Rare and Notables – DEC 2022/JAN 2023

Mid-December through mid-January was a period with mostly gray skies, periodic snows, and one period of deep cold. As the snow and lakes iced over, raptor numbers declined, but several species of owls were among the notables. “Winter finches” were scarce, with few reports of redpolls, Pine Grosbeaks and crossbills, though a Purple Finch in Bigfork first seen in early December re-appeared. Bohemian Waxwings also seemed to have mostly overflown our area and were present in well below-average numbers. Gull numbers and diversity were also well down from typical seasonal patterns. There were a few notable lingering blackbird species. See also: https://ebird.org/region/US-MT-029?yr=all

  • 12/18 – Brown-headed Cowbird (1, through 1/9) Creston (Craig H.)
  • 12/18 – Long-eared Owl (1) North Shore WMA (Elliot R.); through 1/11 (Andrew K.)
  • 12/18 – Rusty Blackbird (1) Creston (Craig H.)
  • 12/19 – Varied Thrush (1) Foothills Rd (Rod W.); also one on Kalispell CBC, 1/1 (Karen N.)
  • 12/21 – Snowy Owl (1) West Valley (bj W.); again 1/1 (Cory D.); Farm Rd, 12/30 (Andrew K.)
  • 12/21 – Glaucous Gull (2) Flathead County landfill (Mark H.)
  • 12/23 – Short-eared Owl (1) Lower Valley (Andrew K.)
  • 12/30 – Common Redpoll (10) Evergreen (Derrick R.); one along Farm Rd 1/1 (Thomas K.)
  • 01/01 – Yellow-headed Blackbird (1) Evergreen (Craig H.); another in Creston 1/3 (Craig H.)
  • 01/01 – Northern Saw-Whet Owl (1) Kalispell CBC (Dick W.)
  • 01/09 – Purple Finch (1) Bigfork (Leslie K.)
  • 01/06 – Short-billed Gull (1) Dayton (Dan C.)

What to Expect – February 2023

Our winter finches may yet arrive, and perhaps the waxwing flocks will grow as the birds start to gradually move back north. If there is enough thaw to reveal some bare ground, raptor numbers may rebound. The first signs of Spring should occur mid-month, with the notable returns of Red-winged Blackbirds and the first migrant waterfowl. Great Horned Owls, our earliest breeders, should be incubating their eggs.