Birds of Henrys Lake

By Lorraine Snipper

There is supposedly a difference between birdwatching (unintentional, unplanned) and being a birder (very intentional, seeking out birds). I had always thought that birders check off lists, and I was loathed to be that person.  I wanted stop-action shots of birds doing what they do, to share an appreciation of their beautiful patterns, colors, and camouflage, habits and habitat, or amazing aerodynamic mechanics! I didn’t want to get bogged down in technical or identification snafus.

There are many areas of lacustrine habitat frequented by different species of blackbirds, small shorebirds or larger birds such as ducks, geese, swans, etc. using shoreline growth for cover and nesting. While the list of species found on Henrys Lake is quite extensive, I am merely an opportunistic observer and not a very good chronicler of all species. That said, I have gained a different perspective by approaching birds from the water, instead of from land.

If you can commandeer a boat or kayak, and get out in the early morning when the wind is barely a breath on the water, you can observe the birds throughout the warmer spring, summer, and fall months. With a slow, steady approach, you might see them hunting, nesting, or feeding their young. Alternatively, a very slow land approach, keeping a wide berth, can result in some fantastic birding opportunities, as well (wear head netting and be prepared for lots of biting flies!) I am always cognizant of the “personal space” of the birds, as I don’t wish to disrupt their nesting or feeding patterns. So a really good pair of binoculars or a good long lens is a plus!

Pictured below is a bald eagle, a male yellow-headed blackbird acting as a sentry, a female yellow-headed blackbird with a beakful of bugs for her babies, an eared grebe pair, a western grebe, a trumpeter swan, and a red-necked grebe adult with a chick. These are just a few of the many species found on the water and along the shoreline.