Saturday, February 27, 2010

Aerial Acrobats

Sibley had this brief encounter with a wild Red-tailed Hawk yesterday, as they both made what seemed like a playful maneuver overhead. It was like the Olympic pairs figure skating in the sky, then they both went their separate ways.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Annie Garde, Skipper of the Pea Green Boat

It's the annual Pledge Week for Montana Public Radio so don't forget to phone in your support! For the last month, MTPR has been streaming live on the web, a giant step. We can imagine the millions of children and grown-ups that dial it in - whatever time in their world corresponds with 4 pm Mountain Standard Time, and the Pea Green Boat! Here skipper Annie interviews Jay Sumner's Peregrine for a segment she did on falconry, recording a day in the field with our birds. Thanks Annie for the exemplary job you do and especially for the FUN over the years, with many more in the future. Check it out:

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Baldie in the Back Yard

I just got this photograph in the last minute before the sun ducked behind the Kootenai Crags of the Bitterroot Mountains for the day. A young Bald Eagle was spying on our Golden Eagles, perhaps planning a raid on the food left over for the day in the enclosure. Behind him to the north is Davis Point, named for another Davis long before we moved here and as far as we know, no relation. Spring on the way? A 50 degree day here in Western Montana, and probably didn't need the long johns and muck boots when flying the Peregrine this afternoon!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Olympic Athlete of Florence

I just took this photo of Sibley the Peregrine up several hundred feet and it reminded me of an Olympic ski jumper. She had been specking out over the fields across from my house while the dogs and I searched for pheasants. After 30 minutes, she got in a scrap with a Raven and said, enough's enough, time for dinner...Sibley was enjoying a rare cloudless day, and so was I.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Triple Creek

We were back to our old haunts this week, thanks to our friends at Triple Creek Ranch. Managers Bill and Leslie McConnell invited Jay and I (and three birds) to discuss raptors with their guests. Miles the Great Horned Owl joined the two Peregrines in the lounge for a lively chat. Early the next morning we were across the valley, trying to scare up some game birds for the falcons. Judy and Marty on the left are Texas residents, and we had to tell them that this was unseasonably warm! For a special occasion, treat yourself to Triple Creek, up the West Fork of the Bitterroot River near Darby.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ansel Goes AWOL

Ansel, our 6 year old Gyrfalcon x Peregrine hybrid is back safe and sound after three nights out on his own, touring the Bitterroot Valley. Our latest adventure in looking for lost birds began on Thursday afternoon, when I returned from the Rattlesnake School program. In returning Alisa to the enclosure that she shares with Ansel, I found the door wide open. I must have closed it but not stuck the lock through the hasp, and Ansel was gone, a sick feeling. The term "needle in a haystack" came to mind several times over the next few days, and elation when an ex-falconer called to saw he had him in his living room. Gary Cargille lives about thirty miles away and Ans was standing in a field by his house. He just happened to have a pheasant thawing for dinner, and up hopped the falcon to his glove. What a huge area to search, and small world sometimes!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Gary Denzler's Kestrel

Quite an honor to see the cover of our Falcon book transformed into a beautiful art piece! I knew Gary Denzler, keeper at Cincinnati Zoo before I moved to Montana in 1978, and we met again at the bird trainers and educators (IAATE) conference last February. Gary founded the Wings of Wonder bird show at the zoo, and is also a very accomplished and award-winning wood carver. His attention to detail and dynamic poses attest to a life around birds, raptors as his favorite subjects. He bought a copy of the Falcons of North America book and promised he would make a carving of Rob Palmer's cover shot. Wife Kim just sent the photo, and said it really doesn't do the piece justice. WOW, if you ask me!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Rattlesnake Rules!

We are just back from a big assembly at Rattlesnake Elementary, one of our favorite schools over many years, and Alisa the Red-tail's debut for kids. Along with Buster, Max, and finally Graham the Barred owl, all were exemplary ambassadors. Here we see our dear friend, author Sneed Collard and new friend Renee from The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota chatting with Alisa the Hawk. Also in attendance was teacher and Owl book author, Kila Jarvis. We figured our first program together must have been in 1989 at Emma Dickinson Elementary (since closed), ancient history. Thanks to Barb Christian for organizing the event, having been our "booking agent" for at least that long. And great to have Allyson Cowan along to help with the birds on perches, and a little instruction to kids along the way. Contact us now for school programs, as it gets crazy in the spring!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

What A Look...

Linden How took this photo on Saturday at our Birds And Art Class at the Missoula Art Museum. I have a feeling Sibley is trying to figure out how to land on our friend's head. The dual life Peregrine - over 100 flights since falconry season began in September, and 45 appearances in programs in 2009.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Enrichment Award Winner, One Year Later

Chesty the Harris's Hawk had a nice fly in the snow yesterday, landing on my hawk sculpture in the yard. She won the big award at the IAATE (bird trainers and educators) Conference last year for behavior. She has been cruising the property every day for three years now, even building a nest (or trying to) over the deck. Out as long as two hours, she signals that it's time for food back in the enclosure by staring in the window from the picnic table or circling the house. Her first year she spent a night out on her own in a big Ponderosa Pine in the yard, and other than that, back safe and sound. Chesty turns 21 years of age this spring, and no signs of slowing down.