A studio for bird study

Tag: spring

Singing House Wren on the Boise River

by Bryce W. Robinson

 

I recorded a singing House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) today while banding birds along the Boise River with the Intermountain Bird Observatory (note the bird is banded!).

Although spring migration hasn’t hit in its entirety at this site, the House Wrens seem to have arrived in full. There are at least three different individual males singing in the area, and I’ve noticed an additional four individuals in the area as well. The House Wren population at this site seems to be healthy.

Unfortunately the video I recorded does not capture the song of the House Wren. I wasn’t too far from the wren, but I believe the inability of the phone to capture the song is related to the masking of other noises in the environment (and the iPhone’s lack of a directional mic). First and foremost it was a windy day, which I believe is the main contributor to the masking. On top of the wind was the noise of the busy highway, the noise of the Boise River, and nearby construction (all large bandwidth, but mostly low frequency). With both natural and anthropogenic noise, I wonder how House Wren territory distributions differ between an area like this and a relatively noiseless area such as a remote forest location away from a river.

HOWR

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon) banded at the Intermountain Bird Observatory’s Boise River site on the east end of Boise, Idaho.

Despite the heightened noise, the wrens in this area seem to be thick and continuing with life as they would. A study may enlighten us on the human noise impacts coupled with natural noise (rivers, etc.) on bird territory distributions like in this case, but if I were to hedge a bet I’d say the House Wren is one species that seems to weather the added impacts of humanity enough to maintain a regular and healthy population within human disturbance areas.

Singing Sagebrush Sparrow

by Bryce W. Robinson


I took this clip the other day in the Sagebrush strewn landscape of southwestern Idaho. I recorded the video by digiscoping using my ZEISS Diascope 65 T* FL. Normally, Sagebrush Sparrows are busy singers and will generally tolerate you in the area so long as you don’t pay them too much attention. But for whatever reason, no matter how far I was the sparrows on this morning were extra timid. On top of that, the wind wasn’t helping. Due to the wind and the distance from the bird, you can’t really hear the singing. To add one more difficulty to getting the song recorded, there was a lone bull nearby that was constantly growling. I didn’t know bulls growl… So, there is room for improvement for recording video of a singing Sagebrush Sparrow.

Anyway, I’m still pleased with the outcome. I do think I need an external, directional microphone for recording singing birds. Digiscoping really caters to sparrows and other passerines that are more flighty, but it doesn’t capture the song well. Still, It’s really nice to have quality glass to help with the effort. I’m really excited to apply the technique to some of Alaska’s more timid birds this summer, such as the singing Arctic Warbler and displaying Bluethroat.

Sharp-tailed Grouse Lek

by Bryce W. Robinson

 

Yesterday, I had the privilege of getting up at 4 AM to join Jay Carlisle and Heidi Ware on a trip to visit a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek in western Idaho. We arrived on the lek before sunrise, just in time to hear the beginning dances of the lekking grouse. As the sun rose the grouse surrounded us, chucking in unison and stamping their feet.

If you’ve never been to a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek, you must. It is a bizarre performance as the birds face off with a nemesis to exhibit their fitness and attract the attention of a lady.

The peculiarity of this display is reason enough to ensure that open natural landscapes, such as the sagebrush steppe in western Idaho is preserved. Spread the word and the images of natural wonders such as these grouse, so that even those not so interested in wildlife will recognize the benefit of conserving the wild world.