Here’s an interesting article about a harlequin duck study in Glacier Park . . .
Warren Hansen, a graduate of Polson High School, has channeled his lifelong love of ducks and the outdoors into a long-term examination of harlequin ducks in Glacier National Park’s McDonald Creek watershed — a renowned hot spot for harlequin breeding activity.
With their signature plumage rivaled only by the beauty of their migratory mountain homes, harlequin ducks have captured the hearts of countless bird watchers and casual observers. The rare birds are sea ducks that typically spend their winters residing in coastal surf zones before migrating inland to nest alongside whitewater mountain streams.
“They’re the only bird to have an east-west migration,” he said.
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The latest from the ongoing harlequin duck study in Glacier Park . . .
A male harlequin duck, known to be at least 17 years-old, was recently identified in Glacier National Park by University of Montana researchers and Glacier National Park scientists. The banded duck is believed to be the third oldest on record. The oldest known banded harlequin duck has a recorded age of 18 years and 10 months.
“Prior to these findings, harlequin ducks were reported to live up to only 10 years of age, which makes this finding a positive indicator of the health and longevity of harlequin breeding populations in Glacier National Park,” said Lisa Bate, Glacier National Park biological science technician. “Research indicates harlequin ducks mate for life unless something happens to one member of the pair. This old male has returned the last three years with the same female.”
In 2011, a study of harlequin ducks on Upper McDonald Creek was initiated by Glacier National Park in cooperation with researchers from the University of Montana. Researchers use radio-telemetry and banding to learn more about the location of harlequin nests and factors affecting offspring survival. Upper McDonald Creek is considered an important breeding stream for harlequin ducks, comprising 25% of known broods produced in Montana. The area also has the highest density of breeding harlequins in the lower 48 states. Glacier National Park has approximately 40 pairs of harlequins in the park.
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From a press release posted today on the Glacier National Park web site . . .
Aggressive behavior has been displayed by a mountain lion in the Upper McDonald Creek Valley near areas highly frequented by visitors. Rangers are requesting visitors to be on alert for mountain lions and report all sightings to the closest National Park Service (NPS) facility.
On Tuesday June 23, a woman and her niece were confronted by an adult mountain lion, dark in color on the Sperry Trail near the Lake McDonald Lodge. The lion was crouched adjacent to the trail with its ears back when the visitors saw the lion. The visitors spoke firmly to the lion and eventually the lion left the area. On Sunday June 26, rangers received another report of a very large hiking group that encountered a mountain lion with a similar description on the Upper McDonald Creek Trail, between the North McDonald Road and the horse bridge across Upper McDonald Creek. The lion was spotted less than five feet off the trail and did not show any signs of being frightened by people.
Rangers are actively patrolling these trails and are requesting visitors to report all sightings immediately to the closest NPS facility or Park Ranger. Visitors are also reminded that unlike bears, if an attack seems imminent, act aggressively, do not crouch or run away. Park Officials advise hiking in groups and do not recommend solo travel on trails. More details on mountain lion sightings in Glacier National Park is available in the park newspaper or online at http://www.nps.gov/glac/planyourvisit/mtnlionsafety.htm.