Monday, May 28, 2018

THE Book

Kevin's Kids

Here is our favorite 4th grade, Kevin Cashman's kids at Chief Charlo Elementary. The school has a number of life-size "heroes" in paper mâché and the students made their own Sam Gribley, complete with falconry glove and Peregrine Falcon. You remember reading My Side of the Mountain when you were in 4th grade, don't you? The wonderful book by Jean Craighead George tracing the adventures of a boy who ran away from home (but his parents blessings), lived in a hollowed out tree in the mountains, and hunted with a falcon named Frightful. That book is why I started (trying to) train kestrels when I was 13 or 14 with the Cincinnati Zoo's Junior Zoologists Club. Have a great summer, kids.

Saturday, May 26, 2018


The water is back covering the "island" but hovering right around a safe level. However, sump pumps are running practically non-stop in the crawl space. Not too worried. And look what UPS brought - these are 20" x 30" metal prints of my favorite photos to be installed at the Florence Pharmacy next week. Took me a bit to navigate the web site, but they were produced by Costco, arriving in days, and I am delighted. You need to see them in person - they glow! Many more of these in the future.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Sky Scuffle

"Always root for the Ospreys, " I tell the kids, this attack on a young Bald Eagle yesterday
. I point out that Ospreys only eat live fish and are often robbed by eagles that eat anything - ground squirrels, road kill, and of course fish. Kevin Cashman's 4th grade class from Chief Charlo all agreed to cheer on the Osprey in such an encounter, then one young man pointed out to me that, "It's really our choice, isn't it Kate Davis?" Yep, well put.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Tough Guy, Huh?

I mean tough gal and I am getting jumped upon by Ella the American Kestrel when I go in her enclosure to feed her and brother Wes. And not just the "take the mouse and split" but all-out ferocity. Spunky little gal, and a little nest in the corner. Kestrel are cavity nesters and that lacking, they make these little scrapes or hollowed out bowls in the sand and pine needles. When she is done laying (a few more eggs) I'll pull then when they are not looking. We are not breeding kestrels, sorry Jazz Birds (Ella Fitzgerald and Wes Montgomery.)

Monday, May 21, 2018

"You Should Have Been Here..."

Fill in the blank. "You should have been here five minutes ago," when a Pygmy-Owl was so close some friends got heroic photos with their cell phones. Or "You should have been here this morning," powder skiing up at SnowBowl but I was hunting ducks across the street with my falcon. Or "You should have been here last week," when the Arrowleaf Balsamroot was at it's peak right across the road. Still impressive and I'll get some more photos between rain showers.

Saturday, May 19, 2018


With the water way up, it has been impossible to head to the beach, so I "shot" the pigeons the other evening instead. On Thursday We had a great Pea Green Boat with Simon, Sonora, and author Sneed Collard,  and Annie was joined in the control room by Joan Richarde. Plenty of fun with a discussion of woodpeckers, and it's archived on the Montana Public Radio website for a few weeks. On then Listen - Program Archives, May 17th.  Terry's Jazz show then Annie and the gang!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Montana Public Radio Thursday

WOW! We are on the air on Montana Public Radio tomorrow with fellow guest, Sneed Collard, my pal since 1999 when he took this photo of me and Sal the Gyrfalcon. He is the author of over 80 books, and we have appeared in several. He will discuss his excellent career and new book "Woodpeckers" from Mountain Press Publishing. It's the Pea Green Boat with host Annie Garde - left of the FM dial (89.1 In Missoula) at 4 pm MST and live on the internet at

Monday, May 14, 2018

A Happy Mothers' Day

Mom and I checked out our favorite Peregrine watching spot up the Blackfoot yesterday and were not disappointed with two falcons flying around. Briefly they were both in the air at the same time which doesn't quite match the incubate-eggs-profile for this time of year. Time will tell and last year I recall they acted as if they were feeding chicks on the ledge, then disappeared. Hmmm. Darn it, we'll have to go back again soon!

Sunday, May 13, 2018

WAY Down

Safe for now, car is back home, and here is Mookie minutes ago. The "island" was completely underwater, and the high water mark yesterday was that orange stake next to the open gate on the right, now high and dry. And a finch and woodpecker in the front yard.

Friday, May 11, 2018

Front Yard Now

I just blasted through the water now in the driveway in the Subaru to park at our (good) neighbor's house for a while, hopping the fence to get home. This will surely get worse and we are reminded of the spring of 2003 when we parked on the road and took a boat in and out for 5 days. I also recall taking turns manually pumping out the crawlspace every few hours. Seems like I had the 3 am shift. That was the worst water episode, but ten years after that we had to install sandbags by the gate, (photo today and water up) keeping it out of the yard at least. That's what happens when you live on the river and our sympathies to those on the Clark Fork which is approaching record flood stage.

Thursday, May 10, 2018


A July photo of our bridge with the WEN (Watershed Education Network) and GUTS gals (Girls Using Their Strengths.) Then a photo of where the bridge is usually installed. Look - the "island" on the way to the river is practically underwater.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Pals and a Woodpecker

Thanks Cathy Scholtens and Becky Howard for the fun afternoon yesterday, celebrating the so-far non-flood at the Raptor Ranch. Pals from Canada and D.C. and the Bitterroot are standing on the high and dry bridge that will live in the yard for a while. And a nice Downy Woodpecker in the front yard, no eagle trips to the beach for a while with these waters, but plenty of stuff to "shoot" by the house. And THANKS Gin DeNeve for installing plenty 'o plants in the garden. Pals all!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Eagle Feathers

Cleaning all the swallow boxes on Sunday, here are some Golden Eagle feathers inside, the box by the bridge and probably from Max. Later that day Nigel the eagle leapt from his high perch during the huge rainstorm and wind in the dark, then took a gigantic bath all during the maelstrom. What a guy.

Our Floating Bridge

Tom built this bridge across the slough heading down to the Bitterroot River and most years the high water forces us to drag it up the bank. It is cabled to a stake plus tied with a rope for good measure. It started floating Sunday evening so no river trips for a while. Sump pumps in the crawl space in the house, but hopefully no a sand bags like we had 12 years ago.

Saturday, May 5, 2018

Chief Charlo Rules

Our favorite teacher Kevin Cashman was back with the 4th graders of 2017-2018,  fantastic (and lucky) kids! We started with a tour of the Raptor Ranch, visited the river to skip some stones, then had lunch at near-by Lee Metcalf Nat'l Wildlife Refuge with spotting scopes and checklists galore. Then Kevin's secret - a visit to a Great Horned Owl nest. This attention seemed to be old hat to the sleepy babies, used to being in the limelight, and a great surprise to finish our day.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Bitterroot Falconwatchers

Deborah Goslin and I had a nice little hike through the burned area at One Horse Creek across valley in hopes of spotting a Peregrine Falcon or two. That's what happened - two, or one maybe the same one twice, flying way up the drainage in and out of the clouds. Jay Sumner and I first counted breeding Peregrines at this location 16 years ago, but those falcons were chasing birds right through the forest canopy, spotted immediately so no hike necessary. These guys are nesting way back on the cliffs "around the corner." Hurray for Peregrines!