Friday, February 28, 2014

Blizzard Conditions!

Once again, five birds in the house tonight with the blizzard outside. No letting up for days and Chesty the Harris's Hawk in the snow in slightly better weather. We'd never let her cruise the yard with these high winds, whew!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Dog Fight By the Penguin

Mookie and Peanut are really just playing, but look at that snow! Blizzard warnings now through the weekend, so no skiing and home for a write captions (sub-titles I like to call them) for the new kestrel book. All the layout is finished, and 100 photos from me and Rob Palmer. Below my welded Red-tail sculpture in the yard and what a winter.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

9 to 5

No kidding, the eagles on the river behind the house left the nest at 9 a.m. sharp heading straight west, and returned exactly at 5 p.m. coming in from the same direction. Wonder if they have a job in the Bitterroots? Tromped through knee-deep snow to get this one tonight.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Dumping in Montana!

Sonora standing on her perch by the window, with all her toys on the sill and lizard in her clutches. It's dumping and we are hunkering down for now. Eight inches of new powder right now, the Florence snow band. MONDAY: Luckily Pat to the rescue to plow us out this afternoon!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Cover Girl

Sibley in action made the cover of American Falconry this week. A lucky shot...and unlucky duck.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Radio Day Tomorrow

Every two months we are thrilled to "appear" on the radio,  Montana Public Radio and the childrens' programming show Pea Green Boat with host and dear friend Annie Garde. We always pick a Thursday as I get to listen to Jazz Sessions with Terry Conrad on the 30 minute drive into town. So tomorrow is the BIG day with Nigel the Golden Eagle joining us in the studio, his first time in years, plus Sibley the Peregrine and one more, to be decided in the morning. Must be an owl! This is our favorite hour, and see them all. Live and steaming on the web across the planet at and hit the Listen Live on the top right. 4-5 p.m. Mountain Standard Time, and the middle of the night in Australia. We'll talk about winter raptors, like this Harlan's Hawk in the Bitterroot: See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Numbers for 2013

            Every year we tally up the total number of appearances per bird for our federal and state permits, and no surprise that Sibley wins again, followed by Owen, and Miles and Alisa tied for the bronze. The new kestrels had one each, just officially joining us in mid December. And little Sonora had 67 programs in just a half a year. I predict she will be a gold medal contender for 2014.

Eagle Exhibition Permit                                                                               
             Golden Eagle  #1                 “Max” - 68
             Golden Eagle  #2                 “Nigel” - 73                 
             Bald Eagle                            “Sonny” -  67
Possession Permit
             Rough-legged Hawk            “Otto” -  68   
             Swainson’s Hawk                 “Evita” -  68   
             Red-tailed Hawk                   “Alisa”-  78                
             Sharp-shinned Hawk           “Margo” -  68
             American Kestrel                  “Jaydub” - 68
             Gyrfalcon/Peregrine             “Ansel” -  67
             N. Pygmy-Owl                       “iPod” - 75   
             N. Saw-whet Owl                 “Owen” -  79                                      
             Barred Owl                           “Graham” - 70    
             Great Horned Owl #1          “Miles”-  78  
             Great Horned Owl #2          “Jillian” - 75                
Falconry Permit                                 
             Harris’s Hawk  #2               “Chesty” -  67  
             Peregrine Falcon               “Sibley” -  84
             Aplomado  Falcon             “Sonora” - 67

Monday, February 17, 2014

Northern Goshawk Release

This male goshawk was found in a pigeon loft in Darby on Feb 4th by Richard Burnett, falconer and game bird breeder and was sent over here for rehab. He had a severe injury to his left back toe, probably caught in the netting. Our veterinarian friend Dr. Mike Smith decided that the only option was to amputate that "hallux." He was a robust bird, about three years old, and one that we felt would have great chances at survival missing that toe. So he spent 6 days over here in the extreme cold, starting out in a small heated enclosure. He devoured quail like nobody's business, next was transferred to an outdoor building and then was cut loose back in Darby. Maybe he'll still harass those pigeons, and Richard said, "Bring it on!"

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Eye To the Sky

A pheasant hunt today and Sibley the Peregrine spied an eagle in the sky. She took a little breather on a goose platform after cruising for over an hour. What a bird!

Friday, February 14, 2014


My SnowBowl pal Caroline Lonski has an amazing bird, and told me this ring-necked dove has been in her family nearly as long as our little raptor program has been in existence. She got her in 1989 as an adult so perhaps even older than we think. We found out that the longevity record for a dove is one week shy of thirty years. This one will beat that, we're sure. My friend Kenny Sterner in Wyoming kept a Red-tailed Hawk that lived 37 1/2 years. Hey, Max our Golden Eagle turns 25 this spring, Chesty the Harris's Hawk 24.  And those new kestrels Ella and Wes aren't even a year old yet. What a commitment...We love it!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

More Winter

I had a big conference call this morning about, what else? - the Raptor Research Foundation Conference in September in Corpus Christi, Texas. I am the sort-of-newish Conference Chair, the first one on my own since Libby Mojica stepped down. But not at all on my own, with great help from RRF pals across the country. The whole hour and a half I was on the call, this kestrel was bombing the yard, in battle with a few magpies, and generally thumbing his nose at me. I finally got to chase him around in the snow, a photo we needed for the new book: winter AMKE's. Hope he sticks around.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sonora in the Winter

Electricity is your friend - when heating buildings that house desert birds, and it can be your hated enemy when it fails, like last week.  I left Sonora the Aplomado Falcon in her enclosure overnight,  heated perch and 100 watt red bulb overhead in low temps to awaken suddenly at 2 a.m. with a bad feeling. That bulb had just burned out, so inside she came. Then last night, the extension cord failed so we ran another one from the house. Whew. With negative 20 degrees for several days, she had a nice perch in the back bedroom, five other birds inside, and thankfully no owls calling to each other in the dark. Currently, 45 degrees, so safe for now.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Beat the Rush

Order your Bald Eagle nest boxes today!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Eagles in the Snow

Today the pair at the river were discussing the weather. Light snow at noon and now picking up.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Max the Eagle

Max the Golden Eagle would really like me to unload the bucket of beef heart meat RIGHT now for him and the other two eagles. Cold weather below zero and time to eat. He turns 25 this spring, has done about a thousand programs over the years, and a favorite in school assemblies. Good boy!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Freezin' Cold

A snapshot of the thermometer after it had warmed up a bit this morning, and Alisa the Red-tail (currently thawing out in the living room.) Birds all over the house - three falcons, a hawk and one owl. Meteorologist Bryan Henry report: "The North Pole is sitting at -15 degrees, which is "warmer" than half of the state of Montana currently. Yes, it's as cold as the Denver Broncos' Superbowl game plan."
UPDATE: Now two owls inside, the little ones, and -47 degrees in West Yellowstone today!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Not Quite a Grown-Up

This Bald Eagle was just in the back yard, creating a stir with our resident flock. When I blew up the image, I noticed that his/her beak and eye weren't bright yellow. That's the sign of full-blown adult, six years of age. I wonder if this guy was just passing through and will watch and see how the two at the nest react. They should be defending their territory, and are already mating.