Birds of Pagari Bridge

Before we leave Pagari Bridge, I have to write about the birds.

Oh, the birds!  

I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place with such a high concentration of birds and in such variety, too.

Shortly after the crew and I arrive at Pagari Bridge (northeast of Twin Falls, Idaho), I set up camp and then take a break in my lounger. Three barn swallows swoop under the awning to pass in front of my face!

I like to sit in my lounger under the awning of the Best Little Trailer with my camera and Audubon field guide to birds at my side.  Little Wood River flows in front of our camp.

Due to the high water level, the river splits into three courses forming two brushy islands mid-river.  The high grass, bushes and willows on these islands and along the riverbank provide ideal nesting sites.

The most numerous species are the Barn Swallows.

I don’t have photos of them because they move constantly.  (The bird in the first two photos is a Yellow Warbler.)

It’s entertaining to watch as a Barn Swallow soars high, loops over, dive-bombs for the river, then makes a sudden turn at the last moment, zips upstream between the islands, soars upward again, and then in a stunning finale, disappears down-river in a straight-line flight of amazing speed.

I’m watching such a display when a Killdeer sounds an alarm.  An enormous Common Raven harasses the nesting birds every day, and every day the swallow parents drive him away in the sky, pecking at his big, black wings as he performs acrobatic, aerial stunts.

Today is no exception.  Two swallows pester the bird in flight. The Killdeer scolds frantically until the threat has passed.

One time the crew and I were walking near the river and a Killdeer scurried ahead of us, then flopped down, spread a wing, and fluttered.  Later I learned from my field guide that the display is to fake being wounded in order to distract a predator from a nest.

I’m not sure about the identify of this long-legged shore bird. A Willet perhaps?

What do you think? 

I’m watching the Barn Swallows from the lounger and  —

Wait a minute!  Barn swallows?  There aren’t any barns around here.  Hmm . . . the bridge! That’s where they have set up a colony — under the bridge.

I clip a leash on Reggie and on Roger and we go up to the bridge to check this theory.

Yep, those are the nests . . .  

I take the photo above quickly and leave because our presence is agitating the swallows. I appreciate these little, dark blue birds with their rust-colored bellies and forked tails.

Every day at dusk about thirty barn swallows crisscross the river in front of our camp, scooping flying insects in their open beaks.   Without them our camp might very well be uncomfortable. As it is, no flying bugs bother us.

A lone gull wears its typical frown as it looks down its beak at us.  

A pair of Great Blue Herons fly over in artistic silhouette.  When the crew and I walk one of the roads that cuts through the sage, I sometimes see a small pod of White Pelicans over where the river snakes through the desert scrub.

A red duck goes bottoms-up as it dips in the grass in the calmer water at the edge of the river.  It’s a struggle to zoom in and snap a photo, what with his repeated dips and the grass in the way. Finally I’m able to capture him.  I flip through the pages of my field guide.

Aha!  I think this is Cinnamon Teal!

I don’t know what this next bird is.  

I was inside the Best Little Trailer with the crew because we had a brief rain.  After the rain, I look out the window and see this sweet, little bird perched on a branch of sagebrush.

(The sage grows very tall here, some as tall as I am.).

Anyway . . . .

This tiny bird looks like a baby to me.  The photo isn’t that great because it required zooming through a rain-splattered window.  I’m amazed I got anything at all, to tell the truth.

If you know the identity, I’ll add it to this post.

The Western Meadowlark sings us awake every morning.  His singing post is right outside our window. He serenades us throughout the day, too.

If you follow the links I’ve made, you will go to Cornell’s All About Birds site.  There you can read about the habits of the birds and even listen to their song and calls.

This is the list I have from sightings at Pagari Bridge: pelican, gull, raven, blue heron, meadowlark, willet (?), red-winged blackbird, barn swallow, oriole (a flash of orange disappearing into dense branches), killdeer, chipping sparrow (sparrow with a red hat on), mallard duck, cinnamon teal duck, and the little bird in the photo above.

Okay, now that I’ve totally bored you non-birding people.

(Or I’ve driven you away like a pissed-off barn swallow chasing a raven.)

In the next post:

Reggie, Roger and I leave Pagari Bridge for a new camp where there’s plenty of thick grass for playing!


NOTE:  The odds of me correctly identifying the birds in this post are pretty slim.  Do not hesitate to set me straight. Learning is fun! — Sue


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46 Responses to Birds of Pagari Bridge

  1. Love the pictures!

  2. Virginia620 (AL) says:

  3. Pam from Wisconsin says:

    I know nothing of birds and you’re right: learning is fun! I know that little face in the window though. Seems the newest crew member is adapting just fine. “Meant to be” might apply to this one finding you. Safe travels, Sue!

  4. Marilu in Northern California says:

    Stunning photos!

  5. Dawn in MI says:

    I smiled…as I was just editing my own bird pictures in preparation for writing a blog…and when I came back from the editing software, there was your blog on birds! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  6. Sherri D says:

    That one bird looks like some type of finch perhaps? Thanks for posting. You have no idea how much I long to be living a life similar to yours. 🙂 For now it has to be vicariously. Maybe in two years…maybe….


  7. Jeannie from WA says:

    Love the pictures! Birds are such fun to watch.

  8. Cat Lady back home in Baton Rouge says:

    Waytago, Rusty.

  9. Wendy / Bribie Island Aus. says:

    Howdy, got to say Hi! And be in the top twenty 🙂
    I hope everyone has a great day.
    Stay safe you three.

  10. Renee from Idaho says:

    Woo hoo! Top Ten!

    • Renee from Idaho says:

      I love bird watching too! I have my “Birds of Idaho Field Guide” and binoculars always at the ready. The little yellow bird below the Cinnamon Teal could be a Yellow Warbler. That’s the closest I could see in my book. I’m not sure about that larger one though. It could be a Spotted Sandpiper. Its beak and eyes match closest to it and it could be a juvenile – similar to the winter adult, but with a darker bill. Hmmmm.

  11. weather says:

    “Oh, the birds”…Oh, Yippee!!! I’ve been excitedly waiting for you to post about the ones there. It was more than worth waiting for 🙂 . I’ll be lost far past my bedtime if I go to the all about birds and other sites researching names and enjoying the rest written about them though. So I’ll do that tomorrow. A wild guess about the one you didn’t identify for now – American goldfinch males in some seasons look like that, with duller colors than they have at other times. Thanks, Sue, for this post, I love this stuff ! You must have so enjoyed that camp, I’m ever so happy for you to have been there experiencing bird song and watching…happy sighs, for you and for me, n’nite

    • weather says:

      All about birds has a goldfinch quiz, with a photo of a female lesser goldfinch (shown from the back like yours is ). It convinced me that must be the right one.
      Without that question being on my mind I can really relax enough to tuck in now

      • Rover Ronda (WA) says:

        Good night Weather 😴

        I wondered if maybe the tiny bird was a female goldfinch too. I’ve had two birds coming to my feeders who I am pretty sure were female goldfinch. I think they’ve moved on now. I haven’t seen them in several weeks. They came all winter, usually with a flock of Bushtits.

        • Rover Ronda (WA) says:

          An interesting thing about my feeder station:
          I have a pole with 4 hooks, 2 tandem suet from 1 hook, seed feeders on 2 hooks, and a bird bath/waterer. (First Nature 3004 Globe Bird Bath and Waterer- Maybe Sue can put a link so you can see it. I don’t know how.) I faithfully kept it filled with clean water and brought it inside at night so it wouldn’t freeze. All winter they rarely used it. Now it’s the most popular thing at my feeding station. Even while it’s raining.

        • weather says:

          It must be fun watching birds and trying to know which ones are at your feeders, Ronda. Looking more closely( at the shape of the beak and tail feather colors) I think Sheila is probably right, that bird does look like a female oriole.

    • Elizabeth in WA says:

      Oh aren’t birds the best singers though? (Well, not counting the raucous crows on that one…but even they are entertaining!!) We so miss the wonderful singing Mockingbirds back in North Carolina!! Don’t miss the crazy heat and humidity, but the singing birds…wow!! They and the squirrels were so fun…I fed them on our deck and called them “my deck buddies”!! Kept me laughing and laughing during a time I so needed laughter and lots of it!! (Along with our darling Ebbie dog of course!!)

      • weather says:

        Mockingbirds are amazing! I’m glad you had the chance to live with some near you, Elizabeth 🙂 , hugs and blessings to you and yours.

  12. Sandy in TX says:

    That does appear to be a willet, which are easiest identified by their call (very mouthy birds!) and the white bars on their wings when in flight – maybe you were able to see some of this during your visit?

    The lil’ yellow bird with gray wings is likely a warbler also, immature birds can be so challenging to ID! You might check out the app, Merlin, from Cornell. Very good app and even has an option to submit photos to get help identifying….

    Thanks for sharing your adventures!
    SIgned, Sandy The Bird Nerd

  13. Hi Sue, I think you are spot on with most of your birds. Pretty sure the unidentified is a juvenile (could be female adult) Oriole, I think Scott’s. Wing bars match as does the beak. This is a better match than a warbler, in my opinion.

  14. Rover Ronda (WA) says:

    Great post! Thanks for adding all those links. I love birds!

    When we were at Milner’s Rec Area I noticed we had a lot of bugs but they weren’t biting. Apparently they were just gnats and small flies. No swallows helping us out with the bug population but I did see a few bats.

    Roger definitely fits the photogenic feature you were hoping for. As always loved the pictures of the crew. They’re so cute.

  15. I agree! Love seeing the birds!

  16. Karen in Pacific NW says:

    something special about barn swallows 🙂 The offspring that hatched the previous year come along with the parents the following spring to help in the feeding of the next generation. The year following that they are ready to start their own families.

    I had a tall house with big overhanging eaves and it was a favorite habitat of the barn swallows. Eventually I put up a “poop deck” just below their mud nest to catch their droppings so they did not land on my big picture windows and deck.

    My favorite swallows are the “violet green”. They will nest in birdhouses and I have had many of them as tenants over the years in the birdhouses I design and build. Since you like us sharing what we make here are photos of some of those bird houses. I build a lot of large sized ones as well as some of the standard sizes.

    • Renee from Idaho says:

      I love your “poop deck” idea. Where we camp, in the mountains here, there are a lot of Tree Swallows and they will fly in and land on the arm of our awning. They are beautiful! Their blue wings and backs are the color of a deep phalocyline blue red shade of M Graham Watercolor paint. My favorite color!

  17. EmilyO in NM says:

    The little yellow one looks like the American Goldfinches I have around my house. They have taught me to let them know when I put fresh seed out. I say “Seeeeed” and they will respond back with the same sound and they come a flyin’ in to the feeders. Usually we don’t have them this time of year but some nested here and we have a dozen youngsters all learning to flip upside down to get the seed from the feeder. Was 109º today with 2-3% humidity.

  18. Lisa, Tommie and Buddy in NJ says:

    Oh, such a treasure of a camp! Grassy lanes to explore, sheep to chase, birds singing and all by a rushing river. You have found another bit of paradise. The pictures are so pretty! but as my day has been long, I will retire with weather and look up these avian wonders tomorrow.

  19. Love the bird photos!
    Is that Roger peering out the window in the last shot … That lucky little boy must think he has died and gone to heaven to have ended up with RVSue and the Reginator! Lucky little man!

  20. Barbara (Nashville) says:

    I really enjoyed these bird photos. I love watching them. When my hubby gets fully recuperated, we will be sitting out on the patio watching the birds too. Angel & I encounter quite a few down at the lake. The blue heron has returned and there is a really pretty bird, that my neighbor has identified as a green heron. I do wish the Canadian Geese would move on. They make such a mess on the street down there, really have to watch where you are walking. Safe travels ro the new camp.

  21. Carol in MT says:

    Love the birds. Especially like to hear their songs. Thank you for sharing your peaceful time with them.
    How about a post from Reggie & Roger sometime? I know you have some catching up to do, but the dog posts are so fun.

  22. Lana in Phoenix says:

    2-dog moms who just got those long ” leashes” for their pups want to know… many times each hour do you untangle those cords? LOl. Also, would you please direct me to those harnesses? We are about to take back to the store our third attempt. We even tried cat harnesses, but no go. My guys are 4 and 5 pounds.

  23. ValGal (westernWA) says:

    Lovely that there are so many wonderful birds there. You take great photos of them. Who knew that spot would be so rich with birds and sheep?

    How’s the bonding coming along with the Rog?

  24. I am name-challenged in many areas, including birds. But do love seeing them in the wild and hearing their lovely songs. We saw our first bald eagles yesterday – that was very exciting!

  25. AZ "Gimpy" Jim says:

    I have a strange relationship with all those flying critters. All my life I have heard people say of me, “Oh that AZ Jim is for the birds!” Never understood it, still don’t….

    • Elizabeth in WA says:

      Well, are you saying you ain’t everyone’s cup of tea? If so…I am one of those too, Jim…and the world needs our kind too!! Hope you are getting better!!

  26. Elizabeth in WA says:

    Speaking of birds, and forgive me Sue if you already know…but there is a great place near Boise for birds of prey ( I spent most of my teen years and early adulthood living in Nampa, ID…and often we went out to see the birds here, south of town: at Lake Lowell. We don’t go “birding” per se…but we find birds very interesting…and having lived for a few years in a place taken over by crows…we had some experiences!! Here we have a great mix of birds…some crows, but plenty of other birds too! Thanks for sharing. We do miss living in Idaho for a lot of reasons…it is the only place I have lived in the 5 states I have lived in, where there are 4 very distinct seasons…lovely!!

  27. Elizabeth in WA says:

    Also glad to see how happy the 2 pups are together…not always do dogs enjoy each other that much!! They both appear so happy too!!

  28. Sheila says:

    Female Oriole is your “mystery” bird. Note shape and size of bill, yellow color on tail feathers. She must be with the male you saw fly by. Beautiful!

  29. Mark Greene says:

    I don’t know many of the birds names but enjoy watching them. I really like to hear all the birds in the morning. we watched a big black bird peck a hole in a milk container full of water then start drinking. He did it like he knew there was water in the jug, pretty smart bird.

    • Archae says:

      Your big, black bird might have been a raven. Ravens are very smart birds. I watched ravens at Organ Pipe Cactus Nat’l Monument wait for people to leave their campsite before they swooped in to grab anything that was left out and that struck their fancy. I had left a box of envirologs on my table. They pecked into the box and the logs. They also went after a sealed water jug and a box of matches.

      You can’t leave shiny things out because they will take them. The ravens in Death Valley swiped my van keys with the remote door opener. A new remote door opener is very expensive if you don’t have one that the code can be taken from, so I had to open my front door with my key, then push the button that opened all my doors to put groceries in the van. People told stories about ravens communicating amongst themselves to target individual campsites. They fascinating birds but they are not to be underestimated!

      • Mark Greene says:

        I think you are correct about it being a raven. One even stole the sandwich out of our daughters hand. I was mad, she just giggled. I thing were camping at the Grand Canyon at the time.

  30. Geri in the FL panhandle! says:

    Loved all the variety of birds! Wow! You had so many fun encounters at this bridge! Great little place to revisit!

  31. Karen LeMoine says:

    Thank you for this post. I love birds they bring joy and pleasure to life! What would nature be without the charming entertaining wing creatures?

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