Yellowstone Reports

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Cody Trip

Checking Nests
by Dan Hartman

April 6, 2013

I had plans for this spring. Oh, I had plans! Then one by one my projects fell by the wayside. I was supposed to be guiding for a film crew, but our subjects were chased out by an unexpected wolf pack.

This week Cindy and I drove all the way around to Cody. I was anxious to check out my golden eagle nest as it was our next filming project. This nest was used four of the last six years and I was reasonably confident she would be in it.
But she wasnít! The cave next was empty with no sigh of fresh nesting materials. I was crushed. I really wanted this nest to appear in the new Yellowstone Film.
Half-heartedly we moved on. I had a couple of great gray owl nests to check out. They could take away some of the sting of defeat.


Oh well, the next nest is better looking anyways. This time I had to wade knee deep up through sloppy snow to reach a vantage point.


Actually this would have been the earliest the owls would be nesting. So Iíll check again in a couple weeks.
We were only fifteen miles from the beaver dam I had found last fall, so we decided to take a look. When we parked just inside the road closed sign, we were a scant fifteen miles from our cabin. Itís hard to believe we drove six hours to accomplish this.

I waded out to the beaver pond, hoping to find some sign they had survived the winter. The dam looked the same as last fall. At the lodge I found a fresh mud trail that led to the water. This meant they were still active. The underwater winter food supply was completely used up, but it had been sufficient. With the ponds ice melting, the beaver can now forage for food.

On the drive home the next day, we spotted the usual characters. Sand-hill cranes strutted the hayfields, meadow larks sang from the fence posts and mountain bluebirds flitted about. We did pass by two heron rookeries, each sporting a dozen or so great blue herons.

As disappointing as this spring has been, it cements the fact you just canít always predict nature. Just when you think youíve figured it out, zip here comes a new pitch youíve never seen before. Well, Iíll keep roaming the forest and who knows, I may come up with something much better than what I think Iíve lost.


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Sand-hill Cranes

Empty Eagle Nest

Mud Slide

Exhausted Winter Food Supply

Beaver Dam