By Marylane Pannell, Flathead Audubon Secretary
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.
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”?