Turkey Buzzards, bull snake in the creek, ski hill, napping horses, a chiefs last words to his people and a whole lot of beautiful scenery.
Took some roads that we have not been on before and found so many cool things. One was seeing the Turkey Buzzards. It was just a few days previous to this trip someone posted a picture of one and I commented that I had never seen one and did not know we had them in Montana. I will get to those birds a little later on. For now, here is a pretty shot as we headed up the highway between Box Elder and Rocky Boy.
We have traveled this area many times but mostly passing thru on our way to or returning from Beaver Creek Park. Here is a LINK to a previous photo tour of the park.
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There is a ski bowl in the Bears Paw mountains and I don’t remember ever driving in this area before. Granted it’s a baby compared to most ski hills, but a great place for the beginners and probably a little fun for the experienced as well.
Everything was so green it almost looks unreal. I am not positive, but I think that is Baldy mountain, in the background. The Bears Paw mountains are not high as far as elevation goes and Baldy Mountain is the highest peak in the range at 6919 feet above sea level. That’s a cow you see in the trees (pic on right.)
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It was so quiet and peaceful up there. Not a soul around, just a few cows and some marsh birds. This little beaver pond sat quietly below Baldy.
The pavement ended at the ski area and we had the car instead of the suburban so we headed back down to find a couple of other paved roads we wanted to venture up.
Beaver creek runs along the road and I spotted a rather large bird flying up from the water. It was kind of a blur so I was not sure but I knew it was bigger than most of our birds – yet – smaller than an Eagle or Owl. I turned to my husband and told him — I think I just saw my first Turkey buzzard.
He quickly stopped the car and then I saw a dead deer laying by the creek where the bird had just left. As my eyes drifted upwards from that sad sight I spotted the bird on a rocky ledge above. I was pretty excited to see him or her – and – then there were two.
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I was clicking photos like crazy, afraid they would fly off any moment. But, they seemed more annoyed that we interrupted their lunch and that we were not moving along. As we sat, a third flew into a nearby tree and soon a forth landed on another ledge not far from the pair. This one seemed more mature and it made me wonder if the others might be this years youngsters.
Being quite intrigued, I decided to look up some information about them. It seems The Turkey Buzzard is AKA the turkey vulture. I have read that it’s the most widespread of the New World vultures. It ranges from southern Canada to the southernmost tip of South America. It’s said that they inhabit a variety of open and semi-open areas, including subtropical forests, shrublands, pastures, and deserts. However, these were in the mountains so I believe their range is wider than previously believed.
They are a scavenger and feed almost exclusively on carrion. Thus the dead deer had drawn them in.
They roost in large community groups so I may have been wrong about some of them being youngsters. Apparently they lack a syrinx (the vocal organ that most birds possess.) Thus, the Turkey Buzzard can only make grunts and low hisses. They are a pretty good sized bird with a wingspan of 63–72 inches and can weigh up to 5.3 lbs.
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In the United States, the vulture receives legal protection under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
There is a lot more information I would like to share about these birds.. Perhaps, later, another post dedicated to the turkey buzzard.
We finally moved along so they could get back to their lunch. We were getting a bit hungry ourselves and pulled into one of the many campgrounds a few miles down the road.
After eating a bite I was wandering along the creek with the dogs and spotted this snake in the water. At first glance it looked like a rattler. I called hubby over and he confirmed it was a bull snake.
There was not a lot of wildflowers up there. I remember camping in these mountains several times in the past and don’t remember ever seeing many other than the wild rose bushes. It looked as thou they had already bloomed and were done now. Seen a lot of these thou. it could be either Hoary Cress or Chigger Weed and I am not positive which..
WE finished lunch and went back down the highway where we took a couple of side roads. Found these beautiful horses and foals having a nice nap in the warm sun.
The last place we stopped before leaving the reservation was here.
And… a parting shot of that cabin sitting in a breathtaking setting.
Once back on the main highway – headed home – we watched a storm rolling in across the plains..
Hope you enjoyed traveling with us..
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