Sacajawea Audubon

February 9th Program – Trumpeter Swan Restoration in Madison Valley

imageThis month, please join Sacajawea Audubon as we welcome Claire Gower from MT Fish Wildlife and Parks, and Tom Hinz of Ecolegacy Consulting for a presentation on building community support for wetland conservation in the Madison Valley.

This presentation will describe a decade long wetland restoration project in the Madison Valley, SW Montana; the success of which provided an opportunity to initiate Trumpeter swan restoration efforts which started in 2012. The goal of this work is to restore nesting pairs to the valley and the greater Tri-state area. At the end there will be a few slides to describe swans of Montana.

Sacajawea Audubon Society meets every 2nd Monday of the month, Sept. through May at Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 West Graf.  Meetings start at 7:00 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

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Raptor ID Workshop – March 5th & 7th

Raptor Identification Workshop and Field Trip March 5th and 7th

(Presented by: Steve Hoffman, Executive Director, MT Audubon
and founder of HawkWatch International)


Have you ever wanted to sharpen your raptor identification skills? If so, this is the workshop for you! On Thursday evening Steve will provide a detailed discussion of the identification and natural history of all raptor (e.g., hawks, eagles, falcons, etc.) species wintering in the Gallatin Valley. Steve’s illustrated talk will include a description of the many plumage variations (including subspecies and color forms, as well as age and sex variations) of the more common and observable species. Helpful behavioral clues will also be incorporated. Eagles, falcons and the “buteo” hawks (such as Red-tailed Hawks) will be emphasized. Participants will then go into the field (north of Bozeman) on Saturday to practice their newly-developed skills. Steve’s presentation will be especially valuable for “intermediate” and “advanced” raptor watching enthusiasts, although beginners will also find this workshop quite helpful.

The Thursday night presentation will start at 7 PM and last till 9 PM, in the Bozeman Public Library’s small conference room.
Saturday morning’s field trip will meet at the Museum of the Rockies at 8:30 am, and leave at 8:45. Be sure to dress for the weather and bring any necessary drinks or snacks for this 4-5 hour trip. If you have a spotting scope that you can bring, that would be helpful.

There is a $35 fee for Sacajawea Audubon members, $15 for students, or $55 for non-members (the $55 includes a $20 Sacajawea Audubon membership). There is a 20 person limit for the workshop and field trip. Advance reservation and payment is required. For more information and to make reservations please call John Parker at 586-5863 or e-mail


eBird Workshop – Jan. 22nd

eBird logoDo you need some help getting started with eBird?  Are you wondering what eBird is all about?  Join Sacajawea Audubon to learn about this valuable citizen-science database and start entering your bird observations online!  eBirders Lou Ann Harris and Paulette Epple will answer questions and get you started. This workshop will be held Jan. 22nd, 6:30 p.m. at Bozeman Public Library - Small Conference Room.

Bring a wi-fi capable laptop computer or tablet (or use one of ours) and a couple of bird sighting lists that you want to enter.  Go birding and write down all the birds you see at a certain place - your backyard, a favorite birding spot, or on a short walk.  Record the time you started birding, the ending time, and of course the location.  We will help you learn to post your sightings, keep life lists, and explore the data on eBird.  This is a free class but a reservation is required.  Contact Paulette Epple to register at or call 580-6186.


eBird logo


January 12th Program – “Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom”

Photo courtesy of Gianna Savoie

Photo courtesy of Gianna Savoie

Through the heart of the frozen north, roams a creature with a mystique as old as the mountains and a reputation as big as all outdoors:  Wolverine.  The name alone conjures an image of a savage,  solitary killer who crushes bones to powder with powerful jaws.  But peel back the layers of legend and you'll find a remarkable animal - far more vulnerable than villainous, with a fierce appetite for survival .... and for surprise.

Join Wildlife Filmmaker and Professor, Gianna Savoie on Jan. 12th, for a glimpse into the secretive world of this mysterious carnivore through a special screening and presentation of her Emmy nominated film.  In 2010, Gianna wrote and produced, Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom for the PBS series, NATURE.  She is an award-winning Natural History filmmaker with a passion for the environment that drives her to sink her teeth into some of the most critical conservation issues on the planet.  Trained as a scientist, with a Master's degree in Environmental Biology, she pairs her love of science with the art of filmmaking to craft stories that not only inform, but resonate.  Her work has been featured on PBS, National Geographic, Discovery, the BBC, and Animal Planet.  Her previous film, Life in Death Valley, received over a dozen awards, including "Best Film About an Ecosystem" from the International Wildlife Film Festival.  She is currently writing and story-producing, Our Blue Canoe, a documentary about the plight of the Pacific Ocean.

Sacajawea Audubon meets every 2nd Monday of the month, September through May, at Hope Lutheran Church. Programs begin at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the public.

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2014 Christmas Bird Count Schedule

Rusty Blackbird (L. Harris)

2013 Bozeman CBC Rusty Blackbird (L. Harris)

Come join the fun on one of our area’s Christmas Bird Counts. The Christmas counts, started in 1900, are an opportunity for beginning and expert birders to get together and enjoy this holiday tradition.

West Yellowstone           Sunday, December 14th

Compiler: Brad Barth (406) 640-2628

Meet at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

West Yellowstone at 8:30 AM


Livingston                       Sunday, December 14th

Compiler: Sally MacDonald (406) 223-9167

Meet at The Other Café, in Livingston

between 7:00-7:30 AM


Ennis                                Wednesday, December 17th

2013 Bozeman CBC Virginia Rail (L. Harris)

2013 Bozeman CBC Virginia Rail (L. Harris)

Compiler: Robin Wolcott (406) 581-5418

Meet at Yesterday’s Café in the Ennis Pharmacy,

By 7:30 AM or sooner for breakfast


Bozeman                      Saturday, December 20th

Compiler: John Parker (406) 586-5863

Meet at Perkins Restaurant, 2505 West Main, in Bozeman,

between 7-7:30 AM


Yellowstone              Sunday, December 21st

Compiler: Woody Martyn  (406)224-1476

Meet at the Best Western in Gardiner at 7:00 a.m.


Three Forks              Friday, December 26th

Compiler: Tom Forwood (406) 570-6432

Meet at Wheat Montana at exit 274

at 8:00 AM or by 7:30 for breakfast

For more information, contact the count compilers. Please Contact the area compiler before the count, as this will give them the opportunity to plan and organize the count before the count day.  Participation in all counts is free.

Some background on the Christmas Bird Count:

The first CBC was done on Christmas Day of 1900 as an alternative activity to an event called the “side hunt” where people chose sides, then went out and shot as many birds as they could. The group that came in with the largest number of dead birds won the event. Frank Chapman, a famed ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History and the editor of Bird-Lore (which became the publication of the National Association of Audubon Societies when that organization formed in 1905) recognized that declining bird populations could not withstand wanton over-hunting, and proposed to count birds on Christmas Day rather than shoot them.

Audubon's Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is the longest running Citizen Science survey in the world. The CBC is an early-winter bird census, where volunteers count every bird they see or hear during one day in a designated 15-mile diameter circle. Count volunteers follow specified routes within the circle. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. If observers live within a CBC circle, they may arrange in advance to count the birds at their feeders and submit those data to their compiler. All individual CBC’s are conducted in the period from December 14 to January 5 (inclusive dates) each season, and each count is conducted in one calendar day

These counts have proven incredibly valuable for what they tell scientists -- and all of us -- about our changing world.


December Program – Headwaters State Park/Holcim Trail Presentation

A New Trail at Missouri Headwaters State Park peregrine

Please join Sacajawea Audubon on Monday, December 8th, for an evening of sharing as students from Montana State University-Landscape Design Studio present their visions for a new trail and park adjacent to Missouri Headwaters State Park.

This trail and park will start at the boat-ramp parking lot at Missouri Headwaters State Park and continue north-eastward onto Holcim US Inc. property towards the old town site of Trident; paralleling the Missouri River and provide excellent viewing of the limestone cliffs where Peregrine Falcons, Prairie Falcons and Great Horned Owls have been found nesting in the past.

Sacajawea Audubon Society has been working collaboratively with Holcim US Inc. and other community partners to create this extension trail and park to Missouri Headwaters State Park. This fall we teamed up with assistant professor, Rebekah VanWieren, to have students create a conceptual master plan and phase 1 site design for the project as part of their Sustainable Site Design Service-Learning Project.

Students Cornelia Reid, Heather Begger, Jace Kimmet and Scott Samson will present their ideas at our monthly meeting at Hope Lutheran Church at 7:00 p.m. Attendees will have a chance to provide comments and suggestions for the project after the presentation.

Sacajawea Audubon Society meets the second Monday of the month (September through May) at 7:00 p.m., at the Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th) in Bozeman. We invite the public to attend our meetings and participate in our field trips.



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Raptor Raffle Winners – John Ashley and Roxanne McLaughlin

Congratulations to our two winners, John Ashley and Roxanne McLaughlin, whose names were drawn by Doug Wales at our Monday meeting!  They both receive a 2014/2015 Bridger Bowl Ski Pass.  Almost 500 tickets were sold and ALL the money raised goes to the annual Bridger Raptor Count, administered by Montana Audubon.  Thanks to all who supported this great cause!


Bret Staying Warm  (Photo by Mikaela Howie)

Bret Staying Warm (Photo by Mikaela Howie)


Member Photo – Dusky Grouse

Nothing could be finer to a birder than a Dusky Grouse against a backdrop of fall color.  Paul Gore has been working on improving habitat on his property and says it's now paying off.  Yard visitors include a covey of Gray Partridge and this beautiful Dusky Grouse.  Enjoy!

Dusky Grouse (Paul Gore photo)

Dusky Grouse (Paul Gore photo)


Nov. 10th Program – “Eyes on the Skies – Results of the 24th Bridger Raptor Count”

Bret & Mikaela scanning (S. Hoffman photo)

Bret & Mikaela scanning (S. Hoffman photo)

Presented by: 

Hawkwatch International Founder, Steve Hoffman, and field researchers Bret Davis & Mikaela Howie

Monday November 10th, 2014 at 7:00 p.m.

Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th) in Bozeman

The Bridger Ridge provides viewing of the largest Golden Eagle migration known in the lower 48 states. Recent Golden Eagle count totals have varied from 1,000 to 1,400 eagles per season, with up to 200 individuals tallied on peak migration days (usually during the first two weeks of October). Data obtained over the last 24 years has provided scientists with valuable information about trends in raptor populations. Bret and Mikaela will show lots of amazing photos of raptors while summarizing the latest project findings. They will also share many memorable experiences while scanning for migrating raptors atop of Bridger Bowl for more than two months!

Thanks to the generous support of Sacajawea Audubon Society and others, September 1st marked the start of the 24th consecutive season of raptor migration research along the crest of the Bridger Mountains. Montana Audubon, in partnership with HawkWatch International (HWI), has coordinated this scientific project for the past 6 seasons. HWI initiated these annual counts in 1991.

These majestic birds use the energy-saving updrafts created by strong winds along the crest of the Bridgers to migrate south. The long-term data collected at the Bridger site helps scientists learn about regional and continental raptor population trends. Most importantly, the Bridger project is designed to monitor widespread environmental changes, using these apex predators as valuable barometers of ecological health.

Steve Hoffman, Executive Director of Montana Audubon, emphasizes: “The Bridger Project is the most important migration site in the western United States for monitoring the health and trends of Golden Eagle populations.  The Bridger data are especially important now because there is scientific evidence for long-term declines in Golden Eagle numbers across much of western North America. As a result, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other wildlife conservation agencies are intensifying research efforts to learn more about Golden Eagles and what might be causing this downward trend.”

Immature Golden Eagle (K. Baughan photo)

Immature Golden Eagle (K. Baughan photo)

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Bridger Raptor Festival Raffle!

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

Be one of 2 winners of a 2014/2015 Bridger Bowl Season Pass (value of $699).  Sacajawea Audubon and Montana Audubon are raffling off two Bridger Bowl ski passes.  The proceeds support the Bridger Mountains Raptor Count, which features the largest known concentration of fall migrating Golden Eagles in the lower 48.

Raffle tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50.  The drawing will be held Nov. 10, 2014 at the Sacajawea Audubon monthly program, which begins at 7 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church.

To purchase a raffle ticket and help support this important research project in our own backyard, email: