in the remaining seven years they were among the six most abundant species.
Investigators observed two species that were previously not recorded during the INL surveys: one great egret (Ardea alba) and three Eurasian collared dove (Streptopelia decaocto). One species was observed during the surveys that had been recorded in 7 of the past 26 years. This species was the Canada goose (Branta canadensis, n=7).
Brewer’s and Sagebrush sparrows continue to be observed at near-historical lows, likely as a result of big fires in 2010 and 2011. In addition, raven observations continue at high levels.