A studio for bird study

Tag: ebird

Increases in Harris’s Sparrow Reports in Idaho Highlight the Benefits of ebird

by Bryce W. Robinson

Immature Harris's Sparrow- Zonotrichia querula. 9X11" Prismacolor on bristol board

Immature Harris’s Sparrow- Zonotrichia querula. 9X11″ Prismacolor on bristol board. Illustration copyright Bryce W. Robinson

This winter, I’ve personally found five Harris’s Sparrows in the Great Basin. These sightings have been supplemented with about the same number by folks in my birding circle, anecdotally suggesting higher than average reports for Harris’s Sparrows. My friend Jay Carlisle posed the question; Is it a matter of a good breeding year for Harris’s Sparrow and an increased widespread juvenile distribution, or an increase in birding effort and ebird reporting? His conversation with a friend gave him additional anecdotal information that there were higher than average reports for Montana as well.

Obviously these questions are difficult to answer. What the presence of increased Harris’s Sparrow detections illustrates is the importance for birder’s to report their sightings to ebird and state records committees. This way we will be able to more fully trust these resources for historic distributions of any given species.

After reviewing Idaho’s past records of Harris’s Sparrow in ebird, it became apparent that this year stood out. You can review frequency charts on ebird for Idaho here.

But, it is important to consider that there are more participants in ebird as the years progress. What we will be able to see, if the birding effort continues for years to come, is how this winter compares to future years. With ebird, each year we will add to the data set, and incrementally increase the accuracy of range maps for species across the world.

This years Harris’s Sparrow numbers haven’t taught me much about the bird’s place in Idaho, but they have illustrated the benefits and need for filing ebird reports whenever I go birding.


Birding in South West Idaho

by Bryce W. Robinson


It has been a while since I’ve posted to this blog, due mainly to the fact that some poor luck fell on me, and my laptop was stolen from my desk in my office while I was off teaching. Luckily, most of my photos and video were backed up, but it’s been rough not being able to share anything while I’ve searched for a solution. For the meantime, I’ve found a temporary fix in borrowing a computer. This has allowed me to look through some photos I’ve gathered while I was computer-less.

Anyway, the photo above was taken yesterday morning. I went for a day of birding with some new and talented Idaho birding friends to a large reservoir on the west end of the Treasure Valley. It was a great day with some good birds. We ventured to Deer Flats Reservoir in the early morning, making it to the mudflats just as the sun rose. The light was electric, and luckily we found some tolerant Least Sandpipers. I again found myself on my elbows and knees, shooting shorebirds, remembering my summer in the north.

I don’t know much about birding in Idaho, but I sure am learning. We found a juvenile American Golden-Plover, which is a great bird here. It was a lifer for one of the fellows in our group. That is always fun to be a part of, in my opinion, even if it is not you who gets to see something new.

Here are the ebird checklists for those interested in knowing what we found:





I really enjoy the new birding community I’ve found here in Idaho. Lots to learn as always, and hopefully now that I have a way to blog again, I’ll keep the posting regular.