Favorite Travel Quotes

"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts."
-- Mark Twain
Innocents Abroad

"Stop worrying about the potholes in the road and celebrate the journey." -- Fitzhugh Mullan

"A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving." -- Lao Tzu

Archive for the 'Wildlife' Category

Tragic Results After Biker Collides with Bear

posted: July 5th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: On June 29 two men riding mountain bikes just south of West Glacier, Montana, rounded a bend and surprised what officials now believe was a grizzly bear.  To make matters worse, Brad Treat, actually collided with the bear, and the alarmed bruin knocked Treat from his bike and then attacked. According to one report, Treat was going so fast he couldn’t stop. Tragically, the bear killed the 38-year-old man who was employed as a law enforcement officer by the Flathead National Forest. Treat was a former Glacier Park ranger. The other man, escaped attack and scurried for help.


GNP7038 GNP7026


L to R:  Search for the bear that mauled Treat has not been successful, and officials have called off the search. 
Glacier has about 500 grizzly bears and though we probably hike by many, we generally don’t know they’re watching us.


Immediately after the mauling, authorities initiated a search for the bear, but, now, after a week, the search has ended. Again, cautionary bear statements abound and some are recalling that the event had been predicted, most notably by Dr. Stephen Herrero, a professor at the University of Alberta. Herrero, who is recognized as one of the world’s most renowned bear experts cautioned years ago that mountain bikes could be dangerous.

BIKES CAN BE DANGEROUS

“Mountain bikes,” said Dr. Herrero, “are potentially very dangerous. They approach quietly and fast, and bears don’t like surprises.” Herrero, who is also a mountain bike rider, emphasized that riders should carry bear spray and make noise.”

Bear6 41189G-Bear StupidPhotographers


L to R:  Invariably, the old cliche holds:  A fed bear is a dead bear.  If a grizzly bear exhibits signs of aggression, back away slowly. 
These photographers intentionally intercepted the chosen route of this grizzly, forcing it onto the trail to Iceberg Lake in Glacier.  The situation could have become dangerous.


That message strikes home and in the future I’ll do just that. When rounding a bend I’ll shout. As well, I’ll focus more on the trail rather than on the beauty which generally surrounds me. And I’ll slow down, realizing now that I might collide with a family as well as a bear. Yes, in the past I’ve been guilty.

FATAL MAULINGS DATE TO 1967

I’m not certain whether Treat’s death will be included in the tally of Glacier Park bear maulings, but to date the park says there have been 10 fatal maulings within its boundaries. The first of these occurred in 1967 when two different bears killed two people in different parts of the park in the course of a single night. Those attacks became the subject of a 1969 book by Jack Olsen titled “Night of the Grizzlies,” and later a documentary by the same name. Those attacks can be linked directly to garbage, as I emphasized in a story I later wrote for Smithsonian magazine.

In addition, I have written many other bear stories and am providing links to postings about bear behavior — and about some of the tragedies.

(Note: all these bear images were made with an 800mm lens. I don’t search for bears, but am prepared to photograph bears using a tripod-mounted camera setup.)


———————-

More  Bear Postings:

Night of the Grizzlies

Bears Now Ready to Hibernate

Is It a Black Bear or a Grizzly Bear?


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




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The Parasitic Cowbird

posted: May 27th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Though not as beautiful as are many of the other species now attracted by our feeders, nevertheless, the bland-appearing cowbird is a species of great fascination, essentially because of a habit it developed from a long ago association with a most formidable  mammal.

BUT FIRST THE HABIT:

Cowbirds do not build nests, rather they parasitize the nests of others, and prolonged studies reveal cowbirds will lay eggs in the nests of at least 220 unsuspecting species. Further studies show that over 140 species of surrogate “parents” have raised young cowbirds.

So how did cowbirds pull off a trick like this? They accomplished the feat long ago learning from an association with the countless number of bison that pounded across the prairie. In those long ago times bison made annual peregrinations across the Great Plains of North America, and those herds numbered in the millions. As they migrated they stirred up insects and these bugs became an easy food source for any species that chanced to be in the area.


Cowbird-20

Parasitic cowbird, whose habits
acquired from association with herds of bison


COWBIRDS MOVED WITH THE BISON

Cowbirds were present,  but a problem existed for bison didn’t stay long in the same area. Rather, they moved, and when they did move, cowbirds lost access to their easy food source. The solution? To eat, cowbirds had to move with the bison but that meant they couldn’t build nests. Further, that meant that any eggs they did lay would be abandoned.

The solution was to parasitize the nests of other birds, leaving incubation and the feeding of young to all the hawks, finches, robins, warblers, and crossbills — birds who relied on other foods. Certainly not all these other species adopted the mottled eggs that cowbirds laid, but most were oblivious, meaning that populations of cowbirds thrived.

Today, cowbirds still eat easy-to-gather insects because cattle stir the bugs just like bison did a century ago. And, so, today, even though the vast herds have been killed off, cowbirds continued with the parasitic trait they learned so many years ago.



12873 BisonMigrate BisonSkull


Bison, insects and cowbirds all go together.  Once millions of  bison
stampeded across the prairies, and thankfully,
we still have a few remnant herds.  Bison skull, Badlands, N. Dakota is symbolic of vanquished herds.


BISON & BIRD:

Fascinating, and I thought the information so exciting that I wanted to pass it on. Of course, I would not have been able to offer this information if a cowbird had not landed on my feeder, prompting me to grab for my field guide and confirm identification. But then I noticed that the guide offered an extensive discussion about the relationship with bison and bird, which I believed interesting.

Hope you do too.


————————-

 

THIS TIME NINE YEARS AGO:

Learning to Roll a Kayak

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




 

Cowbirds were there, but there was a problem, for bison didn’t stay long in the same area. Rather, they moved, and when they did move, cowbirds lost access to their easy food source. The solution? To eat, cowbirds had to move with the bison but that meant they couldn’t build nests. Further, that meant that any eggs they did lay would be abandoned. They solution was to parasitize the nests of other birds, leaving incubation and the feeding of young to all the hawks, finches, robins, warblers, and crossbills, birds who relied on other foods. Certainly not all these other species adopted the mottled eggs cowbirds laid, but most were oblivious, meaning that populations of cowbirds thrived. Today, cowbirds still eat easy-to-gather insects because cattle stir the bugs just like bison did a century ago. And, so, today, even though the vast herds have been killed off, cowbirds continued with the parasitic trait they learned so many years ago.

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Osprey Return to Flathead

posted: May 17th, 2016 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Montana’s Flathead Valley has a huge population of osprey, and right now they are in the process of building nests. Mostly we see them on the top of telephone poles, but every now and then friends tell me of a nest they’ve found. Generally, they’ve discovered a pair nesting in a tree somewhere along Flathead Lake, which was the case with this one shown here.


Osprey5-1


Last year biologists counted 21 osprey nests, but discovered that only 18 were active.  Observations with spotting scopes further revealed there were a total of 33 nestlings, 29 of which successfully fledged.

Usually osprey will remain in the Flathead through late September or early October, at which time they return to wintering areas, which include southern Texas and Mexico.  Osprey are a magnificent species and we’re delighted so many have selected the Flathead as their summer home.


——-


Four Years Ago:  A Most Pleasant Day With Rattlesnakes


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy







Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Unusual Birds At Our Feeders

posted: October 23rd, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: If I had to list the single most pleasure of being home I think I would have to say it’s our bird feeders. Throughout the years our two caged chunks of suet have attracted everything from pileated woodpeckers to small chickadees. Meanwhile our large columned feeders have attracted various types of song birds and several times, it has attracted turkeys. Once a bald eagle plopped in.

Right now the combination of feeders is attracted two birds we don’t see often: the Blue Jay and the Steller’s jay. Neighbors say the blue jay (eastern) is rare here and attribute their expanding population to changing climate.


BlueJay-1 StellersJay-2

L to R:  Eastern Blue Jay and Steller’s Jay, two birds that rarely visit our feeder — photographed yesterday within 15 minutes of one another.


In the past our feeders have also attracted raccoons (Raccoon Problem Resolved), and when that happens I use a portable drill, detach the screws and bring the feeder in. Takes about a minute.

Though we have heard reports of bears several miles from us, if we ever thought our feeders were attracting bears, again, we’d take them all down. We ascribe to the philosophy that a fed bear is a dead bear, and recently, a sad episode dramatized that fact. One hundred miles south of us in Missoula, an elderly woman was trying to “help” bears out by feeding them. Soon, one of the fed bears began to associate the lady with food. When no one was around, the bear broke into her house and attacked and fatally wounded the woman. That happened just a few weeks ago.

We learn much from our feeders and from the interaction of the different species at our feeders. From the way in which the various species interact, we’ve drawn some parallels between the species – and politics. So… if you want to know which species might represent the various political parties, click on my link (Are Birds Political Creatures? You bet).  Click as well on Raccoons At Our Bird Feeder.

Hope it brings a smile to your face.



—————


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

West Point’s Historic Cemetery, Where Our Parents Now Rest


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy





Ho

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Shenandoah’s Deer & Bears

posted: June 6th, 2015 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:With very little connectivity in Shenandoah NP, creating posts has been difficult.  Nevertheless, I was almost overwhelmed by some of the photo opportunities that presented themselves, particularly ones of deer and bears.

Let’s start with bears, and the images that follow were afforded while traveling south along the Skyline Drive, just past Timber Hollow Overlook.  I arrived shortly after Momma Bear had ushered Baby Bear high into a tree. Momma Bear then shinnied the tree herself and assumed a guard position on a limb about 20 feet above the ground. She didn’t seem to object to her situation until someone driving an unmufflered vehicle screeched to a stop and then began running around with a cell phone camera.

BlackBear-30 BlackBear-43 BlackBear-33


Here are some images of Momma Bear showing some of the aggressive poses she assumed as more people stopped and began moving in toward the base of her tree. I must note that I was way back with a 600mm telephoto lens. I think the lens provides an acceptable working distance.

FAWNING SEASON:

The other great opportunity occurred early one morning as I wandered one of the park’s meadow area.  In Shenandoah National Park, May and early June are the times in which fawns enter the world. Their arrival creates lots of stories and most bring a smile to the face of the listener.

For instance, about a week ago a doe tucked her new born into some tall grass near our camper. First, however, she licked it and then licked it some more — the goal to remove every bit of scent from the body of its young. Then she went off and left it for several hours as she browsed the surrounding woodland and grassland for food.


DeerB-Meadow-1 DeerB-Meadow-14 DeerBigMeadow-11


Normally, that’s a safe practice, but one doe was not so lucky. While gone, a hungry bear found the fawn and the rest of the story is not such a happy one — at least for the doe. The incident happened just before I arrived.

But, generally, hiding the new born works; it gives the mother a chance to regroup and the young a chance to acquire its footing. Then, several days later when fawns can move around, they join their mothers and begin learning about the huge world they’ve just entered.

That’s when most of my images were taken and, I must say, the interaction of doe and fawns sure brought happiness to my life. It’s wonderful that Shenandoah preserves such a magnificent slice of nature. These stories are accessible for most anyone willing to rise early and do a bit of searching.

MountainLaurel-AS


We’re now on our way north mostly to visit family.  Because most work, we’ll have lots of spare time to complete work on our book Hiking Shenandoah.  Point of fact, the book does more than just outline hiking routes; it also details the natural history and history that hiking in this magnificent park affords.  Release next year will mark the books fifth update.


——————-


THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

Miles City Bucking Horse Sale


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Raccoon At Our Feeder

posted: June 10th, 2014 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: We were absolutely amazed late yesterday afternoon when a rather large raccoon shinnied up the Douglas fir tree that leads to our porch — and sometimes to our bird feeder.

It was broad daylight, the TV news was blaring through the screen door, and we had just taken down the feeder because we know that at night, if we leave it out, our friendly masked bandit will pounce at the opportunity and possibly do irreparable damage.


Racoon-2

Raccoon at our feeder in broad daylight

 

We watched the coon for a few minutes as it searched the porch, then tapped against the window. Casually, it looked up, munched a few of the seeds finches, chickadees and grosbeaks had spilled onto the deck, and then slowed padded off.

So now we know our raccoon is still lurking around, and if we leave for the day, we need to bring the feeder inside.


———–

THIS TIME LAST YEAR:

*Biking to Glacier’s Logan Pass

 

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

The Magnificence of Birds in Flight

posted: March 3rd, 2014 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: For almost a week we’ve been visiting the Arizona Sonoran Desert Museum on a daily basis. Programs are many but one we’ve consistently attended is the Raptor Free Flight demonstration.  It’s always exciting, but think of us waiting as we did yesterday for the return of a Red Tail Hawk. Apparently it had been diverted by its sighting of real prey rather than by the morsels of food handlers have been placing atop pads of cacti.  Would it return?  That was the concern of its handlers.

“Occasionally,” said Carol Hemmingway, the museum docent conducting the morning program, “one of our birds takes off.  And it may not come back for an hour, a day or even several days.  We have no real control over them.  Just the other day our Red Tail Hawk found a bull snake, and because she’s not a skilled hunter, it was too much for her.  She let it go, but then she returned.”


SonoranMuseum-19

Beauty and power of flight, partially expressed by extended primaries. Harris's Hawk.

 

Because of action and potential for suspense, the Raptor Free Flight exhibition is one of the museum’s most popular program.  Naturalists began the program in 1996, and did so using several  captive birds that they had worked hard to condition.  Time has shown that’s really the only way it will work.  “We can’t even use rescued birds,” said another docent, “for eventually they want to take off and resume their wild ways.  We need birds we’ve conditioned. Some may come from wild nests where adults have been killed. Those birds need our help.”

Currently, bird species used for the program include the Chihuahuan Raven, Harris’s Hawk, a Barn Owl, Great Horned Owl, Gray Hawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Peregrine Falcon, and the Prairie Falcon, but before the program begins the narrator explains the concept of “space.”  Most importantly, your space.

“Birds know their space,” says the docent.  “You probably don’t.  Your space is from the top of your head to the soles of your shoes.”  Just a few minutes into the program that precaution was dramatized.


SonoranMuseum-18 SonoranMuseum-17 SonoranMuseum-14


L to R:  Morsels of food and hand moves serve to direct the flight of birds, which can attract hundreds of spectators.  Again, morsels of food control where a bird, the Gray Hawk,  will perch. 

 

Over one-hundred of us are now lined up along a 12-foot wide path delineated on each side by two 100-yard-long cabled fences.  Though our Red Tail has apparently forgotten its lessons, museum birds have been conditioned by trainers to land at specific spots lured in each time by a morsel of food.  Food might be a recently frozen (dead of course) mouse which managers purchase commercially.  And now the action begins.

Several trainers place food items onto the branch of a saguaro cactus and we all watch as a Barn Owl swoops to snatch the morsel – and then gulp it down.  On the other side of the fence another trainer waves his hand and secures yet another morsel of food.  The bird fixes its attention on the food, flaps its wings vigorously and zooms to the other side of the path.  And this is what is so exciting, for as the bird powers toward the food it is just inches above our heads.

“See!” exclaims Carol. “That’s why we don’t want you placing small children on your shoulders?”  The remark draws a hearty but nervous laugh.

Other species are also used to include a prairie falcon and its speed and maneuverability draws more gasps.  “Prairie falcons,” says Carol Hemmingway, “can dive at 200 miles per hour, making them one of the fastest of all birds.  Only the Peregrine Falcon may be faster.”


SonoranMuseum-5

Grace of the Great horned owl in flight

 

Though already listening closely, my ears really perk when Carol says that although there are 30 potential prairie falcon nesting sites in Arizona, only one remains.  “Critical habitat is being lost to human expansion,” she emphasizes. And that, without her saying, is another reason the educational efforts of the museum are so important.

But what’s happened to our Red Tail Hawk?

The program lasted over half an hour, and just moments after our group began to disband, the Red Tail returned. “You can see that we don’t really control the birds,” says Carol.  “But the birds are pretty smart and know from conditioning that this is where they want to stay.”

Another wonderful day at the Sonoran Desert Museum.


—————-

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS THIS TIME LAST YEAR

*Salton Sea


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




 

 

 



Read Comments | 1 Comment »

Should We Pardon our Turkeys?

posted: November 27th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  Here in our somewhat rural setting in Montana, it would be easy to enjoy a turkey dinner, and I doubt anyone would be the wiser.  It’s tempting; especially when several make their way onto the balcony of our porch, and then blop three feet down onto the floor of our deck.  Can these large and somewhat clumsy birds  fly off before I can bat one?

Silently, I inch open the sliding door that accesses our deck.

Despite the fact Ol’ Ben thought the species an intelligent one, our turkeys don’t have the smarts to flap their wings and rise above the level of the banister.  Instead, as I’ve discovered (and through no malice on my part!), they race back and forth across the small deck, crashing into the railing. They add to the growing pile of evidence that proclaims , “I Tom Turkey have shat upon your porch!”


Turkey2

They number in the dozens and damage our feeders and leave deposits on our porch. Should we pardon them?

 


Given this insult it is so tempting to charge out and whack one in the head, but instead I back off.  I close the door and then watch.  Are they smart enough to overcome their dilemma?

Settled now, they cluck among themselves and then every single one adds yet another rude deposit to our porch.  But there’s hope.  A minute or two later, one bird springs onto the banister, tests its wings and then it lumbers off.  Quickly, the others follow suit.

If turkeys contributed only madness to our small world, tomorrow, we’d be dining on a freshly harvested wild turkey.  But they contribute more.  Along with the other bird species, our 50 to 60 wild turkeys add pleasure to our lives.  They have a distinct social structure.  Below the deck they gather to feed on seeds other birds have dispersed from the feeder above.  Elite turkeys feed first and we’re fascinated by this nuanced social behavior.


Turkeys-1

Their social structure and various antics fascinate them, so we're inclined to forgive their transgressions.

 

Our wild turkeys also put on displays.  Fanning their tails they then elevate them so that the bird becomes an object of considerable beauty.  It’s a display usually associated with territoriality and mating, but beneath our deck it’s a display that defies seasonal propriety.

Apparently, our turkeys are just happy turkeys, and today they should be, for despite the fact they’ve pried off the top of our feeder and insulted  our deck, I am going to defer to presidential restraint.  Today, I’m going allow every single one of these huge avian visitors to continue on with its life.

Today, no matter what they do I’m going to pardon each and every one.


—————————



AIRSTREAM THANKSGIVING  TRAVELS

*Thanksgiving in the Great Smoky Mountains

*Thanksgiving 2008

*Thanksgiving Pardon of 2007




4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy






Read Comments | 1 Comment »

No Access Now to Battling and Bugling Bull Elk — A Crime Against the American People!

posted: October 1st, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Because of the irresponsible closing of the Federal government last night, as of today (October 1), all national parks, to include our very first national park, are closed.  That means you cannot see one of the world’s most spectacular of all wildlife dramas, the story of the bull elk.  Other than to dictate that we no longer can believe in the sanctity of motherhood, apple pie, the American flag – or the beauty of Old Faithful – little could be worse.  Congress has just committed a crime against the American people!

52165

With murder in its eyes, a bull elk protects his territory

 


Images shown here were made about three years ago. We had parked our Airstream at Madison Campground and then ranged out from there, seeing bison, Old Faithful, eagles, wolves, ravens, paint pots — and elk.

The stage, of course, for these elk photos is Yellowstone National Park and an annual ritual intensifies the end of September/first of October. Each evening dozens of bull elk materialize from huge stands of pines, and then edge closer and closer until viewers have front-row seats.

But before you can see the elk, you can hear them and their famous “bugling.” Bull elk create the music and do so by tilting back their heads and emitting a sound that begins on a low note then progresses up the scale.  Finally, the bugling ends with a guttural “Ugh, ugh.”   Hearing them is one thing, but when dozens of bulls create the sound simultaneously, it blows your mind. Again, all this is taking place right now, (today!) in Yellowstone.  But you can’t see them, because our leaders have shut down the government.


ElkYNP1 41351 Elk7836

Yellowstone with all of various dramas is now closed — a crime against the American People
created by those who are supposed to protect and preserve us.


The purpose of the bugling – followed by aggressive gestures in which they use their antlers to plow up the dirt, “murder” small trees, or actually engage other bulls in battle – is intended to help each bull establish a territory.  In this space each bull protects his developing harem, and woe be to any interloper, particularly to “the welterweights,” or to one whose spread of antlers is inferior – that enters this space. Presumably the genetically superior bull emerges victorious and it is he that passes on his genes.

Sights and sounds associated with this drama are incredible, but again, to state the obvious, we can’t enjoy them because Congress has shut down the government.  The effects are devastating to so many in so many walks of life – but all I can dramatize are those aspects with which I have an intimate knowledge, and that is our national parks.

Parks are repositories of our national heritage, places people congregate to retain their sanity when pressures of everyday  life seem overwhelming.  Quite likely the calming influences of these preserves have prevented a number of deranged citizens from climbing the stairs of a Texas tower and becoming another Charles Whitman.  Everyone should have the opportunity to get absorbed in the drama of elk, on stage right now.

Yellowstone was our very first national parks, and Congress has just committed a crime against the American people!


———————–


AIRSTREAM TRAVELS LAST YEAR:

No One at Pegleg


BOOKS TO INSPIRE TRAVEL:


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | 2 Comments »

Raccoon Problem Resolved

posted: June 22nd, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: In a posting of several weeks ago I detailed our problem with raccoons, stating that I would not shoot the annoying creatures even though they created the potential of wreaking havoc on our bird feeders. Raccoons are actually amazing animals, and I enjoy seeing them, just not at our feeders.  They’re part of the natural history that surrounds us so I’ve worked to find a solution.


Raccoon (2 of 2)

World of the raccoon dramatized with "fish-eye" appearance created with post image manipulation.

 


First I removed the screws that secured the feeder to the stand, and discovered the weight alone was adequate to hold the feeder in place, even against a strong gust of wind.  Most significantly, I’ve been removing the feeder each night and placing it inside.  Takes about two minutes, but what happened after that?

First night the raccoons returned, but realizing there was nothing to eat, soon left, and didn’t return.  Thinking they might have moved on to a new locale, I decided to experiment and leave the feeders up.  Prudently, however, I stayed up to see what would happen, and apparently they were still in the neighborhood.  Just as darkness settle in, somehow the raccoons knew the feeders were back up for they returned.  To me, the seed seems odorless, but I guess that’s not the case, for there they were.  And now they had become even bolder!

Opening the door, I stomped my feet and rattled pots and pans, prompting the two carnivores to casually, almost nonchalantly, claw up the tree to a branch about 10 feet overhead. With looks of complete indifference, they scrutinized me as I removed the feeders.  I then shut the sliding glass door and watched to see what would happen this time.  Within minutes they returned to the site of the feeders, but then realizing their food source was gone, they slowly clawed back down the large Douglass fir tree that stands adjacent to our porch.


GoldFinch (1 of 2)

During the day our feeders attract dozens of different species to now include the gold finch.

 


As well as luring nocturnal visitor, during the day our feeders attract dozens of song birds, and several different species of woodpeckers.  I’m always amazed at how the word seems to get around.  In years past, our feeders have attracted over 30 different species of birds, and their antics always provides us with immense pleasure. I also like knowing that out there somewhere, we’ve still got raccoons.


———————-

 


THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Virginia City’s Brewer’s Follies May Not Be For Everyone


BOOKS  YOU SHOULD HAVE TO UNDERSTAND MONTANA, GLACIER AND SHENANDOAH:


4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




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Critters At Our Feeders

posted: June 13th, 2013 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Seven months ago when we departed for the winter in our Airstream, we put our bird feeders away and didn’t get them back out until just a few days ago.   Remounting them  is an annual ritual, and what amazes me is just how quickly critters begin to return.  Already we’ve got birds during the day but at night there’s a noise telling us that yet another type of critter is  finding sustenance, one we don’t particularly want.



racoon (10 of 1)

This morning on our porch.

 

Two days ago, Janie awakened me 4:30, urging me to get up and see what else had  found our feeder.  Obviously from the images, we’re attracting a rather large raccoon.  Several years ago our feeders attracted a family of coons, but I shooed them off, essentially because I was afraid they’d break the feeder.  But this guy seems fearless and he seems determined, as my initial encounter suggests..

With camera in hand, I opened the sliding door that leads onto the deck and clicked a few images.  Then I stepped toward the rather large carnivore, prompting a hiss.  I took another step  and only then did he begin clawing his back down the tree.  I thought that might be the last of him,  but not so, and last night he was back around midnight.  I knew he was there because of the scraping sounds he made with his claws and the low rumble emanating from its throat.  What to do; what to do?


Racoon (5 of 6) Racoon (1 of 6) Racoon (3 of 6)


Our feeders have provided us with an incredible amount of joy and have attracted over 30 different species of birds, to include hummingbirds, pileated woodpeckers (Is It Hector or Hortense?), and,  once, a bald eagle.  On several occasions they’ve attracted huge turkeys and I think my post on that incident may provide a few chuckles.  Our feeders have also attracted squirrels and once revealed that birds seem to have their own foundation for politics (Birds Are Political Creatures!), and they mirror our own.  But what to do, what to do?

If this raccoon returns again, I fear I will have to remove the feeder – else he’ll probably destroy it.  I’m not a bleeding heart, but I’m not going to shoot it as I enjoy knowing the farm lands that surround us still attract wildlife. In fact, on our little patch of land we have skunks, coyotes, pileated woodpeckers – and once again – a few raccoons.

OTHER SUBJECT:

Highlights for Children just notified me that they be running a story on the Gwich’in Indians originally published about 10 years ago.  Our adventures in the far north  have provide me with stories which I’ve published in dozens of magazines to include Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, National Wildlife, Leap Frog (for children), The Wilderness Society and many others.  But most significantly it has created for us lasting friends, and right now they are much on our minds.

———–

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS ABOUT TWO YEARS AGO:

*Bannock Montana


VISITING GLACIER OR MONTANA?  HERE ARE BOOKS THAT WILL HELP

4th ed. Autographed by the Authors

Hiking Shenandoah National Park

Hiking Shenandoah National Park is the 4th edition of a favorite guide book, created by Bert & Janie, a professional husband-wife journalism team. Lots of updates including more waterfall trails, updated descriptions of confusing trail junctions, and new color photographs. New text describes more of the park’s compelling natural history. Often the descriptions are personal as the Gildarts have hiked virtually every single park trail, sometimes repeatedly.

$18.95 + Autographed Copy


Big Sky Country is beautiful

Montana Icons: 50 Classic Symbols of the Treasure State

Montana Icons is a book for lovers of the western vista. Features photographs of fifty famous landmarks from what many call the “Last Best Place.” The book will make you feel homesick for Montana even if you already live here. Bert Gildart’s varied careers in Montana (Bus driver on an Indian reservation, a teacher, backcountry ranger, as well as a newspaper reporter, and photographer) have given him a special view of Montana, which he shares in this book. Share the view; click here.

$16.95 + Autographed Copy


What makes Glacier, Glacier?

Glacier Icons: 50 Classic Views of the Crown of the Continent

Glacier Icons: What makes Glacier Park so special? In this book you can discover the story behind fifty of this park’s most amazing features. With this entertaining collection of photos, anecdotes and little known facts, Bert Gildart will be your backcountry guide. A former Glacier backcountry ranger turned writer/photographer, his hundreds of stories and images have appeared in literally dozens of periodicals including Time/Life, Smithsonian, and Field & Stream. Take a look at Glacier Icons

$16.95 + Autographed Copy




Read Comments | Post a Comment »

Eyes Of A Tarantula

posted: November 12th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart:  I’ve been trying to learn everything I can about tarantulas, and certainly an  interesting aspects of the biology of these arachnids is their eyes.  This, then, is a continuation of my tarantula photographs, started yesterday with my first real find of a tarantula here in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  I’ve been looking for these large desert creatures for almost a month and anticipate being able to use some of these images for various projects in the future.  By keeping long range projects in mind sometimes publications bunch up as they did this past year, resulting in Hiking Shenandoah National Park, Glacier Icons, and Montana Icons.


TarrantulaEyes5

Tarantulas don't rely much on their eyes, rather on their feelers and the thousands of hairs which cover those feelers and also register vibrations.

 


But back to tarantulas… and as mentioned in my last post, tarantulas have eight eyes, and they are located a little differently from what one might expect.  Rather than being on the upper most part of their heads (where those slight knobs seem to be), they are located toward the very front and in the middle of their heads.  Here, in my pictures they almost look like dots of sand.


TarrantulaEyes6

Immediately behind what appears to be a middle projecting antennae and a beard like collection of hairs is a light tan band. And then immediately behind that is a small cluster of dots, and those are the eyes.

 


To position them find the two short antennae jutting out from the two hairy protrusions that are in reality the upper part of their fangs.  Then, immediately behind those structures, look for the tan band that forms the first solid part of this animal’s head.  Immediately behind that you’ll see a black dot that is interspersed with a number of tiny white spots.  Those form a part of the tarantula’s eight eyes, the other portion located just to the medial  right.  Unfortunately, they’re caught up in a slight shadow created by my strobe.  In other words, photographing tarantulas can be a challenge.


TarrantulaEyes7

The mouth of the tarantula is located ventrally and is highlighted by what appear to be two red lips. Here's also where the fangs are located.

 


Because sensory preceptors help the tarantula locate its food, I’ve also included here an image of this spider’s mouth, which appears to have red lips.  Here’s where the fangs are located, used very effectively on the grasshoppers and other bugs which it consumers.

Apparently all of these somewhat bizarre features work well for the tarantula, as they been using them for over a million years.  In fact, spiders are among the most successful creatures on Earth and have been around for over 300 million years.


——————————————————————————

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS SIX YEARS AGO:

*Tarpon Springs, Florida

 

ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS:

 

 


(You can order our new books (shown below ) from Amazon — or you can order them directly from the Gildarts. Bert will knock a dollar off the list price of $16.95, but he must add the cost of book-rate mailing and the mailer, which are $2.25. The grand total then is $18.20. Please send checks to Bert Gildart at 1676 Riverside Road, Bigfork, MT 59911.)

 

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Vultures at Sunrise

posted: March 24th, 2012 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: I’ve reported before on some of the more repulsive traits of the turkey vulture, but today, I want to say that at times the species can appear magisterial, wise and aloof.


Vulture3 Vultures-1 Vulture6


For over an hour the vultures preened and dried their wings.  Sinister in appearance the wire added to the thought.


For the next few days we’ll be camped along the Salt River, a river that derives part of its water from the Rio Verde and that flows through Tonto National Forest.  Early this morning, while on an early morning “bird walk, Janie and I saw this group, which was part of a smaller flock of about a dozen.  They had flown in from their patrols overhead, choosing an old fence loaded with barbed wire for a spot at which to roost.  At times they stretched out their wings presumably to dry them off.  Other times they preened, and they reminded us of vultures and other birds we had seen in Florida.



Vulture

Three Wise old men


Quickly I ran back for my camera and tripod, mounting an 840mm lens to my Nikon7000.  Because the magnification is so extreme I used the mirror lock up to reduce all vibration – and this posting represents an edit I made from over 50 images taken during a two hour periods.

Vultures are fascinating and perform the valuable function of cleaning the landscape.  We’ll be camped here at Tonto for the next few days, and I hope to photograph the group some more.


——————————————————————————–

 

 

AIRSTREAM TRAVELS FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Alligators on My Mind

 

ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS:


 

 

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Burrowing Owls and The Bizarre Nests Needed To Survive

posted: March 7th, 2012 | by:Bert


©Bert Gildart: Three years ago I visited the Sonny Bono Wildlife refuge, which is located about an hour drive from Borrego Springs in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.  At the time, which was March first, I’d gone there specifically to see the burrowing owls, and yesterday, that was again my purpose.


BurrowingOwl1

Even near a wildlife refuge Burrowing Owls can not find natural nesting sites.

 



Essentially, I wanted to see if nesting conditions had changed, and to quickly summarize, little has changed, meaning that burrowing owls — at and around this refuge — survive only because of some help, and because the species is so incredibly tolerant.  Put in other words, nest sites are about as unusual as you can find.

Under natural conditions, burrowing owls select burrows created by ground nesting mammals such as prairie dogs and various ground squirrels.  But farmers have eliminated all species of mammals that create burrows, and as a result, burrowing owls  have to rely on something else.

Three years ago a nesting pair was making use of a discarded Goodyear tractor tire, and I was absolutely astounded to see that an owl was making use of it this year.  Only one owl, however, occupied the “nest” so I’m not sure if young had already fledged.  Perhaps they had.


BurrowingOwl2

Farmers have eliminated ground nesting mammals -- and consequently the burrows once used by burrowing owls. To help, mangers have substituted PVC pipes, which owls have accepted.

 


Though wildlife managers had set out PVC pipe several years ago, at that time I didn’t see any owls, but this year we saw dozens of pairs at these artificial nests, so help seems to be working.  Apparently there are a few owls that are nesting in the old fashion way, i.e. using burrows created by the various ground squirrels.

Burrowing owls are one of the smallest species of owls, standing but nine inches-tall. It has a short tail, very long legs, and weighs but 4 oz.  When the owl sees something approaching its home, it bobs up and down a few times, and then dives into its burrow. Here, the owls breed in late winter, and the females lay around 6-8 eggs. Eggs take one month to hatch, and young owls remain in the nest for about 42 days before leaving.


————————————

 

THIS TIME FOUR YEARS AGO:

*Organ Pipe, Struggling to Keep Stories Alive



ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS:




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Violence on Montana’s Wildhorse Island

posted: October 28th, 2011 | by:Bert

©Bert Gildart: Throughout North America, many species of wildlife engage in ritualistic contests to determine male order of dominance during the mating season.  In the animal world, few contests are more vigorous nor is the ritual more complex than among mountain sheep.  I have followed sheep throughout much of North America and have always considered it a rare treat when I stumble across action such as I enjoyed with two other photographers a few days ago.


Wildhorse-3

When all else fails, rams resort to violence.

 

We had left Dayton, Montana and then made the 15 minute trip by boat to Wildhorse Island where we beached in a small cove known as Skidoo Bay.  The island is mountainous and we immediately began to climb, looking as we did for wild horses, the island’s namesake.  Instead we saw a few small deer but then, off in the distance, a herd of “bachelor” rams.

RAMS HUDDLE

At this time of year, males are still in groups, where they begin determining a “pecking” order.  They gather in groups known as “huddles” where they curl their lips at one another, poke one another with their hooves, and nudge one another with their horns. A great deal of information is exchanged in such groups, information that often helps determine male order of dominance without having to resort to “violence.”  But when doubt remains, rams sometimes resort to battles, which can sometimes produce injury.


Wildhorse-4 Wildhorse-5 Wildhorse-6


L to R: Todd Campbell, engulfed by the beauty of Wildhorse Island, focuses  on nearby action; Jack Floegel approaches herd of rams near top of Wildhorse; bachelor herd of rams “huddle” to exchange information.


We continued our climb and found several of our bachelor herds, and as we watched we saw several rams that appeared huge.  We also saw several that appeared on the verge of a violent confrontation and we set up our camera gear, waiting to see what might happen.  We were not disappointed.

From a distance of about 50 yards we watched as two rams stalked off to a distance of about 30 feet, turned to face one another. Rising on hind legs they ran forward dropping at the last minute for increased momentum then collided.  In the stillness of the day the sound of their impact sounded like a high power rifle and we struggled to record the drama, which they repeated.  Though the impact must have produced immense headaches, in this case no eyes were poked out, no ribs were broken, though one of the males did appear to emerge as a solid champion, for the other ram stalked off.


Bighorn Sheep, Wildhorse Island Wildhorse-7


Toward day’s end we reluctantly leave behind one of the largest rams any of us have ever seen but find compensation when a group of ” wild” horses find us.


When the sheep tired we began to wander the island, finding more bachelor herds.  We looked as well for the island’s famous mule deer herds, but saw but one or two lone bucks.  And though we never found our wild horses, they found us near one of the old homestead shacks that still remained on the island.  They were a friendly group of about four and apparently had been fed in the past as they poked at our pockets, hoping perhaps for an apple.

Reluctantly, we departed near sunset, believing we had enjoyed a most successful day.


———————————————————

 

THIS TIME TWO YEARS AGO:

*Bighorn Sheep Wear Biographies On Their Horns

 

ADS FROM AMAZON AND GOOGLE AUGMENT OUR TRAVELS:

 



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All season peanut butter suet recipe

posted: May 25th, 2009 | by:webdoc

For those who have asked, here’s a recipe Cherie says she copied from Wildbird magazine. Cherie says she has been using the recipe for years. Hope it helps, and we may start using it too.

According to the article, the original recipe came from Martha Sargent, as follows:

NO-MELT, ALL SEASON PEANUT BUTTER SUET RECIPE
This recipe is easily doubled. We usually get about 4 cakes out of a doubled recipe.

1 cup crunchy peanut butter
2 cups “quick cook” oats
2 cups corn meal
1 cup of lard (NO SUBSTITUTIONS)
1 cup white flour
1/3 cup sugar

Melt the lard and peanut butter on medium heat, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Pour the mixture into square freezer containers (a size about the size of your suet cage) about 1 1/2 inches thick. Allow the suet to cool, put lids on the containers and put in them in the freezer. When you are ready to use, just pop them out of the containers.

In the winter, we have also added raisins, cranberries and other nuts as supplements. It takes very little time to mix up and put in containers and it saves a lot of money.

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