Idaho’s Cassia Crossbill

September 27:  When the American Ornithological Union carved out a new species from the ten subgroups of Red Crossbill, it gave birders a new quest. The Cassia Crossbill, numbering only about 6,000 individuals, is found only in the upper elevations of the Cassia CrossbillSouthern Hills and the Albion Mountains of southern Idaho, a destination one might never otherwise visit. So when Nancy and I planned our recent visit to Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone NP, and the Tetons, we added an overnight stay in Twin Falls, ID to allow some time to look for the new Crossbill. A total of five hours of searching all the campgrounds at the crest of the G3 road (which heads due south into the hills and the crossbill area some 26 miles south of Hanson) was finally successful in the Porcupine Spring Campground, but I was able to find only the single individual that happened to fly into the top of the very lodgepole pine under which I happened to be standing at that particular moment. Just plain lucky.

ChukarsLater that afternoon, before flying home from Salt Lake City the next morning, we stopped at Antelope Island State Park where Dickson Smith, whom I had aided in finding some sought-after species in Florida in March of 2014, was kind enough to meet us near his own home turf to look for Chukars. After a very scenic drive around the island in his 4×4, and some nice views of the nearly empty section of the Great Salt Lake, we located a cooperative group of Chukars among the rocks just behind the visitors center building.

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