This year, Vicki Morgan and Kevin Perozeni will head up our MAPS bird-banding stations at Boyle’s Hill and the Kelly Campus of the Teton Science Schools. Vicki will be returning for her third summer in a row, while Kevin will be joining us for the first time!
Vicki Morgan – After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Asheville with a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Vicki Morgan has been working as a roaming biologist and bird bander across the United States. Her past wildlife-related jobs were in areas such as South Carolina, Illinois, American Samoa, Washington DC, NYC, Maryland, and Montana, where she studied and banded birds ranging from hummingbirds to hawks. Vicki has been an avid birder from a young age, and she also enjoys expressing her love of nature through art (fun fact: Vicki actually Minored in ceramics). Vicki spent the winter in Alpine and is returning for her third season as Lead Bird Bander with JHWF.
Kevin Perozeni – Kevin’s educational background includes graduating with honors research with a Bachelor of Science from The Ohio State University, majoring in Forestry, Fisheries and Wildlife. His research thesis involved studying the survival of wintering birds in an increasingly changing urban environment. Since graduating last year, Kevin traveled across the country to work in a variety of field positions. He conducted bird banding at Powdermill Nature Reserve, Pennsylvania as well as banding in Cape May, New Jersey. Last summer he explored the open plains of Kansas, researching threatened grassland species. Kevin also has experience working as a Naturalist within the Cleveland Metroparks, supporting public outreach and education. In his free time, he can be found birding or storm watching, always scanning the skies for all the new experiences that nature consistently brings! Kevin is excited to hold the position of Assistant Bird Bander with JHWF this summer.
Jackson Hole Wildlife Foundation is proud to partner with Maven® Outdoor Equipment Company in a Nature Mapping Summer Challenge!
Maven® has graciously donated a pair of C.1 10×42 binoculars (MSRP $425) to the JHWF to be given away to a Nature Mapper who completes the Summer Challenge.
A drawing for the binoculars will be held on Friday September 2, 2022. To be entered into the drawing, Nature Mappers must report at least three wildlife observations per month in the months of May, June, July, and August.
Reports must be entered to Project Backyard or Casual Observations and reports must be entered in Lincoln County, WY, Teton County, WY, or Teton County, ID.
If you meet these requirements, your name will be entered into the drawing, from which one Nature Mapper will be selected randomly.
A Nature Mapping Certification Training is scheduled for April 21, 2022, so if you have friends or family interested in becoming certified Nature Mappers, please encourage them to attend this training so that they may participate in the Summer Challenge!
If you have any questions about the Summer Challenge or getting certified as a Nature Mapper, please contact hilary@jhwildlife We look forward to seeing your Nature Mapping observations!
Nature Mapping Enews – April 4, 2022 – Written by Frances Clark
“I saw my first robin!” “I saw bluebirds!” “Did you hear the sandhill cranes the other day?” “No, but I heard meadowlarks up in Antelope Flats.” “The bears are out.” “Have you seen an osprey?” “Not yet, should be here soon though.”
As March melts into April, Nature Mappers are excited for spring: we have new critters to see and hear. This is the time of year we encourage Nature Mappers to enter First of the Year sightings or FOYs. Your entries help us measure the natural pulse of spring. Some years, critters appear earlier, other years later, and some species reappear within days of the same date year after year. Your entries help track these annual variations. And if you don’t have the first sighting for the valley, you may well have the first in your area or the first for you! When you see these fresh arrivals, type “FOY” in the notes box of the data form to highlight your finding. Below are some species to look for: with the earliest dates recorded between 2010 and 2022 in parentheses and earliest dates for April.
First of the Year sightings can be migrating birds or emerging or transient mammals. Stimulated by longer days, warmth, and the evolutionary coincidence of food, critters large and small mobilize. Midges, flies, and true bugs begin to crawl and fly and become sources of protein for birds. Red-winged Blackbirds and Mountain Bluebirds arrive in the valley in March. In April, Tree (4.8.14) and Violet-green Swallows (4.17.19) swoop overhead through fresh insect hatches. With more warmth (and insects), Yellow-rumped Warblers (3.4.19, 4.23.12), Vesper (3.24.12), Savannah (4.17.14), Chipping (4.21.15), and Lincoln’s (3.29.16, 4.9.19) Sparrows show up in their various habitats. Warmer soils enable worms and the like to wriggle closer to the surface…within reach of probing beaks of American Robins, Long-billed Curlews (4.9.20), and White-faced Ibis (4.22.14).
As wetlands and ponds thaw, a variety of waterfowl are on display. American Wigeon (3.20.15), American Coot (1.6.15, 2.6.22, 4.3.18), Cinnamon Teal (3.28.21, 4.4.17), Blue-winged Teal (4.12.14), and Wood Duck (3.23.16, 4.3.16) are in elegant breeding plumage. A flotilla of magnificent American White Pelicans (3.30.19, 4.7.19) may be spied on the Snake River, with a Spotted Sandpiper pecking amidst the stones (3.22.12, 4.22.16). Near by, the more ordinary granivores such as Brown-headed Cowbird (4.15.10) and Brewer’s Blackbirds (4.19.16) may flock in among Common Grackles (4.19.16), picking up old seeds and new bugs. Listen for the raucous calls of Yellow-headed Blackbirds (3.16.12, 4.9.15) in marshes and skulking Sora (4.10.15).
Favorites to spot or hear include mammals and amphibians. Uinta ground squirrels should be emerging from their burrows. They went down last August (last of year observations – LOY) for the long winter, and are one of the earliest hibernating rodents to reappear (3.12.17, 4.1.21). Keep an ear out for their high-pitched whistle and then look for scampering. They emerge in time to feed coyote pups and summering Red-tailed Hawks. Least chipmunks will pop up as well (3.23.12, 4.1.14). We all thrill at the trill of boreal chorus frogs (3.7.17, 4.2.16) in neighborhood ponds and floodplain pools. “Cold-blooded” or technically ectothermic amphibians are a true indication of warming weather. Wandering gartersnakes gain mobility from basking in the sun. Amphibians and snakes are an under-reported prize for Nature Mappers.
Also, it is exciting to watch the world-renowned seasonal migrations of ungulates. When do the Wapiti begin to surf the green wave: moving by the thousands from the National Elk Refuge in sequence with the greening grass? Fresh forage provides essential calories and nutrition for females with soon-to-be-born calves. Hundreds of Pronghorn will arrive along the Path of the Pronghorn originating by Pinedale and weaving through the Gros Ventre into Jackson Hole toward the end of April. And where do the buffalo roam throughout the valley?
Some people consider April to be the off-season in Jackson. Nature Mappers know it is in fact the on-season for wildlife. Enjoy entering your sightings that help us understand and protect these wonders of our valley.
P.S. Curious what others have seen when? Or when the main flush of arrivals is so you can plan accordingly? On our main entry page, on the left-hand side click on “all observations”. This will produce the list of all observations. You can filter by group and species by typing them into the box, and click on date for latest or earliest.
A valiant cadre of over 95 volunteers ventured out on a frigid morning to scout for moose with great accomplishment. The latest count, still to be verified, is 94 moose. This compares well with Moose Day 2021 when 109 volunteers recorded 106 moose. Thank you intrepid surveyors, gracious landowners who granted permission to survey, and moose who turned up to be counted.
The dominant sense of the day was cold! Temperatures were gauged at -20F west of the Tetons and at the north end of the park at 7 a.m. when many of you set out to make your route. Temperatures barely made it into the single digits by noon time. (Moose don’t mind this cold.)
However, while some of you were at first daunted by the cold, you persevered, and as one skier said, “Soon we were stripping off jackets once we warmed up.” Another commented on the balancing benefit of a classic “blue bird” sky day. Morgan Graham, a veteran of all Moose Days, said this is the coldest he recalls for a Moose Day. “Blizzards yes, but not this cold!”
Participants: Dozens of teams spread out to the north end of Grand Teton National Park by Swan Lake, south past Hoback, and east up the Gros Ventre. For the first time, eight teams ventured up the canyons on the west side of the Tetons. Your observations will help determine which areas should be added to our Moose Day Survey.
We also had long-time valley residents participate: Dornans, Ewings, Barkers, and Linns. Gene Linn’s grandchildren were keeping their eyes open for moose in Wilson and found two! These families have been advocates for wildlife for generations.
In total, you hardy Nature Mappers and other Moose Day volunteers spent 186 hours skiing, snowshoeing, walking, and snowmobiling. Other sets of volunteers drove slowly through neighborhoods in and around Jackson and Wilson peering behind buildings, across fields, and into willow thickets for another 160 hours. Total “effort” was over 350 hours in one morning!
Where were the moose?
While about half the teams were disappointed, others found moose. Almost half of the total moose were discovered in a just few areas (see map attached)
Coordinated by Ashley Eagan, the USFS team of four spent much of the day snowmobiling east up the Gros Ventre. They found 20 moose! Sarah Dewey and Carson Butler, biologists with GTNP, spent five hours finding 14 moose east of Moran (not yet mapped). These have been traditional sites for moose, likely because of large willow stands and limited disturbance.
A large team on skis and by car covered Kelly and the park roads north of town and found only a few moose. Last year this large team had 19 moose between Kelly and the rotary. Moose seemed to have moved west into the vicinity of the JH Golf and Tennis Club where a multi-modal team led by Randy Reedy scored 11 moose.
Many teams scoured smaller territories in and around Jackson and Wilson. As in past years, Wilson harbored a strong scattering of twig eaters in the lowlands with extensive willow cover. Sightings extended south down the dike and Fall Creek Road around Crescent H. Those who covered the buttes had great views but no moose, nor were any of the large ungulates seen around Hoback, Astoria Hot Springs, or Snake River Sporting club.
Other wildlife observations: Many did not see moose, but Nature Mapped other critters. In the north of the park, skiers detected an otter slide, evidence of wolves on a carcass, a pair of bald eagles and particularly unusual a golden eagle. Fifteen bison were grazing near Kelly. Nathan Letcher spied coyotes on the Elk Refuge.
Along Fish Creek in Wilson, mergansers, mallards, barrow’s golden-eyes by the dozens and four trumpeter swans were feeding in the waters, with two whitetail deer along the shore.
Tamara Clauson spotted a ruffed grouse camouflaged under trees.
A fox was hunting within 15 feet of a loafing cow moose.
Hosted by AJ DeRosa at his tipi camp before and after his survey, Len Carlman, saw 53 Barrow’s golden-eyes in the Snake River. Len quoted AJ describing the ducks’ behavior vividly: “Teaming up in a riffle, feeding, then seamlessly aligning themselves like a well-made zipper, forming a clean bending mostly single file line as the current moved them to the bottom of the riffle.”
Throughout the region, many reported ravens, magpies, mule deer, elk, and several bald eagles—often in pairs. It is eagle nesting season. The Nortons saw a dipper on Moose Creek.
Small birds, except a few chickadees, were scant, perhaps due to the morning cold.
Two Teton Valley teams noted significant snowmobile tracks into canyons that yielded no moose.
Plentiful moose tracks surrounded exposed haybales indicating indirect feeding—not good for moose.
North of Wilson, a neighbor reported to the surveyors someone feeding moose, “If they want to see wildlife that much, they can look at National Geographic.”
After skiing his survey area on the Snake River Ranch, Ben Wise of WGFD was called to East Jackson where a young moose was bedded down in an open garage. Ben gently nudged it on out. It was likely there for an hour or two.
The contingent from “Hosted Moose Day”, sponsored by the JH Travel and Tourism Board and JH Wildlife Foundation, added their data to Moose Day in an area that was not one of the original survey areas. Twelve years ago, R Park was a gravel pit which prohibited access. It had been left off the maps. Now the park and surrounding cottonwoods are a regular haunt of moose. Thank you Moose Day guests for adding data that count. We will formally include this area in the future.
We had reports from friends and neighbors of moose not spotted by our diligent teams—a reminder that chance plays an important part in seeing moose! Aly Courtemanch said that all reliable sightings within the count time should be recorded, regardless of who saw them. She can then check the data for any duplicates. As in the past, we had several volunteers state they had moose in their backyards or out their windows the day before or after Moose Day. We veterans know: moose disappear on Moose Day.
A moose-size thank you to all Moose Day volunteers for your time, diligence, and indeed perseverance on a frigid morning. Collectively you found and mapped dozens of moose: the goal of the day. Although some of you were understandably disappointed in not finding moose, most all of you reported enjoying the adventure of Moose Day. We are so glad! We also appreciate the engagement of the wildlife agencies. Biologists spent their scant free time to find moose. In addition to those mentioned above, Mark Goecke of WGFD, Morgan Graham of Teton Conservation District; Linda Merigliano of USFS; and Rob Cavallaro of Idaho Fish and Game donated their time. These professionals are dedicated to the wildlife we all love. Thank you. A very special thanks to Aly Courtemanch, biologist with WGFD, who leads this vital partnership with JH Wildlife Foundation’s Nature Mapping program. JHWF Program Director Hilary Turner worked tirelessly on details of the event, especially with the new teams and areas of Teton Valley. Without Aly and Hilary, Moose Day would not happen or matter. Finally, we want to extend our appreciation to the landowners and HOA managers who granted permission for strangers to ski across their properties–slicing tracks into untrammeled snow, and for cars to cruise down private roads, windows cracked with binoculars peering into back-yard bushes. Permission to survey private lands is essential to a successful Moose Day. Final numbers and maps will appear in the next Nature Mapping enews. Thank you all for your time and care.
I truly believe the moose appreciate all you do on their behalf. Frances Moose Day Volunteer Coordinator
Photo credits (all by Moose Day volunteers):
Moose – Sarah Dewey; 2 moose – Gigi Halloran; cold faces – Peggy Davenport; moose silhouette – Keli Lessing; blue-bird sky – Peggy Davenport; family on dike – Gene Linn; browsing moose – Keli Lessing; moose with Wilson cliffs – unknown (let us know if it is yours!); coyote – Nathan Letcher; Fish Creek birds, ruffed grouse – Frances Clark; dipper – John Norton; snowmobile tracks and haystacks – Fred Johnson; moose in garage – Ben Wise; moose out window – Ralph Haberfeld; moose looking at you – John Norton; car sign – Anita Miles; young moose – Anna Kirkpatrick.