My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Sunday, July 26, 2015

In Search of Bald Eagles

July 7, 2015

My boss gave me an seemingly easy job.  "Go find our three breeding pair of bald eagles and see if they have young." Two of these pairs are along the route of my bluebird trail so it seemed like a no brainer.

I personally call the eagles, the Idlewild Eagles, because they have a nest near that spot on Lower Lake, Upper Lake Eagles, and Culver Pond Eagles, again named for their locations.

I haven't made it to Culver Pond yet because I need a truck, which means I need to go after work or on the weekends - we are vehicle poor here- and also need someone to be here to call for help, if needed.

I thought I knew exactly where the Idlewild bald eagles are nesting across from my Bluebird Box16W.

The tree seems to have two nests in it

But maybe not.

A tree further to the left of the one in the first picture

And they mostly just sit - sometimes for the 30 - 40 minutes I watch them.  But the other day, I heard crows behind the nest and one eagle went on a little flight that looked like the kind of flights they do when protecting an active nest. But I've seen no feeding, and no babies.

The Upper Lake Eagles are even harder to see.  They have one nest where it is easy to observe from the road.  But they are using a nest in the last group of Engelmann Spruce along Upper Lake  - near the southeastern end.  I spent about an hour just observing and did find the parents.  But no nest and no young were visible.  So I decided to hike in and find the nest.

The Upper Lake eagles have a nest in this patch of trees

Almost as soon as I left the car, and before I found a way through the strip of willows, a bald eagle came flying at me, screaming.  It continued to either fly or sit in the top of a tree and curse me.  Finally, a few hours later, its mate joined in the yelling. But even though I wove back and forth through the area, I never could see the nest.  But I had a wonderful morning walking through forest, meadow, and marsh and having to jump little streams or backtrack for larger ones.

An unhappy bird

I found a nice game trail through the willows. And I was calling to any bears
and had my bear spray. 

Curse you, woman.  Get off my property!

Almost stepped in this lovely little pool

Liatris likes marshy places - these are almost at the end of their bloom

Some parts looked like Goldilocks' woods

Many of the trees had bases about a foot high, made of leftover
pieces of pinecone - left behind by the numerous squirrels in the area

I scared a squirrel away from his dinner

You can't see me

One of several streams I crossed

He's STILL mad at me and now so was his mate

Indian paintbrush was blooming heavily in places

A view of Upper Lake as I was walking out

This eagle watched me leave, still yelling

I'm sure these guys have an active nest. I'll keep watching for fledglings.

On the personal front, friends have just left from meeting me in Yellowstone for four days.  I'm working four or five hard and long days, then taking off to play with another friend next weekend. Last week, I only worked Friday and Saturday so  I am working more hours to catch up.  While helping Jim with fencing, I got to see a brief glimpse of the back end of a baby moose. And one of my tree swallow parents managed to raise EIGHT babies - they will fledge in the next few days. Life is excellent.