Subject: [Tweeters] Palouse River - Eden Valley to Elberton (by canoe),
Date: Jul 13 13:06:24 2009
From: Charles Swift - chaetura at

Hi All -

In late May I canoed an 8 mile stretch of the Palouse R. in eastern Whitman
Co., WA with my daughter Iris and a friend. We floated from Altergott Rd. (a
few miles west of the town of Palouse) to Elberton Rd. This stretch is a
real gem and as it is surrounded by farm land (mostly wheat fields) is
accessible only by boat except for 3 road crossings (the put-in, take-out,
and Lange Rd.) . Along the river is a variable strip of riparian vegetation
and (mostly) Ponderosa Pine forest. The shrub cover is quite good in places
and basalt outcrops are readily visible including several impressive cliffs.
The river corridor creates a greenbelt or linear oasis in the midst of the
extensive Palouse wheat fields in eastern Whitman Co.

And there were *lots* of birds along the river, always audible and in view.
(Complete eBird list is below.) The most common species were Cliff Swallow
(130 - in several large hard to count colonies), and 3 very common landbird
species (never out of hearing range for very long) - Yellow Warbler (64),
House Wren (54), and Western Wood-Pewee (28) - and these are most certainly
undercounts due to the difficulty of counting birds from a canoe due to
stream noise etc. Most birds were detected by ear except for more visible
species such as swallows, Spotted Sandpipers, a few waterfowl, and
Red-tailed Hawks. Some other interesting species totals were Willow
Flycatcher (9), Western Flycatcher (7), Gray Catbird (9), Black-headed
Grosbeak (15), and Bullock's Oriole (11). Some of these (Willow & Western
Flycatcher, Gray Catbird) are fairly local in Whitman Co. but apparently not
uncommon along the river. I also found 1 Veery (very local in Whitman Co.)
below Lange Rd. and was actually surprised not to find more as the habitat
looked great for them in many places. We did start rather late in the day
which may account for missing some birds but there was plenty of bird song
and activity all through the afternoon.

Although this may be the best bird habitat along the Palouse R. in Whitman
Co., there are many more miles of river to explore upstream to the ID/WA
border (and into Idaho for that matter) and down to Colfax and beyond (and
there is also the South Fork Palouse to explore). I'm hoping to explore this
and other sections in future years. In most years the river is easily
runnable only until late May/early June (unless you want to do a lot of boat
dragging) so there is a narrow window to survey most of the breeding

For eBird purposes I broke the trip into 5 segments and georeferenced
starting points (w/ gps) but still need to plot these on google earth and
determine segment lengths. The list below is cumulative for the trip.

Location: Palouse R. - Eden Valley
Observation date: 5/29/09
Notes: Palouse R. canoe trip from Altergott Rd. (Eden Valley) to
Elberton. About 8 river miles. I have the trip split into 5 segments and
will submit those to eBird when I can figure out distances.
Number of species: 40

Canada Goose 4
Wood Duck 1
Mallard 4
Ring-necked Pheasant 1
Osprey 1
Red-tailed Hawk 16
Spotted Sandpiper 17
Mourning Dove 6
Belted Kingfisher 2
Red-naped Sapsucker 1
Hairy Woodpecker 1
Western Wood-Pewee 28
Willow Flycatcher 9
Hammond's Flycatcher 2
Pacific-slope/Cordilleran Flycatcher (Western) 7
Eastern Kingbird 7
Warbling Vireo 2
Common Raven 4
Violet-green Swallow 4
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 20
Cliff Swallow 130
Barn Swallow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 2
Pygmy Nuthatch 5
Rock Wren 1
House Wren 53
Veery 1
American Robin 23
Gray Catbird 9
European Starling 15
Cedar Waxwing X
Orange-crowned Warbler 5
Yellow Warbler 64
Western Tanager 2
Spotted Towhee 4
Chipping Sparrow 8
Song Sparrow 10
Black-headed Grosbeak 15
Bullock's Oriole 11
American Goldfinch 10

This report was generated automatically by eBird v2(

Charles Swift
Moscow, ID
chaetura at

Charles Swift
Moscow, ID
chaetura at
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