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Spark Birds

By Marylane Pannell, Flathead Audubon Secretary

Western Meadowlark Photo Credit: allaboutbirds.org

Western Meadowlark Photo Credit: allaboutbirds.org

Recently I’ve read several articles about “Spark Birds”, the birds that spark your interest in birding. The ones that make you want to see more birds. Many people have a spark bird but I could not narrow it down to one. I’ve had a number of experiences seeing birds for the first time and I appreciated the knowledge and camaraderie of the other birders on these trips that kept me inspired.
Raised in Great Falls I saw and heard many Meadowlarks. But it was not until I went with Kathy and John Hughes and used their binoculars and scope to get a close clear view that I truly appreciated those magnificent birds.

Just below our house on North Main Street in Kalispell, Karen Nichols led a spring trip in Lawrence Park where I saw my first Lazuli Bunting on a cattail in the swamp. With Leslie Kehoe and Bob Lee I saw my first Snowy Owl on a roof top southeast of Kalispell in the Lower Valley.

Great Blue Heron Photo Credit: hww.ca

Great Blue Heron Photo Credit: hww.ca

In our old beat-up Coleman canoe on the Flathead River near Owen Sowerwine Natural Area I saw a Great Blue Heron, so close I could see the color of its eyes, on a trip led by Susannah and Dan Casey. At the Hawk Watch in Jewel Basin I saw Sharp-shinned Hawks and Golden Eagles at close range. Barb Summers and bj Worth helped identify the many raptors flying through. Pete Fisher called in a Barred Owl near his home. With Steve Gniadek I observed Harlequin Ducks in Glacier National Park on McDonald Creek.

Thanks to all those who helped me find my spark birds. What is your “spark bird”?

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