Idaho & Western Montana: Summer 2017

1 Jun–31 Jul

David Trochlell

Recommended citation:

Trochlell, D. 2020. Summer 2017: Idaho & Western Montana. <> North American Birds.

The summer of 2017 was unusually warm and dry in the region, but most bird species seemed to experience successful nesting seasons. These conditions have become typical in recent summers. The highlight from this span was, undoubtedly, the one-day-wonder Wood Sandpiper in Three Forks, Montana.

Contributors: (subregional editors in boldface): Melody Asher, Robert Bond, Chris Bonsignore, Kathleen Cameron, Jay Carlisle, Darren Clark, Stoddard Davenport, Cory Davis, Matt Dunn, Kathy Ecklund, Tom Forwood, Terry Gray, Andrew Guttenberg, Lisa Hardy, Kyle Kittelberger, Karen Noling, John Parker, RL Rowland, Shane Sater (SSa), Amy Silver, Shirley Sturts, Gary Swant, Jason Talbot, Bruce Tannehill, Chuck Trost, Heidi Ware, Cliff Weisse, Poo Wright-Pulliam, Austin Young, Fred Zeillemaker.


A White-winged Scoter in Fremont Co. 1 – 10 Jun was a surprise and 1st summer record for Idaho. A Red-necked Grebe in Ada Co. 9 – 25 Jun (RLR) was out-of-range and unseasonable for southwestern Idaho (RLR). Idaho’s 11th Band-tailed Pigeon in Blaine Co. 16 Jun (ph. AY) was a celebrated find. A White-winged Dove in Boise, ID, present since 22 May remained until 15 Jul (CW). Yellow-billed Cuckoos are always noteworthy in the region; one was found in Blaine Co., ID 16 – 21 Jun (ph. AY). Populations of this locally-rare breeder are small and declining. The only reported Anna’s Hummingbird of the season was in Moscow, ID 6 – 31 Jul (ph. TG). A Regionally-rare Ruddy Turnstone stopped at Georgetown Lake, MT 29 Jul (CD). The only reported Short-billed Dowitcher was in Ada Co., ID 8 – 11 Jun (ph. †AS). The Wood Sandpiper documented in Three Forks, MT 24 Jun (ph. TF, AG), was undoubtedly the find of the season; this exceptional record represented the first for both Montana and the region, and is likely the first from North America’s interior. A Herring Gull discovered in Owhyee Co., ID 30 Jul (RLR) was noteworthy; there are few summer records in the region. The discovery of nesting Black Terns at a new location in Kootenai Co. 9 Jun (ph. CB) was good news – this species is especially rare and local in northern Idaho. A Common Loon in Ada Co. 23 Jun – 31 Jul (ph. MD) added to the scant summer occurrences of the species in Idaho.


Vagrant Alder Flycatchers – far from annual in the region were reported in Flathead Co., MT 17 18 Jun (BT, GS) and Bonner Co., ID 24 Jun (ph. †RB). To date, Idaho still does not have an accepted record of this species. A Scissor-tailed Flycatcher at Camas NWR 12 Jun (ph. †DC) is expected to be Idaho’s 5th record. Northern Mockingbirds reported in Oneida Co. 16 Jun (MA, KE) and 18 23 Jun (ph. SD) followed typical Idaho distribution for this rare occasional breeder. Adult Evening Grosbeaks documented with dependent fledglings in Gem Co., ID 30 Jul (FZ) were significant, as few confirmed breeding records of the species exist in the region. Idaho’s only verified Clay-colored Sparrow of the season was in Boundary Co. 21 22 May (ph. SSa); this rare and local nester may now be annual in northern Idaho. The only reported Great-tailed Grackle was in Ada Co., ID 4 Jul (JT). 4 singing male Tennessee Warblers discovered at Swan Lake 18 Jun (BT) provided more evidence of this species’ increasing presence in western Montana. A Palm Warbler, casual in the region, was an excellent find in Flathead Co., MT 17 Jun (BT). It was an exceptional season for Blue Grosbeak in the Gem State; this rare, very local, and occasional breeder in southern Idaho was detected in Cassia Co. 3 Jun 10 Jul (ph. SD), Bingham 14 Jul (KK), and at Fort Boise WMA 29 31 Jul (ph. AY). At least one Indigo Bunting at Fort Boise WMA 14 31 Jul (ph. KN, m. ob.) was a sensational Idaho find; the state has only 6 confirmed records of the species.

Report processed by Alison Világ, 15 Dec 2020.

Photos–Idaho & Western Montana: Summer 2017

A Wood Sandpiper was discovered in Three Forks, MT 24 June, but unfortunately the bird was not relocated on subsequent days. This Wood Sandpiper represented a first record for Montana and the region. Photo by © Andrew Guttenburg.