Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Busy Nesting Season at Deer Flat NWR

While we are watching and waiting for the osprey to complete their incubation cycle, I wanted to point out that we have other active nesters at the refuge. Another osprey pair is also sitting on eggs on their platform nest near the refuge maintenance shops. I also observed a great-horned owl nesting in a cavity of an old cottonwood tree in that area.
We have two bald eagle nesting territories on Lake Lowell. One is just west of the visitor center and that nest has at least one young eaglet in it, about one month old. The other bald eagle nest is on the east end of the lake and only accessible by boat. We have not yet determined the number of young in that nest.
There are many breeding pairs of red-tailed hawks nesting on the refuge, they also have young in the nest. One of the more visible nests is at Murphy's Neck off Orchard Ave...I saw a downy head peeking above the edge of that nest just this morning.
The great blue heron rookery on the south side of Lake Lowell is full of nesting birds, as is the double-crested cormorant rookery in the same general location. Meanwhile, hundred of western grebes (some Clark's grebes mixed in) have returned to the lake and are preparing for their nesting season. We saw several in courtship display during a recent boat trip around the lake.
And lastly, the refuge staff is just finishing their surveys of nesting Canada geese on the islands in the Snake River. The nest numbers are down from previous years and the high river flows this year have inundated some of the nesting islands. Most all of the goslings should have hatched by now from the viable nests. rcc