Friday, April 25, 2008

New Montana Bird

Birders keep lists and the role that lists play in the birding experience is greater for some more than others. The list I keep the most track of is my list of the birds I have observed in Montana. I have been birding in Montana for over 30 years (ouch that hurts) and a new bird for me in Montana is getting harder and harder to come by. The other part that doesn't help me add to my Montana list is the size of this state. This spring a Tufted Duck was located in Western Montana and it would have been nearly a 600 mile drive to get to where the bird was (with no guarantee it would still be there) which translates to a small fortune in gas money right now.

This weekend I am going to settle for a more modest expedition to environs north and east of Fort Peck. Specifically I am looking for a Smith's Longspur. There are very few records of this species for Montana but the migration path should take it across at least the very northeastern corner of the state so I am heading that direction to add to the ornithological knowledge of Montana. I am going to call it the Carlson Northeastern Montana Longspur Expedition in the tradition of the old ornithological expeditions of exploration and discovery.

One of the species I had hoped to find on the trip was an Eastern Phoebe, another bird that is common just to the east and north of here but rarely reported for MT. Last night I took the boys and Addie for a walk and found an Eastern Phoebe along the river! Looks like the trip is starting out well and I haven't even left yet!

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