August 01, 2006


I doubt it will become a television show, but my Montana unsolved mysteries go by four names: western kingbird, Stellar's jay, gray jay, Clark's nutcracker. I've already mentioned the kingbird. Whenever I gained elevation and entered pine forests I expected a noisy chorus of jays and nutcrackers would announce themselves to me.

There were no announcements in the Kirk Hill preserve, located at the base of the Gallatins. Still, I saw an American redstart in streamside brush on my way up the hill (a life bird), and western tanager among Douglas-firs on my way down.

On the drive to Kirk Hill I had a top-10 LBY moment: a hundred yards away, taking flight over a hayfield, a long-billed curlew. The long bill on the long-billed is no inconspicuous feature. I'd seen these curlews before in southern California farmfields, where they migrate in winter.


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