Through the years a guy gets kind of attached to certain birds…just some that make an impression…they stick with you…my Top Ten Montana Bird List:
#10. Stellars Jay
A secretive type…I would see them in the Montana hills at altitude in elk country…not that common, though…saw a lot of them when I lived in Colorado…interesting mountain bird.
#9. Mountain Chickadee Comes to the feeder with his Black-Capped relatives…loves sunflower seeds…always on the move and chatting it up…never fails to entertain.
#8. Rufous Hummingbird Buzzing like big copper bees around the feeder, these guys are always ready for a fight!
#7. Mountain Bluebird If you want to see these neat birds just play a round of golf at Madison Meadows Golf Course in Ennis and you will get your wish!
#6. Dipper (water ouzel) Secretive little rascals…sometimes I see them underneath the cliffs near Comleyville Rapids, or up Jack Creek in the canyon…they can actually swim underwater…pretty cool birds.
#5. Sandhill Crane They nest here and spend the whole summer. Their mating dance in the spring is a sight. I found a nest once on one of the islands below Varney…two large eggs. In the Fall, they herd up and commence to squawking up a storm, then adios!
#4. Cliff Swallow To see the nests these critters build in the McAtee Bridge. Varney Bridge, Ruby Cliffs and elsewhere…and how they build them… is an engineering miracle.
#3. Great Gray Owl Along with the Snowy, the largest North American owl. I once walked up on a pair of Great Grays perched on a low branch in the hills near Low Pass Lake. They were surprisingly tame and let me get close. Impressive bird.
#2. American Avocet You see them on the river in the summer. The only shore bird with a turned up bill. They fly in formation like a jet squadron. Nice.
#1. Western Tanager My fave…if you see one along the river it will be a good day!
If I could add a few more, the list would include the Long Billed Curlew, Cinnamon Teal, Peregrine Falcon, Clarks’ Nutcracker, Yellow Warbler and more. But ya gotta end somewhere!
Chart your course. Walk the Earth.