Breeding Bird Survey Results 2017
Breeding bird surveys (BBSs) have been conducted almost every year since 1985 to monitor bird populations on the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site. In 2017, 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 3,314 birds from 50 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=936), western meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta, n=660), sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus, n=455), Brewer’s sparrow (Spizella breweri, n=292), and sagebrush sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis, n=205). In addition, we observed a large number of Franklin’s gulls (Larus pipixcan, n=213). With the exception of the Franklin’s gull, the five species listed above have been the five most abundant 23 times during the past 31 years of surveys, and in the other years they were among the seven most abundant species.
Investigators observed three species that were previously not recorded during the INL surveys: one Dark-eyed Junco (unidentified race) (Junco hyemalis), one long-eared owl (Asio otus), and two western bluebirds (Sialia mexicana). One species was observed during the surveys that had been recorded in two of the past 31 years. This species was the Eurasian collared-dove (Streptopelia decaocto, n=1), it was also observed in 2016 and is considered an invasive species.
Species observed during the 2017 BBS that are considered by the Idaho Department of Fish and Game as Species of Greatest Conservation Need included the sage thrasher (Oreoscoptes montanus, n=455), sagebrush sparrow (Artemisiospiza nevadensis, n=205), Franklin’s gull (Larus pipixcan, n=213), common nighthawk (Chordeiles minor, n=23), ferruginous hawk (Buteo regalis, n=16), grasshopper sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum, n=6), burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia, n=4), and long-billed curlew (Numenius americanus, n=1).
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.