Bird Watching

 

The Piping Plover

The town of Westby is widely know for it’s excellent bird watching opportunities.  The rare piping plover, Baird’s sparrow, and among others are still found here as well as many other uncommon species that migrate through the area. The  warbler concentration is unlike anywhere else in Montana. The colorful birds are moving between winter habitat in Central and South America and summer nesting places in the insect-rich boreal forests of Alaska, British Columbia, and Alberta. As they fly above the prairie, the warblers are drawn to a tiny 1-acre park in this small town tucked into the northeastern corner of the state. Canada, chestnut-sided, yellow-rumped, and other warblers find shelter and food in the park’s trees, hedges, and bushes. They also drink from a hose that drips into a small pool. “Sooner or later every bird comes to the water,” says Ted Nordhagen, a local bird illustrator who has seen an amazing 29 different warbler species here over the years. The Westby park becomes an even greater warbler magnet during fall. Migration is heaviest mid-August through mid-September, when the birds are building energy reserves for the long trip south. A bonus bird sighting at Westby is always possible. Over the years, Nordhagen has seen such rarities as the Connecticut warbler, Philadelphia vireo, and yellow-bellied flycatcher. By:  Craig and Liz Larcom