Saturday, April 30, 2016

Miles Story Number Two

Miles has been a staple for our Birds And Art Workshops with teaching partner Bev Glueckert at the Missoula Art Museum for 15 years. For a week the young students learn about anatomy with our birds, have sketching sessions, then make paper mache raptors to take home, decorated in the finest fashion.  I always tell the kids that I will be over to their house in five or ten years to make sure they still have their sculptures in their bedrooms. Now the story - I was just at a convenience store in Missoula and a tall young man leaned over the counter from the cash register and asked, "You're Kate, right? I have to tell you that my mother threw my owl away when I went to college, sorry." It was a Miles paper mache sculpture, I remembered him and all is forgiven, promise.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Miles Story Number One

In 2002 Miles had a punctured cornea, his eye fluid drained and looking deathly. He may have had a dispute with his roommate Bobo the Great Horned Owl, these two males irritated with each other during breeding season, all I can think. I called our veterinarian Scott Bovard to see if he could take a look and he said to bring Miles in that evening. In the meantime, he was at Community Hospital looking for tiny suture needles for the surgery and ran into human eye doctor, Dr. James Randall. "I'll operate!" Jim volunteered. So that evening in Dr. Bovard's clinic, they sewed up the perforations, eyelid stapled shut to heal, and the Grizzly Football team winning their national championship on radio. Months later we were invited to speak in Big Sky, Montana:
Raptor Round-Up Number 13, April 2003:
Dr. Bart Martyak asked us to present a program for the Montana Academy of Ophthalmology, and Mom and I made a real trek of it. Deja the Harris's Hawk did a flight display for the doctors and guests. Buster the Saw-whet Owl made every say “awww”, but the highlight of the evening was Miles the Great Horned Owl. His eye surgeon Dr. Jim Randall was in the audience and we discussed avian vision and Miles’ full recovery from a puncture wound. They received a resounding standing ovation!
Doctors Jim and Scott are heroes, Miles the owl lived another 14 years, and my Mom had eye surgery performed by Dr. Randall years later and can see better than ever before! There's a story.

Please Remember Miles

A very sorrowful report that our Miles the Great Horned Owl has died, program favorite in hundreds and hundreds of appearances, his last one on Montana Public Radio two months ago. He spent 18 years with us after hitting a power line and was missing feathers as a result. Who knows his real age as he was an adult when he joined us, and his time as an educator will be cherished. Miles (Davis) lived with Jillian the female Great Horned and he'd been hooting up a storm and eating his mice, but was often laying down and I suspected that old age was taking its toll. Miles has great stories and I will recount a few coming up, this photo taken with film in 1999 at the old Raptor Ranch in Clinton. So sad, and love you Miles.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Raptor Round-Up Number 50!

On line now, check it out! In living color, thanks Webmaster Steve Palmer, for posting and creating our web site starting in 1990-something!

More from Last Night

I think I figured out a method of shooting these battles, and we'll see if it works. It has to do with deleting a bunch of photos…it's so fast! Check out the Osprey's feet - toes WIDE open and deadly.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Might Be a Hard One To See

Osprey attacking the male Bald Eagle tonight. That's the Osprey in the background, screaming eagle in the front: More attacks on the way, guarantee!

Hours of Nothing

I got sick of filling out numbers on the non-profit 990 tax form so headed to the beach early yesterday at 4:30. Nothing until right at dark with a change of guard and the female headed back to the nest. Oh well, very relaxing standing there with a couple of Steely Dan songs stuck in my head.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Observation Partner

My mother (in her early 80's) has become quite the Peregrine observer this season, and yesterday spotted one before I did. We witnessed a pigeon delivery to the female and I think have nailed the nest location for one pair up the Blackfoot. It's on old site from 12 or so years ago, I swear. Try another spot tomorrow and then I'll be sticking mailing labels and stamps on 200 Raptor Round-Up Newsletters. Filling out my 990 income tax forms today…yawn. You have to mix the merriment with the mundane!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Friday Fun

That's Joan Richarde at the MTPR studios yesterday, drumming up support for public radio, Pea Green Boat host Annie Garde across the glass in the control room. Please pledge your support! Tomorrow at midnight is the finale and a long way to go. We can do it!
Then Annie and I attended the dedication of the new Byron Weber Classroom at the Missoula Butterfly House and Insectarium, supercool. She's telling the story about how he had radio listeners hang sheets by their porch lights at night to collect moths. Many, many such stories from family and friends. Hard to believe but it was six years ago exactly that hundreds attended Byron's memorial service after his tragic death. He was a staple on Pea Green Boat, live (and pinned) insects and spiders on the air the last Friday of the month. More of Byron on the way.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Squirrel Feast

Last night, the male eagle brought in two fresh Colombian Ground Squirrels in less than ten minutes. How does he do it? We used to feed them to our eagles, trapped at a colony near Missoula. After a few years, our webmaster finally had the courage to ask how we ground the squirrels up, in a blender? True story. Guess he never took Mammalogy class.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Peregrine City

Lucking out on the Peregrines lately, photos from the Blackfoot - just after copulation, and the male (the one that was on top!) flew downstream and came back from a cache somewhere with this prey item. Close scrutiny and it's a duck, maybe a teal. Then Mac Donofrio and I were treated to a parade of accipiters up One Horse Creek - two Cooper's Hawks flying all over the canyon in tandem, then two Sharp-shinned Hawks, perhaps migrating north. Finally a pair of Peregrines below us on the cliff face, whew. We were getting a little worried in typical falcon-watcher fashion.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Even Better!

Tonight with the female over the nest:

April 18th

Peregrine on the Blackfoot. Bald Eagle on the Bitterroot.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Big Day in the Nest

I have the word HATCH written on my calendar in gold letters, predicting the 17th as the day the eagles would see a chick. I noted when the female disappeared in the nest, added 35 days for incubation and Sunday was the day. Here comes the male with a lovely headless Columbian Ground Squirrel, dropped off then the female stood ripping off pieces and feeding something. It will be weeks before we see the little white head or heads, but what great news. This is the sequence of year and number of young:
2011 - nest building, no young,  2012 - 2 chicks,  2013 -2 chicks,  2014 - 1 chick,  2015 - 3 chicks. This year, who knows?!

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Memorial for Bob Anderson

Our great friend Bob Anderson tragically passed away in January and a memorial in his honor at the U of M School of Law today at 4 pm. Here is a little story about his heroics from December 5, 2013:

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 -Rock Star!

Snipe Are Back!

I just heard/spotted my first snipe of the season, got out the camera and remembered this Blog from 2011 called "Snipe Do Exist:"
I pointed out a flying Wilson's Snipe  to some visitors this week, and they were surprised to learn that there really is such a thing. Apparently one of our friends was tricked into "snipe hunts" as a kid, pointless ventures into the night with a sack, a practical joke played on all kids. This was a male snipe performing an elaborate flight display marking his territory, flying high and plunging toward the ground. Special muscles fan out his tail feathers which vibrate and make a beautiful winnowing sound. Instead of the typical 12 tail feathers of other birds including sandpipers, snipe have 14 or 16 depending on subspecies. They must have a nest in the grass near the house, and this guy displays well past dark.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Passing of the Bear Man

Our dear friend Chuck Jonkel passed away Tuesday, our condolences to his family. Chuck founded the International Wildlife Film Festival, the Great Bear Foundation, and hosted dozens of trips to Churchill to see polar bears. In 2005 he did a demonstration on our deck for Chinese students that were visiting Hellgate High School, showing a grizzly telemetry collar, skins, skulls, and footprints. The Missoulian features a cover story on Chuck, "Bears Lose Best Friend," very true and he will be missed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Spring Cleaning

Time to rake out and power wash the buildings, replace pine needles, plus perch material for some. Top is the Swainson's/Rough-legged Hawk building, and lower the little owl and Sonora the Aplomado Falcon enclosures. I filled up buckets of sand down at the beach and hauled them up in the wheelbarrow. During a little break I spotted this Pileated Woodpecker eating ants in the front yard, so dashed to grab my camera off the couch. Truly a snapshot!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Airplane Ride with Erick

The weather was perfect last Thursday for a flight up to Flathead Lake, courtesy pilot Dr. Erick Greene. He knows how much I love aviation and dream of being a pilot some day. We skirted the Mission Mountains and spied on all of the potholes up by Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge, formed when the retreating glacier dropped off big ice-cycles the size of skyscrapers. So that's how those potholes were formed. He showed me the little airstrip in Polson, approach one way over the cliffs of the Flathead River, the other direction right over the lake. Thanks Erick and hope we can fly around the Big Skies again.

Sunday, April 10, 2016


Last weekend I could only find one Osprey nest occupied, and a week later all of the ones I watch from here to Metcalf NWR had at least one bird! A nest at the bird refuge had a Canada Goose, but all those goslings will hatch at once soon, bail out of the nest and leave it for any interested Ospreys. Then a pair of Ravens, one with his mouth stuffed with something interesting. Finally,  the male Bald Eagle showed up with a whitefish that he practically swallowed whole, nervous as a young eagle flew by.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Just Now

Some guests were just leaving 10 minutes ago and watching them drive away, two rooster pheasants landed in the front yard. I went to get my camera and got this instead. Heck with Bald Eagles - I'm stalking Wood Ducks in the front yard from now on! Okay, in addition to…We have a duck box right on the edge of the slough, used by Hooded Mergansers last year and maybe Wood Ducks this year.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Last Night

Another change of the guard, female flying in and taking a break from incubating. The male perched briefly on on her back then headed to the nest. Chicks around the 17th, we doggies. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

More of the Action!

Here is the male eating his meal, ravens taking over when he went to chase the young eagle. Young eagle arriving and the ravens knocking the chunk to the ground as they all watch. I can't imagine the delicacies underneath that tree. Then the raven sizing up the eagle just before he retrieved the food, and the chase began. It took me longer to type this than it actually lasted, but I'm pretty darn slow at typing.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sunday Night

Last night down at the nest the male eagle came in with some nice viscera or afterbirth, left it on a limb to go attack a young eagle only to have it swiped by two ravens. The youngster came back to pick up what was left and was attacked by the ravens. Man! All this after I stood there for over two hours without a shot. It pays to stick it out for those late evening photos, sometimes.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Lee Metcalf Nat'l Wildlife Refuge Today

Right down the road and looks who's here - Snow Geese and the first pair of Ospreys I've see this year. One on the nest platform and the other in the tree to the left, Cool!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

They're Back

One on the Bitterroot anyway. This was the first Osprey I've spotted this year, and appropriately enough, in battle with the male Bald Eagle who came out of nowhere. The Osprey had a foot-full of fish on closer inspection, maybe just passing through on the way north. This will be exciting (now and then.)