Saturday, July 30, 2016

Rufous Hummingbird

Parade of Birds

Last night I started the evening with an Osprey/Bald Eagle battle, but couldn't get them both in the same frame because it was too close! We had a few of those, an eagle ate a fish on a log in the river, parents and one youngster back at the nest tree, and one just sunning and begging until dark. We also enjoyed a parade of Common Nighthawks and two kingfishers chasing each other all over the place. I even said, "This is fun," out loud to the dogs.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Beginners Luck

I have two hummingbird feeders by my office and finally had to go out and try to capture a bird battle in the yard. These are the first burst of photos, I swear - six frames per second with the Nikon D800 and 6400th/second shutter speed. It's a Black-chinned and young Rufous Hummingbird having a few words.

July 28

Thursday, July 28, 2016

"Check the Radar"

I misjudged the weather pattern moving in last night and was caught in a torrential down-pour on the beach, a half inch of rain in nothing flat. Fortunately I had a little raincoat in a pocket so stood beneath a big cottonwood tree hovering over my camera bag. I was advised to check the radar on the computer next time the clouds are questionable, thanks Tom. Crazy July weather we've been having and it's keeping things nice and green, photo of the front yard. And an eagle with a sucker after the rain.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016


Girls Using Their Strengths (GUTS!) from the YMCA (Young Men's Christian Association - bet you always wondered about that acronym) and Watershed Education Network (WEN) spent the day at the ranch and river. We were all studying aquatic life, invasive species and raptors. I know I learned a bunch from WEN instructors Debbie Fassnacht and Heidi Sedivy and the dogs were spoiled rotten with hugs. Then back to the beach for three kestrels and some eagles before dark. Tough job but somebody has to do it.

Monday, July 25, 2016


The male eagle landed right over my head tonight and I had to walk out into the river to get this shot. Full frame, 700 mm lens and only cropped a bit off the top of the photo. Now that's close!

Couple of Couples

Some nice Killdeer in the last sunlight of the day on the beach, and a chat between father and daughter.
We just received a matching grant from the Cinnabar Foundation, our longest-running Raptor Backer and with a sponsorship of our non-profit Raptors of the Rockies program, your money will be doubled. Your name will be on the Backers page and newsletter, plus receive a nice gift in the mail. Our address is P.O. Box 250, Florence, MT 59833 or go to the web site and hit the DONATE button:

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Not Too Spooky

One eagle was perched right over my favorite photography spot last night, and while I was trying to get a close-up portrait, the other one came in for a landing. Startling! Here they are watching the dogs, and the other photo is from a minute ago. One has been perched on the eagle building, Sonny the eagle below with the MPG Ranch across the river in the background. These birds are sure used to us.
And THANKS to all of our friends at Bannack State Park yesterday for a fun program, and hope you like the new book!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Peregrines Over the Blackfoot

One Blackfoot River eyrie was very active today with three fledglings chasing each other in the blue skies and high winds over and over again, what a sight! Goofing off then pursuing a parent when he/she came in with food, the teenagers...

Friday, July 22, 2016

See You In Bannack

Tomorrow is our semi-annual trip to the Big Hole Valley and Bannack State Park, our favorite ghost town. I'll have Sib the Peregrine riding shotgun, plus Alisa the Red-tail, and iPod and Jillian the famous owls. The program starts at 2 pm sharp in the campground and the folks from Dillon and Butte flock to the park for their Saturday talks. I'll have plenty of swag, including Aplomado t-shirts and Birds Are People, Too books. Here is a story from my trip ten years ago with Rob Domenech and Nigel the Golden Eagle. Ten years? Seems like yesterday, or last week, anyway.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sky Trials

Last night the two eagles were hanging tight at the nest tree, then an Eastern Kingbird attack - check out the red head stripe on the songbird, something you hardly ever see. Today, two of the three Peregrine fledglings across the valley at the top of One Horse Creek, showing up after a short (!) 3 hour plus wait on the cliff. Mac Donofrio and his friend Cecilia from Ecuador and I waited it out, and Mac said, "Give it 15 minutes, it's the magic 1 pm hour."  Then the screaming and stoops began. Good call and perfect, except for my placement on the cliff site, far from the action, oh well. We swear that they all looked the same size and larger than one adult. Three females?

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


I was just looking for a photo from the Bald Eagle nest and book of 2011 and came across something I had never noticed. The top photo is a European Starling stealing some nesting material. Then 20 minutes later, the adult with a nice starling for the chicks! That will teach him, the sneak-thief. I actually saw the adult bring in several starlings, plus pigeons, ducks, baby Canada Geese, and Eastern Fox and Columbian Ground Squirrels. How the heck does such a huge bird catch a little starling, and why?

Monday, July 18, 2016


Pyramid Printing in Missoula just produced a bunch of greeting cards, 33 images in all and now at Rockin Rudy's and the Good Food Store in Missoula.  For the last dozen years I have been printing them on a sturdy Epson Stylus 88 (now on our third printer) then cutting and folding. Now expertly produced and check them out, all proceeds to benefit Raptors of the Rockies. I have been pals with Rockin' Rudy AKA Bruce Micklus since the first record store in the '80's when I bought all his Ultravox LP's. Rudy's is still selling vinyl at Record Heaven on Higgins. A few years ago two little boys were here at the house whispering and staring at my turntable. One finally asked, "What's that?" When I showed them a record they said, "Oh, yea. My mom uses those to keep squirrels off the bird feeder."

More Merganser

 Bet I took a hundred photos of this bird (maybe not that many) trying to catch the "water off a duck's back" shot and got a bunch, plus lots of submerged nothings. Thank goodness for digital and DELETE.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Saturday Night On the Beach

The happenin' spot. One of the fledgling eagles is currently perched on our eagle enclosure and definitely a female as huge in comparison to The Boys. And Cedar Waxwings perch while catching insects over the water. Earlier in the day an adult eagle flew through the yard at full speed and perched on the very top of the nest tree. An Osprey took about six pot-shots at him and each time he leapt in the air with talons splayed toward the aggressor. I watched him through the spotting scope as he had to get his feet under him crashing down to the perch each time. I thought the limb would break, and wished I was down there with my camera. But I witnessed an amazing behavior and maybe he'll do it again some evening (probably just after it gets dark!)

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Friday, July 15, 2016


Three Peregrine chicks still on the ledge up the Blackfoot, maybe the last ones that haven't fledged yet in the area. And Cedar Waxwing tossing back a berry.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Belted Kingfisher

This bird landed about 30 feet away and I stood on my tiptoes with the camera on the tripod pointed down, shooting away. Don't they look like they're smiling? How unscientific, sorry…

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Tonight's Feast

Can you guess what that is falling down below the adult? Yes, the Columbian Ground Squirrel's head. Sorry vegans… I swear, the more I look at these fledgling eagles they are looking the same size, and larger than this male tonight. Two more sisters?

Monday, July 11, 2016

Just Before the Deluge

Hard, hard rains around here, 1 8/10th of an inch of precip since Saturday and probably ruined a bunch of picnics. This was in between showers last night, and made it back to the house in the nick of time. And an Eastern Kingbird chasing a male Prairie Falcon - this was right after the kestrel-Bald Eagle shot.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Immaculate Plumage

Beautiful youngster.

Parents and New Fledglings

I was actually standing in the river for a little bit photographing the adult eagles, and the young were on the beach when I arrived at 5, Happy Hour on the Bitterroot!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Male, Too

The male kestrel was attacking as well and also made contact a few times, smacking the eagle on the back. Very quiet on the beach last night, what a difference. See those color bands on the falcon's legs? Marked over at the MPG Ranch across the river and downstream by the folks at Raptor View Research Institute, right near the spot I fly Sibley the Peregrine.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Eagles Fledge

Both big birds were in a nearby tree at mid-afternoon yesterday and at dark were back in the nest for a fish, looks like a sucker. The male flew around with this fish for a while and even perched in the tree with one of the fledglings before heading to "home." In the meantime their lives were complicated by kestrel attacks and this amazing view of one perched on the female eagle's head!  A couple hundred "likes" on Facebook overnight for this one and a few comparisons to a famous scene in "Titanic" with Leo and Kate on the bow of the doomed vessel. And a lot of people worried about the eagle's eyes and she's just fine.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Krazy Kestrel

Tate Jones from Fort Missoula emailed to say some falcons keep getting in the Civil War Building at the Military Museum, crazy. We exchanged photos and sure enough a male American Kestrel, found four times tearing up the plastic blind trying to get out of a window at the top of the stairs from the basement (Tate's photo at the bottom.) He opens a door and shoes him out but how is he getting in there and why? We figured out the first part - a little tunnel leading to the attic that's like a entrance to a huge cavity for a cavity nester. The insulation in the ceiling is open by that window, so he must pop out to the light and not figure out how to get back. Tate blocked the hole and hope that will cure that. But now, why is does he keep going in there? We couldn't find a nest in the attic so just a glutton for punishment we think.