Standing on top of a glacier-smoothed knoll I can see a long way, but sight won’t help me now. The surrounding grasslands are a low-contrast palette of greens and browns, and my quarry matches them perfectly. So instead, I close my eyes and listen for the far-carrying whistles of the long-billed curlews. Better to build a map in my mind based on the birds' calls as they return from a quick bath in the creek, loudly fending off passing ravens or greeting their mates after a cold night apart. Once my map is built, I can get to work.
Long-billed curlews are the largest shorebirds in North America — about the size of a chicken, but with an impossibly long bill and infinitely more elegance. While curlews belong to a group called shorebirds, they are only found along coasts during the winter. They spend their summers breeding in the grasslands of Montana where we work.