Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sonny the Eagle

Just approved for our Eagle Exhibition permit, Sonny the Bald Eagle is officially on the teaching team. Retrieved by our friend Rob Domenech in June, the bird was standing on a riverbank at Quinn's Hot Springs for a few days. Rob actually fished him out of the river with a net when he bailed, to discover a starving bird, missing a wing tip. Like Alisa (Clancy) the Red-tail, this bird is named after a hero at KCSM Radio in San Mateo, California - Sonny Buxton. Catch his show on Saturdays and 24-hour-a-day-commercial-free jazz, streaming live on the web! Also, he is named for all of the jazz musicians by that name that you can think of like Rollins, Stitt, Clarke, but this eagle is Buxton!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Poor Rudy

Our eight year old Golden Retriever will be very much missed, and we had to have him put down on Friday. Rudy was best known for his daily activities at the river behind the house, rearing out of the water and barking and catching splashes in his mouth. For hours and hours. KUFM Montana Public Radio had a picnic over here, and they all thought Rudy's stunt was cute, now please ask him to stop barking. No can do. We were told that Rudy had cancer back in May, but I was in denial and had him out hunting with the falcon two days before he died. Thanks to the kind doctors/pals Mike, Lynn and Janna at Florence Veterinary and they know what a great life this loving and eccentric dog had. I don't think he ever even slowed down or knew he was not long of this world. Rudy had a very full life of swims and hikes and hunting for which most dogs (and lots of humans) would be envious. Goodbye, friend.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Baby Barn Owl of Burnt Fork

Mistaken identity is common in the bird world. Jay and I have been told about cliffs with Peregrines only to find Prairie Falcons, a common error. Once a friend found a "baby Osprey" floating in the Clark Fork River on a canoe trip that turned out to be a pigeon. Kind of a stretch. But today was a new experience when I drove to Stevensville to see a "fluffy baby Barn Owl, sitting in my pear tree for days and days." Barn Owls a super rare around here, and I thought it might be a branching Great Horned. She told me that he had dark black eyes with a yellow beak. Well, must be a Barred Owl and worth a look. So the dogs and I took a drive, met the woman and walked to her pear tree. "Ta-da! There he is!" she pointed. A bird nest. Probably a pewee with cottonwood fluff. Now that's a first. Another reason to have an unlisted phone number.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Day At MPG Ranch

Thanks to Kate Stone and Eric "Kerr" I was invited to accompany them and trapper/bander William to the big 7000 acre MPG ranch across the river to monitor migrating raptors. After 5 hours I thought it time to leave, knowing full well that the minute I left the big flight would kick in. And 60 more birds since departing with 97 raptors total, so thank me, guys. I did get these photos of male accipiters, Cooper's Hawk on the left and Sharp-shinned Hawk on the right. They said a big kettle of Turkey Vultures passed by, plus dozens of more Sharpies and Kestrels. What a treat and I can see the site out the office window, and I'll be back!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Day 2 of the Season for Sib

We missed opening day of falconry season with the trip to Boston, and now hard at it with Peregrine flights that started Monday. This photo is day two, and just look at that molt! Fortunately she has since dropped both of those crummy outer wing feathers (primary 10's) and should be clean as a whistle feather-wise in no time. Today was Sibley's best day yet, and she circled around one Horse Creek for a while, remembering that it more fun to do that than perch in a tree. Now just looking for some pheasants, if you have one to spare anywhere in Western Montana. Let me know.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Penguin Flies Home

We brought my metal Penguin sculpture home today, and I promised Tom that this will be last time for a transfer. Promise. It had been at the Missoula Art Museum all summer, along with the Red-tailed Hawk which will live at Caras Nursery for a while. So glad to have the big guys at the museum load it into the pickup on a sheet of plywood, then down the ramp on the dolly and back into the yard tonight. Many expertly taken photographs with cell phones out the car windows document the penguin's drive through town and down to the Bitterroot. Notice the courthouse in the background, and a guy on a bicycle in the alley suggested that next time I make one out of aluminum. Recycling material.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Just Back From Boston

Okay. I've had my proudest moment, and now can retire. Just kidding, but not about the pride factor. I just delivered the keynote for the annual Eastern Massachusetts Hawk Watch Meeting in Medford (pronounced Medfud) and the highlight of a lifetime. Paul Roberts invited me to speak last year and at first I thought he was kidding, but it really happened this weekend. A record number of 140 raptor lovers were in attendance, record new membership sign-ups, and even a standing ovation at the end. That was after I had everyone hoot like a Great Horned Owl. My in-laws were even there, and I spent one day with sister-in-law Ellen touring the north shore, Davis-land. I had another engagement Saturday at the Joppa Flats Education Center, and went birding with Paul's wife and daughter, Julie and Laura at the legendary Plum Island. My first time in Boston, and one thing is for certain: I'll be back, with Tom next time, if we can figure out how to take care of the dogs and cats...and birds!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Partial Albino Red-tailed Hawk Re-surfaces

I kept this quiet, sorry friends, but didn't want this rare bird to be scared away by flocks of birdwatchers. The locals always knew about the "white hawk" in the southwest end of Missoula, first spotted over the winter. I brought my camera up to Snowbowl skiing several times and would stop by to get some photos on the way there and back. You could spot her a mile away if she was in the air, and perched before the leaves came in. Most of her tail has the regular coloring of an adult (at least two or three year old) but just a few flight feathers are brown. Where has she been the last few years, to just show up unannounced? No one in the neighborhood had seen her for the last 6 weeks then voila! Back on the scene and maybe she was nesting, which would explain her absence. They are looking for more white hawks, with the brown barred tail of a youngster.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Prairie Falcon Flies

This Prairie Falcon completely recovered from a badly sprained left leg, and proves it in this photo. She was hacked out with the eagles. The screen on the top of their 40 foot building allows hawks to pop up and "escape" when they are flying well enough, and they release themselves. One Red-tail came back and climbed back inside two years later, standing next to the eagles waiting to be fed. The hillsides across the river behind the house are perfect habitat, and she headed that direction yesterday. So keep your eyes peeled, hawkwatchers at the MPG Ranch!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Return of the Wayward Ten Year Old

Deja our Harris's Hawk flies around the property every day, 12 months a year, and sometimes stays out for a while in the summer. In 2008 she left for a couple months and returned when the ground squirrels estivated, or retreated underground in the heat. She was seen in the neighborhood and Lee Metcalf NWR. This time Deja split in May, never to be seen again anywhere in the valley. Yesterday, I was walking out the door with my camera and gloves to move a rehab Prairie Falcon from Deja's building into the flight enclosure, and lo and behold - there was the errant hawk standing on Chesty's building, shouting BLAA! Chesty had just been out flying for an hour and lucky they didn't see/kill each other. Dej flew over to the glove for a mouse and on inspection, she had an overgrown beak, one tail feather left, and her feet were filthy, but not too skinny. I cleaned her up, coped the beak and she perched here in the office while I kept an eye on the Prairie. Deja, you have some molting to do, my friend.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Caras Nursery Sculpture Show

For the seventh year running, Caras Nursery on South 3rd West is hosting an outdoor sculpture exhibition, metal and stone amongst the shrubs and trees. My piece Red-tailed Hawk has been at the Missoula Art Museum for the last two months, along with the Penguin, and now is back outside. George YBarra puts together the fine collection of pieces each year, and even had Don Grazier of Ronan bring a giant BLUE Heron, wait until you see. The opening is this Saturday, and the show is up until the end of October. Thanks, Bill Caras!