Monday, May 30, 2016

This Friday and Yesterday

The Art Opening with all new photos in conjunction with the Audubon Bird Festival, and young Bighorn ram and ewe on Wildhorse Island this weekend, thanks host Barry Gordon!

Friday, May 27, 2016

15 Years

I am working on my Powerpoint for next week's Montana Audubon Bird Festival keynote and love this comparison - 2001 and fifteen years of growing trees and shrubs! I always tell visitors that all those Ponderosa Pine trees fit in my car at one point, and thanks to Bitterroot Restoration for the shrubs. And a journaling/sketching session with the 2nd graders at Sussex School and Alisa the model hawk yesterday. I know the highlight of their day was letting the pigeons out of the coop to fly all over the place.
AND the male eagle bringing in a small tree!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Might be my favorite ever launch shot, and notice the loose feather flying to her left side. Plus an attack shot by a Red-tail to the male. Whew.

Monday, May 23, 2016


Standing in the light rain for an hour last evening, I was thinking time to head back to the house. Just then the male came flying in with what looked like a bale of hay! The female at the top of the tree watched with mild interest, and I left as the rain kicked in.  I often wonder what I'm doing down there when the weather and light conditions are so poor, then will get nice behavior shots like these (but more often than not, nothing!)

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Five Weeks Old

Last night, and the second chick was in the background there somewhere, five weeks old today. Fledging in early July!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Wednesday and Thursday

Check out the Future Leaders of the Free World, Girl Scout Troop #3609 of Stevensville with Mookie. They donated part of their cookie sales to ROTR, wonderful kids. Parents wanted a group shot right away and I said to wait and take it with the penguin. Several girls shrieked in delight and I hope they weren't too disappointed that the penguin was made of steel and not the real thing. Then that's Ansel the Gyrfalcon/Peregrine hybrid on a perch in the KUFM studios just before we went on the air. He was quit talkative, and then I played a dozen recordings from my laptop that I had been making at the Raptor Ranch since our last visit. I'm going to figure out how to post some of those - you HAVE to hear the Barking Owl! Thanks Erick Greene for loan of the equipment, quite a project for the past two months.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Montana Public Radio Tomorrow

Thursday May 19th at 4 pm MST sharp! Playing a bunch of recordings from the Raptor Ranch, plus Ansel, Evita, and little Owen with host Annie Garde. It's left on the dial, 89.1 FM in Missoula and streaming live across the planet at
Plus here's an eagle photo from tonight.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Spotted Sandpiper Battle

Almost better than an Osprey/Bald Eagle confrontation!

Crummy Light

The last three evenings have been cloudy and dark, but I was bundled up on the beach still hoping for an Osprey fly-by. Instead I got some take-offs and landings, but did witness several smaller battles- Spotted Sandpipers trying to kill each other, and posts to come!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

At the Metcalf

Driving home from the grand opening of the new Skatepark in Stevi, these guys were in the refuge. (No, I wasn't doing tricks on my skateboard, although I wish I could. Just taking photos and visiting with old friends.) Wilson's Snipe, Hooded Mergansers and Gobbler.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


And the chicks are almost a month old.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Peregrines and Geese

Peregrine watching with my Mom today up the Blackfoot River and a nice man walking his dog asked what we were looking at. When I told him, he said that about 8 years ago all these people with spotting scopes and binoculars were at the cliff by Bonner "watching Peregrines catch salmonflies." That was me and Erick Greene and family! I showed him the photos in the "Falcons of North America" book that were taken that day, then big pats on the back and now we are fast friends. Small world. Plus a flotilla of baby geese floating through the Blackfoot rapids as Mom and I left. She spotted them first, plus one of the Peregrines in  flight so Sally Phillips wins for the day.


Clouds-sun-clouds last evening and a fish and squirrel delivery. Here the parents are taking a break but watching the nest below. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Bird Guide

Who else started with one of these? I just bought a new copy at The Book Exchange in Missoula for $2.50 and brought my old-rubberband-bound-falling-apart copy from 5th grade to show those folks. "What a well-loved book," they decided. I always stuffed that copy in the back of my pants with my 8 x 35 Bushnell binoculars in the front of my shirt, thanks Mom and Dad. A bit more sophisticated now, but still one of my favorites, especially nostalgic. A great gift for the kids, then get the Sibley Guide to Birds after that, okay?

Eagle News

A photo from just now showing from left to right, the newly installed shade cloth, Sonny the Bald Eagle with the snowy MPG Ranch in the background, Nigel flying over to join him, Max on his perch and swallow box and bird activity on the fence. But mainly, look at that high water in the Bitterroot River! I'm afraid I won't be able to take my evening strolls to the beach soon. Below is a snapshot from a  Bushnell Trophy Cam in the enclosure, an experiment by Brian Woodbridge of USFWS Golden Eagle Conservation in Yreka, California. We put a colored band on Max, and the camera lets us know if it can be read by these trail-cams installed at bait stations. The problem is the feathered legs on Golden Eagles, covering the important part. Max is our Guinea Pig, and hey - it's science.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Fun Weekend

That's the Bald Eagle nest right over Mookie the Black's head, and still have just seen two chicks. One year I didn't see the third until it was over a month old, but I wasn't paying this much attention! Then the Wood Duck female flew into the Pileated Woodpeckers' nest from last year, a White-breasted Nuthatch checking it out, and a kestrel down the lane. Lots to photograph these days.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Two Chicks, For Sure

Last night I finally got both chicks posing, three weeks old today (the one on the left, the other one hatched 2 days later.) When I was photographing the birds for my 2013 book "Bald Eagle Nest" that was FOUR young. Try getting all four to pose at once, not gonna happen. It eventually did but three would be standing, the fourth starting to enter the picture and one would always lay back down again! Made me scream. Here the chicks are fed some scrumptious ground squirrel.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Bad Choice, Dude

A surprise today to find these Ospreys trying to build a nest in a terrible spot on this power pole, the male bringing in sticks snapped off near the ground for 20 minutes. Then this other female Osprey flew in to stir things up for some reason. I can't believe the Ospreys this year, eight nests between Lee Metcalf NWRefuge in Stevensville and my house, several in new locations.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Favorites the Last Two Days

A couple of shots, hours with nothing but the first is the male eagle splitting the scene. Tonight he was fleeting a menacing female Merlin, a surprise to see. Then for the second time I saw a female Wood Duck fly 100 miles an hour into the Pileated Woodpecker nest from last year-  wow, no photos yet. I saw my first Lewis's Woodpecker of the season, first ever California Quail on the river, and this beautiful Spotted Sandpiper cavorting on a log. So not a total waste of time!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Upon Reviewing the Photos...

I discovered a second chick in the nest, little dark eyes peering from beneath the female! And here is the first sucker delivery, one more after this and finally some nice viscera, all by the male. What a guy.

Chick Fest

Thanks everyone for the great outpouring of love for Miles the Greatest Owl and appreciate the kind words and thoughts. Still hard to believe he is gone. But not forgotten as they say.
This afternoon I put special effort and hours into checking out the Bald Eagle nest as it would be two weeks today since a chick hatched. I can finally say one, and I think a second one was in the shadows. Female feeding and male taking a drink after bringing in two FISH and not squirrels, back to back and looked like suckers. The fish, I mean. This is getting more and more fun.