Little yellow mustards

Print Article

The bird flitted from branch to branch in the darkest part of the tree. I tried in vain, to get a good look at it, lock on the focus, get a shot, but to no avail.

I call these birds little yellow mustards, though the adjective I actually use is the other word that rhymes with mustard.

The bird in question is the golden crowned kinglet, a tiny, common songbird that’s found in Glacier’s dense spruce forests. Unlike most songbirds in Glacier Park, golden crowned kinglets don’t migrate south for the winter, so they’re around all year, just to irritate me.

Up close and personal, golden crowns are gorgeous little birds, though you either have to have fantastic eyes or a good set of binoculars to see all the details.

During breeding season, the males will raise the golden crowned feathers on their heads. You see this once in awhile. Better photographers than I have photographed it, but so far, I have not.

Golden crowns often hang around with chickadees, so if you find one species, you often find the other. The problem is the golden crowns never stay in one place more than a second or two, and they have an uncanny knack for staying in the darkest part of the tree, or if they do venture to the edge, they’re not there for very long.

They primarily eat insects and they often hover at the edge of branches, picking bugs off the needles. This would, presumably be a good photo opportunity, but the hovering is so quick, that it often is over before you even notice.

I have to admit that most of the time, I simply ignore them. In the summer you’ll hear them calling, which is just a little peep-peep-peep, but they’re often so high in the canopy they’re too far away.

In the winter, I try a bit harder. But winter light is usually dismal, so you have to crank up the ISO of the camera just to get a shutter speed fast enough to stop the bird. If you don’t, you’ll have a pile of blurry photos in a hurry.

The ideal day is a sunny winter day with lots of small insect activity. That doesn’t happen very often. Which keeps me going back again and again, muttering under my breath at the little yellow mustards.

Chris Peterson is the editor and photographer of the Hungry Horse News.

Print Article

Read More

Nucleus Revival continues; Ruis buys Bandit

May 24, 2017 at 4:43 pm | Hungry Horse News Columbia Falls developer Mick Ruis has bought the Bandit Bar and plans on turning it into a sports bar and steakhouse. He told the Hungry Horse News he closed on the deal with former owner John VanV...

Comments

Read More

Schmit lone qualifier for state tennis

May 24, 2017 at 8:01 am | Hungry Horse News Senior Molly Schmit was the lone state qualifier in tennis after divisional play last week. Schmit took second in the Western A divisional last week, losing in the championship round in No. 1 singles...

Comments

Read More

In Perry case, more allegations arise

May 24, 2017 at 7:46 am | Hungry Horse News More allegations of misconduct have surfaced in the case of ousted Columbia Falls police chief Dave Perry. At Perry’s pre-trial hearing on May 10 in Flathead County District Court, the former police...

Comments

Read More

Columbia Falls seniors named presidential scholars

May 24, 2017 at 7:44 am | Hungry Horse News A pair of Columbia Falls High School graduates were selected as two of 161 Presidential Scholars from across the nation — one of the highest honors bestowed on a high school graduate. Colin Norick ...

Comments

Read More

Contact Us

(406) 892-2151
PO BOX 189, 926 Nucleus Avenue
Columbia Falls, MT 59912

©2017 Hungry Horse News Terms of Use Privacy Policy
X
X