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The Woodpeckers of Ryegate

As you drive the stretch between Ryegate and Harlowton on U.S. Highway 12, a bird parked on a pole might catch your eye. Soon another one just like it on a fencepost, then one on a building, then they seem to be everywhere. What you notice about these birds immediately is they are large, they are colorful, and they are made of plywood. A sign along the way that reads "Woodpecker Crossing Next 30 Miles" give you a clue to the species. Lately, bald eagles have been popping up along fence lines.

These semi-lawn ornaments are the work of Earl Osse and Jerry Gantz, two guys who just wanted to brighten up an otherwise dull stretch of highway. Between the two of them, they’ve hung over 1,500 of them. If you'd like one of your very own, pick one up at the store in Ryegate or Shawmut.

Excerpted from "The Ultimate Montana Atlas and Travel Encyclopedia".

Copyright © 2003 Michael Dougherty. Use of this material for radio and television programs, printed media, webcasting, and any other source of mass dissemination is prohibited without permission of the publisher.

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