Sacajawea Audubon

Feb. 12th Program – Research on the Pacific Golden-Plover

Sacajawea Audubon's February 12th program features a talk on the Pacific Golden-Plover, one of the world’s longest distance migrant birds. They make remarkable nonstop transoceanic flights in spring and fall that cover thousands of miles. Oscar W. (Wally) Johnson, an affiliate research scientist in the Department of Ecology at Montana State University, is a plover expert having studied these birds for many years. He became fascinated with plovers in the ‘60s while conducting bird research at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and this fascination eventually led to his long-term research on the species, ongoing since 1979. Johnson’s research has involved fieldwork throughout the Pacific (the birds’ wintering grounds) and in Alaska (the breeding grounds). His talk will cover various features of plover ecology with an emphasis on new technology that enables the tracking of their amazing hemispheric travels.

Wally Johnson is a graduate of Washington State University (PhD Zoology), he taught for many years in the Minnesota State University system, and moved to Bozeman in 1990. Almost all his research has focused on birds, primarily their anatomy and ecology. He has published about 60 scientific papers (more than half involve plovers) along with two monographs (Pacific Golden-Plover and American Golden-Plover) for The Birds of North America series, and a recent popular book on Pacific Golden-Plovers. Johnson’s work has been funded by the National Geographic Society and numerous state and federal agencies.

Sacajawea Audubon meets every 2nd Monday of the month, September through May. Our meetings are held at Hope Lutheran Church (unless otherwise indicated), 2152 W. Graf (off of S. 19th). Come for the social beginning at 6:30 p.m. A short chapter meeting starts at 7 p.m. with the program following after. Our programs are free and open to the public.

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March 7th – SAS Book Group Discussion of “The Genius of Birds”

The Genius of Birds

In March the SAS book group will discuss The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman. The Wall Street Journal describes the book as  "a masterly survey of research. . . that has produced a revolution in our understanding of bird cognition." Rick Bass says it is "delightful, revolutionary" and "a book that demands a moral consideration of the world." The group will meet March 7th, 2018, at Hope Lutheran Church from 4:00-5:15 p.m.

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2017 Christmas Bird Count Results

Stephanie Nelson, Beth Madden & Forrest Rowland scan the horizon for birds at Nelson's Spring Creek Ranch during the Livingston CBC. Photo courtesy Lou Ann Harris.

Sacajawea Audubon hosted Christmas Bird Counts in 7 different areas in four different counties: Bozeman, Ennis, Livingston, Gardiner, West Yellowstone, Three Forks & Ruby Valley (Sheridan).  As results are summarized, they will be posted here.  We hope you were able to participate in one of these counts.  You may think birding in December would be a little on the crazy side, but it's amazing what birds are seen!

2017 Livingston CBC

2017 Bozeman CBC

2017 Three Forks CBC


Jan. 17th – SAS Book Group Discussion of the Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival

Winter World by Bernd Heinrich wins much praise for good science, good writing and illustrations by the author. Heinrich is the author of many books about nature, including “Mind of the Raven.” Winter World explores “staggering evolutionary innovations” that allow animals to survive winter. The Book Group will discuss Winter World at Hope Lutheran Church on January 17, 2018, from 4:00 to 5:15 pm.  Note change in time.

Everyone is welcome. If you are attending for the first time please email Adele Pittendrigh. 


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Jan. 8th Program – “A Lost History of Arctic Grayling Found by Digitization”

Join Sacajawea Audubon on January 8th, 2018 at Hope Lutheran Church in Bozeman for a special evening with Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Manager Bill West. The program, “A Lost History of Arctic Grayling Found by Digitization”, is a fascinating story set in a remote Montana valley, once filled by homesteads. It is now mostly public land or large ranches.

Arctic grayling are a beautiful fish once abundant in the upper Missouri River in Southwest Montana. Today grayling are relatively rare in Montana and many think of the Big Hole River when discussing recovery. However, the grayling of the Centennial Valley have a fascinating history that has been rediscovered in recent years. This is the southernmost population of grayling in North America. They are normally found in the Arctic. The Bozeman Fish Hatchery was established in 1892 and one of its early missions was to help “save” the fast declining “Montana grayling”. The hatchery was run by the U.S. Fish Commission, a branch of the Department of Commerce. There was no US Forest Service then, no BLM, no National Park Service and no U.S Fish and Wildlife Service or National Wildlife Refuge System. The “Commission” came to the Centennial Valley in 1898 and harvested over 33 million eggs in eleven years in an attempt to save the fish. Grayling are still struggling, but we now have clues to how and why they declined and never recovered given significant efforts over the past 120 years.

Bill West is a wildlife professional employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 35 years to manage National Wildlife Refuges. Thirty years are on refuges in Montana. He is a MS graduate of the University of Missouri. His knowledge is land management for furred and feathered creatures such as Trumpeter swan and bison. Red Rock Lakes NWR introduced him to an amazing fish with a tough history, caused by human alterations to the landscape. Biologists/managers may be close to untangling issues that caused the decline. The Red Rock Lakes NWR home page is:

Sacajawea Audubon meets every 2nd Monday of the month, September through May. Our meetings are held at Hope Lutheran Church (unless otherwise indicated), 2152 W. Graf (off of S. 19th). Come for the social beginning at 6:30 p.m. A short chapter meeting starts at 7 p.m. with the program following after. Our programs are free and open to the public.


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Happy New Year

Sacajawea Audubon Society wishes you the best birding in 2018

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Photo by Hobart Collins)


2017 Christmas Bird Counts

2010 Bozeman Christmas Bird Count

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.

For more information, contact the area 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.

Bozeman     Saturday, December 16th

Compiler: John Parker (406) 586-5863

Meet at Perkins Restaurant, 2505 West Main, in Bozeman, between 7-7:30 AM

West Yellowstone     Sunday, December 17th

Compiler: Brad Barth (406) 640-2628

Meet at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center West Yellowstone at 8:30 AM

Livingston     Sunday, December 17th

Compiler: George Kelly (406) 220-0282

Meet at Pinky’s, on Main Street, in Livingston between 7:30-8 AM

Yellowstone  Sunday, December 17th

Compiler: Woody Martyn (406) 224-1476

Meet at the Yellowstone Grill, in Gardiner, at 7:00 AM

Ennis  Wednesday, December 20th

Compiler: Robin Wolcott (406) 581-5418 email preferred

Meet at Yesterday’s Café in the Ennis Pharmacy, by 7:30 AM or sooner for breakfast

Three Forks  Tuesday, December 26th

Compiler: Tom Forwood (406) 570-6432 email preferred

Meet at Wheat Montana on US 287 at exit 274 at 7:45 AM or by 7:15 for breakfast

Ruby Valley  Thursday, January 4th

Compiler: Tom Forwood (406) 570-6432  email preferred

Meet at Fritt’s Dream Bean Cafe, in Sheridan, at 7:45-8:15 AM

Please let Tom know if you plan to eat breakfast at the cafe.

Note: cross country skiers are needed for some sections


RAFFLE FOR THE RAPTORS – Drawing Dec. 18th


Sacajawea Audubon is selling raffle tickets to win one of 2 Bridger Bowl Season Passes for 2017-2018. Raffle tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50.   Even if you have already purchased a season pass, if you win, Bridger Bowl will reimburse you. If you don’t ski, you can give your pass to a family member or friend.

The money raised will go to help fund our annual Bridger Raptor Survey, which just wrapped up it’s 27th season. Raptors are counted each year between the end of August until early November on top of the Bridger Ridge. This long-term study is critical in the study of Golden Eagles and their steady decline in numbers.

Tickets are available at Wild Birds Unlimited off of N. 19th.

Drawing will be held Dec. 18th and the winners will be notified by either phone or email.

Please help us help the raptors!

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December 11th – The Owl’s of Montana At the Ellen Theater

NOTE: We will NOT be meeting at Hope Lutheran.

Owls are arguably the most widely recognized group of animals in the world. They occur on all continents except Antarctica and have populated the most remote groups of islands in the world (i.e. Hawaii). Owl lore, myth, and stories have been verbally passed along in many native cultures throughout the world.

Join Sacajawea Audubon on December 11th at the Ellen Theatre in Bozeman for a special evening with owl expert, Denver Holt. “The Owls of Montana” will focus on owl species that occur in Montana only, or the United States and Canada. He will discuss the differences between the two owl families and also cover a general overview of owl identification, natural history, breeding and non-breeding biology, evolutionary adaptations, habitat affinities, and conservation.

Owls are difficult to find, however, if you learn a little about the breeding seasons, and owl vocalizations you will be able to find owls. Because voice is the major means of communication among owls, we will review the primary songs. Based upon Denver Holt’s 35 years of surveying and researching owls in Montana and elsewhere, we will outline survey techniques. These techniques can be used to increase your chances of finding owls for scientific reasons, or just enjoyment.

Denver Holt is a wildlife researcher and graduate of the University of Montana. He is founder and president of the Owl Research Institute and the Ninepipes Wildlife Research Center, a nonprofit organization located in Charlo, Montana. As a dedicated field researcher, Holt believes that long-term field studies are the primary means to understanding trends in wildlife populations. Since 1978, Holt’s research focus has been owls and their ecology. He has published about 100 papers and technical documents, including four species accounts for the Birds of North America project. His research on Snowy Owls has been showcased on documentaries for National Geographic Explorer, NHK Natural History Unit of Japan, and the Norwegian Broadcasting Company Natural History Unit, and the focus of the British Broadcasting Company’s (BBC) documentary series called Frozen Earth.
To learn more about Holt and his efforts in wildlife research, education, and conservation, visit

Please join SAS for a social at 6:30. The program will begin at 7 p.m. A suggested donation of $5 will help Sacajawea Audubon offset the cost of renting the Ellen.



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Dec. 6th SAS Book Group Discussion: The Hidden Lives of Trees


The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben asks us to consider the life and relationships within healthy forests. Wohlleben worked for the forestry commission in Germany for 20 yearsand now “runs an environmentally friendly woodland where he works for the return of primeval forests.” He is described as following in the tradition of “great naturalist story-tellers.”

The discussion will be on December 6, 2017, at the Hope Lutheran Church from 5:30-6:45pm. If you are new to the book group please email Adele Pittendrigh and let her know. (


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