Birder Profile with Mike Munts

Birder Profile with Mike Munts

Which is your favourite field guide and why?

The Sibley Guide to Birds is the one I carry. David’s paintings are amazing and is one of the most well researched. For a digital guide, I use Thayer’s Birds of North America. It’s great software package. It has a quiz feature and the song features are great. When I need to practice or study for survey work this is what I use.

Which three books from your personal birding library would you recommend to other birders?

Field Guide to the Nests, Eggs and Nestlings of North America (Harrison)
This is a great book for a side of bird ID that is often overlooked.

Dead Owls Flying (Powers)
I’m a bit biased on this one. If you don’t know why check out Robert’s review on this site.

Hawks in Flight:

The Flight Identification of North American Migrant Raptors (Sutton, Dunne, and Sibley)
Great little book on identifying hawks as we actually see them most of the time.

Birding Is Fun

Birding Is Fun

If a fellow birder had a question about a bird, do you consider yourself an expert (or at least proficient) on any specific family of birds?

I have dabbled in a number of things but much of my experience is with owls and coniferous forest passerines and woodpeckers.

What future birding plans do you have?

Continue exploring my new location here in NE Washington. I just moved here about 4 months ago.

What is your current nemesis bird?

Boreal Owl. I have spent years surveying forest owls. I have gone to known active breeding territories, I have accompanied Forest Service staff on survey to known sites. If I’m there it will be the only night all season they won’t get them.

Any birding related pet-peeves you’d like to vent about here?

Birders who do not follow the rules or even break the law. Trespassing is a big one. A significant birding site here was recently closed to the public because people kept driving into an area which was posted no vehicles. So now the land owner no longer allows any entry, because a few people would not walk a couple of hundred feet. I have seen Great Gray Owls abandon nests because hundreds of birders came to see it and numerous people refused to stay on the trail and got too close.

Anything about your family you’d like to share with us?

I have never been married so don’t have kids. However, I do have the world’s smartest nephew (although it may be possible I am a bit biased on that one).

Outside of birding, what are your other interests or hobbies?

Photography and travel are the big ones.

Any funny or embarrassing birding experiences you could tell us?

A couple of years ago while doing the CBC in Howe, Idaho I was riding with a certain birder from another city to the east of there. Some unidentified songbirds flew across the snow covered BLM road in front of us. The driver slammed on the brakes. After we identified the American Tree Sparrows we all jumped back in his truck. Only to find out we could not move. Back outside to spend about 20 minutes digging to get moving again. Fortunately he had a shovel in the back of his truck. After we spent some time digging the driver asked the rest of us is there a door open on your side. No we answered. Because his keys were still hanging in the ignition switch and all the doors were locked. We were a long ways from any town so we found out the shovel could be used for breaking windows as well as digging. For some reason 2 of the 4 guys in the truck have never done that CBC again.

The story you have just read is true. The names have been changed (deleted) to protect the guilty.

If you were a bird, which species would you be and why?

Great Gray Owl. After 24 years they are still fascinating.

Your mission in life as a birder?

Never get so serious that it is no longer fun.

Anything else that you would like to humbly brag about?

I am the only person I know who has been bitten by Great Gray, Spotted Owls, and Merlins. For those of you who are wondering how that happened. I have had the privilege of radio tracking all 3 of these species and for some reason none of them like to be handled for attaching radio transmitters. You are keeping control of the talons and wings while trying to get a backpack harness for the transmitter around the wings and sometimes you loose track of the beak. Fortunately none of these bite very hard. It is the feet you have to worry about.

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