Friday, October 31, 2014

Flash From the Past

Dylan's mom sent a card and photo back in 2007. This was in our Raptor Round-Up Neswsletter #26!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Happy Halloween!

Jillian the Great Horned Owl's very first program at an elementary school in Hamilton, 2003 on Halloween. The kids made spooky drawings. Scary!  

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Books Have Landed!

Our new book from Mountain Press Publishing Company is here, and just in time for the holidays. And for our program for Leadership Missoula tomorrow. I added this slide to that PowerPoint - American Kestrel: Pint-Sized Predator. That's a great title and one made up in a brainstorm at Mountain Press, brilliant.  Love these folks. Order your copy today, $23 to Kate Davis for one in the mail. Act now and get a free bookmark!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Aspens 2014

Every year I marvel at this little grove of aspen trees.  Bright orange and red leaves, and a a chance to break out the wide angle lens. Ten minutes later, Sib flying with the Kootenai Crags on the horizon. What a great time of year!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Jay's Bird

Jay Sumner's new Peregrine Falcon today in her first ever stoop on a wild pheasant! The pheasant flew away and she didn't. Great bird.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Out My Window

We drive over to the Rocky Mountain Front looking for these, and just turned around in my chair in the house, got this snapshot through the window today.  A nice Ring-necked Pheasant in the yard.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Kestrel Books Are Here!

Mountain Press Publishing reports that the books have landed. "Right On, Brother!" I call this photo from the pages. I sent our friend David Allen Sibley of field guide fame an advance copy to review and he wrote:
"Incredible photography is the centerpiece of this book and it will immediately grab your attention: alternately awe-inspiring, intimate, humorous, surprising, and familiar. It is like flipping through the pages of the Kestrel family photo album, with text that complements the photographs, telling the full story behind each moment. Kestrels are overflowing with charisma, and Kate Davis and Rob Palmer have managed to capture that elusive charm in this fitting tribute to a remarkable little falcon."
Thanks David, and order now - get a free bookmark!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Lake County Leader

That's the name of the newspaper, and headlines are a new one for us. Truly, kids to the ceiling in Polson with over 700 k-4. The next page has a few more photos and students watching the program, entitled "Rapt Up." Once someone asked if we supplied our own boats, "Rafters of the Rockies." My favorite was many years ago, a woman from Grizzly Peak retirement home called the house looking for me to schedule a return visit. She asked Tom if would sing AND dance. "Rappers of the Rockies." We are usually just the plain old "Enraptured in the Rockies."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

New T-shirts!

Yep. Our little bird in flight, a question from a bunch of people on Facebook: "What is that new T-shirt that people were sporting at the Festival of the Book?" Our first new shirt in many years and order one today. Bet we could mail you one for $20 bucks. A fundraiser for ROTR!

Happy Birthday, Dizzy!

I loaded the six CD changer (how 20th century) with John Birks "Dizzy" Gillespie this morning to honor his birthday, and now enjoying "Dizzy For President," the 1963 Monterey Jazz Festival. The kestrel has nothing to do with it, but I'll bet Dizzy would approve. So would Charlie "Bird" Parker. Bebop rules.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Photo from Ken

My old autocross buddy, Ken Stolz got this at the Festival of the Book. Definition of confusion: "Hawking" kestrel books with an Aplomado Falcon!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Beach Saga

Right when I arrived on the beach last night, this Osprey took potshots at the Bald Eagle cowering amongst the limbs, then swooped on a distant perched Osprey. What are they still doing here? Adult Ospreys migrate before the young birds and maybe these are birds from Canada. A close look at some photos showed it to be a female (necklace of dark feathers) with a big crop, so full of fish. When she landed I could see the scalloped plumage pattern on her back, light edges to the feathers meaning young bird, or hatch-year. Yes, those are Killdeer in the background. Another saga, captured on film. I mean digitally.

Saturday, October 18, 2014


Another From Texas

A wild Harris's Hawk, thanks to my brief tour of the King Ranch in Texas by Tom Langschied (below.) I think this was the first HH I've seen in the wild, just the one in our yard every day. Then a photo from Hazel Bazemore with waves of Broad-winged Hawks and a thousand Wood Storks overhead. Tom looks great but I look like I'm worrying about how to get back to the hotel, pack, and get a ride to the airport. A great Raptor Research Foundation Conference in Corpus Christi, thanks everyone! Sacramento in 2015, whew.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 15th

The eagle pair was back at the nest tree last night, junior nowhere to be seen. He's out doing his thing, I guess. The storm came through earlier in the day. That's right over the eagle trees, and looks like a flying owl to me. See it? Okay, maybe not but dramatic clouds.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Red-tails Rock!

Red-tailed Hawks are familiar to everyone, "conspicuous and widespread" according to David Sibley who featured one on the cover of his first edition field guide. It seems even more widespread as the symbol for Apple Mail. But this particular Red-tail was carrying a snake, cool. My trusty Golden guide makes me think it's an unlucky Western Racer.
Join us tomorrow (Thursday)  at 4:00-5:00 pm MST for our bi-monthly appearance on Montana Public Radio, the Pea Green Boat with Annie Garde. We'll have three birds, no snakes, and streaming live on the internet everywhere: - hit Listen Live at the top. See you then!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Sandhill Cranes

Love the cranes, and just saw an Osprey at the river behind the house. It looked like he was taking pot-shots at a hidden Bald Eagle that I could hear protesting. The latest we've ever seen an Osprey here was last year in mid-November. Procrastinating, I'm sure.

Monday, October 13, 2014

New Falcon

My friend Jay Sumner and I have been flying birds together for a dozen years, and he has a new one  this season. Her Bitterroot debut was yesterday and a very promising start! She's a young anatum Peregrine, the Rocky Mountain subspecies, and a brown beauty. That's a back-pack radio transmitter and antennae, something we might try with Sibley. Our duck season is the same as gun-hunters, but upland game bird extends to the end of March. Let me know if you have some ducks or pheasants to chase around.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Saturday Today

Today at The Festival of the Book with our publisher John Rimel, Sonora the Aplomado and another great Mountain Press author, Donna Love. Then the the rainbow when I got home. Hey, did you see that eclipse the other morning? I had to set the alarm, as unlike a lot of my friends, I don't usually awaken at 5 am. I should be up by 6 or 7 anyway and they all say, "the best time of the day."  

Friday, October 10, 2014

Great Falls Meeting

Program: Avian Interactions with Power Lines: Montana Working Group, Great Falls. Host: Sam Milodragovich, NorthWestern Energy. Star: Nigel the Golden Eagle. Nigel was placed on a prop crossarm with three insulators to judge the wingspan that eagles have and can be electrocuted.  Immediately our bird hopped up on the insulators, pictured here, and they aren't supposed to do that I found out. Perch on the wood instead... Fantastic meeting of the minds and glad to learn all about power lines and the huge efforts to prevent such bird deaths and power outages. I even learned how huge flocks of perched starlings and blackbirds can suddenly lift off and wreak havoc with rural power companies, as lines entangle and short out. Lots to think about, and the first such annual gathering. Thanks Sam, and to co-hosts Montana Electric Cooperatives and Montana Audubon.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

One More Snapshot

Another of Sib, her 12th season of hunting, and out of curiosity I just counted the number of programs she has done with Raptors of the Rockies. 442! The winner. Check out that molt - she just lost a two-year-old primary 10 today, for you feather experts.

Off to Great Falls with Nigel the Golden Eagle for the "Avian Interactions with Power Lines" workshops. Then the Festival of the Book, downtown Missoula at the Holiday Inn on Saturday, 9:30 am. A PowerPoint and 4 birds, plus books on sale including the brand new American Kestrel: Pint-sized Predator, the only copies in the Western Hemisphere so far. The rest should arrive in a few weeks.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

First Annual RRF Photo Competition

The Grand Prize Winner at the conference was...drum roll please... Erik Hedlin (University of Alberta student). Erik's description of the photo: "This juvenile rough-legged hawk was just banded and put to the side as we worked on his siblings. The banding is part of some on-going research that's looking at the ecology of raptors breeding in the area around Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, Canada." Thanks to Nick Dunlop and Rob Palmer for helping me judge, and a difficult choice in the end. Erik won a $100 gift certificate at Buteo Books and an invitation to enter again next year!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Resident Red-tail

This bird is here all year, we think nesting just south - a dark phase (or morph) Red-tail photo from last night. Middle, our program Red-tail Alisa - a red-phase! Plus there are Krider's Red-tails, white birds breeding in eastern Montana that are another sub-species. And we see dark Harlan's Hawks (bottom photo) all winter. Red-tails keep birdwatchers on their toes.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Nice Red-tail

This light Red-tailed Hawk was soaring over Lee Metcalf Refuge today, totally white tail with the red on the tip, white ventral feathers and a dark little collar. Cool bird and yet another color variation of our most common and beloved buteo.
News Flash! Identified by Joseph Dane of HawkWatch International and Jerry Liguori, author Hawks From Every Angle = Harlan's Hawk! Usually black morphs around here, and this signals fall, as this sub-species of Red-tail migrates from Alaska and Canada, with us in the winter months. Even cooler!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Linderman and Cherry Valley

What a program - 700 kids k-4 from two cool schools in Polson on Flathead Lake!  Our friend Luan Atkinson hired us for an appearance at Stevensville Elementary 20-something years ago, then we had an appearance 10 years ago for a combination of both schools at Linderman. Here they are and my first ever program with a bucket and mop at the ready, next to the tables. Excellent audience and the Junior Zoologists will probably be "hooting like owls" all weekend, so sorry parents. Linderman mascots are the Purple Pirates, the popular color, and it felt like a Prince concert, sort of.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Old Crib?

Here was a three-year-old female Bald Eagle looking into the nest in the back yard tonight. Maybe one that fledged in 2011 and back to her crib? We'll never know and she fled in an instant when a magpie landed above. Still rockin' on the beach.

Savage Tragedy

This may not be the place to vent, but we are devastated by the savage mauling of our cat Luna, killed in our driveway by our next-door neighbor's four dogs. His dogs get out of the fence and harass our birds, several times teaming up on the eagles on three sides. Monday as I was unpacking from the conference they attacked our sweet cat Luna. I had our veterinarians examine the body -wounds included punctures to abdomen and thorax. Luna slept on my legs every night, adopted from the Humane Society along with her sister Audrey eleven years ago. Happier news to follow, I promise, but we are so sad. She was family.
PS: Two of them were just now barking at the eagles, causing them to crash into the fence!
PSS:  Officially charged with "vicious dogs" and "dogs at large."