Bohemian waxwing. Photo courtesy of Cornell Ornithology Laboratory.


April 1


1893: The rank of Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy was established.

1960: The U.S.-launched TIROS-1 satellite transmitted the first television picture from space.

1982: Ronald Reagan became the first president to address both houses of Congress wearing fuzzy bunny slippers.

2004: Google unveiled Gmail to the public.


April 2 


1902: Electric Theatre, the first full-time movie theater in the United States, opened in Los Angeles, Calif.

1912: The ill-fated RMS Titanic began sea trials.

1917: President Woodrow Wilson asked the U.S. Congress for a declaration of war on Germany.


April 3


1981: The Osborne 1, the first successful portable computer, was unveiled at the West Coast Computer Faire in San Francisco.

1882: American outlaw, gang leader, bank robber, train robber, stagecoach robber and murderer Jesse James was killed at his home in St. Joseph, Mo., by fellow outlaw Robert Ford.

1996: Suspected “Unabomber” Theodore Kaczynski was captured at his cabin near Lincoln, Montana.

2010: Apple Inc. released the first generation iPad, a tablet computer.


April 4


1964: The Beatles occupied the top five positions on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.

1968: Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., by white supremacist James Earl Ray.

1969: Dr. Denton Cooley implanted the first temporary artificial heart.

1973: The World Trade Center in New York was officially dedicated.

Microsoft was founded as a partnership between Bill Gates and Paul Allen in Albuquerque, N.M.


April 5


1614: Native American Pocahontas married English colonist John Rolfe in Virginia.

1792: U.S. President George Washington exercised his authority to veto a bill, the first time this power was used in the United States.

1923: Firestone Tire and Rubber Company began production of balloon tires.


April 6


1808: John Jacob Astor incorporated the American Fur Company that would eventually make him America’s first millionaire.

1924: A team of U.S. aviators commenced the first round-the-world flight, leaving from Seattle. The trip took 175 days and covered 27,553 miles.


April 7


1933: Prohibition in the United States was repealed for beer of no more than 3.2 percent alcohol by weight, eight months before the ratification of the 21st amendment.

1947: U.S. inventor and industrialist Henry Ford died at age 83 in Dearborn, Mich.

Backyard birding to beat the blues

By Brian Baxter


“Faith is the bird that feels the light, and sings when dawn is still dark.” This quote, by Rabindranath Tagore, an Indian poet that lived from 1861 until 1941 can be inspirational to people facing trying times. We here in the northwestern corner of Montana are fortunate to live in such a beautiful area, and even our backyards are potential places to witness impressive avian beauty.

Each spring, neotropical migrants composed of not much more than hollow bones, strong wings, and brilliantly colored feathers can migrate at speeds of up to 100 mph and elevations up to 15,000 feet to show up on spring mornings in Montanian’s back yards. Understandably, they begin to sing, for their long journey is over for now.

Among the many migrants are warblers, kingfishers, bluebirds, robins, vireos, and cliff swallows, that return to our environs in spring to mate, nest, and raise young. We can accommodate our feathered friends by ever so slightly adapting our home territories to benefit these flying beauties. Fortunately, most of us live on or nearby waterbodies of some sort, and riparian areas such as these are natural havens for resident, irruptive, and migrating birds. Mother Nature provides the optimal habitat in our area with native fruiting trees and shrubs, wildlife corridors, and a mix of forest, fields, and waterways.

We can however, enhance our surroundings by adding native fruit bearing species and making sure that trees, shrubs, and ground cover are arranged in several layers. A few native shrubs worth mentioning are serviceberry, bearberry, snowberry, red-osier dogwood, honeysuckle, and ocean-spray. Back yard bird species are definitely attracted to supplemental bird feeders. Generalized packaged wild bird food often contains wild bird seed, black oil sunflower seed, thistle seed, and safflower seed and will attract many types of colorful songbirds such as jays, cardinals, chickadees, doves, goldfinches, grosbeaks, juncos, nuthatches, pine siskins, finches, towhees, and woodpeckers.

In speaking with friend and avid back yard birder, Judy Richey, she discussed some birding tips for home bound birders. Richey is a retired park superintendent from Pomme De Terre State Park in Missouri and is a knowledgeable source who is constantly cultivating her skills on her and her husband Doug’s property along the Kootenai River. Judy said, “Orioles can be attracted to sliced oranges nailed to branches or wooden posts. Bohemian waxwings frequent our crabapple trees and eat the berries of the local mountain ash.”

Talking about additional tactics to bring birds in, Judy said, “To provide water for bathing and drinking, use a birdbath or water in an inverted trash can lid. To provide escape cover, locate feeders no more than five feet from cover such as brush piles, shrubbery, or trees.”

Similarly to birding outings to remote field locations, surprising events can occur in one’s backyard. The realty is that any location that attracts songbirds, also attracts predators of those birds. Occasionally, Northern Saw-whet owls may appear at home feeders in hunting mode. Those of us that live along the Kootenai River are privileged to spot many species in the cottonwood stringers.

In the field of Zoopharmacognosy, or the study of animals and birds that know about pharmaceutical properties of plants within their habitat, a recent finding concerns cottonwoods and Kestrels. It appears that the kestrels actually cut strips and bits of Black cottonwood bark and eat it. The bark contains salicin, the chemical component found in aspirin. It is now believed that they may be self medicating to maintain their health or heal from wounds, infections, or injuries that may occur when this small falcon is pursuing songbirds.

So folks, arm yourself with a good bird book and a pair of binoculars and see what birds are around the homestead. If you would like a more remote outing, Libby Base Camp Hostel is sponsoring a Birding Safari on Saturday, May 2 in the Libby area. This will be an in your own vehicle tour, with a couple of short walks on private land. Call 291-2154 for more information. Either way you choose to bird, we all want to stay safe, and enjoy the peace and adventures of birding.