Saturday, July 16, 2005

Idaho Co. Flammulated Owls, 7/9/05 (& status in north-central Idaho)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Charles Swift <>
Date: Jul 14, 2005 11:38 AM
Subject: Idaho Co. Flammulated Owls, 7/9/05 (& status in north-central Idaho)

Hi All -

The Nez Perce and Clearwater National Forests have been conducting
surveys for Flammulated Owls in north-central Idaho. Based on
information I received about these surveys, I was able to easily
locate several FLAMMULATED OWLS in an area south of Pittsburg Saddle
(southwest of Whitebird, ID). They readily came into a tape playback
and were easily spotlighted (briefly) for good visuals.

The habitat here is mixed conifer with plenty of Ponderosa Pine of
various ages including large, older trees and snags. It seems like
good habitat for White-headed Woodpeckers and Williamson's Sapsucker
as well. We found many typical conifer nesting bird species on our way
out Sunday AM (after camping at the owl location).

Pittsburgh Saddle is on the ridge between the Snake and Salmon River
and is accessible from the road that crosses the ridge and continues
down to Pittsburgh Landing at Hells Canyon of the Snake R. The general
area where we found the owls is the intersection of USFS roads 2065
and 672 (clearly depicted on the DeLorme & USFS maps). Deb and I
camped at the location where we found the owls. This seemed the best
approach as it is ~1 hr. drive into this location from US 95. It would
also be possible to stay at a Motel in Whitebird or Riggins or camp
somewhere else.

As always, it is a but touchy posting locations of owls but based on
the survey results they seem to be well distributed in appropriate
habitat in this area. This is also a fairly remote area so I expect
birding pressure to be light. There are other well known locations for
"Flams" in WA and ID that are farther from the Palouse region. Surveys
north of the Salmon River area (e.g the Clearwater NF) have only found
a few birds. There are historical records from Craig Mountain and they
probably occur sparsely elsewhere to north but it appears the main
range in Idaho is from the Salmon R. south. (they have also been found
north of the Salmon R. east of of Riggins).

These USFS surveys should provide some good (possibly new) information
on the current distribution of FLAMMULATED OWLS in north-central
Idaho. I was not aware that they were in the Nez Perce NF although
suspected it was possible based on the habitat in the area. The most
recent nearby reports have come from the eastern Blue Mountains (e.g.
Fields Spring State Park) - maybe someone (Mike Denny?) could provide
information on thier status in the Blues and Wallowas Mountains.

I'll post some pictures of the area to my birding blog sometime in the
next few days (and will post more on other birds seen on this trip).

thanks, Charles.

Charles Swift
Moscow, ID

Charles Swift
Moscow, ID

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