• A heron sits near its nest at the Drummond rookery. The birds don't always return to the same nest every year, and ususally have a different mate each season. Photo by Tom Bauer

    High-roost rockery entices great blue herons to western Montana

    By Rob Chaney 

    DRUMMOND – It’s not everywhere you can get eye to eye with a wild heron during mating season.

    Great blue herons (Ardea herodias) return to southwestern Montana to raise their chicks in rookeries – the avian equivalent of high-rise apartment living. While they typically don’t like human intrusions, Montana Highway 1 heading south from Drummond offers a great compromise.

    A great blue heron flies over a rookery of about 30 nests recently near Drummond. The rookery has at least 20 herons flying about just to the west of Montana Highway 1 near the Clark Fork River. Photo by Tom Bauer

    A great blue heron flies over a rookery of about 30 nests recently near Drummond. The rookery has at least 20 herons flying about just to the west of Montana Highway 1 near the Clark Fork River. Photo by Tom Bauer

    “I just love watching them,” rancher Sherilee Lund said of the colony that’s nested next to her cow pasture for the past decade.

    While a former railroad grade on her land goes right by the cottonwood grove, the highway bridge that spans it combines better elevation with a comfortable security distance for the birds. Neither zooming cars nor photographers wandering along the guardrail prompted any disturbance on the nests.

    Lund said it appeared the rookery was unused when she and husband Bob Lund moved to Drummond from Hall about 12 years ago. A few years later, a couple of pairs began nesting there.

    “I’m guessing once they got started again, they stay for several years,” Lund said. “Not all the nests are occupied every year.”

    Last week, at least 20 herons were sitting in or standing by at least 31 nests in the grove of cottonwood trees. The big birds can all but disappear in the clots of twigs and branches, with only their heads visible above the rim. The nests don’t look deep enough for a heron to disappear like that, especially when the mate is standing right beside it.

    Sherilee Lund walks along her road next to the rookery. Lund has been keeping tabs on the herons for several years. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Sherilee Lund walks along her road next to the rookery. Lund has been keeping tabs on the herons for several years. Photo by Tom Bauer

    One nest provided a gruesome reminder of the challenges herons face in the modern world. While two birds went about their ways above, a third, dead heron hung from the underside of the nest.

    “My guess is that it got tangled up in monofilament fishing line and died,” said Erick Greene, a University of Montana bird biologist who’s kept track of the Drummond rookery. “This is a major source of mortality for herons (like) ospreys with baling twine. I have done a lot of work on this issue – trying to reduce the amount of fishing line and baling twine that people leave out in the environment.”

    Read the rest of the story here

  • web cam

    How’s spring progressing in MT? Check out our web cams

    No matter where you are, it’s easy to keep track of Montana these days.

    We’ve compiled a list of web cams – with links! – for everything from ski mountains to national parks.

    As the state thaws, the cams are a good way to keep track of spring’s progress through the web cams.

    You can check in on Lake McDonald in Glacier, or the geysers in Yellowstone.

    Take second to check out our Web Cams of Montana page.

    Enjoy!

    Jenna

  • The Kyi-Yo Powwow was held in Missoula April 18. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Drums and dancers: Kyi-Yo Powwow brings thousands to UM

    By Dillon Kato
    As the floor filled for the grand entrance, Native American dancers began to transition from a walk, spinning and hopping until the ground beneath them disappeared into a swirl of beadwork, feathers, staves, antlers, bone and face paint – the annual Kyi-Yo Powwow had begun with the beat of a drum.
    Bobbie White of the Coeur d'Alene Tribe fixes the hair and regalia of two-year-old Kiki Louie prior to the grand entry at the Kyi-Yo Powwow. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Bobbie White of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe fixes the hair and regalia of two-year-old Kiki Louie prior to the grand entry at the Kyi-Yo Powwow. Photo by Tom Bauer

    Muted earth tones of elders mixed with the fluorescent blues and greens of children as metal chimes rang on women’s jingle dresses during Saturday’s event at the University of Montana’s Adams Center.

    • View a photo slideshow from Kyi-Yo here

    As important as the dancers were the drum circles, led this year by host drum Standing Horse from South Dakota. David Lone Elk and his fellow drummers are responsible not only for playing in the grand entries of the dancers but also for singing the special songs and keeping the beat of the powwow.

    Standing Horse was given the honor of host drum after winning the drum competition at last year’s Kyi-Yo, the first time they had attended the event. Lone Elk said he had known about the powwow because he had listened to another drum group who had recorded their album there.

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    “I knew about Kyi-Yo long before I knew it was even in Missoula. We only found out last year when we decided to come here and found it was going to be a 14 hour drive,” he said.

    Amber Shaffer, co-president of the Kyi-Yo Native American Student Association at the University of Montana that puts on the event, said this year members put an emphasis on being more involved with the community to help drive awareness and attendance. This included volunteering at other events as well as holding more Native American-themed activities during the week leading up to the powwow.

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    Photo by Tom Bauer

    “Even after so many years, it’s crazy how many Missoulians have never gone. We want to change that,” she said.

    The 47th annual Kyi-Yo Powwow is one of the oldest running student-organized powwows in the nation, Shaffer said.

    • Read the rest of the story here
  • Garnet volunteers are treated to amazing night time views. Photo by Bob Wick, Bureau of Land Management

    Come live in a Montana ghost town

    Looking for an unusual summer gig this year?

    You could really get to know Garnet Ghost Town, a popular Montana state park that brings in volunteers to run summer tours. The town’s needs a summer volunteer this year.

    Perks: A summer spent outdoors getting to know one of the most historical places in the state.

    Garnet Ghost Town contains several restored buildings from its years as a gold- and silver-mining boomtown. Photo courtesy of Bob Wick, BLM

    Garnet Ghost Town contains several restored buildings from its years as a gold- and silver-mining boomtown.
    Photo courtesy of Bob Wick, BLM

    BLM provides a private furnished cabin with propane stove and refrigerator, wood stove and a food stipend. Volunteers will provide visitor information, lead tours and handle sales of souvenirs.

    Those interested could also work with area maintenance, assisting with special events and developing signs and exhibits. Background checks are required for all applicants.

    Downsides: No running water. No Wi-Fi.

    “It’s primitive, to say the least,” U.S. Bureau of Land Management Garnet Ranger Nacoma Gainan said. “It’s for people who love the outdoors and want to give back. There’s no electricity, no Wi-Fi and no running water. But there are trails to explore, artifacts to inspect. Volunteers are really left to their own devices after the visitors are gone.”

    Still, if you’re hoping to apply, you better hurry. The story about the opening spread far and wide across the Internet.

    Here’s the application instructions:  Contact BLM Missoula Field Office by calling (406) 329-3735 or by email at ngainan@blm.gov. For more information about Garnet, visit the Missoula Field Office’s website at blm.gov/j5ld or the Garnet Preservation Association’s site at blm.gov/k5ld.

    Good luck!

    Jenna

  • Top 5 readers photos of the week

    We get so many awesome photos shared with us on our Facebook page each week, we thought we’d share the top five of the tops here. 

    This week, it’s a wide variety of images – from owls to snow covered mountains. It’s a good snap shot of Montana this time of year, when temperatures and weather is as unpredictable as ever.

    So, here they are, for your viewing pleasure. Thanks to everyone who shared their shots with us!

    An owl keeps a careful watch over his territory near the Bitterroot River. Photo by Mike Williams

    An owl keeps a careful watch over his territory near the Bitterroot River. Photo by Mike Williams

    Photo by Whispering Peaks Photography

    Elk cross the Mission Creek at the National Bison Range in Moiese. Photo by Whispering Peaks Photography

    Blue skies shine over Choteau. Photo by Yvonne Moe Resch

    Blue skies shine over Choteau. Photo by Yvonne Moe Resch

    A dancer at the 40th Annual Montana State University Powwow. Photo by George Tillman

    A dancer at the 40th Annual Montana State University Powwow. Photo by George Tillman

    The snow isn't quite gone from the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area near Noxon. Photo by thebobfactor.com

    The snow isn’t quite gone from the Cabinet Mountains Wilderness area near Noxon. Photo by thebobfactor.com

  • People gather Tuesday for a ribbon-cutting celebrating completion of a two-year, $28.5 million renovation of Lake Hotel in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of Billings Gazette

    Historic Yellowstone hotel gets national recognition

    Big news for a big part of Yellowstone National Park: The historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel has been designated a National Historic Landmark.

    It is the oldest hotel inside America’s first national park.

    Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks and Resorts, points out a few spots where last-minute window clenaing is needed by Michaela Matuskva before a ribbon-cutting celebrating completion of a two-year, $28.5 million renovation of Lake Hotel in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of the Billings Gazette

    Rick Hoeninghausen, director of sales and marketing for Xanterra Parks and Resorts, points out a few spots where last-minute window clenaing is needed by Michaela Matuskva before a ribbon-cutting celebrating completion of a two-year, $28.5 million renovation of Lake Hotel in Yellowstone National Park. Photo courtesy of the Billings Gazette

    Initially designed by architect N.L. Haller of Washington, D.C., and constructed in 1891, the Lake Yellowstone Hotel was entirely reconceived in the first decades of the 20th century by architect Robert C. Reamer as a grand resort hotel displaying the Colonial Revival style. Currently the park’s oldest hotel in existence, the building overlooks the north shore of Yellowstone Lake. 

    This comes after a $28.5 million renovation, according to the Billings Gazette story.

     Here’s a little more about the renovation

    Repairs to the Yellowstone Lake Hotel have been extensive over the past two years, totaling $28.5 million in improvements. Photo courtesy of Billings Gazette

    Repairs to the Yellowstone Lake Hotel have been extensive over the past two years, totaling $28.5 million in improvements. Photo courtesy of Billings Gazette

    Perched along the north shore of Yellowstone Lake, the hotel is far from major attractions like Old Faithful and the Upper Falls of the Yellowstone River, so it’s usually less crowded, hosting visitors who typically move at a slower pace.

    The hotel first opened in 1891 as a three-story clapboard structure with 80 guest rooms. Between 1903 and 1937, a series of expansions led by architect Robert Reamer turned the hotel into a 210-room Colonial Revival style lakefront complex beloved for a its Ionic columns and genteel sun room, which still hosts string quartets and pianists performing for visitors taking a sweeping view of the largest alpine lake in North America.

    Adding bathrooms to each guest room has cut the current room count to 153.

    Learn more about our upcoming issue featuring Yellowstone here.

  • The Frey family on the southwest side of Great Falls in the early 1930s. A photographer would bring the cart and goat to homes, take a picture and create a postcard for families to purchase. Photo submitted by Joleen Frey

    Pictured in History: Send us your #TBT photos

    We love seeing photos from back in the day. And Throwback Thursday is the perfect time to share our collection of the great historical photos readers have sent us throughout the years.

    Here’s a slideshow of some of our favorites from 2014.

    And did you see this one of the “expert bullwhip specialist“? It’s one of my favorites from our archives.

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    From the Montana Magazine archives

    Here’s a post about some vintage stories (including great photos!) from our more recent issues.

    That should satiate your #tbt appetite, right?

    Now, we need your help. Do you have historical or old family photos you’d like to share with Montana Magazine? We’d love to see them (and don’t forget to subscribe today so you can see all the historical photos in print).

    You can email the images to me at editor@montanamagazine.com, including your information and a full description of the image.

    Thanks for sharing!

    – Jenna

  • Portions of Yellowstone National Park’s road system will open to the public on Friday. Photo by Brett French

    Yellowstone roads set to open

    It’s time to get your summer park plans in order. The mild winter around Montana means that the parks are beginning to awake early this year.

    Portions of roads inside Yellowstone National Park (open to bikes only for a few weeks) are set to open Friday.

    The road from West Yellowstone and Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone will open for the season at 8 a.m. 

    Each spring, Yellowstone National Park plow crews clear snow and ice from 198 miles of main road, 124 miles of secondary roads and 125 acres of parking lots inside the park, as well as 31 miles of the Beartooth Highway outside the park’s Northeast Entrance to prepare for the summer season.

    Additional road segments in the park will open during May as road clearing operations progress. 

    We’ll be taking readers into both Yellowstone and Glacier in our upcoming Park-to-Park issue.

    As for Glacier – here’s a look at plowing progress on Going-to-the-Sun-Road.

    MM_Park2Park 500x500 teaser

    Want more of Montana all year? Subscribe today and don’t miss our Park-to-Park issue.

    Jenna 

     

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