Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge – Christmas Bird Count 2016

It was that season again…not the holidays, but the Christmas Bird Count season. Joined by Tom Forwood and Bob Danley at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge. We explored the back areas of the Refuge that are typically closed to the public, and we turned up 56 species through a long day. the highlights included a Count-first Pacific Wren along the banks of the Bitterroot River and the first Townsend’s Solitaire of the entire year for the Refuge. We also sighted both Trumpeter and Tundra Swans, and a lone Northern Shrike. Buteo (that’s “hawk” in Plains) numbers were high with good representation by both Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks.

Birds Observed

240
Canada Goose
9
Trumpeter Swan
6
Tundra Swan
4
Gadwall
1
American Wigeon
Age & Sex
186
Mallard
1
Northern Shoveler
29
Northern Pintail
27
Green-winged Teal
90
Ring-necked Duck

Large flock of about 50 flushed with 28 counted by ones in another flock. Smaller flock of 12.

4
Lesser Scaup
7
Bufflehead
18
Common Goldeneye
16
Hooded Merganser
5
Common Merganser
30
California Quail
75
Ring-necked Pheasant

Several large groups

18
Wild Turkey
1
Pied-billed Grebe
5
Great Blue Heron
1
Northern Harrier
4
Bald Eagle
23
Red-tailed Hawk
1
Red-tailed Hawk (Harlan’s)
8
Rough-legged Hawk
4
Virginia Rail

2 calling at one point, one flew across some open water. 4th was edging some cattails near open water.

9
American Coot
3
Killdeer
1
Wilson’s Snipe
11
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)
10
Eurasian Collared-Dove
3
Mourning Dove
3
Belted Kingfisher
9
Downy Woodpecker
3
Hairy Woodpecker
6
Northern Flicker
1
American Kestrel
1
Northern Shrike
44
Black-billed Magpie
10
Common Raven
29
Black-capped Chickadee
5
Red-breasted Nuthatch
10
White-breasted Nuthatch
4
Pygmy Nuthatch
2
Pacific Wren
1
Marsh Wren
1
American Dipper
2
Townsend’s Solitaire
49
European Starling
5
American Tree Sparrow
9
Dark-eyed Junco

Mostly Oregon types with one or two Slate-colored as well.

18
Song Sparrow
210
Red-winged Blackbird
9
House Finch
18
Red Crossbill
8
American Goldfinch
16
House Sparrow
Tom braving the low temperatures

Tom braving the low temperatures

The sun rose cold and clear

The sun rose cold and clear

Tree Sparrow???

Tree Sparrow???

Checking for swans

Checking for swans

Long shadows the whole day

Long shadows the whole day

…but beautiful nonetheless

Hoar frost clung to the bare branches

Hoar frost clung to the bare branches

Bitterroot River near Poker Joe

Bitterroot River near Poker Joe

A lot of ice and sun

A lot of ice and sun

Bob and Tom keep the vigil

Bob and Tom keep the vigil

One road in, one road out

One road in, one road out

One of the back ponds that no gets to visit

One of the back ponds that no gets to visit

A gorgeous Ring-necked Duck drake

A gorgeous Ring-necked Duck drake

Great Blue Heron in the cottonwoods

Great Blue Heron in the cottonwoods

The Bitterroot River was unbelievable in the afternoon sun

The Bitterroot River was unbelievable in the afternoon sun

The count continues

The count continues

Thanks to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the vehicle

Thanks to the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the vehicle

Railroad tracks leading north

Railroad tracks leading north

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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