Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Kestrel On the Wire

Today we witnessed what was probably a safe perch, but makes me nervous with all those wires...
This American Kestrel was scouting out mice in the new snow.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thank You Ryan and NW Energy!

Ryan Gibbs has been a great friend for years since we met skiing at Snowbowl.  He's the one that installed an Osprey platform at John and Marna Abbott's, Abbott's Glass on Mullan Road ten years ago, plus we put up some kestrel nest boxes. Now is the most ambitious project - retrofitting our power poles at Raptors of the Rockies to make them safe for birds - all with the blessings (and help) of NorthWestern Energy and the big boom truck. He changed the wires, added polymer bushing covers, and even a new lightning arrestor, all in a hot spot on top of the transformer with 7200 volts. For those millions that followed the Riverside Osprey Web Cam this spring, remember that the young birds all fledged to a power pole on the Clark Fork River? NWEnergy retrofitted that spot the very next day. So we thank Ryan for his expert work in the past and here in the yard this week, and (on the lower right) his photo in the new Bald Eagle book of the deer fawn he pulled off the power lines in East Missoula. The "Flying Deer" story that made it around the world on the internet in a day!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Hovering Sibley

Sib hovered like a giant hummingbird, checking out some prey below and Rio and Mookie waited for the signal to "hunt 'em up." Escapee gamebirds today. This teamwork makes for the most fun you can have and only wish we could do this all 356.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Short-eared Owl in the Bitterroots

A great day, flying the falcon in what seems to be rare sunshine these days, and a Short-eared Owl was beating a hasty retreat from the predator above...and dogs below. I am so happy that Sibley pays no attention to these owls and harriers that pop up out of nowhere below. Always have your camera at the ready, because you never know what might fly by. Back at it tomorrow.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pileated Flight

As much as we like raptor photos with the blue sky, this one is interesting for the background of a male Pileated Woodpecker flying through the forest. He was hammering away on a telephone pole in the driveway today and must have known that no food would result. Instead, the sound resonates through the neighborhood and announces a territory. This seems a bit early for breeding, but we see him all year flying across the property, and I would love to find the nest this spring. I'd love to park a Nikon camera there and see what we can get.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


Out on a little hunt with Sib the Peregrine Sunday, and almost had an unpleasant experience with Mookie the Lab. What's a skunk doing out at this time of day, and year? Back when I was with the Junior Zoologists Club at the Cincinnati Zoo, I remember the first time I was allowed to drive by myself, 16 years old and a new license. I picked up an orphaned baby skunk (from Karl Maslowski, the photographer) and brought it home, a wire cage in the basement because of the 100 degree weather. Sitting at the dinner table, my dad asked, "What's that smell?" The little skunk sprayed at our Collie dog, missed, and hit the central air conditioner... all through a 5 bedroom house and the new driver was in big trouble as the whole family slept outside that night. My parents had a rule about rehab up until then - no animals you can't release (i.e. no Kinkajous or Coatis.) We now had a second rule - no more SKUNKS!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Heron in the 'Root

I started a little tiny "bear jam" today, photographing this Great Blue Heron at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge near-by. Stopping to "shoot" this bird, a few other photographers stopped to see what the heck? They call them bear or bison or wolf jams in Yellowstone according to the species, and when one person is stopped, you might as well see what they are looking at. What a poser, this bird, and hope that everyone else got a nice photo to remember this beautiful day in the Bitterroot.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Really Big Show!

We really enjoyed the big showing last night at the Holter, and up until April so stop by, downtown Helena! Thanks to everyone and see you for a Raptors of the Rockies program there on March 9th.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Holter Art Museum Show

If you are in the Helena area this Friday evening, join us at the Holter for the opening reception, "Montana's Living Landscapes: A Photographic Essay,"sponsored by The Nature Conservancy. Eight photographers will display their gems until April 14th, in conjunction with the Ansel Adams  Exhibition. I'm sure that each of us were greatly influenced by the master - Ansel Adams was my father's number one hero, and we even have a falcon named after him! So, check out the show, and the debut of my Gyrfalcon sculpture I made this summer, right as you enter Sherman Hall. And they are using the "Peregrine on the Pivot" photograph for publicity, including a ten foot banner on the building. Can hardly wait.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Kestrels Are Kings

Here we are, members of the American Kestrel Partnership at our first meeting at the Peregrine Fund in Boise, two days at the World Center for Birds of Prey. Thirty kestrel enthusiasts shared research ranging from toxicology to migration to public education. The plans are to discover why this enigmatic species is suffering long-term population declines lately. The hardest hit are kestrels in New England with drops of 88%; it is rare to spot a kestrel these days in the Mid-Atlantic, a bird that was considered the most numerous raptor in North America. Matt Giovanni heads this ambitious campaign to coordinate both professional research biologists and citizen scientists, with a goal to hopefully increase kestrel numbers in a nest box program, and Raptors of the Rockies is excited to lend a hand. More news on the way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Back to Boise

A meeting at The Peregrine Fund in Boise, leaving tomorrow and back with some blogs (and hopefully a book project) about American Kestrels next!

Another Image

Here is the Goshawk, after the potential thief has passed. We'll keep the pigeons in today in case the hawk is still in the area. We have 25, now 24, and lose a few every year to avian predators. More often than not, they get away with amazing speed, dodges, and maneuvers that make for an exciting chase, for us spectators. Then the flock breaks up, disappears for a while, and comes back an hour or two later when the coast is clear.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Crouching Tiger

A Northern Goshawk feasts on a bird and suddenly "mantles" or covers the food when a Bald Eagle flies overhead. He resumed feeding until all that was left was a skeleton, then retired to a near-by tree. Thanks Tom for fetching the tripod and handing it out the back door, ready for action. This adult male allowed me approach quite close, then I had to back up to get some local scenery in the shot. The prize was one of our racing homing pigeons from the loft, who put up a spectacular flight, but not good enough, oh well.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Our Back Yard

Currently 4 of these Bald Eagles in the back yard. This one looks to be coming up on three years old, judging from the plumage, and a couple "brand new" eagles out there as well. Wonder where they have been since late summer? A mystery.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Our Living Room

After spending a few hours sprucing up the Gyrfalcon sculpture with automotive polish under the shop lights at night, here she looked the next morning. Tom and I fit the sculpture and 22 framed prints in the new-ish Subaru then off to the Holter Museum of Art in Helena. This show features 8 photographers, called "Montana Landscapes" and opens on Friday, January 18th along with the Ansel Adams Exhibition. The living room will look empty for a few months. But notice (starting at the right,) the Rancho Deluxe poster from the Montana Book Award, Polar Bear painting by Terry Isaak, Sibey sculpture from 2005, spotting scope trained on the Bald Eagle nest in the back yard, stained glass Peregrines with a bison skull above that Tom found in Antelope Creek by Bearmouth..and cat on the couch!