MARCH RAPTOR TRIP
Join us on Saturday, March 3rd for a morning searching for raptors, along the roads of the northern Gallatin Valley. On this early spring trip the focus will be on finding raptors, but there should be some other interesting birds along this route. The trip ends early in the afternoon at Central Park Pond. We will meet at the Museum of the Rockies at 8:30 am, and leave at 8:45. Be sure to dress for the weather and bring any necessary drinks or snacks for this 4-5 hour trip. If you have a spotting scope that you can bring, that would be helpful. For more information call John Parker at 586-5863.
Its been an exciting winter with record setting Christmas Bird Counts, the Snowy Owl invasion, and odd birds wintering in Montana like the Great-tailed Grackle at the Gallatin Valley Mall. Its time to do our late winter bird survey on the Madison Valley IBA and it will be interesting to see if we turn up some different birds with the mild winter we have had this year.
The next IBA survey will be on Sunday, March 4th. We will meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Cafe in Ennis at 7:15 if you want to eat breakfast there or a little later if you don't need breakfast. We will try to leave the cafe for our bird counts by 8am. We should be done and ready to leave by noon.
For more information, please email Paulette Epple at bigskyepplesATmsn.com or call at 406-580-6186.
A large blackbird has been causing quite a stir among the Montana birding community. First sighted Feb. 2nd, this Great-tailed Grackle has been frequenting a local Mexican fast-food establishment over the past 2 weeks. More likely to be seen in Texas or Arizona than Bozeman, this grackle is only the 3rd reported sighting in the state. What would bring such a bird to Montana in February? Well, the Great-tailed Grackle, once rarely seen north of Mexico, has seen a rapid expansion of its North American range. By the end of the 20th century, it had nested in at least 14 states and was reported in 21 states and 3 Canadian provinces. This coincided with habitat changes such as irrigation and urbanization.
The male is glossy black with purple iridescence, a long keel-shaped tail, large bill and yellow eyes. In its normal inland habitat, it forages in open grasslands, pastures and lawns. It has adapted to find food in dumpsters, lawns and trees in urban areas. The grackle's diet includes insects, small vertebrates, plant matter and garbage. Thanks to Nate Kohler for providing us with a great photo!