Stilts breeding (?) at Flying Goose Ranch (Pend Oreille Co.)

Wayne C. Weber contopus at telus.net
Thu Jun 17 19:41:55 PDT 2004


Tweeters and Inland Birders,

On June 10, while making only my second visit ever to Pend Oreille
County, I paid a brief visit to the Flying Goose Ranch, described on
page 489 of the "Birder's Guide to Washington. It was a brief visit; I
did not arrive until about 9:00 PM (close to sunset), and I managed to
find only 31 bird species before it began to get dark. This former
ranch, now managed by the Kalispel Tribe for wildlife, features a
large and very productive-looking marsh. As advertised, there were
AMERICAN BITTERNS there--  two of them were "pumping" most of the time
during my visit. However, a big surprise was the presence of a
possible breeding pair of BLACK-NECKED STILTS.

While stopped on the gravel road that passes through the marsh to the
river, I began to hear the familiar "vit, vit" calls of stilts coming
from the marsh a short way to the south. Soon the male, and later both
birds of the pair, began to circle about me, obviously agitated. This
is typical behavior for stilts in a nesting area.

If I recall correctly, stilts were only first reported for Pend
Oreille County a couple of years ago (by Richard Rowlett?), and these
were from the Calispell Lake area. I don't think they have been
previously reported from the Flying Goose Ranch, and I don't believe
there is a breeding record for Pend Oreille County. If some of the
local birders from northeast Washington have time to visit the Flying
Goose Ranch over the next few weeks, it may be possible to confirm a
first county breeding record.

Other birds of interest at the Flying Goose Ranch, besides the stilts
and bitterns, included the following:

Wood Duck   10
Cinnamon Teal   3
Osprey   2
Sora   3
Virginia Rail   3
Wilson's Snipe   6
Wilson's Phalarope  2
Greater Yellowlegs  1  (flying over--  was it a late spring
   migrant, or early fall migrant?)
Veery   1
Gray Catbird   3

I can't say enough good things about the Pend Oreille Valley as a
birding area. It has been highly rated by other birders, and I have to
concur with this. The Calispell Lake area, which I birded earlier in
the day, produced 81 species for me, even though I didn't get there
till late morning. No time for details here, but I'll try to get my
notes filed at http://birdnotes.net  as soon as I have time.

Wayne C. Weber
Delta, BC
contopus at telus.net




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