Over the weekend, a group from our office took advantage of a wonderful opportunity to see first-hand some of the amazing research being done at Boise State University.
The Idaho Bird Observatory (IBO) is an extraordinary research initiative that monitors migrating raptors and songbirds from a picturesque location perched atop nearby Lucky Peak in the Boise Front. Most remarkable is the IBO’s mission of maintaining one of the only research-based community education programs in the State of Idaho.
With a breathtaking panoramic view of the entire Treasure Valley as a backdrop, IBO crews trap, count and band thousands of birds – from tiny sparrows and kinglets to powerful, majestic hawks and eagles – from mid-July to early October each year. And, as Greg Kaltenecker, the IBO’s long-time director points out, this is truly world-class research as the IBO’s Lucky Peak field site supports one of the largest known raptor and songbird migration routes in the western U.S. – just a few miles from the heart of downtown Boise.
As they conduct their research, IBO staff members also cheerfully host and educate nearly 2,000 visitors annually – many of them wide-eyed children. Visiting children and families learn about the birds, their migrations and the importance of habitat by watching real science in action in a beautiful outdoor setting. Plans to acquire land for another IBO field site in the valley promise to make this educational opportunity available to visitors year-round.
Also, the IBO also relies heavily on donors and volunteers to help with its work – whether through philanthropic gifts, donations of food for staff and interns, or contributions of time and expertise to help with the research.
It’s rare to find such a harmonization of forces – nature, science, access, expertise and public interest – in a singular experience, but the Idaho Bird Observatory is one of those unique opportunities. It is truly a gem among the many ways Boise State enriches the intellectual, cultural and economic culture of this community.
Laura C. Simic is vice president for advancement at Boise State University.