Rare and Notables – December 2023/January 2024

As mild as it seemed going into the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) season, it certainly changed in early January! Pine Grosbeaks continued to show up throughout the area, but Bohemian Waxwings were present in much smaller numbers than usual. Rough-legged Hawk numbers were also surprisingly low. Common Loons were still present on Flathead Lake before the deep freeze, and impressive numbers of Canada Geese were in the area, joined by small numbers of Cackling Geese. A group of four Dunlins near Polson were present most of the period but may also have left when the deep cold arrived. See also: https://ebird.org/region/US-MT-029?yr=all

  • 12/16 – Black-backed Woodpecker (1) La Brandt Rd (Jake B.)
  • 12/18 – Black-backed Woodpecker (1) Farm to Market Rd (Pat J.)
  • 12/20 – Cackling Goose (30) Lake Blaine (Jake B.)
  • 12/21 – Marsh Wren (1) Flathead Lake WPA (Shannon D.)
  • 12/28 – Dunlin (4) Polson (Shawn R.) Still present 01/01 (Raylene W.)
  • 01/02 – Common Loon (4) Somers Bay (Dan C.) One still present 01/07 (Leslie K.)
  • 01/04 – Lapland Longspur (4) Creston (Craig H.)
  • 01/04 – Double-crested Cormorant (1) Osprey View Conservation Area, Bigfork (Dan C.)
  • 01/07 – Western Grebe (1) Somers Bay (Leslie K.)
  • 01/09 – Cackling Goose (7) Lower Valley Road (Dan C.)
  • 01/12 – White-crowned Sparrow (1) Whitefish (Ron B.)
  • 01/12 – Prairie Falcon (1) Farm Road, Somers (Dan C.)

What to Expect – February 2024

It will be interesting to see if the deep cold and snow that arrived in January will boost (or lower) the numbers of raptors in the valley. A few surprises may show up at well-visited feeders, including Sharp-shinned Hawks, Northern Shrikes and/or Northern Pygmy-Owls, all of which may be looking for easy “pickings”. Keep watching for Hoary Redpolls in the redpoll flocks. By mid-February, the faintest glimmer of spring may appear in growing flocks of starlings and Red-winged Blackbirds. It’s also a great time to look over the gull flocks at the lake and dump for rarities (notably Glaucous or Glaucous-winged Gulls).