From: Charles Swift <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, Apr 1, 2009 at 1:46 PM
Subject: Re: [IBLE] Mountain Quail RFI
Jay & all -
You might check w/ Rita Dixon at the IDFG conservation data center (or whatever it's called now) for recent sightings. Although there have not been any recent reports from birders from the Rapid River area (probably mostly because nobody looks very much) that population had been fairly stable and likely persists. Actually a bit upstream on either side of the Little Salmon R. near Pollock and the Pinehurst Resort is probably the better place to check. The Birder's Guide to Idaho (pp. 110-111) mentions a number of roads worth checking in this area - FR 624 and Denny Creek Rd. in particular (FR 624 also has White-headed Woodpeckers). A house on the west side of the Little Salmon R. near Pinehurst used to have a flock of M. Quail that wintered in their yard which is where I saw them in April about 7 or 8 years ago. (It's an adobe style house visible from US95 - might be worth asking permission to look around there.)
Otherwise Mountain Quail has probably been more or less extirpated from other parts of their former range in Idaho except the following. There are occasional reports from the area near the confluence of the Salmon & Snake Rivers (which is pretty difficult to access) and some recent reintroduction efforts near here at Craig Mountain (which have been more or less unsuccessful due to high initial predation rates). There may also be some recent reports from deeper in Hells Canyon (Rita would know) but of course access is a problem there as well. There are also occasional reports from eastern Latah Co. Tantalizing but unconfirmed and California Quail occasionally show up in odd places away from human habitation. So all in all I'd say Rigins/Pollock area is about the only place that one would actually have a chance of looking for and seeing (or hearing) Mountain Quail.
BTW there is some debate as to whether Mountain Quail are actually native to Idaho or were introduced at some time in the past. I think most authorities consider it likely that they are native to parts of Idaho but there is enough doubt about WA (Blue Mountains) populations that the USFWS has cited this as one reason for not listing the interior populations (it's also not clear if the interior populations represent a distinct subspecies).
Here is a link to the USFWS decision - http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/03-1283.html
Here's a link to a fact sheet from USFWS Oregon office - http://www.fws.gov/oregonfwo/Species/Data/MountainQuail/default.asp
I'll admit up front that this e-mail is partly (mostly?) motivated purely by selfish reasoning (i.e., my birding pleasure) ... but I also continue to be concerned for the status of this species in the region (still common in coast ranges but apparently still nose-diving inland - including Idaho).
I'm wondering of anyone has searched for (successfully or not) Mountain Quail in the last year or two and if anyone has any suggestions for where a crazy birder might try to hear one singing at this time of year. Aside from reintroduction efforts in a couple places in the state, the last sightings I'd heard about (2 yrs ago) were in the Rapid River drainage ...
Thanks in advance and please feel free to reply to me only (so as not to clutter IBLE).
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