October 2022

Wings Across the Big Sky—2023

Mark your calendars for June 9-11, 2023. Montana’s premier birding festival is coming to Great Falls next summer! Wings Across the Big Sky sponsored by Montana Audubon and co-hosted by our own Upper Mis- souri Breaks Audubon group is a 3-day festival that includes dozens of field trips, a kid-friendly family event, and a keynote presentation. This festival will be held in Great Falls June 9-11, 2023 and headquartered at the Heritage Inn. It celebrates Montana’s diverse birdlife while highlighting important conservation issues. UM- BA will be planning and organizing the field trips for the festival. We are looking for 1) field trip leaders 2) field trip suggestions with an emphasis on “family/kid/teen friendly” style field trips. Do you have some places you like to take the kids? We’d like to know. As we get closer we may be asking for volunteers to fill various roles, but the field trip planning is a priority. Contact Beth Hill—grizhill@gmail.com

November 19 Field Trip – Lake Elwell/Tiber Reservoir

November 19—Let’s explore something new this month—we will head to Lake Elwell/Tiber Reservoir in central Montana. We’ll check out the lake, the shore, the roads in between. This area has little reporting and few bird observing visitors. Sanford Park has a bird list of 172 species over the years. Tiber Dam and VFW Campground has a list of 103 species. There have not been many reports in November. The number of species and individuals were not high, but this fall has been different in terms of migration. It’s an area that needs more exploring. If you are interested, contact Beth Hill (grizhill@gmail.com). We will meet at 8 am.

Dress for the weather. Although we will be in the car quite a bit, we will have to get out to scope the lake or explore the parks. Bring food and water to tide you over until our return mid-afternoon.

*** All field trips meet/return at the parking area in front of Sherwin Williams on NW Bypass in Great Falls. Contact Beth Hill to reserve your space. If you need binoculars we can provide loaners – grizhill@gmail.com or 406-217-2364.

Red-tailed Hawk

Bird Sightings for October 2022

Sept. 28 – Howdy: Just to let everyone know. Beth, Alex and I setup a bird feeder at Giant Springs. We set it up in the lawn next to the bridge. – Richard Mousel

Oct. 1 – The rain had stopped by 6 pm so I ran out to West Bank to see if anything was happening after the 2 inches of rain that we had received (2 inches on my deck). The river was about 2 inches higher than 48 hours ago. At first glance there weren’t many birds. Closer exam revealed hundreds if not thousands of ducks. There were several significant rafts. More than 180 each of Eared Grebes and Coots, over 320 Ruddy Ducks, a group of 50-60 American Avocets standing shoulder to shoulder, 50 Gadwall, 50 Redheads, 25 American Wigeons, 150 or more Northern Shovelers and 20 Ring-necked Ducks. There were also 4 Great Blue Herons standing together at the upper end of one of the small river islands. It is always amazing to see what a good spell of “bad” weather will drop on the river. Yesterday morning as it started to rain there were a number of shovelers and teal and coots but that was about it. – Beth Hill

Oct. 3 – When I left the house today, I saw dozens of ravens down at the corner and when I came home, there were dozens in my pasture. Don’t think I’ve seen a single raven out here before. I was too lazy to walk out to the squirrel feeder in the wet grass and mud early this a.m., so I set a dish of oily sunflower seeds, acorns, grapes, and peanuts out on the deck. There are only shells left! And one grape sitting on the step. The cats went out with me and aren’t back in. I’m hoping the squirrel will get the grape after the cats come back in. I saw pelicans at Freezeout on Wednesday. Saw one Swainson’s Hawk out here but not in the trees where they’ve nested in the past. – Bev Axelson

Oct. 6 – Have our first Lincoln’s Sparrow this morning, we also still have several White-throated Sparrows. – Richard Mousel

Oct. 7 – Harriet Marble and I saw a magnolia warbler yesterday at Giant Springs. – Liz Larcom

Oct. 7 – There is fairly good birding at Giant Springs today, although I didn’t find the Magnolia Warbler. I didn’t really look very hard. There are fair numbers of Yellow-rumped and Orange Crowned Warblers a good bunch of White- throated Sparrows mostly in the first group of bushes next to the walkway. There is also a Hermit Thrush as well. Along with a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. I also saw a number of Flickers, Russ Hill said he saw a Yellow-shafted one.

One of the owls is in a Cottonwood along the old road. I filled the bird feeder, didn’t see any activity at it.

Oct. 7 – several comments were made on the Trumpeter Swan that over-summered above the Black Eagle Dam. It started out the spring further up-river near the water treatment plant.

Oct. 7 – There are lots of White-crowned Sparrows in my garden in Ft. Benton eating my volunteer sunflowers. – Wendy Kamm

Oct. 9 – It was a perfect day today so Maria and I decided to check a couple of my Bluebird Trails, we did the Hwy 89 and Logging Creek trails. The trails include about 70 boxes. It appears to have been a pretty good year. The estimated Mountain Bluebirds fledged is 182 and 33 Tree Swallows. These trails contain about half of my Bluebird boxes. By the looks of the posts, I’m going to have to start bringing some new steel posts. – Richard Mousel

Oct. 11 – There is a good Fallout at Giant Springs. – Richard Mousel (lots of warblers, sparrows)

Oct. 11 – Palm Warbler at Giant Springs. It’s been hanging out near the parking lot in the Hawthorne Trees. Richard Mousel

Oct. 11 – Harriet Marble and I had a palm warbler out at Benton Lake yesterday morning, too! (Shelterbelt adjacent to the road stub to HQ.) Other highlights of the day were a white-winged scoter and a Bonaparte’s gull. Water level high and many, many waterfowl and other birds at the lake. – Liz Larcom

Oct. 13 – 3 or more Palm Warblers at Giant Springs this morning. – Richard Mousel

Oct. 19 – Shrike at Giant Springs chasing house finches. – Richard Mousel

Oct. 20 – A quick check from the West Bank side of the river this evening yielded few geese (they left early, probably because all the clouds made it much darker). A pleasant surprise was 2 Common Loons loafing together. Another was a single Sabine’s Gull still in full breeding colors (solidly black head still). I had seen it two days earlier. The Buffleheads seemed to have made themselves at home. A single Common Goldeneye. What will this cold front bring? Beth Hill Oct. 20 – With the latest wonderful fall weather Maria and I decided to check and clean the other half of my Bluebird Trails boxes. One of the highlights was a Northern Shrike. The Riceville Evans trail contains approximately another 75 boxes. The weather cooperated this summer and we had really good numbers of estimated fledglings. The tally is as follows:407 Mountain Bluebirds; 51 Tree Swallows; 16 Mountain Chickadees; 13 House Wrens. – Richard Mousel

Oct. 24 – I traveled the raptor route from Cascade to Ulm and was treated to a 10-minute tussle between a juvy bald eagle and 3 ravens. it appeared that the eagle had something in his claw and the ravens wanted it. Eventually the bald eagle turned the tables and chased off the ravens. 2 photos attached (the birds were so far and so photos not great). Saw 4 other raptors along this route and was only able to get close enough to photograph one. I think he is a roughie, photo attached. (It was – ed.) Lastly, saw 2 meadowlarks, they looked like juveniles. – Jan Wilson

Oct. 24 – It was not very close, but what I saw looked more like a Pacific Loon than a Common Loon at Giant Springs this morning. The bill looked small, the head looked ’rounder’ and the white on the neck was wide and straight edg- es. It just seemed small even far across the river.

We should be getting into fall “loon time”, so keep your eyes open. I’ve seen several already this fall. Otherwise there have been very few water birds the past week around Giant Springs. Today’s Bufflehead count was up to 15. One fly- by Mallard and no Canada Geese while we were there. Seems oddly empty. Beth Hill

Oct. 29 – Giant Springs. The river still has few waterfowl. We did see a single Red-breasted Merganser (female or young male), 25 Buffleheads and 18 American Coot. A flock of 34 Tundra Swans flew overhead just as we arrived. Their “tooting” gave them away. – Beth Hill

Share your bird sightings with other members –request to be added to the “UMBA Bird Share” google group by sending an email to umbaudubon@gmail.com