Mountain Goats of Glacier National Park
by Sumio Harada

Montana Birds

Montana's abundance and variety of birds exceeds the more famous large mammals of Montana.

Pelican in flight, Freeze Out Lake

Pelican in flight, Freeze Out Lake. Freeze Out Lake, Montana is located between Choteau and Fairfield.

According to Visit Montana, Montana's Official Tourist Web Site Freezeout Lake is Montana's primary snow goose staging area, a place where as many as 300,000 snow geese and 10,000 tundra swans gather and rest before flying onward. In Spring, the snow geese head for Alberta and central Saskatchewan in Canada. There they mass with hundreds of thousands of other snow geese from Texas and other Gulf Coast States. In a series of shorter flights, the geese then make their way to nesting grounds on the wind swept, extreme northwest Arctic coast of Canada.

Canada Goose in flight north of Whitefish, Montana

Canada Goose in flight north of Whitefish, Montana.
The sound of their honking, while flying overhead is a sure sign of spring.

According to Montana Field Guide "In the Flathead valley, eggs are laid from March 10 to April 25; hatching occurs from April 15 to May 25. Clutch size averages 5.35 (2-10); the average hatching was 3.53 in 1953 and 2.22 in 1954. Nesting success was 82.5% in 1953 and 60.3% in 1954."


Great Blue Heron on Blanchard Lake, Whitefish, Montana.

The Great Blue Heron habitat covers most of North and Central America. The Great Blue Heron always live near bodies of water. My first extended encounters with the Great Blue Heron was on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, it was a very pleasant surprise to see them again in Montana.

grouse on trail in Glacier National Park

Grouse beside the SwiftCurrent Pass Trail in Many Glacier. The best descriptions of the grouse that I have read are in the book Hatchet by Gary Paulsen.

 robin in flight, North of Whitefish, Montana

Robin jumping down off a farm fence and grabbed a worm. North of Whitefish, Montana.


Raven waiting for handouts from tourists in Yellowstone Park.

humming bird feeding

Humming bird mother feeding chicks, Whitefish, Montana.

robin looking for more worms, northwest montana

Robin waiting for another worm to appear in Northwest Montana.

sea gull

Despite the fact that Montana is landlocked, at this time there are no oceans on any of it's borders, there is however, an abundance of sea gulls.

sandhill crane wing prior to hop © Shawn Coggins

Sandhill cranes hop as part of their mating rituals. This photo of a sandhill crane wing was taken as the crane started to hop. © Shawn Coggins

harlequin ducks, Glacier National Park, northwest montana © Shawn Coggins

Photo of Male Harlequin Ducks in Glacier National Park. © Shawn Coggins In this photo of two male Harlequin Ducks you can see the water beading on the feathers. Harlequin Duck feathers are hydrophobic, Rednecked Grebe feathers are even more hydrophobic.

Glacier National Park boasts one of the densest populations of harlequins in the state, and the best opportunities for viewing them. Note 02

harlequin duck, Glacier National Park, northwest montana © Shawn Coggins

The picture above is of Harlequin Ducks photographed on McDonald Creek near the old horse bridge in Glacier National Park. © Shawn Coggins

The bridge was destroyed during the November, 2006 floods. A replacement bridge was built during the fall of 2007. Harlequin Ducks can be found, if you're very lucky, on McDonald Creek in late spring. Harlequin Ducks winter range is in coastal waters, their nesting grounds are near fast flowing clean streams. Harlequin Ducks move very quickly both above and below the equally fast moving waters.

sandhill crane northwest montana
sandhill crane warbling pileated-woodpecker montana


Male Pileated Woodpecker in the photo above, a view from my window. The male Pileated Woodpecker can be distinguished by the red 'mustache' near it's beak and the red crest on top of it's head. The photo of the warbling sandhill crane was taken north of Whitefish, Montana. The entire state of Montana serves as summer range for the Sandhill Crane.

canada goose in flight north of Whitefish, Montana.

Canada geese in flight north of Whitefish, Montana. The entire state of Montana is year round range for the Canada Goose. Although not technically correct this goose is often referred to as the Canadian Goose.

'Owing to its adaptability to human-altered areas, it has become the most common waterfowl species in North America. In many areas, non-migratory Canada Geese are now regarded as pests.' Note W

turkey strut montana

A view from my window of a wild turkey strutting. Wild turkeys are not native to Montana. Male turkeys average four feet in length and sixteen pounds. They are found year round throughout Montana. Mating season is March and April. Eggs hatch about a month after being laid. Watching, and listening to a male wild turkey strut is an amazing experience.

wood duck montana

Wood duck with falls colors reflected in the pond at Woodland Park, Kalispell, Montana. Western Montana is year round range for Wood ducks. Eastern Montana is summer range for the Wood Duck.


Montana Field Guide References
Canada Goose — Branta canadensis. Montana Field Guide.

Note 02
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks

Wikipedia Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first citation for the 'Canada Goose' dates back to 1772.

For more of my wildlife photographs visit www.yellowstonehikers.com

For more of my bird photographs visit www.birdsmontana.com