Sunday, November 29, 2009

Shot 'O The Day

Yesterday, Sibley stooped 400 feet right through the woods on some ducks in a slough by the Clark Fork River, all of which escaped in a dash for deep water. Here, she signals that she is ready to go home.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Barred Owl Released

Yesterday the latest rehab Barred Owl took off into the forest, near the spot she was found hanging in the fence two and a half weeks before. She gave us one parting glance and disappeared, to hopefully put this chapter in her life behind her. No more lab mice, Missy!
ps: This looks really nice as a print, matted and framed; a nice gift for the holidays for the bird-lover. Let me know and we can have Custom Digital Imaging "blow one up."

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Vital Ground Friends

We are thrilled to be included in a gorgeous two-page spread in the quarterly Vital Ground Newsletter, just out. Their headquarters are here in Missoula, and earlier this year Sib the Peregrine and I paid them a visit. Executive Director Gary Wolfe suggested that we could be featured in their upcoming issue as "Conservation Colleagues." Vital Ground is dedicated to protecting and restoring North American grizzly bear populations for future generations through habitat conservation. "Where the grizzly can walk, the earth is healthy and whole." Christine Paige wrote the story, with Randy Stekly's clever layout, and 6000 copies are printed. I especially like the inclusion of the photo of Jay Sumner and I with our falcons along side John Craighead, the pioneer of grizzly research, and wife Margaret. John is an honorary board member of Vital Ground, as is Jennifer Aniston, Jeff Bridges, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Jack Horner, and Brad Pitt. Hey, you folks are invited over any time, and let's have a board meeting at my house!
Check out Vital Ground at

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Battle of the Penguins

We delivered my penguin sculpture to mentor, Bill Ohrmann's on Friday, and now our birds are standing side by side. When I showed him the sculpture of the Great Horned Owl in June, the eternal question came up, “Whatcha gonna make next?” I whipped out a photo of some penguins with a laugh. Bill studied the birds on the card for a long minute, then told us, “Well, we could use stainless steel for the front...” What started as joke became a friendly competition, five feet tall, metals of your choice, on your mark, get set, GO! We conferred a few times on the phone and he wrote me a letter when were were welding away:
“I made mine leaning forward as if about to dive into leopard seal infested water and so have a fatalistic look on its face.”
“Say, I think we should now make a leopard seal- can’t you see it- made of stainless with brass spots and green marble eyes-?"
Now here they are displayed with a myriad of other majestic animal sculptures and paintings. And how cute. The Ohrmann Museum and Gallery is 2 miles south of Drummond on Scenic Highway 1, and they will have their annual Open House on December 12 and 13th, always a highlight for the holidays

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Collaborative Effort Owl

This adult female Barred Owl was found hanging in a barb wire fence last Saturday in the Blackfoot Valley, wings splayed but head held high. Keith Koch recovered the bird and had her in his hunting camp, saving her life and feeding her until the transfer on Monday. Then, Dr. Sandy Moore at Ancare Veterinary did a quick x-ray to find no wing breaks. And on the way home, Kelly at the University Labs gave us some much-needed mice. So we'll watch this bird with hopes she will fully recover for release to her old haunts. This bird is the bitey-est animal to ever come into our care, so what a great attitude for survival!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

"Our" Rob Wins Big

Rob Palmer, our Falcons of North America book photographer just won big worldwide, with two gigantic awards and one pending. Check out the next National Wildlife Magazine issue, as he has three images included, especially this one of a Bald Eagle catching a Red-winged Blackbird - Best Image of the Year for NWF 2009! The second huge honor is the BBC Best Bird Photographer in the World, for which he was wined and dined in London and around the UK. While there, he of course spent many days in the field with his camera and falconers. He is in the running for Best Photographer, National Audubon, and we'll keep you posted. Along with Nick Dunlop, we are working on our next book with Mountain Press Publishing and these images will be included, for sure. Way to go, Rob.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Montana Wildlife with JB

We just spent two hours with the University's Montana Wildlife Class, our first program for them in many years. Joel Berger is the instructor and we had him out on a falconry trip up the Blackfoot the week before. JB (as the students call him) is the John J. Craighead Chair of Wildlife Conservation, so he and Jay had a lot to talk about as he worked for the Craigheads for 25 years in grizzly research. My goal in the class was to get someone, anyone to laugh and a long first 15 minutes of trying my darned-est. They finally came around though, and a tough crowd. I told them that when I was a zoology student at U of M, we had to write papers rather than buy them on the internet, an observation that was lost on the class. Thanks JB and good luck in Tibet!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Road Trip to the Matador Ranch

Jay and I just returned from three days of flying and fun near Zortman on the Nature Conservancy's Matador Ranch. Guests of Montana TNC Director Kat Imhoff and her husband Jeep, we were in heaven on the Highline on northern mixed-grass prairie. The Matador is a 60,000 acre "grass bank" where 13 families graze their cattle in exchange for practicing conservation management on their own ranches. We found our favorite spot right away, a Sharp-tailed Grouse and pheasant paradise, with ducks in ponds nearby. Pictured here is Jay's 1 1/2 year old Peregrine Marlis in a close fly-by ( I meant to cut that wing off, yea, that's it.) The grouse proved hard to keep a foot on, and we have great respect for this new and slippery quarry. Special thanks to Barbara Cozzens, TNC Director of Northern Montana Prairies for her amazing hospitality and cooking, and especially stories that kept us all spellbound. We'll be back, as the area is surrounded by cliffs that surely hold some Peregrine eyries!