Last spring I hiked out to an eagle’s nest high on a cottonwood near the shore of a nearby lake. The nest had been home to a pair of bald eagles for the past three years, but this year a pair of Canada geese had taken up residence there. I was pretty surprised, but apparently this is not unusual behavior for Canadian geese: they like these abandoned nests because they’re safe from coyotes and foxes. But I just can’t see how the goslings can jump out of such a high nest and survive. I came back periodically, and the geese were obviously on some eggs, but I missed the hatching and the leaps to the ground. (If you’d like to see more about this behavior, you can watch an episode of Wild Kingdom about geese doing this in the Lee Metcalf Wildlife Preserve.)
Pileated woodpeckers are pretty rare on the east side of the Continental Divide in Montana. I love their pterodactyl-ness. This guy was right down the street on a Saturday morning, busily pecking away. No one else in the neighborhood seemed to notice, which just amazed me.
Snowy owls showed up in Montana (and many other places) this past winter, and obligingly hung around long enough for hundreds of people to see and photograph them. This one – a juvenile, I think – was near Polson, Montana.
Another prehistoric looking bird. Once the sandhill cranes arrive, we know that spring has finally arrived. And their rattling call is one of the few bird sounds that I can recognize for sure. They do a darn cool mating dance, as well.
The mountain bluebird shows up in March, right when we really need a shot of blue to relieve the gray and brown and white or winter. My favorite.
A pair of osprey have nested near our house for the past three years.
A Swainson’s hawk in the Centennial Valley, another summer visitor.
This vermilion flycatcher doesn’t get anywhere near Montana, but he is so gorgeous I couldn’t leave him out. This guy was along the San Pedro River in southern Arizona.