Thursday, August 30, 2012

Off To Press

The latest book is on the way to the printers and here is the cover. Their designer cropped the photo quite a bit, which will take some getting used to, but an eye-catcher. Stackpole Books in Pennsylvania expects it out in January 2013, and I negotiated for a bunch of copies so will sell them (out of the Subaru!)

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Dog Not Included

Working every day on the big Gyrfalcon sculpture, and now starting on the hard part: the head and face. Man, this is fun! and just visited Bill Ohrmann's to see his new Kodiak Bear sculpture, installed in his yard/gallery last week, and photo on the way.
UPDATE!  As of Tuesday, we have corrections to the feather scheme by master painter and pal, Hans Peeters, so ripping of that top row, at least!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

One Omelet Coming Right Up

Just kidding. We don't eat these eggs, but Chesty the 22 year old Harris's Hawk doesn't trust me. She laid these eggs a few weeks ago, and has been "incubating" on and off. When she goes for her daily fly around the yard, she goes back to her building after about 20 minutes to check on her eggs. No male, infertile, won't hatch, no babies....I have had to explain that ad nauseum to friends that visit. I put up a square of shade cloth so she would't bake in the sun, and after a while she'll lose interest and I'll pull them. One year Sibley the Peregrine laid nine eggs! Speaking of Sib, she quit molting a couple weeks ago without dropping those critical three outer primary feathers on either side.  I got this brilliant idea - I threw a bunch of old primary feathers in her building (to remind her) and she started molting two days later. Absolute science.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Never Weld In Your Sandles

Ouch! Sparks have been flying in the former garage, now welding studio, and I've been working on this 5 1/2 foot metal Gyrfalcon. I think this shiny cold-rolled 18 gauge steel lends itself to a Gyr, white phase, and I plan on getting it sandblasted and powder coated so it won't rust. Those darn toes took all day yesterday- 1/2 inch rods, acetylene torch, hammer and anvil, grinder, weld and talons.  A painter/falconer friend told me "I like what I see. Don't screw it up." and to be careful with the beak.  The big push begins to get it done, then it goes out in the yard with all of the other birds, live and otherwise.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Osprey Saga

My pal Barry Gordon has been documenting some amazing Osprey behavior this summer right in his front yard - which happens to be Flathead Lake. He's been watching a nest that was built on a platform he installed by the dock at his cabin on Wildhorse Island. It's the first year for this pair and a very late start with one chick. A nearby Osprey nest failed and that female would drop by and try to land in the nest, huge fights between the girls. The male often brought in Kokanee Salmon, not found in Flathead but only in distant lakes, interesting. Barry's birds are very territorial and they both chase any Bald Eagle that comes into sight. That might be what happened to the male, as he disappeared a week and half ago, prey to an eagle or some other tragedy. Not able to watch the female struggle with feeding the young, Barry to the rescue and he took over the fishing duties. Whatever he catches gets a blast from the air compressor so it floats (very clever) and she learned in no time at all that Barry is the breadwinner. With a whistle, she perks up and retrieves the fish tossed off the dock, seen here. Then Wednesday, he picked up a little gift from Harraman Trout Farm in Mission - 35 rainbows! He probably has them in neighbor's freezers all over the island... So with a week still before fledging, the two Ospreys are set with trout. One other bit of odd behavior, the male from that nearby nest actually made a few fish deliveries to the nest last week, just dropping a fish in a fly-by.  Barry is perched in his observation deck, documenting the whole thing with his Nikon D300, and we'll post more photos. Great work!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Eagle Update

Yesterday I got this snapshot of FOUR young Bald Eagles on our building and looks like the Teaching Team birds couldn't care less. In the evening, two of them were chewing on what looked like a mummified squirrel skin across the river, still whining to be fed. The other four eagles made it to Oklahoma, the van quite aromatic after the long road trip. Jennifer reports: "One of our Florida males seems quite taken by the big female and has sat with her practically everywhere she goes in the enclosure! Love at first sight I suppose."  So glad to have that happy ending.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Eagles Whisked Away

Two very charming sisters from the Potawatomi Tribe whisked away the four eagles yesterday, bound for Oklahoma in an air-conditioned van. As a parting gift, one of the Bald Eagles nailed my hand through a gap in the glove. Jennifer Randell and Bree Dunham run the Citizen Potawatami Nation Eagle Aviary in Shawnee, OK and will keep the three Bald's, Bill Voelker at Sia, the Comanche Nation center in Cyril will care for the Golden Eagle. These birds spent 12 memorable days here, drawing in wild Bald Eagles from the nest across the river, begging and screaming all day (top photo.) These birds arrived from a center that closed will be placed on federal Native Use Permits,  their molted feathers collected for cultural purposes. The Potawatami Tribe is originally from the Great Lakes region, and they revere Bald Eagles. Young birds called "Spotted Eagles" were kept for two years then released, feathers given at important events in tribe member's life. Since they were re-located by the government (about eleven times!) they have found it difficult to acquire the feathers. A brand new aviary has been constructed, 150 feet in length with trees and plants and even a creek running through, so comfort for the birds. 
It sure is quiet around here all of the sudden.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Raptor Round-Up 41

See it here in living color! Raptor Round-Up number 41 with  Peregrine Milestone, meet Owen the Northern Saw-Whet Owl, Golden Eagle release, Bald Eagle & Osprey battle, The Coyote Choir and more! Being very 20th century, I still send out over 200 of these in the mail three times a year, and remember the first one in September 1998, cut and paste with scissors and tape. It sure looks nice in color, so check it PLUS our new YouTube of Amy Martin and the Coyote Choir performing "I Dig My Feathers" here at the Raptor Ranch! And then go outside, okay?

Friday, August 10, 2012


Just got these shots about a half hour ago while taking the dogs for a swim at the river behind the house, and one of the newly fledged Bald Eagles plucked a sucker from the river. I'll bet the fish was already dead, but perhaps a first "prey" item for this bird, still begging from parents and our eagles in the building. He grabbed the fish, then dropped it (butterfingers) then looked down below but never retrieved it. Probably not overly-hungry so I waded out in the river to get this last photo. Right then three folks floated by in tire inner tubes (a favorite watercraft nowadays) and one floater kept saying, "Look at the big hawk!" only to have her companions miss it. Right there, with me up to my waist in water, cell phone from my pocket in my teeth, dogs swimming around me and what a scene!

Monday, August 6, 2012

"Feed Me!"

With our three resident eagles, the four from the center that closed, and the three that fledged in the back yard, we have TEN eagles in the yard on and off. The fledglings are brazen, perching on the roof of the building by the river, on the fence and even Chesty's phone pole in the driveway. I thought someone was here with the dogs barking, but just a giant female eagle in the yard. These four birds are temporary and are on their way to a Native American Aviary in Oklahoma, where the molted feathers will be collected for cultural purposes. My next door neighbors don't know it, but they should be doubly glad to be away on vacation this week. The three Bald Eagles start screaming at sun-up. Or before...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bitterroot Release

Back in April I was out feeding the birds when a pick-up truck pulled up that was how I met Scott Leibenguth and a three year old Golden Eagle he found on a remote dirt road. The giant female was totally paralyzed, a mystery injury with no traffic and the closest power line over 20 miles away. Much later we figured she must have gotten in an aerial battle with another eagle and crashed to the ground. So little hope at first but miracles do happen, and three weeks she was later standing and chowing down on squirrels. In that time her flight muscles had atrophied, and she developed an infected toe. That was when our friends at the Montana Raptor Conservation Center in Bozeman took over (heroes!), treatment for that foot and exercise in a huge flight building. So yesterday Scott opened the kennel door, over three months since he handed her over, and about the best release I have ever seen. I don't know who was happier, Scott or the eagle, and she got up, headed south and didn't look back.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Book Milestone, Too!

I just sold my 400th copy of Raptors of the West, and must admit that every penny has gone back into camera gear. Bobbi and Steve Stoffel from sunny California were visiting their daughter Lauren and  her boyfriend Adam Shreading who works for the Peregrine Institute and Raptor View. A great tour and I just happened to have one last copy on hand. Mountain Press Publishing has gone to a second printing with a slightly different cover (insert)- by Kate Davis- for the prima donna author that wanted credit for making the thing. Stickers for winning the National Outdoor Book Award are installed at the printers.  Most of my sales have been right out of the back of the Subaru, and I think we need another one of those very soon, too...Anyone that wants to sell a 2010 or later (higher ground clearance), must be green. Or blue. Guess I had better sell some more books!