Friday, January 25, 2013

In-town birding - Kathryn Albertson Park, Americana Terrace, and MK Nature Center

The city of Boise was built at the foot of Boise National Forest, straddling the Boise River. The unique foothills habitat to the north and the extensive riparian corridor through town create quite a few wonderful birding hotspots you can enjoy without ever leaving town. Boise has done a tremendous job maintaining natural areas within the city, and some of our most enjoyable birding outings have been just a few minutes from downtown.

Saturday, January 5, we focused our efforts on Kathryn Albertson Park (a couple of Evening Grosbeaks had been reported recently), Americana Terrace, and MK Nature Center (a Pacific Wren had been hanging out recently). We didn't find any of our target birds (I think we were a little too slow getting out after the first reports started coming in) but we did have a fantastic time and got a great start on our 2013 year list.

Kathryn Albertson Park indicated by the red star, Americana Terrace indicated by the blue star, and MK Nature Center indicated by the orange star. Boise, Ada County.
When we first started birding, Kathryn Albertson Park provided us with our first Great Egret, Black-crowned Night-heron, and Varied Thrush, just to name a few. The park was designed to be a nature preserve, and is also home to a few deer that make their home right in town.

Ellen at the entrance to Kathryn Albertson Park, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
Kathryn Alberston was quite birdy this morning, but mostly with the usual suspects: American Robins, Black-billed Magpies, Song Sparrows, Mallards, Wood Ducks, etc. No unusual finds this morning. We were happy to spend some time up close with the resident Wood Ducks, whom we missed seeing as often when we lived in Denver.

Wood Duck (female). Kathryn Albertson Park, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
Wood Ducks. Kathryn Albertson Park, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
We look forward to visiting Kathryn Albertson more as the weather warms up, the ponds unfreeze, and the bird diversity increases.

Our next stop was Americana Terrace, which lies directly between Kathryn Albertson Park and the Boise River. Americana Terrace is not a nature preserve, in fact, it's the back side of an office building that faces the river. The big draw here is the feeders that someone maintains. There are several suet feeders, platform feeders, sock feeders, and tube feeders that always bring in great birds. In fact, a couple of years ago, these feeders hosted a Northern Parula and a Yellow-Throated Warbler for a week or so in the winter. Even when the feeders are not attracting anything rare, they still provide great viewing opportunities for local birds that are sometimes harder to get a good view of. For example, we enjoyed great looks at this Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet. Americana Terrace, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
This Red-breasted Nuthatch was in a bush not far from the feeders, either hoping we would add some more food, or just hoping that we would leave. Either way, he froze in great light for us to snap a few pictures.

Red-breasted Nuthatch. Americana Terrace, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
Our last stop of the afternoon was MK Nature Center. This natural area piggy-backs the Idaho Fish and Game office, and is home to a range of educational exhibits about nature and biology. We arrived somewhat late in the day, and the bird life was quite low on this trip, but in the past this has been our most reliable location to find Golden-crowned Kinglet. Many others had reported seeing a Pacific Wren here throughout the winter, but I was unable to locate it on this trip.

MK Nature Center, Ada County. January 5, 2013.

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