by Dan Casey

Rare and Notables – Summer 2021

May-August 2021 was characterized by late arrivals and low numbers of migrant songbirds throughout valley habitats. Some highlights included the first local records of Lesser Goldfinch, and the third western MT record of Purple Martin, a rare summer record of Purple Finch, and higher than usual numbers of late migrant Snow Geese and White-faced Ibises.  

  • 5/03 – Purple Martin (male) West Valley Wildlife Viewing Area (Dan C.)
  • 5/08 – Dunlin (2) West Valley Ponds (bj W.)
  • 5/08 – Snow Goose (78) Lingering flock all spring at West Valley Ponds (m. ob.)
  • 5/13 – Greater White-fronted Goose (1) West Valley Ponds (Dick W.)
  • 5/17 – Iceland (Thayer’s) Gull (late) Flathead County landfill (Dan C.)
  • 5/17 – Eurasian Wigeon (late) Happy Valley area (Bob S.)
  • 5/23 – Loggerhead Shrike (1) Whitefish area (Shannon and Bridger D.)
  • 5/29 – White-faced Ibis (49) West Valley Ponds (Dick W.)
  • 6/19 – Purple Finch (singing male) Camas Creek, Glacier NP (Joshua C.)
  • 6/25 – Lesser Goldfinch (5) Owen Sowerwine Natural Area (Alex. L., via eBird)
  • 6/26 – Ovenbird (single male) Tally Lake Road (Kit P.)
  • 7/17 – Broad-winged Hawk (adult) Wild Horse Island; very rare in summer (Doug M.)
  • 8/07 – Lesser Goldfinch (2) Creston (Craig H.)

What to Expect – September2021

Late August through September offers perhaps the greatest diversity of southbound migrants through the Flathead Valley. Early during this period, we still have flocks of swallows staging for their departure, and juvenile hummingbirds visiting our flowers and feeders. Shorebird migration, well underway for over a month, continues as the first cold fronts of fall bring in raptors and flocks of sparrows. September is the best month to look for such rarities as Sabine’s Gull and jaegers on local lakes, and Sandhill Crane flocks will accumulate in the West Valley. All in all, September is a great month for birding!