By Robert Lucke
This time of year, with so many birds migrating south, is a great time to view them. Just viewing song birds passing through Havre and the Hi-Line towns is rewarding these days for birders of all ilks. Walk the streets of towns and listen for songs. Arm yourself with binoculars and a good portable bird book, and you just might find all sorts of uncommon birds for this area.
Evenings and mornings are best for viewing most places, but when migrations start to take place, birds can be spotted any time of the day.
Don't overlook Beaver Creek Park, either. Particularly full of birds and water fowl are Bear Paw Lake and Beaver Creek Reservoir. Since many wetlands have dried up this summer, these two reservoirs are motels for many visiting birds. The casual birder can see everything from pelicans and storks to an occasional bald eagle around the shore. Not only that but an added attraction of birding in Beaver Creek Park these days is the really abundant display of large whitetailed bucks, which can be seen below Rotary Hill.
The fir forests of the Rocky Boy Recreation Area, Clear Creek and Little Box Elder Creek offer a wide range of song birds just passing through now on their way south.
The Rookery Wildlife Area on the Milk River, just west of Havre on the Badlands Road, is another great place to view birds and water fowl these days.
But the granddaddy of all bird areas is, of course, Lake Bowdoin, just east of Malta. It is user friendly, having been developed with trails and the like to make viewing and picture taking very good. And the birds coming through there are just incredible. It is common to see thousands of geese and ducks fly in each day, land and feed in the fields nearby. This area is one of the most interesting and abundant for birds in all of Montana and should not be missed in the spring and fall by even the casual birder.
Farther to the east, there are many areas of the Milk and the Missouri below Fort Peck that are great for bird watching, and to the west there are several bird sanctuaries north of Great Falls all the way to some really large ones in the Fairfield area. Most interesting about all of them is that each is unique and individual. Don't think that just because you have visited one you have seen all the birds in northern Montana. There are at least a couple of flyways, maybe more in northern Montana, and each has its own particular birds flying through them.
The time to go is anytime now and throughout most of September and early into October.