Chasing Ghosts

Cooperative Downy Woodpecker

Cooperative Downy Woodpecker

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 not exist. However, the entire was filled with some great winter birding. The temps were approaching 50 degrees and the sun was shining brightly. Where the ponderosa pines meet with the cottonwoods a sizable mixed flock of Pygmy Nuthatches, Red Crossbills, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Hairy Woodpeckers, and a Downy Woodpecker are actively feeding. The whole entire lot was calling and seemingly rejoicing in the nice weather. What a day to be out, even if it was only for 2 hours. The overall species count is low, but man, what a show!

Typical Habitat at MacClay Flats

Typical Habitat at MacClay Flats

Daytime moon over Montana

Daytime moon over Montana

Great day to be out fishing

Great day to be out fishing

Interesting patterns in the ice

Interesting patterns in the ice

Bitterroot River during a warm winter day

Bitterroot River during a warm winter day

eBird checklist

Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 2
Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 1
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1
Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens) 1
Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus) 2
Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) 1
Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus) 1
Black-billed Magpie (Pica hudsonia) 5
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 1
Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) 4
Mountain Chickadee (Rocky Mts.) (Poecile gambeli [gambeli Group]) 4
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) 3
Pygmy Nuthatch (Sitta pygmaea) 12
Red Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra) 4

Written by Radd Icenoggle

I am a native Montanan, who has spent a lifetime as an outdoors and wildlife enthusiast. I earned a degree in biology with an emphasis on habitat relations. During my studies, I had the great fortune to research and compose a thesis that explored the effects of slope aspect on...
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