Chesty the Harris's Hawk
A young Red-tailed Hawk, released 2008.
Things are always hopping at the Raptors of the Rockies organization. We're taking care of the birds and maintaining their enclosures, we're conducting raptor programs at local schools and organizations across Western Montana, art is flying out of the studio, we're taking photos and shooting video, we're out in the field birding and/or doing research, and much, much more.
To help you keep up with the flurry of activities happening at Raptors of the Rockies, we're blogging on a more-or-less daily basis and our most recent posts are listed below. Enjoy!
Spot the Target Species?Posted: Sun, 23 Apr 2017My friend Mac Donofrio did within a minute, searching for a pair of Peregrines up in the Bitterroot Mountains Friday. I came slogging in after punching through a few feet of snow on an old logging road then bushwhacking up a ridge for an hour. Mac was way ahead of me, and gasping for breath I asked if he had anything, perched on a rock and peering his scope. "Got em," he declared. We decided to stay in hopes of some closer action, but this was it - one up on that distant cliff of One Horse Creek. With Mac looking through the scope I had him tell me when she/he was in profile for this photo. HA!
Various DeliveriesPosted: Thu, 20 Apr 2017I was in a slightly different location last evening hoping to see a downy head poke up and instead got these. A nice new stick brought in by the female (!) then at least one ground squirrel and perhaps a fish. Soon enough we can guess how many chicks they are feeding. Since they built the nest in 2011 it went like this:
2012- three, 2013- two, 2014- one, 2015- three, and last year- two glorious offspring. Thank goodness. I am so lucky to have these friends as neighbors.
Now Look!Posted: Wed, 19 Apr 2017Who owns the platform? The Ospreys. Apparently they showed up the day after the goose-exit, and rightfully own the nursery. Today's shot.
ContinuedPosted: Tue, 18 Apr 2017Here is the whole platform, and someone just told me that an Osprey was on it the next day! I'll go check it out. Plus the plunge of the last chick, joining the family below and foraging on vegetation, brooded by the female at night. Two months before their feathers grow in and they fly.
Jump!Posted: Mon, 17 Apr 2017Just as we were driving by this Osprey nest platform at Metcalf Refuge on Saturday, I noticed the occupants were about to bail. The female Canada Goose had been incubating for about a month, all of the young had hatched at once and they were off for their first "flights" with a bounce on the ground below. I swear we just pulled up and I said, "Tom watch this!" In a minute the female flew, her mate honking below and then, one after the other, all seven were leaping and tumbling - unbelievable timing and luck which doesn't happen very often in the photography world. Now an Osprey can come and claim the platform, double duty as a nursery and just in time.
Bald Eagle DisputePosted: Sun, 16 Apr 2017This 4 year old eagle showed up and sure stirred it up at the nest last night. They actually made contact a few times when the big female got too close to the nest. Those photos are mostly obscured by limbs, oh well. And Happy Easter!
Hurray!Posted: Thu, 13 Apr 2017Every year I worry that the eagles' nest will fail and I would have no excuse to stand on the beach for hours every night. This year I could spy the white head hunkered down in incubation starting around March 5th, watching through the scope in the living room. Add 35 days and voila! - hatching Sunday or Monday. Posture, behavior, and hyper-vigilance by the male all indicated big news for the nest. He even chased a raven and a duck that flew by the tree! Then I watched fish deliveries like this whitefish, dropped off. Instead of the female ripping off a chunk and tossing it down, it looked like she was feeding a chick, what luck. More news on the way, and this from the last time it was sunny on Monday.
TonightPosted: Wed, 12 Apr 2017First an Osprey attack, actually as I was walking down to the beach so grabbed the camera and hand-held. About 20 swoops on the eagle, whew. Then this of a young Bald Eagle, maybe his daughter from last year. It will only get better and the eagle chicks have hatched, feedings of fish. Whew again.
Non-Lead BulletsPosted: Mon, 10 Apr 2017Thanks Mike McTee at the MPG Ranch for organizing this demonstration of lead versus non-lead ammunition, and an eye-opener. Friend Chris Parish of The Peregrine Fund and new friend Leland Brown from the Oregon Zoo are perfect partners in demonstrating and describing why the healthy and ethical choice of hunters should be bullets made of copper or other alloys. Ingested lead fragments can remain in the shot quarry and ingesting them is unhealthy for humans and can be lethal for scavengers like raptors. Chris shot various caliber rounds into water traps (brilliant) and ballistic gel so we could see the relatively clean path of copper and the stuff left behind with traditional lead. Made me want to bust out the ole 270!
Back at the BeachPosted: Thu, 06 Apr 2017The last two evenings on the river behind the house I was positive I would see an Osprey. Reward just before dark last night when an attack ensued. I have a confession - I was so excited and surprised (and rusty at this photography thing) I forgot how to change the crop mode on my Nikon D800 camera. So lots of shots of ospreys cut in half, instead of the wider shots with both birds. And the Osprey was just above the eagle, oh well. Unbelievable and won't happen again. I mean my blunder, not the Osprey attacks.