Saturday, July 25, 2009

My New Office

As my recent blog posts have indicated, I am working for the summer banding birds at the Idaho Bird Observatory. This last week as I was walking across a ridgeline at dawn, I thought back to the days when I would be sitting in my cubicle. What a vastly different world this is. I spent nearly 21 years in an 8x8 cubicle. Now I can see for a 100 miles! It is truly a fantastic experience being up here that I relish every morning! I thought I would provide you a quick tour. The IBO is open to visitors, so you are welcome to come up and see us.
While we cannot see Boise from the banding station, a short walk of 100 meters down the trail opens to a great vista of the city of trees, 3000 feet below.
Boise, Idaho from Lucky Peak.
The sunrise is always a great experience.
Sunrise at IBO.
The Idaho Bird Observatory is an excellent place to band migrating songbirds. The mountain ranges of western Idaho funnel all of the birds to this point before they must cross the Southern Idaho desert. From this point there will be no food or cover for many songbirds for about 50 miles.
View South from IBO.
For songbird banding we operate 10 mist nets for 5 hours per day starting at sunrise. The nets are located in a variety of terrain, all a short walk from the central banding station. We check the nets every 30 minutes to extract birds and return them to the banding station. The crew consists of 4 or 5 people per day. At least 2 clearing nets and 2 processing birds. We trade off tasks a well. In this early part of the season we only have 5 people available, and try to have at least 4 on duty every day. A new volunteer arrives next week so that I can take a few days off.
Banding station - Heidi, Jay, & Jack.
Most days I commute to the mountain on my dual sport motorcycle. Some nights I stay over with the crew. The team takes turns cooking dinner for the group.
Banding station and camp (my tent on right).
I only have 4 weeks left until school starts. My school schedule won't allow me to stay on with the songbird banding team, although weekends are still available for me to fill in. Once school begins I will start hawkwatch at the IBO one day a week after I get out of school. Hawkwatch consists of identifying and counting migrating raptors that pass over the site. Both songbird banding and hawkwatch are related to my research.
Once again, if you are in the area you are welcome to come up to see us. We will give you a tour, explain the process, and show you some beautiful birds up close.


binnur said...


Thanks for the tour. When I am in the area, I will make time to come and check out your new place. It looks wonderful!


Unknown said...

have a great time. It looks like a top place. You're doing a good thing.

Unknown said...

"Once again, if you are in the area you are welcome to come up to see us. We will give you a tour, explain the process, and show you some beautiful birds up close."

I wqould like to do this. However, I don't want to get in the way. Is there a best day of the week and time of day?

Winston Mitchell

wolf21m said...

Winston, Don't worry about getting in the way, we are pretty good at segmenting things to prevent that. For a full walk through, plan to spend a couple of hours. You can go on net runs to see how the birds are netted and extracted, then watch the banding process. The longer you stick around the greater variety of birds you will see as well. Right now, there are few visitors, probably a few people every other day. Once school starts some schools will bring up larger groups which make it a little less intimate in seeing the birds and the process. We operate every day for 5 hours after sunrise. Today = 6:30am-11:30am.