This past winter has just been declared the warmest winter on record for the United States. On March 5th volunteers conducted a survey of the Madison Valley IBA and noticed the effect. The warming trend had certainly played out in the Madison Valley with little snow remaining on the valley floor and Ennis Lake already one quarter open. In-spite of strong winds that kept many of the songbirds down and less visible we had the highest number of species (43) for any of our counts this early in the month. The number of individual birds seen for an early March count was also the highest ever due to the large number of waterfowl on Ennis Lake.
Some other highlights and observations: The number of Bald Eagles seen (64) was about double the average! They were concentrated on, and around, Ennis Lake, probably feeding on the waterfowl present. Only 1 Rough-legged Hawk was seen. It seems they left early due to the mild winter. Early migrants found included Tree Swallows (3), Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Mountain Bluebirds, and an American Kestrel. The most unusual bird seen was a Green-tailed Towhee which wintered over at the El Western Motel and has been coming in to their feeders.
If you would like to put your birding skills to good use, join us on our next IBA surveys. We’d love your help!