Bird Sightings for Nov 2023

Nov 28: We saw a flock of 40 Sandhill Cranes just west of our place yesterday. They were headed south. – Kitty Knaphus

Nov 22: Bev Axelsen sent a photo of 30 waxwings in her tree.

Nov 21: I was out this morning for a sunrise shoot on the road to Widow Coulee. 8 swans flew by low, but not close enough for photo. Light was low so I couldn’t tell if they were Tundra or Trumpeter. – Jan Wilson

Nov 21: saw two northern flickers as I left our place this a.m. songbirds weren’t awake/at the feeders, yet! took a drive to Armington and East looking for the turkeys we saw last week saw about 14 of them but I think more where in front of the barn away from the highway and/or in with the equipment parked by the barns. saw three bald eagles – the first one was in a tree near a big nest at Memke’s East of Great Falls. did see a flock of Cedar Waxwings near Monarch and a couple of Clark’s Nutcrackers and several mountain chickadees near Neihart. lots of ravens and magpies everywhere and lots of deer. – Bev Axelsen 

Nov 20: Cranes by sound. – Kitty Knaphus

Nov 18:  Winter raptor survey report from the Fairfield bench: – Beth Hill

Nov 15: Michelle and I visited Benton Lake not too long after sunrise this morning.  It may have been 30 degrees but the wind was 0 mph at first – the lake surface was like a mirror.  By 9 am it was picking up and warming.  It was wonderful listening to the 60 plus Tundra Swans whooping (recall that they were once named Whooping Swans).  They were next to over 120 Snow Geese.  Mallards outnumbered everything else (put together).  A smattering of other ducks included Northern Shoveler, American Wigeon, Canvasback, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, just 10 Coots.  There were 2 or more Northern Harriers always in sight flying low over the marsh and grassland.  What a nice way to spend the morning. – Beth Hill

Nov 13 There were 4 of us in the car Saturday.  The temperatures ranged from 40-50 degrees.  It was mostly cloudy all day.  The wind started out SW 15-18 mph then increased to gusts past 30 mph after 11:15 am.  Whether fewer birds after that was due to the wind or time of day is impossible to determine.  We saw one large group of antelope laying down in a field (it was very windy at that time) – there were over 55 counted.  It was surprising to see a Pied-billed Grebe in a channel of the Smith River just before we got to Eden Bridge.  The water was about 6 inches deep right where it was holding.  There were nice looks at several of the Red-tail Hawks and the single Rough-legged Hawk.  A first year Red-tail landed on a fence post with a ‘gopher’ and proceeded to do some eating while we watched.  After a few bites it took off.  The eBird report here:  – Beth Hill

Nov 12:  1 Red Crossbill, 1 Redpoll, 1 A. Goldfinch, 1 Pine Siskin, 27 House Finches.  /// 19 Tundra Swans, lots of Canada Geese and about 300 Sandhill Cranes.  The cranes were all lifting off in small groups and flying south.  This was in a stubble field about 7 miles from our house. /// Still have some swans in the field, along with lots of Canada Geese.  Also 2 adult Bald Eagles on the Osprey nest at the Ulm FAS. – Kitty Knaphus

Nov 12: just returned from a nice drive today with friend, Suzette. saw a vulture soaring above Riceville Road near where we could see Tiger Butte; saw two dozen turkeys under the trees near the Sluice Box that walked right up to the vehicle; saw 50 turkeys a few miles from Armington Junction; and was surprised to see a small flock (about a dozen) cedar waxwings in the trees along the road where we turned to drive into Belt!  – Bev Axelsen 

Nov 7: With the addition of suet, peanut and seed blocks have had an increasing variety of visitors, in addition to House Finch and Sparrow we’ve had numerous Black-capped Chickadees several Mountain Chickadees and  both Red-breasted and a White-breasted Nuthatch and today 3 Downey Woodpeckers. – Richard Mousel

Nov 5: This has been an interesting fall in Fort Benton.  At my feeder, besides the usual house finches, house sparrows, downy wood peckers, black capped chickadees and flickers, this week saw a mountain chickadee, red and white breasted nuthatches and a female red crossbill. – Wendy Kamm

Nov 4: Velda and I drove the Sun River-Simms WRS route this morning.  The weather really wasn’t bad, a little breeze.  A misty rain for about an hour.  We were able to find a number of raptors.  A surprise was a late Western Meadowlark.  We watched a Golden Eagle get harassed by a pair of magpies over the rim of one of the benches, then it came up with what looked like a 8-10 inch long stick about 1- 1.5 inch diameter.  Then it dipped below the rim and we didn’t see it again.  Nest building?  A little later we watched a non-adult Bald Eagle flapping wildly on a tree top.  It flipped upside down, flapping and hanging on (or stuck?) on the branch.  Then it took off.  It landed on the top of another tree and flopped around again and this time it flew off with a branch.  That explained it.  It was gathering nest materials.  Or maybe just practicing because it then dropped it.  It was, after all, not an adult (traces of white in head and tail). There were several Rough-legged Hawks.  Several Northern Harriers. One nice Harlan’s Red-tail (it was really dark, no red, no bars or belly, but we could clearly see yellow legs (not feathered).  We were surprised to see as many kestrels as we did.  The route is about 65 miles long and it took 4 hours to complete (we did take a 30 minute detour mid-route to visit with a friend, that time was not included). Trip report here: – Beth Hill

Nov 2: About noon we were coming home from a trip to town.  We had seen 19 Swans along with about 300 Canada Geese feeding in a stubble field on our way into town so we stopped there to look again.  The swans and geese were still there but we also spotted a group of 20 Sandhill Cranes.  We got out to watch them and over the next 15 minutes we watched group after group of cranes lift off from further back in the field, where we couldn’t see them on the ground.  We counted 302 cranes.  It was a nice show.  Could be our last cranes of the season. – Kitty Knaphus

Nov 2: Liz Larcom & I saw 270 Sandhill Cranes past Ulm on Saturday afternoon along with 4 swans flying overhead. The cranes were in a field with cows, Canada geese & mallards. – Nora Gray

Nov 1: We’ve been visiting Giant Springs this week since county roads are extremely mucky right now. /// I’ve found a group of 6 or more Pine Grosbeaks each day feeding on ash tree seeds.  They were in the main park but seemed to prefer the area below the interpretive center.  They call to each other quite a bit.  It’s interesting to watch them.  ///  Lots of birds moving through.  There are a lot of juncos and tree sparrows once it warms up.  Not huge numbers of ducks (outside of the coots) but a little bit of everything.  The first goldeneyes showed up today. ///  We located a Surf Scoter (white patch on back of the head) hanging out loosely with the rafts (200 plus) of Bufflehead.  We watched him a good while today until a duck boat came screaming downstream and every bird took off.  The Buffleheads came back but we lost track of the scoter.  –  Beth Hill

Nov 1: Yesterday’s Redpoll count was 26.  Also had a couple of Pine Siskins. /// There are still some swans at Ulm.  Four on the water at noon today and at least four more out feeding in the fields with the Canada Geese.  – Kitty Knaphus







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