Sacajawea Audubon

Story Mill Community Park Bird Walks

Yellow Warbler - Photo by Hobart Collins

Yellow Warbler - Photo by Hobart Collins

Calling all Bird Lovers,

Coming this spring Sacajawea Audubon will be offering guided bird walks to the developing Story Mill Community Park. Members of Sacajawea Audubon will lead these morning outings to see the many bird species that call the Story Mill area their home. Six dates on Thursdays and Saturdays in May and early June will be offered for bird walks.

The dates of the Walks are:

Thursdays, May 7, May 21st, and June 4th

Saturdays, May 16th, May 30th, and June 13th.

The time is 8-9:30 am.

We will meet on Story Mill Rd across from the Mill Elevator, at the trailhead of the Story Spur Trail.

Please contact Martha to sign up: or call 579 0506

Bring your binoculars, your eyes and your ears for a unique birding experience.

Space is limited.

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Give Big Gallatin Valley May 5th – A Day of Giving

bozeman-community-foundation-1425928762.8139-gvgb_forweb_dateOn May 5th, Sacajawea Audubon is participating in Gallatin Valley's Largest Day of Giving, Give Big Gallatin Valley.  It's a community-wide 24-hr online donation event.  For every donation you make to Sacajawea Audubon of $10 or more, those funds will be stretched by a Match Pool of Funds from the Bozeman Area Community Foundation and their presenting sponsors. Plus there is an additional pot of funds for prizes throughout the day that SAS can win just from your donation!

Give Big Gallatin Valley is a local initiative to increase philanthrophy in Gallatin County.  The 2015 Give Big Gallatin Valley will take place from midnight to midnight on Tuesday, May 5th, 2015.  For those 24 hours, online donations will be accepted through with a goal to inspire and unite our community in supporting over 100 participating nonprofits.

For more information, go to


Mid-Spring Field Trip – May 2nd

Yellow-headed Blackbird  (L. Harris)

Yellow-headed Blackbird (L. Harris)

Contact John Parker 586-5863
Meet at the Museum of the Rockies at 7:30 AM, for this full day trip.

The location and direction will be determined at the time of the trip. We will visit one of this area’s larger reservoirs as the primary destination of the day. This date is between the peak of the waterfowl and songbird migrations, so the focus of the trip will be on both water birds and early passerines. Bring lunch, snacks, drinks, and bring appropriate clothing as this will be an all day adventure. Limit 12 people.

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April 13th Program – “Hawkwatching Around The World”

Bearded Vulture (Nepal) - Photo by Sergio Seipke

Bearded Vulture (Nepal) - Photo by Sergio Seipke

Join worldclass raptor specialist, Sergio Seipke, for his presentation 'Hawkwatching Around The World'. He will share photographs and insights about raptors, their ecology and conservation gained during his recent (2012-2015) raptor tours to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Nepal, Spain, Thailand, and South Africa. Enjoy a vicarious world birding tour with the BEST!

Sergio Seipke is from Argentina. He became fascinated with raptors in 1993 and has traveled extensively ever since to watch, study, and photograph birds of prey in 15 countries. He owns the company Raptours through which he leads international tours to view raptors. His book Raptors of South America will soon be published. Copies of Raptours 2015/2016 will be available.

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.

Black Baza (Thailand) - Photo by Sergio Seipke

Black Baza (Thailand) - Photo by Sergio Seipke

Cinerous Harrier (Argentina) - Photo by Sergio Seipke

Cinerous Harrier (Argentina) - Photo by Sergio Seipke

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Kestrel Nest Box Reminder

Kestrel Nest Box  (P. Epple photo)

Kestrel Nest Box (P. Epple photo)


American Kestrels will be winging their way back soon, looking for nest sites and beginning to use the boxes we have put up around the valley.   If you have a kestrel nest box out now is the time to check it and clean it before the birds are back.  Remove any old dirty nesting materials.  Often boxes are used by house wrens, tree swallows, and other species, even if a kestrel hasn’t  taken advantage of the box.  Throw out old nests and scrape out debris and whitewash.  Then add 2 inches of clean softwood shavings for bedding (pine or aspen are good).  Avoid cedar shavings as they are too strongly aromatic.   Sacajawea Audubon will have bags of clean wood shavings available for free at the March 9th program.  We will also have a few kestrel boxes available for sale if you are interested in installing one.


Spring Birding at Ennis Lake – March 28th


Birding at Clute's Landing, Ennis Lake

A sure cure for spring fever is lots of early spring birds! The primary focus of this trip will be the migrating waterfowl at Ennis Lake. At this time of year the ducks will be at their dazzling best in full breeding plumage, and usually in great abundance. This is also near the peak of migration for some of the larger waterfowl, such as Tundra Swans and Snow Geese. Along with the waterfowl, this trip will provide a good opportunity for finding other early migrants such as Sandhill Cranes, Tree Swallows, and Mountain Bluebirds. It is spring in Montana so be sure to be prepared for the weather, with plenty of warm layers of clothing for a day out in the elements. We will return to the museum mid afternoon, so bring a lunch and snacks.

This trip will meet at the Museum of the Rockies parking lot at 8 AM Saturday March, 28th. After arranging for carpooling, we will head for Ennis Lake at 8:15. There is a 15 person limit for the trip, so sign up early. Contact Vic Fesolowitz at 587-0221 or 539-8251 to reserve a spot.


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Annual Owl Prowl – March 21st

Great Horned Owl  (L. Harris photo)

Great Horned Owl (L. Harris photo)


Join Sacajawea Audubon for our annual Owl Prowl on Saturday, March 21st. MT State Park Naturalist and birder extraordinaire Tom Forwood, Jr. will lead the field trip.  Some of the owl species we hope to hear, and possibly see, include Western Screech-Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl and Great Horned Owl.  This is an evening field trip, so please dress for cold weather, including warm boots.  Snowshoes are not necessary, but grippers might be helpful if conditions are icy.  The location of the Owl Prowl is TBD. 


If you are interested in going on this field trip, please contact Tom Forwood to sign up at or phone 406-570-6432.  Field trip is limited to 10 participants.  Registered participants will meet at the Museum of the Rockies parking lot at 7:30 p.m. for carpooling.

Tom Forwood, Jr. has a Masters in Environmental History from MSU and has been with MT State Parks for 17 years, having spent about half of that time as a Park Ranger at Lewis & Clark Caverns State Park.
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March 9th Program – Alaska’s Izembek NWR

Izembek Brant

Brant Geese at Izembek NWR

For our March program, we leave the comfortable confines of Montana and travel northwest to the Alaska Peninsula for a presentation by retired Wildlife Biologist & Pilot Mike Vivion.

At 320,000 acres, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is one of the smallest of Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges.  But, the refuge’s most prominent feature; Izembek Lagoon, offers critical habitat for virtually the entire population of several waterfowl species, as well as numerous shorebird species.

Located approximately 700 miles southwest of Anchorage at the distal tip of the Alaska Peninsula, Izembek offers unique habitats and a remarkable array of avian species found almost nowhere else.

Here, the North Pacific Ocean is separated by only a few miles of the Alaska peninsula from the Bering Sea.   This geography brings about some of the most violent weather on the planet.  Two of the most active volcanoes in North America are visible from here on a rare clear day.  The Izembek Refuge staff also manages the nearby first and largest of the Aleutian Islands, Unimak Island, a volcanic wonderland in its own right.

Retired US Fish & Wildlife Service Wildlife Biologist/Pilot Mike Vivion will discuss the remarkable migration of the Pacific Black Brant, the Emperor Goose, Steller’s Eider and other unique species that depend entirely on this unique component of our National Wildlife Refuge System for their survival.

Mike Vivion is a retired Wildlife Biologist/Airplane Pilot who worked on several National Wildlife Refuges over the course of his 34 year career.  Twenty nine years of that career were spent in Alaska, where he was stationed on the Izembek, Kodiak and Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuges.  Aerial census and research projects took him to all the other refuges in Alaska.  He retired from the FWS in 2005 and taught at the University of Minnesota, Crookston for seven years.  He and his wife Gina, a retired elementary school teacher, moved to Bozeman in 2013 and are happily retired.

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.

Unimak Volcanos

Unimak Volcanos

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Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – March 15th

Ennis Lake

Ennis Lake

March 15th (Sunday) we will conduct our first IBA survey of the year in the Madison Valley.  This has been a most unusual winter and during the extended warm spell in the middle of February Ennis Lake opened up and became almost ice free.  It will be interesting to see how the mild open winter affects our bird counts.  Raptors should be present in good numbers, Ennis Lake should be attracting many swans as well as a variety of ducks, and there should be some early songbird migrants back in the valley.

If you can help, email Paulette at or call 580-6186.  We will meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café in Ennis by 7:45 am.  Come early if you would like to eat breakfast there.  We should be finished by noon or 1 pm.

FYI:  Other IBA survey dates for the year will include:

  • Madison Valley IBA survey - April 25
  • Headwaters IBA survey - May 2
  • Headwaters IBA survey - June 17
  • Madison Valley IBA survey - June 24

Raptor ID Workshop & Field Trip – March 5th & 7th

**Only 1 spot left**

(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 species (e.g., hawks, eagles, falcons, etc.) 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