birds

Nora Saks

Scientists have long used fish and aquatic insects as ecological indicators to measure the success of the Superfund cleanup from Butte to Missoula. But as cleanup on the main stem of the Clark Fork River gets more complicated, the birders are getting involved.

Megan Fylling and William Blake try to identify a bird flitting through the trees in a part of the Rice Ridge burn area near Seeley Lake.
Rosie Costain

Salvage logging on a portion of the Rice Ridge Fire burn area near Seeley Lake is set to begin soon. The U.S. Forest Service is finalizing plans to log about 5,600 acres on the 160,000 acres that burned in the biggest wildfire Montana saw last summer.

I recently visited the salvage logging site, about half a mile drive outside Seeley Lake, with Megan Fylling and Willaim Blake. They’re avian biologists, Fylling is with the University of Montana Bird Ecology Lab and Blake at MPG Ranch.

Fishing With The King: The Belted Kingfisher

Aug 6, 2018
A female belted Kingfisher with her catch.
Teddy Llovet (CC-BY-2)

While recently visiting the Rock Creek area to simply go fishing, I became distracted as I cast my red skwala into the clear, frigid stream. I was not distracted by the surrounding beauty of grasslands and different flora, or my ongoing love/hate relationship with fly-fishing, but rather the immense variety of sound echoing off the rock outcroppings surrounding the area.

Dalit Guscio holds a two-month old osprey chick and prepares to take blood and feather samples.
Maxine Speier / MTPR

It’s been a bad year for osprey after record flooding in some parts of Northwest Montana. That’s according to the scientists and educators with the Montana Osprey Project who have been studying osprey chicks in the Clark Fork watershed for more than a decade.

How Black-Backed Woodpeckers Thrive After Wildfires

Jun 18, 2018
Female black-backed woodpecker.
Mike Laycock, USFWS (PD)

Most of you have probably seen or heard woodpeckers. Whether attracting them to your backyard with suet feeders, or hearing them drill on the side of your house, you have probably noticed their large pointed beak and ability to climb tree trunks.

But besides downy and hairy woodpeckers, which are seen often in Montana, we also have some types of woodpeckers that live in some of the most unique habitats and do some of the most peculiar things of any animal in the Rocky Mountains.

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