Yesterday I made the trek across the country from Asheville to Boise. I arrived around 3pm Mountain Time, and was greeted by two grad students who took me and another fellow intern, Logan, to campus. A total of 8 undergraduates were chosen this year to participate in the Raptor Research REU program at Boise State. Each student has a mentor and an individual research project, and several different raptors are being studied (Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Osprey, Burrowing Owl). In the evening, the eight of us decided to walk through campus to the Boise River and take the greenbelt (path along the river) to two adjacent parks, Ann Morrison Park and Kathryn Albertson Park, to look for wildlife. Even just going on a leisurely nature walk with a group of young scientists becomes an opportunity for species identification. Being from different parts of the country, different schools, and different backgrounds, each of us seems to come with our own unique skill sets and knowledge. Aidan can identify plants by their smell. Andrew was consistently the first person to spot birds. Lizzie and Logan could identify bird calls. And since I grew up here, and remember walking these parks as a child, I could lead the group to a few of my favorite spots for watching wildlife. By the time we made our way back to our apartment, we had walked about 6 miles, and had become pleasantly aquainted with one another.
This morning, the grad students along with Dr. Belthoff, head of our REU program, drove us out to a section of the Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area near Mountain Home to witness the banding of Burrowing Owls and nest excavation. Check these guys out!
What a wonderful way to kickstart my summer in Idaho! Thank you Burrowing Owls for being so cute!