by Dan Casey

Rare and Notables – JAN/FEB 2023

The latter half of January and the first half of February can often be the slowest birding season of the year. Crusted snow and ice can decrease habitat suitability for seedeaters and raptors, and many waterbodies are frozen. Such was the case this winter, and few rare or notable species were found by local birders. A few notable over-wintering birds were seen throughout the period (Spotted Towhee, Brown-headed Cowbird, Purple Finch), and by the end of the period waterfowl numbers were beginning to increase. Common Redpolls (one report) and Bohemian Waxwings (biggest flock, 150) were both reported in well below average numbers. See also:

  • 01/19 – Brown-headed Cowbird (1, through 2/14) Creston (Craig H.) 
  • 01/21 – Purple Finch (1, through 2/11) Bigfork (Leslie K.)
  • 01/21 – Northern Pygmy-Owl (1) North of Somers (Dan C.)
  • 01/28 – Glaucous Gull (1) Flathead County landfill; 2 at Flathead WPA 2/14 (bj W.)
  • 01/30 – Snow Bunting (12) Lower Valley Rd (Craig H.)
  • 02/01 – Ferruginous Hawk (1) Back Rd, south of Polson (Ray M.)
  • 02/08 – Long-eared Owl (2) Flathead Lake WPA (Tony L.); 3 present there 2/11 (Cory D.)
  • 02/08 – Northern Saw-whet Owl (2) Flathead Lake WPA (Tony L.)
  • 02/09 – Spotted Towhee (1) South of Columbia Falls (Jake B.)
  • 02/11 – Ruby-crowned Kinglet (1) Eagle Bend (Liz R.)

What to Expect – March 2023

Finally, winter begins to lose its grip. Waterfowl numbers should increase significantly by mid-month, with flocks of Tundra Swans, Northern Pintails and American Wigeon arriving from their winter grounds. Watch for Eurasian Wigeon in the growing flocks (Church Slough, West Valley, meltwater in the fields). Red-winged Blackbirds will start staking out territories, sometimes in marshes not yet thawed out; the first bluebirds and meadowlarks will herald spring in earnest.