Saturday, April 21, 2018

More "Love on the Beach"

Last evening we were treated to a pair of kestrels mating and mating, wood ducks again, plus saw the Bufflehead female fly right into the old Pileated nest. Oh, and some Bald Eagles, next.

Friday, April 20, 2018

The Culprit Returns

We now know what attacked Max our Golden Eagle two weeks ago - a huge coyote. I saw him lurking at the corner of the enclosure and site of Max's "nest" just at dark. Too dark to get a photo so an older shot for illustrative purposes. Like Tom said, "I told you so," and he did. I still think it was an anomaly and no vengeance is planned.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Program Hero Today

We just had a program at The Living Center in Stevensville, assisted living and skilled nursing care for seniors. 40 residents and about 20 staff enjoyed Simon the owl and he was an angel! Perfect. Right away I met a woman that remembered my dad - he passed at that facility in 1994. She said, “Carlos, with the blue eyes and dark hair.” Hugs, then a fun visit. After the half hour program in the dining hall, you should have seen the reaction on the faces of all the residents in their rooms. What a surprise to have an owl visit them at their bedside. Simon is the star, home now in the office. Dad would be so proud.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Bragging at the Post Office

A guy at the Post Office just described a bird that was "killing his little birds" in his field. When I asked it's size he leaned way over looking sideways, laid his hand horizontally with the ground, and started waist height then went up and down from the floor until he settled on one foot. Ever had anyone describe a bird that way to you, using the earth as a measurement standard and acting as a contortionist instead of using two hands in the air? I have, all the time. He told me it has been "too fast to shoot, so far." Braggadocio and I'd like to see him popped by the feds. A Northern Goshawk in OUR yard, welcome visitor.

Magpie Nest

No eagles nesting but magpies right outside my window, 20 yards away. If the sun ever comes out I'll try to get some nice photos.
Max's best buddy Nigel the Golden Eagle has had a hard time adjusting to not having his perch-mate around. He screamed on and off for days and is settling down now. Who knows? He might pal up with Sonny the Bald Eagle now that Max the Big Bully is gone. Very hard to getting used to not having him outside my window across the yard, poor Max.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Other Eagles

Friday night beach party, and eagles showed up after an hour. No eggs/chicks but still hanging.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Dixon School 1993

Max the Golden Eagle got rambunctious at our program for this little rural school, the whole town showing up for an assembly in the gymnasium. Off he went from his travel box/perch and then scurried into the boy's bathroom. I finished the talk, then was alerted by the male students that I could not set foot in there to retrieve him. "Oh yea? Gals, let's go." The entire female student body of about 6 girls joined me in this sacred place, and the first one put her hands on her hips and announced, "No fair! They have a drinking fountain in here." The first and hopefully last urinal this young friend would ever see.

Some Memories

Max was found by the side of the trail in the Bob Marshall Wilderness in 1989, and packed out for several days on horseback. A few years ago up in the Snowbowl locker room, I met the gentleman that recovered Max and he described the event, delighted that Max was still around. His companion stuck the big eagle in a wooden panier and for the ride, and made a little stick cage for him at night, I imagined Gilligan's Island-style! A fledgling bird with no injuries yet unable to fly, my guess is that he had brain damage due to starvation. For his first program I tried the traditional jesses/perch on a glove and THAT didn't work, to the amusement of a gymnasium full of kids. His balance problem made me think of building a travel crate, sliding the lid back and Max hopping up to a perch on the side. Perfect and that's how Max toured the state, once doing 4 assemblies in a row, another day at three different schools! Her his is in the mid-1990's in Clinton, slide film and 20 below zero:

Friday, April 6, 2018


A portrait of Max from last year, in our calendar for the month of May.
And the site of the tragedy, where something pulled his wing through the fence.  I keep thinking bear or mountain lion, both of which have been seen in the neighborhood in the past.

Thursday, April 5, 2018

Terrible News

Max our 29 year-old hero Golden Eagle program favorite in over 1000 appearances, is dead. He suffered a terrible accident, and something (coyote? bear?) tore his wing off right through the fence wire. All of skin and feathers from that wing were scattered about for up to 30 feet outside the enclosure. There was nothing we could do medically so our veterinarian pal Dr. Lynn Robin and I euthanized him in her yard yesterday.
He had been incubating his rock, as he does in the spring.
Long Live Max, the Education Icon and Big Bully Bird. So very sad, and sure loved that bird.
Here he is in the early 1990's with his pet rabbit, lived with him for two years in Clinton, pals, no kidding.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Bufflehead Nest

Exactly 180 degrees from my Bald Eagle nest photography spot is a Pileated Woodpecker hole, excavated by the birds five years ago. Last year a family of Buffleheads took over, male and female flying in at 20 miles an hour from across the river and one continuing on, one disappearing suddenly. By watching the old woodpecker nest, I found that the female duck had stopped on a dime, disappeared in the cavity, and a duck nest now. Hope they continue this season!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Max the Genius, Continued

Max and Nigel the Golden Eagles built another nice stick nest in the corner this year, but then got defensive/aggressive with the Bald Eagle, Sonny. I removed the sticks but Max doesn't care and is currently incubating nothing but dirt, for hours a day. That's the rock he relished last year, off on his side. What a genius - he and Nigel in their late twenties, both males, and relatively new at this nesting-thing! HA

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


Dandilion Cloverdale on the right, and friends - Scout, Tom, and Sarris yesterday by the metal penguin sculpture. My goodness, do we have fun over here.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Forestry Mini-College

I had a HUGE program at the University of Montana Ballroom for 150 landowners on Saturday, lunch and two big screens for the PowerPoint. Sibley the Peregrine (in the circle) waited patiently and Jillian the Great Horned Owl were the stars. At the very end, after I had everyone hoot like an owl I gave a little soliloquy:
“In 1978 I saw Bootsy Collins (Funkadelic) perform in this room. Never did I imagine I would be here 40 years later, 30 years with Raptor of the Rockies, presenting this program for such a distinguished audience of landowners doing the right thing for conservation of our natural resources." Quite the rhetoric and as proud as a person could be. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Raptor Round-Up Number 55, Whew

Man, did this take a while to put together, our 30 Year Issue. I went through the previous 54 newsletters selecting some special gems, and quirt the compilation if I do say so myself. Read it here, in living color and in the snail mail Tuesday, how 20th century.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Chief Charlo Elementary Today!

Our Favorite Teacher Kevin Cashman had us back for a gathering of the 4th grade classes, for which he received a PowerPoint, program with Sibley and Owen, discussion of the book "My Side of the Mountain" and a CALENDAR! These kids are the greatest - Hazel, Mason, Sophia and Audra assisting us back to the car. Not a bad view from that school with SnowBowl in the background. Heading up to the Bowl Friday, then another program Saturday.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Almost Too Late

These darned eagles are teasing me - hanging at the nest, chasing other eagles, copulating. But no incubation! I am on the verge of panic mode, as this is what I do every single evening, "shoot" the birds. My favorite pastime/entertainment/diversion. Like Tom says, "Don't give up yet," but photographing woodpeckers in the front yard just isn't the same.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Saturday Night Live

Lots of activity around the nest, including one Columbian Ground Squirrel - the first one I've seen all season and there it was saying over the river!   Mike and Ginny DeNeve had just reported "gophers" above ground, and voila. Unfortunately no incubation...yet. Last year nesting began on March 5th, the year before the 12th and pushing it here, eagle pals.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

March Rural Montana Magazine

Here's that story by Ryan Hall, Rural Montana Magazine.
Mountain Press Anne Iverson emailed me today:
"Someone just came in and bought a book because of that article."
Thanks, Ryan! BAP2-2 on the way.

Nonchalant Kestrel

This American Kestrel sure didn't mind Sibley landing near-by,twice. Down at the river I've seen one particularly feisty female kestrel attack everything from eagles to one perched peregrine minding her own business. I am assuming this behavior was related to a near-by nest, orb maybe just having a bad day.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Sunday's Hunt

Perhaps our last pheasant hunt of the season with Sib the Peregrine today, thanks to about a half-dozen of these (Northern Harriers.) Plus hawks and eagles acting cranky.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Storm from SnowBowl

Yesterday a huge storm rolled in about 2 pm, Tyler Roady, Kim Thomas (photo credit) and I were watching thinking it would just hit the Bitterroot, but it struck the Bowl with a fury and thunder, shutting down the lifts. We were looking for a ski I lost on Sunday. Yep, popped off near the bottom of Longhorn and never could find it, probably in the trees on skiers right. A futile search and it looks like I'll have to come back in the spring, bummer. On Sunday as I walked by all of the masses watching the Gelande jumping from the deck at the bar, everyone shouted, "Where's your other ski?" then even more in the lodge and locker, the same question. I explained that I lost it and the top responses were, "Where is it?" and "Why don't you go get it?" Lost means it's lost. Nowhere to be found. Like in a Lost and Found. The "found" things aren't lost anymore. I felt like Jerry Seinfeld!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Monday, February 26, 2018

New Video Post

Check out the "About Page" on the Raptors of the Rockies web site for the newly-posted, old-video of Sibley flying 28 feet straight up in the Tower of Power at the University of Montana Flight lab. 5000 frames a second, captured by the BBC and a clip played at the American Museum off Natural History in New York.
Better yet, look at our YouTube page:

Friday, February 23, 2018


A whirlwind trip to Butte, America for the Montana Chapter of the Wildlife Society Annual Conference at the Copper King. Just in time to attend poster session and the banquet to win this award! Thanks and sure saw lots and lots of old friends from all around the State. In my little acceptance speech I recounted the recent comment by a man at my program in Washington : "You could do this for a living." and I couldn't tell if he was serious.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Monday, February 19, 2018

Hey, Cool Harris's Hawks

Spent last weekend with Gretchen, Pat, Don and Jerry hunting with these hawks, chasing non-native Eastern Cottontails that were introduced in the Seattle area in the 1940's as game. Industrial parks with thick thorny bushes seem to be falconry on Sundays! Very much fun and quite different than the falcon hunts over water for ducks that I am used to. It's been a while since I've hunted with Harris's Hawks, three birds at once with my friend Randy Scanlon.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Harris's Hawk Hunting


A view out the window, and NOT Mount Rainier in Seattle. Sunday our afternoon flight made it to Missoula, circled high over the airport for an hour and headed back to Seattle. The runway was too icy we were told, at least four flights turned around and couldn't land.  We had a mile-long line at the Alaska Airlines desk, people trying to get home and many were told not until Tuesday. I had planned on feeding the birds when I got home, and thankfully Tom took care of that Monday morning. Then an afternoon flight to Portland and home by 8 pm. Thanks Gretchen and Pat for putting up with me two nights, and hawk photos next.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Skagit and Seattle

This was the greatest audience EVER for a PowerPoint Raptors of the Rockies program, and thanks Bud Anderson for the invitation and privilege. I was signing books at the finale and a man shook my hand and offered, "You should do this for a living." I couldn't tell if he was kidding. In the corner pal Ed Deal is tallying the census numbers for the morning and one group saw 127 Bald Eagles, no fair! Totals for the 100 or so hawkophiles were 706 Bald Eagles, 248 Red-tails, 128 Harriers, 32 Rough-legs, and a surprising 39 kestrels, birds that had been declining in numbers but a good showing that day. And, drum-roll please, 15 Peregrines!

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Back From the Coast!

What a whirlwind, and the story of the 29th Annual Skagit Flats Raptor Survey next.
Team 4 with Head of Operations/Hero Bud Anderson just to our right of the scope. The wise-looking one.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Eagle Magnet

Look what's been hanging out here all week, waiting to be fed (won't happen.) This young Bald Eagle  may be from the nest just across the river, as every year the fledgings come and hang out in the yard for a few weeks. Max the Golden Eagle doesn't seem to mind, just a bit curious.
And off to Seattle this afternoon, a program for The Falcon Research Group, Bud Anderson in charge. Thankfully I am flying and staying with Ed Deal tonight, who is conducting the Annual Skagit Flats Hawk Census tomorrow, then my PowerPoint program for the 100 or so "hawkophiles!"This will beg fun and news on the way, cameras all packed.

Sunday, February 4, 2018