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.

Continue Reading →

Fall Bird Migration

by Laura Katzman, Land Protection Specialist, Flathead Land Trust
lkatzman@flatheadlandtrust.org

Fall bird migration is in full swing in the West Valley. Last week 800 snow geese, 1,000 Canada geese, 150 sandhill cranes and hundreds of ducks were seen at the West Valley Wildlife Viewing area. With the cold weather over the weekend the West Valley Wetland ponds have become mostly ice-covered, but yesterday hundreds of snow geese and a couple hundred sandhill cranes were seen feeding in the nearby fields so birds still can be seen in the area.

Continue Reading →

Wings over the Valley

by Pat Jaquith
pat@westvalleynaturalists.org

Geese, Cranes, Ducks and Gulls flock to the West Valley Wildlife Viewing Area 10.20.20

Throughout the fall, as birds start moving from nesting sites toward warmer climates and more plentiful food sources, they teach us how they value our valley as many species gather in the harvested fields and in and around the several potholes for rest, food, and perhaps reunions before moving on.

Continue Reading →

Swan Song

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

The fall migration season in the valley is a busy time for waterfowl observers. Sandhill cranes, Canada geese, snow geese, and various others ducks and waterfowl arrive in great numbers, stopping in valley ponds and fields to fuel up for their journey south. Arriving in somewhat smaller numbers are the tundra swans, and it’s always a treat to encounter them en masse. But unlike geese and cranes, they’re not typically as vociferous. Yesterday was an exception.

Continue Reading →

The Shoveler Mating Game

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Northern shovelers are common inhabitants of our local wetlands and marshes during the spring and summer, where they mate and nest. They’re gorgeous birds, the males being easily recognizable by their bright green head, yellow eyes, chestnut and white bodies, black back, and most prominently their long, broad bills. It’s these oversized bills that give them their name, and they are prominent on both males and females.

Continue Reading →

Coot Parenting?

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Both male and female coots sharing parenting responsibilities for their brood. However, they are not notoriously good parents, at least in one sense of the term. Coots usually hatch 7-9 chicks, but the parents–by some pretty draconian means–like to get that number down to a more feedable 3 or 4. How they do it is…not pretty.

Continue Reading →

White faced Ibis

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

Kalispell’s West Valley is situated toward the northern end of the breeding range of the beautiful white faced ibis. The spring migration season of 2020 was witness to an unusually large number of these birds making their presence known in the valley. We’ve had multiple sightings of more than 50 birds at once at the Potholes and the West Valley Wildlife Viewing area, and fewer at Bowser Lake in the Pig Farm state trust area.

Continue Reading →

To Dabble or to Dive?

by Skip Via
skip@westvalleynaturalists.org

West Valley is home for a huge variety of migratory and resident ducks and other waterfowl. While some waterfowl are waders (e.g., sandhill cranes, great blue herons, dowitchers) or skimmers (none around here, although some gulls do this occasionally), ducks can be broadly separated into two groups based on how they obtain food: dabblers and divers.

Continue Reading →