April 2017: Springtime in the Rockies


Montana holds a number of very interesting weather-related records. This screen photo of the MontanaKids.com website gives some of the details. While Montana is well known for holding the lowest recorded temperature in the contiguous 28 states of the US, it is less well known for the records it holds for temperature changes. As noted below, Montana holds the records for extreme temperature range between winter and summer, and for temperature changes over a short period of time, such as an hour or a day. In fact, Montana holds the WORLD record for temperature changes within a day, and the national records for changes within 12-hour and 1-hour periods. You’re getting the picture… as the Montana saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes and it will change.”



Harriet must by now be well-acquainted with Montana’s weather patterns—if there is such a thing. This last April 3 was what could be called a typical spring day in Montana’s Rocky Mountains. It started off sunny, with temperatures in the mid-50s; but early in the afternoon a serious snowstorm hit, temperatures dropping like a cannonball from the sky, and everything turned white with a couple of inches of snow. Then, by late afternoon, the sun came back out, the snow melted, and it was clear for about an hour before another small snow squall rolled through.

During this entire display of Montana’s weather contortions, Harriet remained on her perch, overlooking the lonely goose egg that she had been trying to eject. Take a look at the video done in quick time.

This is by no means the first time that our Harriet has been caught in a snow storm. During April of 2013, both Ozzie and Harriet arrived in late March and by mid-April, Harriet had her first of three eggs. During the evening and night of the very day she laid it, a serious snow storm entered the valley and kept up all night. Many web camera viewers stayed up late at night watching her sitting in a nearly frozen position for long hours; then in the middle of the night, Ozzie flew in to relieve her and we were able to get a camera view of the egg that was clearly nice and cozy in its nest bowl that looked warm and totally free of snow. In the photos below, note that Harriet’s eyes and beak are totally frozen as day gives way to night. By morning the sun came out, the world was covered in white, and Ozzie, Harriet, and the egg were all fine. That egg hatched at the end of May and the chick that we all named Percy successfully fledged.


The next night was cold and clear and Harriet woke with frost on her feathers.

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