Ninepipes Field Trip Report

Twenty birders participated in the field trip to the Ninepipes area on Saturday, September 8th. Two birders from Polson, MT, two from Plains, MT, and three from Ottawa, Canada joined the Missoula birders.

Except for the crisp early morning, the day was classical summer with cloudless sunny skies and no wind. Ninepipes and Kicking Horse Reservoirs were like mirrors dotted with many ducks, coots and grebes. Large numbers of Redhead ducks, American Coots and Western Grebes occupied Ninepipes. Fewer shorebirds were present than we had hoped for but we had nice views of Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs and thanks to Rose Leach a Solitary Sandpiper sitting quietly at the back of a small pond.

Perhaps the most unusual sighting for the Ninepipes area was a Swainson’s Hawk spotted by Scott Hampton. He also located a pair of Sandhill Cranes that had molted into their all gray plumage. This was interesting to several of our group because most of the year Sandhill Cranes in Montana show considerable rusty plumage, which they acquire from their habit of digging in the ground with their bill. Soil and water stains, often containing ferric oxide, are transferred to their feathers during preening. We observed a total of 58 species.


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