President's Messages - 2014

September 2014

The second re-awakening (déjà vu all over again)

Poets, and biologists, often describe spring as a time of renewal; a time when bird songs fill the sky and the nearly palpable changes in the air announce a new season.   Camas National Wildlife Refuge has a second re-awakening each year, and it is now.   After a summer of arid conditions, hot and often windy days, the doors to autumn are wide open.  There is a new chill in the morning air.  The sky looks different.  The clouds carry a subtle threat of weather to come.   Song birds are migrating in force.  The tree lines at the refuge are filled with warblers, including Wilson’s, Orange-crowned, Yellow-rumped, Townsend’s, Nashville, MacGillivary’s (left) and (the week of September 9) a Magnolia Warbler (below); only the 5th recorded sighting at Camas NWR! Vireos, Nuthatches, and other songbirds are also abundant.  Deer fawns have lost their spots and the Elk are bugling at dawn and dusk.   Sandhill cranes are staging for their migration.  Nearly 200 were counted on the refuge this week.  The four Trumpeter Swan cygnets hatched on Big Pond are testing their wings, and should be flying within the week.  This is a very exciting time of year to visit the refuge.  This second re-awakening proves the successes of the Spring renewal, and underscores the importance of Camas National Wildlife Refuge, as well as neighboring Market Lake and Mud Lake Wildlife Management Areas, for resident and migratory wildlife.  Come visit your local National Wildlife Refuge this fall. 

May 26, 2014

Friday May 23, 2014 was a day of excitement for local birder, and former Friends Board Member, Darren Clark, and Steve Butterworth (current Friends Board Member), and a big buzz for birders throughout the state.   Darren and Steve saw, and heard, what is presumed to be the first ever documented sighting of an Alder Flycatcher in the state of Idaho. Because of its similarity to the Willow Flycatcher, with which it was considered the same species (Traill’s Flycatcher) until the 1970’s, and the distance from its usual summer and migration range (see map), the Idaho Bird Records Committee ( will decide later this year whether the sighting is valid and the Alder Flycatcher can be added to the official Idaho bird list.

While this sighting is a testament to Darren and Steve’s birding skills and a feather in their collective caps (groan), the real take home message is the importance of Camas National Wildlife Refuge and the nearby Market Lake and Mud Lake Wildlife Management Areas to migrating birds, and the concomitant opportunities for birders to encounter rare species.  Of the 300 or so species of birds recorded at one or more of these three wildlife areas, 53 species are considered rare in the state (observed four or fewer times per year in each of the ten preceding years), and an amazing 17 species (soon to be 18 with the addition of the Alder Flycatcher!) were first state records for Idaho (   If you are a birder and have never visited Camas, I strongly encourage you to grab your binoculars and come visit our local refuge soonest.  Spring migration is almost over.  If you are not a birder, I equally encourage you to visit Camas NWR to enjoy the wide open spaces and the wildlife.  Who knows, you might get the birding bug and be the next to report a first sighting for Idaho and give Daren,, Steve and the other serious and regular Camas birders a run for their money!

Timothy D. (Tim) Reynolds, Ph.D.

President, Friends of Camas NWR

March 8, 2014

After one of the oddest winters Eastern Idaho has enjoyed in a long time, and one of the mildest if you live on the Snake River Plain, Spring is in the air.  After some anxious months, most watersheds in our part of the state are in good shape.  Although the Plain is barren, snow in the high country is above or way above normal snow pack conditions.  Good news for both irrigators and wildlife habitat! 

Numbers of Snow Geese are building each day West of Roberts.  As I write this, over 5,000 light geese, including the usual smattering of the smaller Ross’ Geese and, surprisingly, a few White-fronted Geese, are in the general area.  Most will soon be using Camas NWR as they fuel up on their northward trek.   First bird sightings of the year (e.g. coots, pelicans, mountain bluebirds) are being reported almost daily. 

Spring is such an exciting time of the year.  It brings a palpable promise that winter is losing its grip.  It also brings what to me is the most enjoyable and exciting weather we get all year.   You can feel the energy in the air as several seasons can be crammed into a single afternoon.  We can get snow, sun, rain, and wind in any order at any time.  Dr. Edson Fichter (1910 – 1994) professor of Biology and student of Ethology at Idaho State University, described Spring in Idaho as:  “Predictably unpredictable.”  As usual, Edson was spot on.

This spring also brings some changes to the Friends of Camas.  We have changed our organizational status and are no longer an unincorporated association.  We are now incorporated entity in the state of Idaho. This change will allow us greater flexibility in obtaining grants and entering into agreements.  At this writing, the IRS is reviewing our application for the new organization, Friends of Camas National Wildlife Refuge Inc, to attain the same charitable, nonprofit status, we had as an association.   We expect a determination soon.

Your Board is looking forward to another year of supporting the Fish and Wildlife Service in their management of our local National Wildlife Refuge.   We hope to make good progress on the educational pavilion, and pursue funding for a remote web cam on the Peregrine nesting tower.   We expect to have the nest on line for the 2015 nesting season. 

I hope you will visit the refuge often this spring.  The annual awakening is happening!

Timothy D. (Tim) Reynolds, PhD.


2013 President's Messages