Sunday, June 21, 2009

Bird License Plates

I have added the following license plates to the sidebar slideshow. Most of them I took at the bird festival in Great Falls earlier this month, but the Alula plate was sent to me in early April by Maggie Jones and I am now just getting around to posting it. Thanks Maggie! Here are the new plates.

Can anyone figure out what the bird connection is to the plate above?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

June In Montana

June is such a crazy month and I can't believe it is almost gone - it feels like it is pretty much done because I still have a bunch of stuff I am trying to cram into the next week or so.

June certainly started out nice despite a rather disappointing spring migration (again). This time it wasn't just me commenting on a lack of birds. This year even the observers in the core of the flyway east of Fort Peck commented on the dearth of migrants. Hopefully it was more a reflection of migration patterns and the weather and the birds just skipped this latitude on their way north.

The Gumbo Lilies or Evening Primrose were in force this spring.

However, my first field trip for the Montana Audubon Bird Festival took place in a light blizzard. This photo looks more like an October or April field trip rather than early June. The primroses were not looking so good this morning.

This photo looks a bit better but it really wasn't. We saw a few birds in the snow and wind, but it was obviously not a good day to make a long list of birds observed. We still had fun though.

The next day held a bit more promise, it was only raining, not snowing, the wind had died down a bit and the trend was improving. There were only four of us after the reorganization of the field trips. We had to cancel my intended destination because of road conditions from all the moisture but it didn't really matter. At our first stop, a mere 10 minutes or so from our origin, the car we were riding in decided it no longer wanted to run. You can see the flatbed towtruck in the background. It was a rather quick morning.

After heading back to headquarters and wrapping up there, I headed down along the river and took some photos of the swallows that were feeding in large flocks along the river. The Cliff Swallows in the nest were much easier to photograph however.

That afternoon I escorted my friend Nina Karnovsky and her student Charlotte Chang back to Glasgow after they flew in to Great Falls from Southern California. Charlotte is volunteering for me this summer and helping with a bird banding program we are trying to get running. This photo was taken later in the week during our first banding session. Yeah, it was a bit buggy but not the worst I have experienced.

We had one day of banding while Nina was here. Here I am banding a bird while Charlotte is recording in our banding station tent (thanks Nina for the photos). You can read more about the project from Charlotte's perspective at the blog Nina's students have set up to discuss their various summer work here.

On our way back from the banding site we found this little guy on the road - a Long-billed Curlew. He has a bit of growing to do (particularly in the beak department).

Mom and Dad were concerned about our intentions but we got the little one off the road and all was well.

Back home we found a nice Garter Snake in the grass outside the front door.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A few new links

If you are a frequent visitor here and take the time to check out the blogs I have linked to on my sidebar, you may have noticed a few new entries into the list.
Two of them are blogs about bird songs. The first,, which I found thanks to Bill Schmoker at BirdPics, is a blog by Nathan Pieplow. From Nathans site I found BIRD CALLS and SONGS by Paul Driver. I really enjoy both of these blogs because they provide sound files and sonograms as part of their posts.
The next blog I just found out about is another Montana blog with an emphasis on birding done by Bob Martinka. Bob is a retired Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks employee who got back into birding with a vengence when he retired. He has some wonderful photos and I look forward to being able to see more of his photos and stories. Bob's blog is BirdManBob. We are both in Great Falls, MT for the Montana Audubon state bird festival so I am sure we will both have some perspectives on this event in the next couple of days.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Dinner Time

The Hairy Woodpeckers are busy raising another brood in my backyard again. They appear to be a bit ahead of their pace from last year, probably because they didn't have to excavate a cavity this time. They just moved into the cavity they used last year with just a little cleanup early on. Right now they are at the stage when the parents protest quite loudly whenever we go into the backyard and occasionally when we look out the dining room window. I have to admit it was a bit annoying when it happened last year, but this year I am much more tolerant because I know how much I will miss having them around when the chicks fledge and the backyard becomes relatively silent all of a sudden.
Again this year I am amazed at the variety of food the adults bring back to the nest. Here is a sample from one afternoon.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Published Photo!

One of my favorite magazines when I was growing up was National Wildlife along with it's companion, Ranger Rick (when I was younger although I have to admit I still enjoy looking through Benton and Crean's when it arrives in the mail). It probably had a part in my continued interests in wildlife and wildlife conservation. Recently the photo editor contacted me about one of the photos on Prairie Ice. Although I really hadn't thought about it as the transaction for the publishing rights to one of my photos worked itself out, it was a strange and wonderful feeling seeing my photo in the magazine.
Here is the photo or check it out in your National Wildlife magazine in the article by Les Line - The Case of the Missing Hare.