Monday, June 29, 2009
I finished the welded owl sculpture yesterday and took it to my mentor, Bill Ohrmann's for his scrutiny. We got a thumbs up, and that owl by his shoulder is one he made years ago. Bill taught me to weld and make metal animals in 2004, and I was obsessed for two years. The last one I made was a big magpie for the Missoula Art Museum Auction in 2006, until now. He and I are using lighter gauge steel, and suffered with 16 gauge until we came to our senses. Then it was time to see his new sculpture, photo on the right. Coincidentally, he had been working on an owl also, he wrote, "No special kind. Maybe a nightmare owl."At age 90, Bill shows no signs of slowing down, welding and painting up a storm!
Sunday, June 28, 2009
We were thrilled to present a program at the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge yesterday for their huge event which brought in ecologists from all walks and ages. The Bitterroot BioBlitz enabled everyone to take a close look at everything natural that exists around them, from plants, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds. With a discussion of raptor identification from world expert Steve Hoffman of Montana Aududon and a closing presentation with us, the ornithologists came out in droves. DotCom the Northern Pygmy-Owl began the discussion in the amphitheater, then Sibley the Peregrine and a talk on the Bitterroot populations. Next was Graham the Barred Owl and finally, Nigel the Golden Eagle was a perfect ambassador as the children especially were treated to an up-close look, as seen here. Make sure to visit Metcalf Refuge if you are in the area, which is our favorite birding (and all things wild) hotspot.
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Yesterday I surveyed some nests in the area, and found that:
Thursday, June 25, 2009
I hadn't visited a favorite eyrie on the Blackfoot for over a week and and yesterday I half-way expected to find an empty cliff and fledged young. After thirty minutes, just as I was packing up the scope to leave, I heard the tell-tale wails of baby Peregrines, and the male perched across the river. After a while, the young showed themselves, one by one, screambling all around the nest ledge. Getting a photo of all three youngsters has proven to be my big challenge this summer, between this and the Bald Eagle nest. These are the birds on the "Videos" page of the web site, and featured in the blog from June 16th. Any day now, they'll be racing up and down the river chasing their parents.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Today's photo has proven that our Bald Eagle nest I've been observing all season is keeping the young home a lot longer than I thought. The three chicks seem reluctant to leave their sanctuary, with food deliveries continuing and sticks to play with. For hours they test their wings, hopping up and down from the edge. Perhaps tomorrow the oldest will fledge. We'll see, so stay tuned.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
Cool weather, rains and more rain on the way seems to have delayed the salmonfly hatch on the Blackfoot. I have been checking daily with hopes of seeing Peregrines feeding on these huge aquatic insects after they immerge and take flight. This photo is our pigeon loft after an evening storm. The Red-tails babies that we relocated into a man-made nest after they blew out of the tree have successfully fledged. The first one to fly walked up a hill to run down with her wings out, hang glider style! Parent birds continue to feed them as they stray further from their nest. The Bald Eagle babies are hanging tight still and haven't fledged as I predicted last week. But any minute now, and still getting photographs. I am almost finished with a big welded Great Horned Owl sculpture, with advice from master artist Bill Ohrmann, my mentor. And working away assembling photos for the new book, Raptors of the West, brand new shots from Rob Palmer, Nick Dunlop, and me. Always something...
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
Get a jump on the mail service and see the latest Raptor Round-Up in color. Webmaster Steve Palmer just posted the newsletter on our web site:
Friday, June 12, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Idaho Fish and Game biologist Bruce Haak sent his photo of a 21 day old Peregrine that he banded on Friday. She is one of three chicks in a nesting box in downtown Boise, which is wired with a web camera by the Peregrine Fund. On Friday she took a little stroll and fell out of the box, an event that was reported by phone calls from as far away as New York. The babies had been scheduled for banding on Monday, so when Bruce returned her to the box, they banded all three. This is an exceptionally large female, with an aluminum U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service band on her tarsus. To better understand raptor biology, age, sex, and hometown are recorded to track migration routes, lifespan, and other behaviors. Watch the Peregrine family and learn more about the species at http://www.peregrinefund.org/
Monday, June 8, 2009
Our friends in San Jose, California are finally off the hook and a job well done. The Peregrine nest on City Hall has been monitored by a fleet of Falconatics since Clara and Esteban set up shop in February. Over the weekend, their four offspring fledged, or left the nest. Eric Rosenberg took this photo of one of the three female "juvies" Tierra, and he reports that only one youngster took the elevator ride back to the roof for safety. Glenn Stewart of the Santa Cruz Predatory Bird Research Group supervised the Fledge Watch to ensure the babies weren't in harm's way in the heart of the city. He feels that the most dangerous stage has passed, as the birds hone their flying and perching skills. The constant vigil is nearly over, and congratulations to all involved, especially Evet Loewen - Head Honcho of the Falcon Fans. The auction of photos to benefit the project and SCPBRG has just begun, so check out the images and bid on line:
Sunday, June 7, 2009
Friday, June 5, 2009
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
We are in our fifth year in a statewide survey of mosquitoes and testing for West Nile Virus. A trap is baited using dry ice in a container that puts out C02, the gas that attracts mosquitoes to humans. A battery-operated fan sucks them into a bag that hangs underneath, and they are collected after a nighttime of trapping. The Box of Bugs are sent to Carroll College in Helena for testing, and, so far so good for the Bitterroot Valley. West Nile Virus has not been detected here which could be lethal for some teaching team raptors.