A bird is a bird is a bird is a Howdy Beaver
April 18, 2002
A bird is a bird is a bird is a
It really sounds like spring in the beautiful Bear Paws these days. Why, you can even hear water running down creeks in fairly respectable amounts. And not even the incessant winds can drown out creeks that are flowing better than they did all of last year.
Not only that, but blue birds are back and searching for new homes in the scores of nesting boxes on Beaver and Sucker creeks. Many birds come back early, or so the old-timers say, but not the blue birds. When they come back, it is spring no matter what the calendar may say.
A trip out to the mountains these days is rewarding in at least a couple of ways. There are many pussy willows in bloom now on most all creeks, and some meadows are just alive with bright and tiny buttercups. There is the occasional crocus blooming now as well. Rooster heads and yellow bells are not far behind. This is the time to pick that early May Day bouquet.
Meanwhile we have been studying coots on the other side of the mountains. Each morning they are lined up for a half mile in the bay that we look out on. Then they take off swimming and skimming up and down the shoreline all day long. Once in a while they dunk themselves underwater looking for something to eat, and once in a while they come up on the shore for awhile, but mostly they stay in a long, long narrow formation traveling up and down the shoreline. There appear to be old coots (you have no idea how long it took us to use that line in a column) and young coots, too. Our bird book states that they are not ducks at all but rather a member of the rail tribe. They are really worth watching.
Meanwhile in the bird department, our feeder is just full of NBBs (nondescript brown birds). That is the name for any small bird that we cannot identify.
That reminds us that one time a few years ago we were asked, along with a lovely Havre lady, to lead a bird identification class for adult education. We did not have a clue about birds except for those that landed at our Bear Paw bird feeder. But we pretended to be an expert until we had to leave the classroom and go out in Pepin Park and try to identify birds flying in the trees. Someone would see a bird high up in a tree and say, "Look, look, up there. What is that bird?" Not having a clue, we would say, "Where? Where? We don't see any bird." Finally we told the lady who was helping us to get in the bushes and scare all the birds away so we would not look like the absolute fools that we were. She kept whispering to us, "Robby, these people have paid for this class." Needless to say, we were never invited back to lead another bird identification class.
In Montana's Flathead there might be a lot of folks from California and Washington moving in, but as in Havre, it is the people from North Dakota who make the newspaper.
There is still a drive-in movie theater in the valley and it made the news when a person from North Dakota was found frozen to death in his auto during the last cold streak, parked at that drive-in theater. Finally it was deduced that he had parked there waiting for the next showing of "Closed for the season."