Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ferruginous Hawk and Four Chicks Near Dillon, Montana

Ferruginous hawk (hen) stands guard over her four eyasses (chicks) at what used to be (I think) a red-tailed hawk nest north of Dillon. We haven't visited the nest in spring for several years so how long since the ferruginous take-over is more than I know. From all outward appearances all four chicks are healthy looking, doing well. Usually with this many nestlings one or two fall behind the more aggressive and are kicked out...Not so this time around, at least so far.

Not many ferruginous hawks nest this far west so hopefully all four will make it, perhaps add to the local gene pool and provide more such photo ops in the future. There is an abundance (over abundance might be more to the point) of ground squirrels within sight of the nest so lack of prey should not be an issue...

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Birding Trails Montana Award...

 Birding Trails Montana (the one at the top right) was awarded 2nd Place in the Northwest Outdoor Writers Association's Excellence In Craft Contest held recently at our Annual Conference in Richland, WA (Tri-Cities). You can order it from Amazon Books or from Wilderness Adventures Press, Belgrade MT...I just signed a bunch there yesterday so for those of you looking for a signed copy be sure to ask...FYI, the signed copies will go out the door fast so best not dally...

Friday, May 15, 2015

Montana Birds: Long-billed Curlew

North America's largest shorebird, the Long-billed Curlew breeds in the grasslands of the Great Plains and Great Basin; they winter on the Texas coast, south to interior Mexico, where you can find them in wetlands, tidal estuaries, mudflats, flooded fields, and occasionally beaches.
Both male and female incubate the eggs. and both are aggressive in defense of nests and young. The female typically abandons the brood two to three weeks after hatching and leaves brood care to her mate. Despite the obvious faux pas in domestic relations the pair often mate again next year.

Insects, aquatic crustaceans and invertebrates dominate the diet but the long, curved bill allows allows foraging for deep-burrowing earthworms, shrimp and crabs. The also eat grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, spiders, and occasionally small animals.

The female’s bill is longer than the male's, and a different shape—flatter on top with a more pronounced curve at the tip. The juvenile's bill is distinctly shorter during its first few months, but before the first year ends may equal the male's length.

Curlews appear to be declining on the Great Plains, but  numbers are slightly up in some western areas—the Columbia Plateau and Rocky Mountains. Much more numerous in the 19th century, but numbers fell in response to over-hunting and conversion of grassland breeding habitat to agriculture and development.  Habitat loss and projected effects of climate change will likely precipitate continued population declines.