Bird Sightings for January 2023

We (Beth Hill, Marge Wilson and Jan Wilson) drove a total of 176 miles on a day that went from partly cloudy to partly sunny to mostly sunny. It was 30-40 degrees (mostly 30-32 degrees) with wind that wasn’t noticeable. There was more snow on the ground as we headed north, but plenty of open ground. We were surprised to see so few raptors for the amount of ground covered. There were Bald Eagles at strategic spots – Tiber Dam and Carter Ferry where there was open water, waterfowl, etc. Golden Eagles were on prairie areas as were the Rough-legged Hawks and Prairie Falcon. We commented that Sanford Park and the VFW campground should be explored in spring, summer and fall.

The detailed report can be viewed here:

What has been remarkable about local birds in January has been how un-remarkable they  have been.  Here in  Great Falls once the ice melted at Giant Springs and the hunting season ended the waterfowl seemed to be somewhere else.  There were countable numbers of all the winter ducks from Common Goldeneye, Bufflehead and even Mallard Ducks.  There has been a pair of Pied-billed Grebes that have been spending the whole winter around the spring.  Off and on several Ruddy Ducks show up.  One can almost always find 5-15 Hooded Mergansers and a handful of Common Mergansers.  At the bird feeder there are almost always Black-capped Chickadees flying in and out and a mob of House Finches.  There is at least a pair of Downy Woodpeckers that know where the suet block is located.  Beth Hill

Bald Eagles have suddenly been showing up in numbers since January 23 when Beth Hill saw NINE sitting on the ice near the refinery at one time.  They quickly flew off.  The next day 5 were observed.  Beth continued to see Bald Eagles daily on walks along the river in the area between Garden Home Park and Black Eagle Dam.  On the 28th she saw 5 Bald Eagles (and a raven or crow) below the 15th St bridge and not much later Marge Wilson reported 9 Bald Eagles.  On the 30th there were at least 9 hanging around the Garden Home Park area not far from the boat ramp.  They were coming and going all morning.   At times 8 could be seen at once, but adding up the “white heads”, “dirty white heads” and “non-white heads” there were at least 9.  With all the different head colors there were all age classes coming and going.  As well as 2 ravens.

Wendy Kamm was out on January 26 in Fort Benton and found a lone Greater White-fronted Goose.  It had an extensive “white front” around the bill base and did not appear to be a domestic Greylag goose.

Has winter brought any interesting or different birds to your feeder or your walk routes?  Let Wayne Phillips know by contacting him at:

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