October 2023

UMBA’s 2023 Christmas Bird Count – Invitation

UMBA invites anyone interested in helping with this year’s census to come to the Monday, December 11, 2023 chapter meeting, 7:00 PM in the FWP Regional Headquarters conference room (4600 Giant Springs Road).

Nora Gray will assign participants to one of 10 area teams with experienced team leaders. Inexperienced birders can serve as spotters or the team scribe while learning to identify the birds. The leader packets will be given out at the meeting.

We also hope that anyone not in one of the CBC section car groups will count birds in their yards! You can email or call Nora Gray to report your yard Count Day findings by Sunday, December 17. Remember, “Count Week” is 3 days before & 3 days after “Count Day”. During Count Week, we count only species not see on Count Day, not numbers of birds in a species. If you have sightings on these additional days, please inform Nora! Count Day this year: Sat., Dec.16; Count Week: Dec. 13, 14, 15 & 17, 18, 19.

On count day – Saturday, December 16 – dress WARMLY, bring a thermos with a hot drink and a lunch, binoculars, a scope and a bird field guide (if you have them), AND a sense of adventure. Let Nora know the week before the meeting if you need to borrow a pair of binoculars. She has to go pick them up.

Most teams begin their count around 8:00 AM and finish between noon & 5:00 PM, depending on the weather and size of their count area. Check with your area team leader about where & when to meet Saturday morning.

At 5:00 PM Count Day, participants and other interested folks may join UMBA for the wrap-up session that includes pizza & salad in the FWP Regional Headquarters confer- ence room. Each area leader reports the number of species and birds seen that day and then gives highlights of that area’s sightings. UMBA will pay for CBC participants’ dinners; nonparticipants will pay $7 each. Please let Nora Gray know if you’ll join us for pizza by Thursday, December 14, so that we order enough!

In case of inclement weather, the dinner will be canceled, and the count will be held Sunday, December 17.

For the birds,

Nora Gray     norafgray@gmail.com     781-4153

Bird Sightings for Oct 2023

Oct 21 Walked thru the pasture to the river just before dawn looking for Sandhill Cranes. There were about 50 feeding in the pasture the day before. But today they just flew over and never landed. Counted between 50 – 75 in small groups for about 30 minutes. Attached is a photo with an adult flying with a juvenile. – Jan Wilson

Oct 20 White-Breasted Nuthatch It’s still sticking around. – Richard Mousel

Oct 16 I received one more route to check out.  Tuesday looks to be too windy.  I was hoping to explore another winter raptor survey route Wednesday or Thursday this week.  Maybe Saturday.  The routes vary between 65 – 85 miles in length.  They all involve driving transects in an area that might host over wintering raptors.  The surveys are done in the months of December, January and February, once each month. – Beth Hill

If anyone is interested in exploring another route this week, let me know, and which day works best.  We’d be heading out about 8 am.  Where we meet up depends on which route is driven.  Expect to finish early in the afternoon.  Last week we finished an 80 mile trip at about 1:30 pm. – Beth Hill

Oct 16 there are about two dozen pheasants in the wheatfield adjacent to my pasture this a.m.  roosters, hens, and young I hope they don’t tear up the sprouting wheat – Bev Axelsen

Oct 14 We were totally surprised by the sudden dense fog as we got within 1/4 mile of Valier.  The fog lasted well past 11 am but made viewing the eclipse a weird experience.  We could see it easily because we didn’t have to fight the sun glare.  It also made viewing birds on the lake difficult at best until after 11 am.  Even so, there were quite a few loons.  We stopped at the lighthouse area first then visited it last when we could see better.  A couple of late birds – like the juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron and a pair of female Yellow Headed Blackbirds were a bit of a surprise.  The Snow Geese and Trumpeter Swans were a nice addition.  The numbers of waterfowl on the water seemed low.  (Eureka Reservoir water level was extremely low).  We saw some cool birds and had a good time. Take a look at our trip report. https://ebird.org/tripreport/164468

Oct 11 I had 3 mountain chickadees bouncing around when I took a neighborhood walk this morning.  A new neighborhood bird.  And some Canadian Snowbirds, oh wait, those are jets. – Beth Hill

Oct 14 Just had a new Yardbird, a White breasted Nuthatch. – Richard Mousel

Oct 09  It was a very good year with 421 Mountain Bluebirds fledged, the Tree Swallows were down a bit this year with 111 fledged. It was also a great year for Mountain Chickadees with a tally of 40 fledged and lastly we had 31 House Wrens fledge. Sure missed Dan Bennett driving, I hope his health improves, Thank you Dan for all the years you’ve driven, it sure helps. Another Thank you to Beth who drove me a couple times this summer. The total Birds fledged was 603 and the Mountain Bluebirds was 421. An excellent tally. – Richard Mousel

Oct 08 Just had a Mountain Chickadee visit our fountain for a drink. I’m very surprised to see one this early.  – Richard Mousel

Oct 07 This morning Velda and I took a practice run on a proposed winter raptors survey route on the Fairfield Bench.   We drove about 90 miles on the route itself.  It covered a good portion of the bench because of the back and forth nature of the route.  We made notes about roads that might be poor in wet conditions (quite a few).  We saw a few unexpected birds – a group of pipits on a power line, 29 killdeer in one pot hole that was drying up, a belted kingfisher, more starlings and house sparrows than you can shake a stick at and one flock of “black birds” that was actually more Brewer’s and Red-winged blackbirds than starlings.  Oh – and there were raptors, red-tailed hawk and northern harriers with a possible merlin (5 and 6 respectively).  One field had 3 harriers, the male was almost courtship flying with one of the two females.  2 more routes to check out before the snow flies.- Beth Hill and Velda Baltrusch

Oct 07 Great Egret second night seen at West Bank.  Probably could see from east river drive as well.  May be there other times.  I’ve just been there in the evenings. – Beth Hill

Oct 04 We have had numerous Pine Siskins, White-crowned Sparrows, Juncos and one lone RW Blackbird working on the sunflowers that I hung from the feeder poles in the yard.  Also had a flock of several hundred blackbirds swirling around a couple of days ago.  All we could observe of those were Brewers. – Beth Hill

Oct 03 I walked through a cow pasture that was on the Riverdale Ranch Conservation easement and flushed about 20 American pipits. I was headed towards the Missouri looking for Sandhill cranes when 5 flew over me. Did not see any on my side of the river but heard their sounds on the other side. Spotted a Bald eagle fishing. – Jan Wilson

Bird Sightings for Sept 2023

Sept. 29 We traveled on the raptor route and first thing we saw were several groups of Sandhill Cranes on left side of road (traveling towards Cascade) near the Lil Valley Ranch. Total numbers were about 50. By the time we got to Cascade we had seen 5 red-tailed hawks, 1 female harrier, 6 ravens, 1 golden eagle, 1 immature bald eagle, and a small kettle of Turkey Vultures up very high. – Jan Wilson

Sept. 28 Friend Suz and I stopped at West Bank Park. I have never seen so many starlings and blackbirds hundreds, maybe even a thousand or more!!! the power lines were sagging under the weight of so many birds. the roofs of buildings were covered with birds. the trees were full of birds. then they began forming murmurations! – Bev Axelson

Sept. 24 Neighbor said there were at least 500 yellow headed blackbirds yesterday. I just visited with her in person to make sure that is what she was describing. I just got home to  hundreds of starlings in the horse pasture and on fences, a couple dozen northern flickers, a few yellow headed blackbirds, and hundreds of sparrows some of which are white crowned. – Bev Axelson

Sept. 23 drove out to the Stockett Road hoping to see the Swainson’s, arriving there about 7:00 p.m. tonight saw one atop a utility pole, then another, then one in a tree and then when we looked closer at the tree there were dozens in it. so friend Suzette and I watched and photographed and then a cat came skulking across the road and jumped up on the cottonwood tree trunk which set at least two dozen Swainson’s flying out of the tree!  we watched them fly over the fields back and forth to the utility poles and then we noticed activity in the second cottonwood tree on the E side of the road. Suzette thinks there were about 50 between both trees; I’m guesstimating at least three dozen. – Bev Axelson

Sept 23 I led a group of about 12 neophytes, including a 4 and 6/ year old, on a walk around Giant Springs this morning.  It wasn’t supposed to rain.  Or even be 100% clouds, but it is what it is.  We saw the Great Horned Owl, thanks to Jeri’s sharp eyes.  He/she was hidden high, very high, up in a leafy tree.  We even got the 4 year old on it.  It was no more than a grey blob without binoculars.  Songbirds were pretty much inactive although we had one tree full of kinglets and 2 downy woodpeckers.  We managed to find several Wilson’s Warblers.  Down on the river we had 3 Great Blue Herons on the far side.  Everyone got a good look at a Belted Kingfisher as she flew about the fishing pond.  We may have seen 20 species altogether. – Beth Hill

Sept 23 we saw 2 fences lines full of Swainson’s, the first had only 8; the second had about 20. located on the Stockett road just off the hwy 87. About a mile on right. – Jan Wilson

Sept 23 The trees and shrubs have been busy with small songbirds this week.  We have had Yellow-rumped Warblers, Black Capped Chickadees, White Crowned Sparrows, Juncos, Ruby Crowned Kinglets and a Down Woodpecker.  We’ve seen good sized flocks of Brewer’s Blackbirds and separate flocks of Meadowlarks.  Yesterday there was a rather wet and bedraggled looking Kestral. – Kitty and Kris

Sept 20 Driving through Sun River about 6PM we saw at least 15 Turkey vultures roosting in one tree. After gawping at them a few minutes we moved on only to notice half a dozen more in another tree about 1/4 mile away. – Elaina Graham

Sept 19 Well, there are still Burrowing Owls at the jump.  I saw 5 or 6 for sure.  Bev A. had 6 to 8. Also seen, Turkey Vulture, eagle (non-adult, leaning towards Golden – it was a silhouette),lots of Horned Larks, Western Meadowlarks, American Robins, White-crowned Sparrows, a couple of Savannah Sparrows and a single Spotted Towhee. There was a pair of buteos with light chests we just couldn’t place (distant and lighting worked against us). – Beth Hill

Sept 16 American Pipits and Spotted Towhees on the rocky cliffs at Buffalo Jump this morning. – Elaina Graham

Sept 13 Our garden is beginning to get busy migration visitors. We counted 5 Wilson’s Warblers, 2 Juncos, 1 juvy White-crowned sparrow and a Lincoln sparrow. – Jan Wilson

Sept 5 Here is the Merlin bird list from my place this morning. The Chickadees is my phone receiving an email. 🙂 Merlin missed the Magpies. The Hummingbird is still around this morning at Maria’s, they frequently have a Bed & Breakfast. Eurasian Collared Dove, MacGillivray’s Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Black-capped Chickadee. Happy to say we have another Hummingbird this morning. Not sure if it’s the same one as yesterday, this one seems chubby so maybe a Rufous. – Richard Mousel

Sept 4 I headed to Giant Sprigs this morning.  I parked at the Steamboat parking rea and walked up to the dam and back.  I started in the rain but the little birds were all over.  I probably heard 10 times what I could see.  Chipping Sparrows were all over.  In fact it seemed like there were several flocks moving round.  I might have seen over 100.  If they stopped where I could inspect individuals I could we that it’s. Mixed flock of mostly chippies.  I also saw White-crowned Sparrows in the mix. A few Clay-colored Sprrows, Rubycrowned Kinglets, Lincoln’s Sparrows, even a Swainson’s Thrush.  I didn’t overlook the river and spotted a Hooded Merganser sitting between a row of Common Mergansers on a log.  It was an interesting morning with a bunch of other bird seen and by walking on the trail I managed to stay dry. – Beth Hill

Sept 4 Just had another Hummingbird. A Calliope again I believe. Over the last couple of days we had a couple Wilson’s Warblers and at least 3 Juncos. – Richard Mousel

Sept 4 the caragana bushes are alive with the happy sounds of dozens of Wilson’s Warblers. a few showed up when it was raining this a.m. but they have been joined by many more all afternoon. they must be finding insects on the leaves because they are not feeding on the ground. occasionally they’ll come to the bird bath for water but I see them drinking out of rain cups that the chickadees like to drink from, also. – Bev Axelsen

Sept 1 Sat in my van to check out the burrowing owls again at the lower trail of the jump again. Got there around 530, at about 6 things got interesting as the owls were moving around and in some cases hunting. I think there may be 13 to 14 of them. Then saw Beth on the trail she had one fly right behind her. Then there were about 4 just below her and one on the hillside in back of her.After that the activity slowed down. Not the good show I had seen the other night. they were sitting on the mounds and some were hunting but not flying back and forth and visiting each other. still nice to see this many of them. Also saw deer, one pronghorn (antelope) one magpie, horned larks, meadow lark, and one Northern Harrier and lots of dogs. – Arla Eckert

Sept 1 Indeed.  They were all over just this one area.  It happens to be the area where they had their nest burrow this year.  I have to wonder if they are all one family. I also saw several Savannah Sparrows and one Vesper Sparrow. – Beth Hill.