Four Winter Birding Trips

By Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

The Dec 24 2020 edition of the Daily Interlake has a useful downloadable supplement (by Scott Heisel of the Lake County Leader) on winter birding day trips in the Flathead Valley and beyond. It’s a little difficult to locate, so if you missed the print edition, here is a PDF file of the article.

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Uninvited Feeder Visitors

by Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org

With the onset of colder weather and more time inside, many of us start to feel sorry for the birds out there in the cold and fill up the feeders. Inviting avian visitors certainly has its rewards. Observing bird activity lifts our spirits; having birds close enough to get repeated good looks improves our ability to identify them; we feel like we’ve provided a bit of refuge them. There’s a thrill in seeing a new bird at your feeder! But with all such gestures comes responsibilities, unexpected outcomes and sometimes consequences.

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Rough-Legged Hawks are Winter Residents

by Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org

Rough-legged hawk profile 9.10.

It’s fall already; raptor fans have been counting the migrating raptors at various mountain top sites for a few weeks, and I’m already noticing fewer soaring birds in the West Valley. Any day we may see Rough-legged Hawks that have migrated thousands of miles to call this home for the winter.

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Eagles Everywhere

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Bald eagles are a fairly common sight in the valley year ’round. In the summer, you’ll find them in trees along creek beds, around ponds and marshes, and even congregating around a roadkill deer. They are opportunistic feeders, preferring fish that they either catch themselves or snatch from other animals such as ospreys or otters, but they will happily take hares, birds, snakes, gophers, frogs, or whatever else is available, including roadkill.

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Owls at My House

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

A pair of great horned owls nest near my home between West Valley and Farm to Market roads. Each year, we see 1-3 juveniles (and at least one adult) in the ponderosa pines in our yard. From there they can watch for voles and gophers in the agricultural fields next to our property. We find lots of owl pellets and more than a few feathers–especially the downy ones that are dropped as the juveniles mature.

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