Bird Sightings for April 2023

March 31 First spring Double-crested Cormorant showed up at Giant Springs this morning. It was in beauti- ful breeding color. A great many Lesser Scaup this morning on the river in the area of the refinery. Over 100 between the island and 9th St bridge. – Beth Hill

April 2 I finally carried my spotting scope. Not only to see the distant ducks on the river but to get a good look at the owl box. There were not many ducks on the river. I did see the very tips of the “ears” of an owl in the box. There was about a half inch showing of one, then another was blowing in the breeze and then the head turned. She is very low in the box, like last year when incubation started. What else? A single Roughlegged Hawk (good chance it was migrating), a single Redtail Hawk (suspect it is the summer resident, it dove at the Roughlegged Hawk) and a single Snow Goose that decided to land among a group of California Gulls. Few waterfowl on the water today. I actually saw the Song Sparrows that were singing. I got a look at a Townsends Solitaire. They’ve been infrequent sightings this winter. I had a report that there were a hun- dred or more Northern Pintails below the hatchery housing earlier in the morning, but they must have taken off early. Beth Hill

April 3 We had our first robin of the season here yesterday just moments before the brief snow squall blew in. I took a drive to Freezeout Lake yesterday, as well, and saw three bald eagles, hundreds of snow geese, gulls, a half dozen swans, some Canadian geese and two horned larks. – Bev Axelsen

April 5 Have a grackle and starlings at the bird feeders today, and there are a few more northern flickers around; one or two stayed all winter. – Bev Axelsen

April 6 Had a report this am of 2 Sandhill Cranes flying over the area near the buffalo jump Arla Eckert April 6 We were lucky to be at Freezout yesterday when the goose numbers were estimated to be 88,000. At about 10 AM there was a small raft of white geese on the main lake. By 10:15 they started streaming in from the morning feeding, huge numbers settling in right in front of us. That continued pretty much non-stop for 75 to 80 min. It was an incredible sight and sound show! – Kitty and Kris

April 11 We have Tree Swallows checking out the bird houses today. 3 Curlew flew over the yard just now. – Kitty and Kris

April 11 Tree Swallows were at Giant Springs this morning as well. Checking out houses. – Beth Hill

April 12 I saw my first Mountain Bluebirds on Monday west of Choteau at the Sun River game range. Also, a great immature Golden Eagle. Fun. – Velda Baltrusch

April 12 I saw a mountain blue bird by the side of the road on highway 89 north of White Sulphur Springs. About 20 Sandhill Cranes and 5 big Turkey vultures by Wilsall. – Grayce Holzheimer

April 12 One Bluebird was spotted on River Road few miles from Ulm. 5 Sandhill cranes were in a field far off of Castner Falls Road. In addition to my trip along River Road, I saw 3 Red-winged Blackbirds, 6 Meadowlarks, 1 Bald eagle, 1 Great Blue Heron (flying very high over Castner Falls rd). – Jan Wilson

April 12 A small wave of Juncos. I heard several calling. – Richard Mousel

April 12 Hurray! Yesterday I heard the Juncos twitter above the wind noise as soon as I stepped out the door. – Beth Hill

April 14 there are robins out everywhere I look in the neighborhood (Gibson Flats); at least two of them are repeat visitors as they remembered to come up to my storm door and wait for me to bring grapes to them! – Bev Axelsen

April 15 I saw my first turkey vulture today. – Velda Baltrusch

April 15 I saw 3 Long-billed Curlews at Benton Lake today. Of course, waterfowl, but not huge numbers. – Beth Hill

April 15 I have 8 to 10 juncos in my yard in Choteau and 6 to 7 red-winged blackbirds! – Susan Hillstrom

April 16 I Saw 30 Juncos, 3 Cassin’s Finch, 12 Black Capped Chickadees and a Robin at Duck Lake. The lake is still completely frozen. – Susan DeBacker

April 16 Last Friday we saw a Short-eared Owl near the T intersection of 10 Mile and River Road. Also saw 2 Kestrels, one near there and one in the valley. – Kitty and Kris

April 17 Had a couple of Common Loons below Giant Springs. The owl was on the nest also had a Downey drumming. Had a pair of Nuthatches hanging around a birdhouse at Highland. I didn’t want to disturb them; they were around the Chickadee box that was used for the last two years. I checked the Nuthatch box it was full of twigs, apparently a Wren used it after the Nuthatches last year, I cleaned it out and put some sawdust in it. – Richard Mousel

April 17 I meant to post about seeing a loon yesterday. The owl is really visible now. The past few weeks it was just ear tufts. Thinking it might mean they have hatched if she is sitting more upright. Also, firsts were Mourning Doves, Grackles. An abundance of robins. A variety of juncos (some almost black to some almost pink), Song Sparrows singing mightily. Something new every day right now. We had a Long-billed Curlew fly upriver while at Giant Springs this morning. That was a first for that location. We saw some at Benton Lake this weekend. – Beth Hill

April 18 West Bank Park area had an abundance of Northern Shovelers this morning. There were more Gadwalls and fewer goldeneyes and Buffleheads. I saw a single Red-necked Grebe and about 20 Eared Grebes. There are several geese visible sitting on nests, which are barely above river level, which could be a problem if the river rises more than a couple inches. Singing Song Sparrows and Juncos found as well. – Beth Hill

April 18 Saw two Osprey in the Ulm area this morning. One was at the Ulm FAS nest pole, the other was moving sticks around on the upper nest. Juncos under the feeders yesterday and today. – Kitty and Kris

April 19 I made a pass through Giant Springs and spotted 20+ American Pipits landing and flying and landing on the road to search for crawly things on the ground. – Jan Wilson

April 21 The nose/beak count on deck this morning is: three squirrels, two juncos, three chickadees, four robins, two magpies (chasing after the squirrels), too many sparrows to count, four house finches, several starlings, three redwing blackbirds, one northern flicker hammering away out of sight, numerous gulls in the adjacent wheat field and pheasants and grouse in the pasture, and in the backyard, three cottontails and the strong scent of skunk in the air. – Bev Axelsen

April 21 Yesterday we saw 4 Kestrels within about 2 miles on River Road, from the old Y (by the upper Os- prey nest) to where the road bends south. We had 2 Savannah Sparrows join the Juncos under the feed- ers. We’ve never seen Savannahs under the feeders before. We had 13 inches of snow on the ground yes- terday and one of the few spots where bare ground was showing was under the feeders. – Kitty & Kris Knaphaus

April 22 I visited Giant Springs this morning and added a bunch of personal “first of year” birds. The first was a couple of Ruby-crowned kinglets singing in the tree tops. Later I heard several Yellow-rumped War- blers calling out. I saw my first Osprey or two flying up and down the river. There were several new Song Sparrows belting out their songs. There are still a bunch of Juncos, lots of Robins and Flickers working on holes. The owl is sitting in such a position the past 7-10 days that we suspect there are hatched owls in the nest box. Dad keeps a close eye on the nest box. Several Common Loons were cruising up and down the river. – Beth Hill

April 23 Today I saw my first Giant Springs turkey. She was walking around the playground then took a stroll through the main park. I doubt if she would have been there later in the morning with all the people out for a walk. My first of year American Avocets showed up today (4). – Beth Hill

April 23 We spotted an active Bald Eagle nest near the Ulm Bridge. It is on the Ulm side of the river. It is vis- ible from the opposite side from the old road right by the bridge. We didn’t have the scope along but with binocs could see an adult. It looked like it was feeding young. After about 10 min. it settled down on the nest. Also saw 2 Osprey fly in and have a brief territorial interaction over the Ulm FAS nest. – Kitty & Kris Knaphaus

April 26 Yesterday and today I got good looks at several nests with baby birds and birds sitting on nests around Giant Springs. I saw the baby owls for the first time. I saw the tops of two heads yesterday and had an even clearer view of two heads today (including a whole face). Dad is always nearby. The Red-tailed Hawk is still sitting tight but it won’t be all that long until they might be hatching. I peered across the river to see the Bald Eagle nest in Black Eagle (dad is always nearby). If you look close you can tell there are a lot of geese sitting on nests but I saw my first goslings of the year yesterday. Many California Gulls are sitting on nests on their little island in the river.

A push of Yellow-rumped Warblers arrived – you could hear them all over the main park area starting yesterday and a few you could even find to see. Ruby-crowned Kinglets were seen and heard. One had a ruby head stripe that seemed as wide as your little finger. Imagine spotting a kinglet because of its big red crown (and then making out the rest of the bird!). I saw my first Violet-green Swallow of the year yesterday. And a Lincoln’s Sparrow hopping in the low brush. Still just one or two Common Loons. Maybe that’s all we’ll have this migration year. Spring is always fun. – Beth Hill

April 28 I can hear my first Grackle of the year. – Richard Mousel

April 30 Finally discovered a positive for House Sparrows, they are flocking to my flowers to eat Aphids. I knew Warblers and Chickadees ate them; I didn’t know House Sparrows did. – Richard Mousel

May 1—reports from Ulm and Great Falls about seeing the first White-crowned Sparrows of the spring. And a big batch of Bonaparte’s Gulls at Giant Springs. The little birds are on their way.

. . . . . . . .

Report your bird observations to either Wayne Phillips ( or on (contact Beth Hill about joining).

Leave a Comment