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Field Trip Report: Wild Horse Island

by Laura Katzman

Wild Horse Island group - Photo Credit: Doug MacCarter

Wild Horse Island group – Photo Credit: Doug MacCarter

Ten lucky participants enjoyed an amazing tour of spectacular Wild Horse Island led by Doug MacCarter of Flathead Audubon on June 22. We boated to the island and started the tour at Doug’s family cabin on the south central shore of the island. We then hiked to Skeeko Bay learning about the history of the island and getting a close-up view of its wild horses.

We also saw mule deer with their antlers in velvet and a few bighorn sheep. We spotted Osprey, Bald Eagle, Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Western Meadowlark, Northern Flicker, Clark’s Nutcracker, House Wren, and Vesper Sparrow on the hike. We had lunch on the porch of Doug’s family cabin with views of Flathead Lake and were treated to Calliope Hummingbirds,Tree and Violet-green Swallows, White-breasted nuthatches, and mule deer while relaxing.

Bighorn Skull on Wild Horse Island - Photo Credit: Jeff Beltz

Bighorn Skull on Wild Horse Island – Photo Credit: Jeff Beltz

After lunch a few of the group hiked to a high point on the east side of the island and enjoyed scenic views of Flathead Lake with the Mission Mountains as a backdrop. On this off-trail hike the group found sign of mountain lion such as remnants of bighorn sheep kills including a skull of a full curl ram. The group was also lucky to spot a dozen large bighorn sheep rams and a Cooper’s Hawk. What a wonderful tour of an island paradise!

Bighorn Sheep on Wild - Photo Credit: Jeff Beltz

Bighorn Sheep on Wild – Photo Credit: Jeff Beltz

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