Helena Area Birds
- Among the "better" birds on a swing around the Helena Valley this morning were a Canyon Wren below Hauser Dam (East side) and a Pied-billed Grebe above the dam.
- How far down? Was it at the big rock fall, or before that?
From: MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com [mailto:MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com] On
Behalf Of birder_bob
Sent: Friday, February 15, 2013 9:25 PM
Subject: [MOB-Montana] Helena Area Birds
Among the "better" birds on a swing around the Helena Valley this morning
were a Canyon Wren below Hauser Dam (East side) and a Pied-billed Grebe
above the dam.
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It's spring break at UM and I have traveled to Lewis and Cark County to spend time with my family and friends! AND of course, I have taken a lot of time to bird the Helena Valley and South Hills. A white goose was seen 4/2 at Spring Meadow State Park following the Ross's Goose we were lucky enough to pick up at Ennis Lake the day before (thanks TFJ!). I did not determine whether the SMSP goose was Snow or Ross's. The head was lightly stained yellow, but the bird was very small overall, with no visible smirk. When my Dad and I returned for a photo, the bird was gone. It remains a mystery. A Turkey Vulture surprised us at Spring Meadow, and American Goldfinches were beautiful, chattering at the Fairgrounds Duck Pond as well.
On 4/2 I also hiked into the Scratch Gravel Hills, which burned two summers ago. I approached the area via the Norris Trailhead. An American Three-toed Woodpecker was a lifer for me, and the highlight of the day. Probably more than a dozen Hairy Woodpeckers were working the burned trees, and the numbers of Mountain Bluebirds were even more impressive. A Northern Goshawk was a gem to find as well. This accipiter's white supercillium was very distict, even as it flew.
Today, I birded the cemeteries of Helena, first visiting Forestvale, one of my personal favorite hotspots in the area. Pinyon Jays are sometimes found here, but not today. Instead, I found a lone Blue Jay, harassing a very light colored (probably Prairie ssp) Merlin. At Ressurection Cemetery off North Montana, I also found a pair of Merlins, seemingly courting as they performed aerial displays together. A Bald Eagle was also seen circling the cemetery.
Mountain Chickadees have been numerous throughout my trip and today, I also found all three species of Nuthatch up one of the South Hills/Mount Ascension trails.
I couldn't have imagined a better Spring Break! Hope your week has been as joy- and bird-filled as mine has!
Hilary A. Turner
Missoula (currently in Helena), Montana