Saturday, June 29, 2013

Off to Boise

A quick trip to Boise, Idaho tomorrow morning and hopefully back Tuesday night. Business and fun, staying with my pals Bruce and Evelyn Haak the first night, then a tour of the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area with hero Mike Kochert Monday.  Tuesday a meeting at the Peregrine Fund to discuss the new American Kestrel book. Oh, and to pick up a baby Aplomado Falcon! Only problem, temperatures are expected to fry eggs on the sidewalk at 106 degrees. Thank goodness this 7th Subaru I've owed has air conditioning and a CD player, and will listen to books on "tape" - The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling. 13 CD's in all. Should work for 16 hours of driving. Some Radiohead and jazz too. Today's shot and look at the angry face on this swallow. The kestrel is oblivious, so used to this harassment.

Fledging, Sort Of

The two Bald Eagle nestlings have made it this far from the nest, which can be seen at the lower right,  flapping and whining like crazy. When the female came back, they scampered back to the nest and that's where they spent the night. Right now, they are both in these exact spots, probably whining but I can't hear it from the house. Maybe we'll be there when they first fly, last year on the Fourth of July. How appropriate, some would say!

Friday, June 28, 2013

What's For Dinner Tonight?

That sure looks like a vole in his beak! How do they catch voles?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Mother and Daughter

Last night and the female just brought in a mammalian delivery. She retired to a nearby ponderosa pine to "feak" her beak or wipe off all that gore. Sure looks like both young eagles are females, and they have been exploring the limbs around the nest for the last few days.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Food Cache?

This morning the female flew from a distant tree right to the crotch of the cottonwood and pulled out a big tasty insect larvae or caterpillar. Maybe she stuck it there earlier as a sort of dessert or food cache. I always tell the kids that I am like a falcon or owl because I have a secret candy bar hidden in our freezer, the cache in the kitchen. Getting some nice behavior shots, and today my young friend Sawyer had his younger brother Archer along. He patiently explained that "it's all about light" for taking good photos. What an excellent student he is, an expert after one day, and great company.

Monday, June 24, 2013

AMKE's Today

A fun few hours at the kestrel nest across the road and spent with my new young friend Sawyer, who is just going into 7th grade. That was how old I was when I got my first one of these, back in Ohio with the Cincinnati Zoo Junior Zoologists Club. Lucked out today with a vole delivery, cache, retrieved by the female, great.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Skate City!

Man o man, an afternoon at Jeff Ament's and now I
will be a skate photographer. Randy Katen and Kim Peterson on the rail. Or whatever it's called.

Last Night

Shooting the nest in cloudy weather, the young are exploring the limbs bordering the nest.  I wish they would stand side by side so I can guess if we have one of each or just one sex, females are bigger. I remember when I was photographing the nest for the Bald Eagle book, and the lady that lives across the highway, scope on the nest, would call my cell phone when she saw me arrive. "You should have been here ten minutes ago - all four were standing, facing me and waving." Grrrrr.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

June 20th

The first photo is from 2012, what appears to be the female and two of the three nestlings. Then one from Thursday, and one of the nestlings in a similar exercise mode. Even though they look like they can fly just fine, they will probably linger in and around the nest until the first part of July. Plans are to build a new bridge for the East Side Highway, across the Bitterroot river just upstream from the eagle nest. It will be 50 feet closer to these guys than the old one, and we only hope construction and destruction is after breeding season.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Nighthawks at the Diner

The name of the Tom Waits 1975 record. Remember that one, a classic? And a nighthawk in the yard.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

That Wren

Why does this bird look a little odd? He's singing his heart out perched on a metal penguin beak in the yard by his nest box. And he's standing on one foot. Oh, and he does't have a tail! I got a bunch of great photos of him in flight the other night, came in and downloaded them to discover why he appeared a little weird,  resembling a bumblebee buzzing about. Not a single tail feather, and we'll see if they grow in.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Hangin' at the Wren Box

Actually, it's a swallow box, but currently inhabited by House Wrens. I was standing on the deck photographing them the other night when we had a few non-native visitors, first the paper wasp.  I looked this one up in the Kaufman Field Guide to Insects of North America, and he reports, "this species has spread almost nationwide, nesting in bird houses and other enclosed spaces." The female wren kicked this guy out right away, thankfully. Then the House Sparrows in mating mode. Hard to believe that just 100 of these pests were introduced to New York in 1851-52. They reminded people of England!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Attack Continues

This morning, I spotted the female American Kestrel carrying a bird wing in her beak. It may be a cached body part, stashed somewhere up in those cottonwood trees, and the Tree Swallow didn't like it. I located the nest, which is unfortunately on the back side of a broken-topped tree, in the shadows and leaves and bummer. Out looking for other nests and not much luck this spring. Our friend Rob Palmer in Colorado has been photographing fledged kestrels for weeks, on a different schedule down there it seems.

Sunday, June 16, 2013


One bird has evaded me for years and finally some photos of Bobolinks. I have seen these males hanging out together on several trips through the Metcalf Refuge. The Cornell Lab of Ornithology BNA account says "they look like they are wearing a tuxedo backward, leading some observers to refer to this species as the 'skunk blackbird.'" The extraordinary life of the Bobolink: females may have a nest of eggs fertilized by two males, perhaps these guys. After breeding, the males molt into Basic plumage, looking like the brown females and even changing the color of their beak.  Then they all migrate to Argentina and Uruguay, more than 12,000 miles round trip, and we wonder why they do it. I have all new respect for our summer residents, so go look for them in their spring finery.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Nest Robber

I just got these photos of a male kestrel and a beheaded baby Tree Swallow, under attack by it's former parents. Like kestrels, this species of swallow nests in natural cavities and nest boxes, and the prey item a young, non-flighted nestling. So the kestrel either reached in the opening or climbed in to get the baby, a mystery and in my observations not a common food item. They usually stick to rodents and insects.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Flock Of Kids and Birds

Okay, in the close-ups we have two Red-tails, two Peregrines, a Saw-whet Owl (Owen and his nest), a Bald Eagle, Great Horned Owl, Ferruginous Hawk, three American Kestrels and last but not least, two  Confucius ornis's that Allan will add to his extinct animal collection.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Final !!!

Yes, that's a Spectacled Owl sculpture on the far left...More photos on the way!

Birds And Art

Today is the last day for our annual Birds And Art CaWorkshop at the Missoula Art Museum, 20 kids making paper mache raptors. Bev Glueckert and I have been doing this almost 50 years (it feels like...)
The students' sketched fill the wall in the background. Final photos on the way!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Power-Wash Day

...Or warsh, as my Mom would say. All of those clean, beautiful pickup trucks yesterday were an inspiration, and today I had the massive spring-cleaning power-wash of the bird buildings. Chesty just flew around the yard when her enclosure was blasted, and the rest of the raptors had some quiet time in kennels in the shade. And while you're at it, cope (trim) those bird's beaks and then install new astroturf on the perches and pine needles below. Hey, why not also warsh the Subaru, gumbo and dust from the Rocky Mountain Front trip last week. And what about all of the sculptures in the yard and associated bird poop. Yea, go for it! This is a photo from years ago of our rehab raven Danica standing on the metal raven I welded with her as a model. Some folks the other day were handed off a bunch of photos as gifts and this was their favorite. They liked it better than the eagle shots, I guess.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Old Pickup Show

Seventy-five trucks! What a turnout for the second annual North Valley Old Pickup Show. Fantastic  restored classics and beat-up old working rust-buckets. WOW. We sure had fun today. I was the emcee doing interviews with truck owners and heard some awesome stories about carburetor modification and drive-in movies. This will definitely be on our radar for next year.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

First Friday in Stevi

The taproom will be packed tomorrow for First Friday celebrations and a photography show at Blacksmith Brewing Company, downtown Stevensville. I just installed this show of 30 photographs, the back wall filled with birds and my favorite, a giant print of a tiny hummingbird. Sib the falcon and I will be there starting at 5 pm, pointing and gesturing at these new images, most of which were taken 10 miles from where you will be standing (if you can make it.) Otherwise, they will be up all month, so write a check, pull them off the wall and take them home. Then Saturday, join us for the Old Pickup Truck Show in Florence starting at 9 am at the high school. Fire up that old rig and enter in the second annual gathering of lovers of American working trucks and a few restored beauties. I am the emcee along with Allie Bethea from Z100 rock station and a fun day of vehicle banter, competition and a barbeque. What a HOT couple of days!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Just Back from The Sibley Workshop

Pine Butte ROCKS! That's the Rocky Mountain Front and here is Sibley and her namesake, David, after a PowerPoint and bird program. We then tried feeding her a quail egg, but she declined, favoring a nice quail leg. I had a wonderful night by a raging fire in the cabin in the background to awake at 6 a.m. to find the car coated with ice. But a great day of birdwatching with The Master and home by 6 p.m. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Off To Choteau Tomorrow

Our seventh year in a row for the David Sibley Birding Workshop at The Nature Conservancy's Pine Butte Guest Ranch on the amazing Rocky Mountain Front. For the second year David is joined by his great friend and painter, Keith Hansen, and absolutely guarantee this will be a ball. This class fills up in about two seconds when it is announced!