Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

Yesterday I had a birthday ski at SnowBowl and found a spartan crowd, with a few hardcore Bowl-heads  - 35 years of birthday skiing there (other than when I was in the Peace Corps in Cameroon!) In the Last Run Inn, I was delighted to find my friend from the U of M, Ken Dial and his three offspring biologists. Another family was celebrating a birthday for Sam at 17 years old with cake, candles, and all the frills, so we had a song and fun. They knew all of our Teaching Team birds from programs at Hellgate Elementary School, especially their mascot, Otto the Rough-leg. Go Hellgate Hawks! Then this morning Sonora the Aplomado Falcon was in the house and I heard jingling. She had reached into a jar and was flying back and forth from her perches with bells in her clutches. Cracked me up. Here is Sibley in the snow, and what a life we all have.  Happy New Year, and Best Wishes for 2014!

Sunday, December 29, 2013


Well, a week since Jay's Peregrine flew off to the west and pretty much giving up and think an electrocution. Anyone who has lost an animal friend knows that loss, like Rudy the retriever to the right that died of cancer. We enjoy them so much while they are our companions, and I'll never forget the first time I lost a bird. A neighbor told me, "Every time you care for an animal, it can end in heartbreak." But it's well worth every treasured minute.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Missing Bird

My friend Jay lost this young Peregrine Falcon in the Bitterroot Valley on Sunday, and if you see her, let me know- raptors@montana.com or call Jay at 240-2766.  We've been looking ever since and haven't gotten a signal on her two telemetry transmitters, which is very discouraging. We fear she landed on a power transformer - fatal.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Snowy, Sunny Day with Steve

I had a long visit with Steve Hoffman today, on the shortest day of the year - Winter Solstice. Steve is the founder of HawkWatch International and Director of Montana Audubon, and a hero. We met back at the original Raptor ranch in Clinton, twenty-something years earlier. I was having a streak of bad luck with the death of a bird, a few nightmare programs, and trouble with funding. He gave me what we refer to as "The Pep Talk," and I play it back in my head any time I need to a cheering up. Today we started with a duck hunt with the Peregrine and an impressive mallard capture in "5 or 6 seconds" admits Steve. Not what I had in mind, but still pretty cool. Then a little tour and he met the new kestrels and Sonora the Aplomado Falcon. He had great stories of wild Aplomado's chasing any raptor that flew by on the Mexican Coast, so I guess a family trait and not just this bird. Yep, we could both talk raptors all day long, and night too.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The Peregrine Fund Cards

Our pals in Boise, The Peregrine Fund, chose this image for their Christmas cards this year. Inside, they wrote about the American Kestrel Partnership, and then this explanation of the somewhat puzzling  photo: "An American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) hid all bit the tail of a Western Jumping Mouse (Zapus princeps) as Kate Davis took the photo. Her work is featured at www.raptorsoftherockies.com and in a new book about kestrels in 2014."  Cool! It was mammalogy professor Kerry Foresman who identified the mysterious prey. "A Jumping Mouse, fresh out of hibernation." He has a fantastic book out, Mammals of Montana, available everywhere. It's from Mountain Press Publishing, who did three of my previous books, plus one on  the kestrels. One big, happy family. The Peregrine Fund also chose one my photos for their 2014 calendar. I'll post that in March, our month!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Public Radio Rules!

The Pea Green Boat has set sail every weekday at 4 pm since I can remember, more than 30 years of childrens' programming courtesy Montana Public Radio. Digging way back in the filing cabinet, I found that our first appearance was in May 1993, with host Marcia Dunn. I had Max the Golden Eagle, our first Red-tail and Great Horned Owl, and Crackity Jones, the W. Screech Owl (for you Pixies fans.)
Yes, live birds on the radio, I know. But it works and we are guests every two months with Skipper Annie Garde, pictured here in the studio in 2007 with Sib, and interviewing Jay Sumner's bird. She has been playing songs and stories, reading to the listeners, and having guests, children and adults for ten years plus. It's called childrens' programming but we sure have a lot of grown-ups tuning in as well. So tomorrow set sail for an hour starting at 4 pm MST. We'll have the debut of our new kestrels, a Great Horned Owl and Otto the Rough-leg. STREAMING LIVE around the planet - http://kufm.org/ and hit Listen Live at the top! Dan Varland in Hoquiam, WA will be tuned in.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Airborne Friends

For some reason, the Peregrine always seems to have a little fun with Northern Harriers in the sky. That's Sibley below, and just goofing off. Other falcons like Prairies and Peregrines are not always so amicable, but usually nothing to worry about. Hey, check us out on Montana Public Radio on Thursday at 4 p.m., and more news on the way.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Grey Day Falcon

This Prairie Falcon has been hanging around across the river, and a launch sequence today. No, it's not four flying together, although that would be a sight! I'm even squeezing a Prairie Falcon photo in the new kestrel book - one flying out of a cave on a cliff. She was exploring nest options back in March, and unfortunately never saw her back at that scenic spot. Blog on March 30th.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Another Photo of the Goshawk

Wish I could have gotten some shots of the female Northern Harrier that was on the attack here. She persisted until they both disappeared to the south. Hey, it's a great gift idea to purchase some raptor photos, one of our four books, adopt a Teaching Team member, or make a tax-free donation. Easy to do. Send me an email - raptors@montana.com. We love our Raptor Backers, the best folks in the world! You know who you are...and we would love to have new friends join the family.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


Just had a nice flight with the Peregrines here in the Bitterroot Valley and saw this Great Horned Owl out wondering what he was doing on a goose platform. And a young female Goshawk fleeing from a Harrier. Raptors everywhere.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Get Comfortable

It's going to be a long winter!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Slave to Cyberspace

Our internet has been out since I posted the last blog, so got lots of real work done instead of goofing off. This photo was just found in the July archives - a kestrel fledging and leaping from the nest, sibling still in the cavity to the left, and it will appear in the book. A great nest at the MPG Ranch, and thanks Kate Stone for directing me that way for my camera to record the activities. Temperatures are now warming up so three birds are back outside, fed mice heated by the wood stove. We're glad to get through that arctic event unscathed.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Our Living Room

With overnight temperatures of negative 10 or so degrees, we have a houseload of birds. Top is Sonora the Aplomado on her perch on the bookshelf with a Nick Dunlop photo and some bear skulls.  Yes, that's a stuffed duck to the right, one that Sibley caught and Dale Manning mounted. Then below, kennels with the Saw-whet Owl and kestrel, Sibley the Peregrine on her perch on the right, plus some of my metal sculptures in between. In the back bedroom, iPod the Pygmy-owl, and thankfully no owl vocalizations all night. Plus I took the bells off the falcons, a happy family. Outside, everyone is getting fed a few times a day, and warming up to zero!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Female Kestrel

For the new book, IN THE WORKS! Three chapters down and 70 photos selected. Nothing but fun.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nigel- Eagle Spokesman

I'm sure you've read the headlines and heard the news, "Utility Company Sentenced in Wyoming for Killing Protected Birds at Wind Projects," November 22nd and the shot heard 'round the world! Our friend Bob Anderson is Senior Counsel for the Environmental Crimes Section of the U.S. Dept. of Justice, based right here in Missoula. We met about ten or so years ago, pals with our mutual passion for birds...and movies. Last year he asked that I visit his downtown office with Nigel, as some folks would like to meet a live Golden Eagle. He wouldn't tell me who these people were, despite my curiosity and prodding, and only last week did I find out. They were with Duke Energy Corp., the North Carolina company fined $1 million for killing 14 Golden Eagles and 149 other protected birds at two wind farms in Wyoming. The prosecutor? Our Bob Anderson. He sent me the press release and wrote, "Do you remember our meeting in my office several months ago? This is the outcome of that negotiation." Nigel apparently made the right kind of impression that day. This was the first ever criminal enforcement for killing birds at wind farms, and Bob was also the prosecutor for the first electrocution case, Moon Lake in 1999. Justice has been served, and thanks Bob and Nigel, both Rock Stars!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Winter Arrives

Winter has hit, and a predicted 9 degrees below zero by Friday night. So several birds will be in the house, including the Pygmy-owl, one kestrel, Aplomado, and maybe Peregrine. The Harris's Hawk seems to love the snow!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

And Now, For Something Completely Different...

A raptor tour today for the Agostino Family, and their 7 year old son, Jason. When Sonora the Aplomado Falcon took off on her last (and final) road trip, it was young Jason that found her. By radio telemetry, I had located the wayward bird that night just after dark a few miles from the house. Panicking and knocking on the door, I informed the Agostino family that my lost falcon was in their back yard.  I would be back before light the next morning to try to get her back. With the receiver beeping loudly at dawn, I called Jay on my cell phone to say I had found Sonora and hoped to get her back right away.  Young Jason was standing at my side and was trying to tell me a story. A story I thought, then I re-played what he had just said. "Kate, when you were talking on the phone, a bird flew by and every time it flapped it's wings, it would make a jingling sound." It didn't strike me for a second or two, and then I asked. "Like a bell?!" "Yes, a bell." Jason had found Sonora for which he will go down in the annals of Raptors of the Rockies history as a hero. Oh, and here's a photo of Mookie racing around.