Monday, April 30, 2018


Male Belted Kingfisher and pair of Buffleheads in the slough, maybe the ducks that are nesting in that old Pileated Woodpecker cavity. You had better love water right now as the bridge across the slough is almost floating (cabled in and retrieved when it does.) And still raining but snow melt has slowed down with the colder weather, whew. Only time will tell if it will be another Sandbag Spring.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Not Exactly a Smooth Transfer...

Incoming huge chunk of meat, probably from a roadkill, and the female wanted it right away. Mine mine mine! Someone asked how I got such a sequence and I told them that I stand there behind the camera for two hours or more an evening. "At a roadkill?" they asked. No, thankfully.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Mating Kestrels

These two birds have been carrying on for a few weeks, lately hanging out on my side of the Bitterroot River and hopefully nesting near my favorite photography spot. Will investigate. Our friend Adam Shreading reports that the male is at least 5 years old, judging from the color bands installed by him at the MPG Ranch with Raptor View Research Institute.  I have seen a dozen of these copulations, and feel like a voyeur so always blush and look away. Just kidding.

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