04-26-13 Field Note

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04-26-13 Field Note

April 26, 2013

Kate Stone's Field Note shows Barrow's goldeneyes, curlews, sandhill cranes, and nesting eagles,

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Kate Stone field note 04-26-13

draws. Our shrubby draw surveys revealed some interesting fall-out from the snow event. We had our first sightings of savannah sparrows for the year, with small flocks hunkering down in the shrubs. Song sparrows joined them in some places. Large flocks of American pipets used the open grasslands above the draws.

A flock of dark-eyed juncos made use of one of the log piles placed in the bottom of Tongue Creek.

Just one morning of ungulate roaming generates extensive soil erosion in the shrubby draws.

A pair of kestrels hang out near the stock tank in Tongue Creek. Several cottonwoods offer cavities, though the kestrels may have to compete with starlings for them.

Over 40 American robins foraged on the warm ground exposed on this south-facing hill.

hill. The long-billed curlews returned to the same area they used for breeding last year. Three of them called throughout the snowy morning.

long-billed curlew

A northern flicker takes a break from incessant drumming on the fence poles.

poles. Sunshine and warm weather quickly melted the snow and luckily exposed this prickly pear before I could step on it.

On Thursday morning, an osprey appeared in the bald eagle nest. Maybe its presence prompted the bald eagle pair into action; by the afternoon they looked like they might occupy the nest. On Friday morning, the osprey was back.

At the Schroeder bald eagle nest, the female continues to incubate while the male sits close by. At least two other nests in the valley hatched in the past week.

A pair of sandhill cranes forage in the corn stubble.

A high-pitched metallic “tink” announced the first white-crowned sparrow of the season. Its orange bill indicates it is part of the “Adult West Taiga” group of white-crowned sparrows, and that it may have a long journey ahead of it still. White-crowned sparrows in the “Interior West” group, including those that breed in Montana, have a pink bill.

This female mountain bluebird watches a male inspect a nest box.

female mountain bluebird

Two long-eared owls continue to incubate. The female on the third nest flushed upon my arrival and made several warning vocalizations, suggesting the eggs may have hatched.

A black-capped chickadee explores a hole in a quaking aspen.

The Say’s phoebe built its nest above the garage spotlight at the Top House. Like past nesting locations, this spot receives consistent human disturbance.

A red-tailed hawk incubates on the northern floodplain.

A pair of Barrow’s goldeneyes enjoy the new pond on the floodplain. This detection raises the MPG Ranch species count to 197.

We have bats! Six weeks of recording on the floodplain generated over 1,000 bat detections of several species. The Sheep Camp station recorded five bats on just one night.

Ground squirrel hole.

Previous Field Note

04-19-13 Field Note