Message From the Board

July 2024 Lucian Davis

The spring songbird banding crew wrapped up the 2024 spring season on June 15th, after two months of daily banding. We ended the spring season with 1,436 birds banded or processed, including 245 recaptures (birds we had previously banded). This total is a bit lower than the spring 2023 season which had 1,653 captures, and significantly lower than the spring 2006 and 2007 seasons, with 2,325 and 1,891 captures respectively.

Intermountain Bird Observatory (IBO) scientists returned to Camas after 18 years to revisit the work done by IBO Research Director Jay Carlisle and colleagues from 2005-2007. Since then, the refuge headquarters area has lost a significant amount of vegetation, including many large cottonwood trees. Although restoration is ongoing, the headquarters area now represents a more open habitat, with some areas of wooded riparian habitat remaining along Camas Creek. We returned expecting to see lower capture rates, and a change in species composition, which is exactly what we’ve seen. We’re catching less species associated with wooded habitat like flycatchers and warblers, and more species associated with open habitat like White-crowned Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos.

Despite the changes in habitat, the refuge still supports an incredible number of birds, and the banding crew thoroughly enjoyed this spring season. Our season started out slow, but then jumped up quickly in late May with a day where we captured 65 birds, then two days later, 123! This turned out to be the busiest day of our season, and was a big highlight for the crew. After that, we were consistently reaching daily totals in the 50s and 60s, until it slowed back down again in June.

In addition to our typical captures, this year seems to be a good one for raptors, and we captured quite a few, including Long-eared Owls, Northern Saw-whet Owls, American Kestrels, and one Sharp-shinned Hawk. Other crew favorites included two Western Meadowlarks, an Ovenbird, three Common Nighthawks, and two Rock Wrens. We also loved capturing birds banded last year, it was great to see birds returning to the site.

            In addition to our normal banding operations, we were also able to fit MOTUS tags on 8 birds, including one Gray Catbird, five Western Tanagers, and two Bullock’s Orioles. These tags are super lightweight, under 3% of the bird’s weight. We carefully fit the tags using a stretchy harness with the tag sitting on their back. As birds migrate, these tags are detected by a growing network of MOTUS towers, helping us understand where birds travel during migration, and how long they stay at a particular site. One tanager stayed on the refuge for a day after tagging, then left the following night and was detected about 20 hours later by a MOTUS tower in Montana, a bit over 180 miles north of Camas! Another tanager was detected in Salmon, Idaho just four hours after being detected by our nearby station at Market Lake WMA.

We’re excited for the upcoming fall season, which runs from July 21st to October 15th! We band every day for five hours starting at sunrise, and are happy to have visitors. Our banding station is located in the pavilion just south of the parking area and outhouse.

Photos courtsey of Anna Connington, Lucian Davis, Tyler Jensen

What's New   

2024 Friends of Camas and Snake River Audubon Society Bird-A-Thon

This year’s ninth annual Birdathon was a great success!  A total of fifteen birders participated in the field in eight parties.  They reported a total of 140 species of birds.  Gross proceeds were $6483.73.  After sharing expenses and proceeds with Snake River Audubon Society, we had net proceeds of $3192.07.

Tim Reynolds was the winner in all three categories this year.

  • Most money raised:  $3534.73, over half of the total amount raised.
  • Highest number of species:  104
  • Best/exact estimate of total number of species reported:  140

 Many thanks to all who participated and donated!

Cathy and Terry Thomas found the Red-necked Grebe in the Island Park area.

Diane & Tom Wuenschell found the Bewick’s Wren on BLM land in Oneida County. 

One of the three Northern Saw-whet Owlets recorded by Teresa Meachum and Kit Struthers at Camas NWR and later banded.  Photo by Mary Ann Igoe




Friends of Camas NWR Inc. 
2150 E 2350 N
Hamer, ID 83425