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Our winter point counts for 2012 are wrapping up next week. 534 points across the ranch have been surveyed once from mid January through mid March. Typical winter residents have been common. These include: black-capped and mountain chickadees; red-breasted, white-breasted, and pygmy nuthatches; black-billed magpies, and Clark’s nutcrackers. Uncommon species observed this winter include: Lapland longspur, gray-crowned rosy finch, snow bunting, and winter wren.

There are few winter point count surveys done in Montana. By sharing our data with the state we hope to improve winter distribution maps in Missoula County. We also hope to have a better understanding of habitat use on MPG Ranch. As restoration efforts continue we will be able to compare future surveys with our baseline data for vegetation and birds.

Winter wren

This winter wren is a new species on the ranch. It was observed this week in the Woodchuck drainage.

Long Eared Owl

There have been 4-6 long-eared owls roosting in Tongue Creek all winter.

About the Author

Eric Rasmussen

Eric received a B.S. in Resource Conservation from the University of Montana in 2000, and soon after volunteered for his first bird research job in the arctic tundra of Alaska. Afterwards he worked for nine years, mostly in western Montana, on bird-related research projects for the U.S. Forest Service.

In 2010, Eric was hired by MPG Ranch as the Bird Research Technician and now conducts breeding bird surveys, raptor migration surveys, and winter bird surveys, as well as participating in other ranch projects such as owl and raptor banding and community field trips. In his free time, Eric enjoys searching for wild mushrooms, playing ultimate Frisbee, and backcountry skiing.