MTPR

birds

How Black-Backed Woodpeckers Thrive After Wildfires

Jun 18, 2018
Female black-backed woodpecker.
Mike Laycock, USFWS (PD)

Most of you have probably seen or heard woodpeckers. Whether attracting them to your backyard with suet feeders, or hearing them drill on the side of your house, you have probably noticed their large pointed beak and ability to climb tree trunks.

But besides downy and hairy woodpeckers, which are seen often in Montana, we also have some types of woodpeckers that live in some of the most unique habitats and do some of the most peculiar things of any animal in the Rocky Mountains.

'Field Notes': All About The Western Meadowlark

May 13, 2018
Western meadowlark, or "thunderchunk".Western meadowlark
Kevin Cole (CC-BY-2)

If you have been in open country anywhere in Montana, you have heard, and probably seen, thunderchunks. These birds are everywhere, proclaiming territories and singing from fence posts, sage brush, and telephone poles.

'Field Notes:' All About Ravens

Apr 23, 2018
Raven in flight.
(PD)

I was walking through Greenough Park in Missoula the other day, enthralled by the bright spring afternoon. A yellow cascade of dandelions popped out against the grass. Rattlesnake Creek swelled with snowmelt. The air smelled of shoots, buds, and fresh growth. Then I heard an echoing croak. A raven swooped down and perched on a park bench, a defiant figure of darkness in the daylight.

'Field Notes:' How Scientists Study Bird Migration

Mar 19, 2018
Bar-tailed godwit.
Ian Kirk (CC-BY-2)

Migration is one of the many adaptations used by birds and other animals to cope with the cold temperatures and scarcity of food that winter can bring. As scientists and naturalists we are interested not only in where birds go in the winter, but in how we know where birds go in search of more hospitable conditions. Traditionally, scientists captured, tagged and released individual birds and hoped that someone, somewhere, would find this bird and report its whereabouts.

'Field Notes:' Great Horned Owls

Mar 12, 2018
Great horned owl watercolor.
Wenfei Tong

I was admiring a blanket of stars spread above Lake Como in Montana’s Bitterroot valley, when out of the stillness of the chill winter night came floating a deep, dignified, hoo-h’HOO-hoo-hoo.

There are few things more evocative of wildness in the northern woods than the hooting of great horned owls.

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