Yellowstone Reports

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Old Friends Return

Marten Breeding Season
by Dan Hartman

May 15, 2013

     A couple of old friends we haven't seen for a while returned for a visit last week.  A marten, who behaves like one of the brothers from last year, appeared suddenly in our front yard.  He then climbed up on a snag, curled up and took a nap.  It's funny he acted like he had just been here yesterday.  According to our records, it had been ten months.

     After a time, he awoke, dropped to the ground and bounded off into the forest. 

     An hour later, Cindy went for a walk.  A few minutes and she was back.

     "Sounds like something fighting!"

     Soon as I stepped outside and heard the commotion, I knew what was going on.  I've heard those sounds before.  It was courting martens.

     It took a bit of looking but Cindy finally spotted a marten eighty feet up a pine.  She was growling and spitting much like you'ld expect a cornered cat to sound.  She appeared to be looking down but look as we may, we couldn't come up with a second marten.

     Finally, I caught movement twenty feet down.  That was our male.  The one perched higher was the female.  Now everything was clear.  Our male marten had a female cornered.  He was ready for breeding, but the female wasn't.  She needed a couple more weeks of wine and flowers.

     A half hour passed when the male made his move.  Within seconds he was on the female.  In a blur of fur and ripping claws the female broke free and fell thirty feet to a lower branch.  In a flash she was down the trunk and springing away to disappear into the forest.

     The male sheepishly climbed down to a low branch where he proceeded to lick his fresh wounds.

     An hour later, we looked out to see him sleeping again on his snag.

     Yesterday, the female was perched in front of our cabin when the male suddenly appeared.  They raced to two separate trees and began a growling standoff.  This time when the male made his move, the female leaped to the ground and raced away with the male on her tail.

     As I'm writing this the male is again sleeping outside our window.

     Our little pygmy owl hasn't been seen for a while now, although we have heard him calling from time to time.

     I was splitting wood when Cindy returned from investigating a distressed bird call.  She had spotted the little pygmy.   I grabbed my camera and tripod.  He was perched high with some unknown bird beneath him.  I got a few shots then he was gone.

     Later I was wandering the forest looking for him again, when a nuthatch calling caused me to look up.  There was the little owl.  This time without his catch.  He had stashed it away somewhere to be collected later.


View slide show


Yawn !!!

Nap Time

Breeding Posture

Female 80 Feet High

She's Way Up There

Male Intent On Female

You Stay Away From Me !!!!

Pygmy Owl And Nuthatch