Monday, March 15, 2010

Snake River Birds of Prey

The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area--located near Kuna, Idaho--has one of the highest densities of nesting raptors in the world, not to mention the highest density of badgers, many sagebrush bird species like Says phoebe and canyon wren, and stunning views of the Snake River.

In short: It's a great place to visit if you're a birder or naturalist.

And now is the time to catch incredible raptor interactions there.

Yesterday, I visited the conservation area with friend Ryan Andrus, a falconer, raptor enthusiast and biologist.

We hoped to see some interesting raptor behavior; we weren't disappointed. Prairie falcons (pictured above), golden eagles, ferruginous hawks, red-tailed hawks, harriers and kestrels were numerous.

At one stop, we watched as a prairie falcon snagged a ground squirrel, only to be chased by a harrier and two ravens. When the falcon dropped the dead squirrel in mid-flight, a golden eagle swooped in and calmly took it away.

At Dedication Point, we watched territorial disputes among prairie falcons.

The best way to catch the action yourself is to take Swan Falls Road from Kuna. Here are a few stops to make along the way:

Dedication Point offers excellent views of the Snake River Canyon, and is a fantastic viewing spot for prairie falcons and other raptors. The birds will often soar right by the viewing area.

Initial Point is the best spot to see badgers. The road is rough in this area so drive carefully.

Swan Falls Dam is a good place to look for ducks, pelicans, grebes and other water birds, as well as marmots in the nearby canyon.

The 485,000-acre conservation area is a great place to explore and see raptors hunting, soaring, fighting and breeding. Sit quietly and you'll be amazed by what you'll see.--Matt Miller

Photo courtesy USGS.


Anonymous said...

Sounds like amazing bird viewing. Wish I could stop by! By the way, I and the Bird sent me.

Kolibri Expeditions said...

Matt, Checking in from I and Bird recommendation. Seems to be excellent birding in Idaho.