Re: Jason Talbot re: Orchard Gulch Trailhead

Jason Talbot

I take back one comment. I guess I am dealing with two different habitats within the 5 mile rule on two different trail names, not to mention the road. Riparian and deciduous. You’d most likely not see a Pileated Woodpecker in the riparian section of Orchard Gulch but you might get lucky and hear one.


On Monday, May 31, 2021, 09:13:12 PM MDT, Jason Talbot <jason.talbot1@...> wrote:


For those unaware of this area, it is in the upper Boise foothills and highest elevation in Ada County. It is down the ridge a few miles from Intermountain Bird Observatory where Boise State has a banding station for owls, raptors and songbirds. 

We get a variety of birds in a few miles of upper elevation along the ridge not seen anywhere else in the county. Pileated Woodpecker for example. Species also vary by season. For example, if I remember correctly, Yellow Warbler flags (rare) earlier in spring at higher elevations when they’re in the valley but don’t get flagged currently. 

Anyway, I continued up the trail onto upper Five Mile Gulch (not road) to the summit and across the summit on the road for a little ways. I hiked up the Orchard Gulch Trail a mile or so before I started my checklist for reasons I won’t go into. I normally start my list at the trailhead. The birds you mentioned were all above tree line.

There’s an elevation filter in eBird between Five Mile and Orchard Gulch Trails as you drive up Shaw Mountain Road. Therefore, I include Upper Five Mile Gulch Trail on my Orchard Gulch list when I continue past where they intersect because of elevation change. If not, it flags many birds as rare because of the higher elevation if I were to include them on my Five Mile Gulch Trail list; which starts below the elevation threshold whereas Orchard Gulch Trail starts above the elevation threshold.

I wish the higher elevation filter were a little less sensitive but it will get dialed in eventually with enough birders reporting in that area. I’ve learned to be patient after going through some frustration because I see the wisdom in creating the elevation filter.

For example, I consistently see Black-headed Grosbeaks, Brewer’s Sparrow and swallows at the higher elevations to name a few. There are still some riparian areas above the elevation threshold as well so you’ll see a Catbird and lower elevation birds every once in a while. Chats are regulars at Orchard Gulch that get flagged.

I’d hate to see an Ada County checklist without an elevation filter that would include Cassin’s Finch as a year round option in the valley when they’re typically seen a few weeks in the spring and fall with a few exceptions yet they’re year round up top. There are several birds that fit this category. It creates a lot more identification mistakes in eBird from new birders.

Good, bad or indifferent, that’s what I decided to do since it’s similar habitat. I’m open to suggestions. I normally keep those details in the comments section but I didn’t this time. That would have helped in this situation and perhaps make this a nonissue.

The other options were create 2 checklists (not) but I’m under the 5 mile rule in the same habitat or create another hotspot which I would be opposed to. 

I liked the way I did it but I should have added comments on how I hiked it.

I think this makes for a good discussion on a couple of topics if others have thoughts.


On Monday, May 31, 2021, 10:40:01 AM MDT, Scott Tuthill <satuthill@...> wrote:

Jason -- I believe you monitor this forum so I hope to contact you this way. I saw your eBird list of May 28 from Orchard Gulch Trailhead. I was there the same day a couple hours after you as well as yesterday. Your list has many birds on it I totally missed and I am interested in how you bird that area to see them. Some birds that stand out were: Hairy and Pileated Woodpecker, Clark's Nutcracker, the nuthatches, Brown Creeper, and Dark-eyed Juncos.  I walked up the trail itself and never came across any of these birds. Did you walk up the road from the trailhead to the summit? Any thoughts would be appreciated. You can reach me here or at satuthill at gmail dot com. Thanks in advance.

Scott Tuthill

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