Posts Categorized: Birding

  • Birding

    Rusty Blackbird at Lee Metcalf NWR

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    Today as a storm rapidly descended out of the Bitterroot Mountains, I spied a blackbird milling around on a small mud flat along Francois Slough. Upon further inspection, it turned out to be a Rusty Blackbird with that unique facial pattern, eye color, and overall coloration.

  • Birding

    Hot to Trot Hooded Mergansers

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    Hooded Mergansers have descended on the Bitterroot Valley with the warming, or dare I say Spring, weather. With the warmer temperatures, multitudes of dabber little ducks can be found at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. The numerous  male Hoodies can be seen in full display for the few females that have joined them on… Read more »

  • Birding

    Lewis’s Woodpecker in a great light

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    With a near perfect day, I ventured into the Tower Street Natural Conservation Area. It was my first visit to the area, and I think I have new place to add to my local favorites. When I arrived at the parking lot, I saw a larger-than a starling and flying like a buoyant crow…a Lewis’s… Read more »

  • Birding

    Pileated Dreams

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      Of the Montana woodpeckers, I have to say that the Pileated Woodpecker is by far my fave. Since moving to the Missoula area, I have only caught fleeting glimpses of these impressive ghosts. But that all change this past Friday. Walking around Greenough Park, the Pileated Woodpeckers were calling loudly, and following the sound… Read more »

  • Birding

    Leucistic American Coot

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    At Polson Bay, a massive raft of American Coots were being harass by two Bald Eagles, when Terry found a surprise lurking in the sea of slate gray, a single leucistic American Coot was swimming. The bird was ~90% white with some dark speckling.

  • Birding

    The Time of the Gathering

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    As we enter into the season that has the most death and the emergence of life, a gathering takes place in the valleys of western Montana. Multitudes of Bald Eagles descend to watch over the birthing of calves, the last failings of winter, and the first ground squirrels as they race atop the snow. I see them… Read more »

  • Birding

    The Amazing Black-billed Magpie

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    How can any not like the Black-billed Magpie. They are remarkably intelligent and savvy. If you just watch these guys for a while, you will find yourself in awe.

  • Birding

    Cackling Goose at Lee Metcalf

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    During an afternoon visit, I observed a single Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) in with the Canada Geese (Branta canadensis) on the ice at the north end of the pond nearest to the Visitor’s Center. The goose in question was apparently half the size of the surrounding Moffitt’s Canada Geese (B.c. moffitti). The bird possessed a… Read more »

  • Birding

    Above the surface of the heavier music of the water

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    The Ouzel never sings in chorus with other birds, nor with his kind, but only with the streams. And like flowers that bloom beneath the surface of the ground, some of our favorite’s best song-blossoms never rise above the surface of the heavier music of the water. – John Muir from The Mountains of California… Read more »

  • Birding, ID tips

    Waxwing ID Workshop

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    Fruits were ripped from their stems as the ravenous flock worked to clean this tree. Sharp, hooked bills spear the red flesh as more waxwings pile into the tangle of branches. The composite flock of ~300 birds was predominately (95%) Bohemian Waxwings and the reminder were Cedar Waxwings. The game was to pick out the occasional Cedar… Read more »

  • Birding

    2012: The Year of the Invasion

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    2012 has been the year of the invasion. An invasion of normally arctic-dwelling bird species has descended upon the northern tier of the United States. There have been upwards of 50-60 separate Snowy Owl observations in the state of Montana. The causes for the invasion are, most likely, due to a couple of synergistic factors: the… Read more »

  • Birding

    Mission for Snowy Owls

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    Before I could bear to watch the Green Bay Packers lose to the Giants, Tom and I went up into the Mission Valley on a Snowy Owl mission. We initially checked around the Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge and the surrounding agricultural lands, and we turned up nada. No Snowy Owls or much else, other than… Read more »

  • Birding

    The warm weather continues

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    45 degrees in january…January! That’s how warm it has been in northwestern Montana lately. The birds were appropriately enjoying the sun. All 3 species of nuthatch were actively calling and feeding in the ponderosa pines and cottonwoods as Northern Flickers both called and drummed. Common Goldeneye and Hooded Merganser were all displaying as well. Everything must have… Read more »

  • Birding

    Chasing Ghosts

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    I heard the Pileated Woodpecker vocalizing with its fast series of “wuk” notes. Went to that location, and he (I’m assuming a male here) was nowhere to be found. Then, I would hear the bird farther down, some 200 meters or so. This pattern repeat several times, and I decided that Pileateds are nothing more than malevolent ghosts…they do… Read more »

  • Birding, Photography

    Can you believe it, another afternoon at Lee Metcalf

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    Spent yesterday afternoon at Lee Metcalf NWR, and as always it was a spectacular time to be there. I was able to spot the female Greater Scaup again, and again without an image. Along the Kenai trail, Northern Shrike and American Tree Sparrow were among the visitors from the north. The surprise of the day… Read more »