Wednesday, June 29, 2011


Missoula Community Access Television Young Filmmakers Workshop was at the Raptor Ranch today with the champions of videography! Ron Scholl (filming here) and I figured that this was the twelfth year of having kids make little movies, and pictured are the last of the shots that will appear on TV on Friday at 4:30 pm - all 14 students leaping into the air with joy, oldsters like me making a little hand gesture. We made a crime drama, suspensful bit about a missing raptor, and talking birds with my voiceovers. Fun and make sure your kids sign up for next summer. We had a big waiting list including James Cameron who wanted to shoot in 3D (just kidding.)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Fledge Day

Looks like Saturday's trip might be our last with photos of all four Bald Eagle young in the nest, as yesterday one had disappeared. Probably that whopping huge female that had been flapping like mad. This one was about 20 feet underneath, one was out on a side limb, one still in the nest. Our friend Sue Erickson across the road reports that three big black birds were in there this morning, so either this one climbed back up or the flighted one returned. I'll try to sneak in over there after the Library program today. Pretty exciting if you ask me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Finally a Fish

All four youngsters were still residents at the Bald Eagle nest on Saturday, and they had this food delivery by the male, a huge mountain whitefish (just correctly ID'd by friend Andy Puckett.)The last few weeks I have just seen squirrels and deer and some kind of large bird brought to the nestlings, and not many fish in this whole time I've been watching. The young seem restless and their "branching" is getting more brave, further from the nest and lots of big bouts of flapping and jumping into the air. Back today and will keep you posted, and don't forget our 2 p.m. program tomorrow at the Missoula Library!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Missoula Art Museum Week

Bev Glueckert and I have been holding these Birds And Art workshops for about 40 years now. Okay, more like 15, and with the Art Museum's "new" remodel, a perfect week. One time we were accidentally scheduled to hold it in a lecture hall on the campus, so ended up making our paper mache sculptures in the parking lot of the Botany building! Eighteen students aged 7 to 11 and lots of owls, hawks a Peregrine Falcon and big Bald Eagle. Sorry I didn't stick around for the clean-up folks...had to go spy on some real falcons and eagles.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Excersise Those Wings

A quick visit to the eagle nest today with Annie Garde of KUFM public radio, and a prey delivery by the male as I was learning all of the wildflowers from the expert. Pentstemon is my new favorite, a flower decorating the trail along with lupine. When we arrived, it was a quick tripod and camera set-up as the male left the nest. Just then, the female flew in to feed this youngest bird as the older nestlings exercised in huge winds. Everything happens at once sometimes, and I recounted to Annie the 20 days of standing by the camera for up to 6 hours at a time with nothing! She brought us good luck and the plan is to publish a book of the eagles and this incredible season with four youngsters and the animals that share their habitat. Lots of photos of deer, fox squirrels, ground squirrels, geese, ducks, pigeons, magpies and starlings, species that have been prey but also fellow occupants of that special spot there on the banks of the Clark Fork River.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Another Nest Visitor

My friend Carmen and I spent the afternoon Sunday at the Bald Eagle nest, and got this shot of yet another nest inhabitant. This magpie has been exploring and getting pretty darn close to the nestlings, no doubt after some tasty animal parts. One of the young was also exploring, way out on a branch in the back. We also found the adult female feeding on a freshly killed deer fawn across the river, bringing viscera to the nest, and images we will spare you. The male also fed on the deer, too large to bring to the nest in one piece. When we left, all the the young and both parents had bulging crops, settled down for little naps (in the rain!)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Great Gray Owls, Finally

Last year on June 1st, my pal Keith Fialcowitz and I were guided in to this nest in the Big Hole Valley by Jack Kirkley, and the young had already fledged. One year and just over two weeks later we lucked out with the female and these youngsters, a few days apart in age. Jack is a Professor at U of M Western, and he has about 50 Goshawk nests to check out this spring/summer. The weather has kept him from this field work with impassible roads and deep snow. We dodged the rain yesterday but enjoyed bouts of "gropple", and thanks Jack!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Fox Squirrel Family

We have noticed some squirrels living "on the edge," inhabiting the Bald Eagle nest right under the babies; at first one bold individual, then two, and yesterday the mom and two offspring. This is especially ironic as the Bald Eagles have been bringing in a fair share of mammals, Columbian ground squirrels and this non-native eastern fox squirrel, all after forays near East Missoula. Again, we wonder how they can catch such agile little tree dwellers, and they don't look particularly flattened, as in road kill. I doubt these squirrels even know that they share a home with such big, bad raptors.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

First Line of Defense

Up and down, river levels have changed drastically, but last night's torrential downpour inspired some defensive work in the way of some strategically placed sandbags. Tom and I made two walls in the lowest spots next to the slough to at least try to keep water out of the fields and hawk buildings. If the Bitterroot River decides to march up to the house, we'll have to come up with a Plan B. The dogs and ducks sure enjoy all of the water. Our sympathies to those of you out there in worse shape, and a helpless feeling to be certain.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

There're HERE!

The new book has finally arrived, and I picked up some cartons from Mountain Press hot off the truck. I am sending copies out today to those of you that pre-ordered and sorry for the delay. Now I can send them out directly for autographed copies and a portion of proceeds goes right back to fund our program. Hope they sell like hotcakes! It's affordable paperback, 10 by 9 5/8 inches, 250 pages, and the best part - 45 species from Burrowing Owls to Peregrines and 430 color photographs! And 430 captions... Order today at $30 plus $5 shipping.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Another Friend Has Returned

The same minute I was taping the FedEx box shut to return the big borrowed 500 mm lens, this friend showed up. I'm betting it's the same bird, a male Black-chinned Hummingbird in the same tree in the yard as last year (June 27th blog from 2010.) Once again, I'm standing on a ladder in the back yard, and here another hummingbird flew by. He is saying "You want a piece of of me?" and a chase ensued. So far he is winning, King of the Raptor Ranch.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Bald Eagle Prey - A Deer

I got a series of extraordinary photos at the Bald Eagle nest Tuesday, and witnessed a prey delivery of a new variety - the back two legs of a yearling deer. The item appeared cumbersome as the male circled the nest twice before landing, and the young were ravenous. Or more hungry than I'd seen before as they usually take polite turns at feeding. He later brought in a third leg and female returned with the fourth, and we saw her carrying it back from Marshall Grade across the highway. Road kill, coyote food, or actually preyed upon by the eagles? We'll never know. This is exciting and I have started saving for that 500 mm lens, as I had to send the rental back.