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Missoula photographer spreads joy through "picnic critters"

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Posted at 6:52 PM, Mar 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-07 22:57:35-05

MISSOULA — Each morning as the South Hills come to life, Roberta King retreats to her spot by the window, a camera in hand. “The chickadees are—they’re just so darn cute,” she said while focusing on the birds just outside her window.

“I got a camera last year for Christmas and I've just been practicing and practicing and practicing and trying to hone my skills, trying to get good at it, and now I'm joined at the hip with it, I'm having so much fun,” said King.

An artist at heart, it’s only natural that King would approach her new hobby with a creative flair. So amid her collection of bird feeders, you’ll find a miniature picnic table—beckoning the neighborhood critters to come enjoy a nice meal.

“My son, as a joke, made a picnic table for my sister, and when I saw a picture of it I said ‘I want one for Mother's Day’ so he built me one, and that's where it all started,” shared King.

Once she secured the picnic table for her wildlife photography, King began adding an assortment of bird feeders. Chuckling, she said her husband refers to them as “the chandeliers.”

Throughout the chaos of the last year, King found the bird watching to be soothing and the photography an artistic outlet to pass the time, but it’s actually a rivalry with her Billings sister that’s keeping her glued to her seat by the window.

“We compete in who's got the coolest animals,” said King, “Her squirrels are super cute and fuzzy and gray and they're just adorable over there….Mine look like they've seen some times. They’re tough little city squirrels here in Missoula.”

Since the start of the year, King has taken a photo each day—it’s her goal to have 365 by the end of the year—an incentive to keep up with the new hobby and give herself a reason to smile each day.

She encourages those caught up in the pandemic stress to stop and take in the beauty of Montana now and then.

“Just have fun with it, and be quiet and enjoy the stuff around you.”

You can find more of King’s work on a Facebook page she runs with her sister, Squirrel Girl Bird Nerds.