Checking out the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, Sat. 04/28/2012

Phyllis (Mom) and I decided to head over to the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area on Saturday, April 28 to check it out.  Neither of us had ever been to the area before, even though it’s only a half mile east of Kalispell city limits, off Willow Glen Drive.  According to the Flathead Audubon Society’s web site, the area covers 422 acres of cottonwood forests situated near the confluence of the Stillwater and the Flathead Rivers.  It has been designated a Montana Important Bird Area, with at least 114 species having been seen at the site.  The OSNA is Montana’s only designated natural area.

Ospreys circling high above the Stillwater River

We saw (and heard) lots of sweet little black-capped chickadees flitting to and fro.  We also saw (and heard) plenty of robins, geese, ducks, and woodpeckers.  However, the problem was that we didn’t get too far along the trail before we discovered that there was so much flooding from the Stillwater that the trail was underwater.  So we had to turn around.  We plan to go back in about a month, when we hope to be able to follow the Mainland Trail (not quite a mile long) all the way to the end.

This Canada goose and gander were gliding around just where we found the trail to be underwater.  We would soon learn that they had a nest close by, and up!  Mom and I watched them swim by and out of sight around the bend.  Suddenly there was a commotion with lots of honking and flapping, and we wondered what was going on.  Then one goose flew back toward us and landed in a tree above our heads!  I, for one, had never seen a goose land in a tree before.  We soon figured out that this was her nest, on the flat top of a cottonwood tree.

She has a good view of the whole area!

A lone female mallard with no mate in sight

Could this be a duck’s nest?  Or maybe a pileated woodpecker’s?  It was quite a large hole in the tree, facing the river.

We saw lots of interesting nests.

Mom and I are anxious to go back to OSNA to see what other birds and animals we can find in the months to come.