Sacajawea Audubon

Sept. 12th Program – Raptors of South America: A Field Guide

Join Sacajawea Audubon for a special presentation on the raptors of South America.


Raptors of South America: A Field Guide

Presented by Sergio Seipke

When: Monday, September 12th at 7 pm

Where: Hope Luthern Church, 2152 W. Graf Street in Bozeman

Join worldclass raptor specialist, Sergio Seipke, for his presentation Raptors of South America: A Field Guide.  Sergio will be showcasing the large and diverse assemblage of raptor species that inhabit the South American continent. Sergio has studied this fascinating group of birds for much of his life; he will describe the natural history and conservation of these birds, with notes about the plumage variation of this peculiar raptor fauna.

Sergio started watching and learning about raptors in 1993. He was a Hawk Mountain trainee twice: first in 2005 and again in 2006. In February 2013, he formed Raptours, L.L.C. and has since designed, organized, and led or co-led raptor tours in eight countries in four continents. He is currently writing Raptors of South America, the first field guide for the subcontinent. He has authored and co-authored 16 articles dealing with raptor biology, migration, taxonomy, and field identification of Neotropical raptors.

Sacajawea Audubon meets every 2nd Monday of the month, September through May. Our meetings are held at Hope Lutheran Church, 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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2016 Fall Field Trip Schedule

Horned Lark (Lou Ann Harris)

Horned Lark (Lou Ann Harris)

Participants in all trips will meet at the front parking lot of the Museum of the Rockies at 7:45 AM and depart at 8:00 AM unless otherwise noted. Car pools will be arranged at the museum; an offer to help with gas to the person driving is always appreciated but not mandatory. Dress for the weather; good footwear is a must as field trip conditions are not always dry. Bring any food or beverages that you will need during the course of the trips, and some of the longer trips might require that you pack a lunch. Turn off your cell phones and keep unnecessary conversations to a minimum. Some field trips are limited to a certain number of participants. Contact the trip leader for more details about any trip, and to sign up for the trip. We encourage all skill levels or birders to participate. Come have a good time and learn something new.

The Kelly Ranch on the Gallatin River

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Trip Leader: John Parker, 406-586-5863

Meet at 7:45 am at the Museum of the Rockies. Carpool and leave at 8 am.

This trip will explore the Kelly Ranch along the Gallatin River west of Bozeman. The ranch includes wet meadow, cottonwood gallery forest, and dry juniper habitats. We will be looking for early fall migrants and some lingering birds along the Gallatin River corridor. Time permitting the trip may explore the area upstream from the ranch. Kathryn Kelly, ranch owner and Greater Yellowstone Manager for the Montana Land Reliance will join the group to discuss a bit of history of the ranch, and the process and benefits of creating conservation easements, one of the most powerful tools to accomplish habitat protection, for birds and other wildlife. This 4-5 hour trip will require 1-2 miles of easy walking.

Participants limited to 15

To reserve a spot on the trip or for more information please contact the trip leader.

Headwaters-Three Forks

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Trip Leader: Robin Wolcott, 406-581-5418

Meet at 7:45 am at the Museum of the Rockies. Carpool and leave at 8 am.

Early September is the peak of fall migration with an amazing diversity of birds passing through Montana. This field trip will take advantage of the many birding opportunities in the Headwaters State Park and Three Forks area. The trip will last until early afternoon but let’s be prepared for anything. Bring a lunch. Bring a scope if you have one. Bring your enthusiasm and your flexibility.

Participants limited to 14

To reserve a spot on the trip or for more information please contact the trip leader.

Ennis Lake Waterfowl

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Trip Leader: Mike Vivion, 406-210-8071

Meet at 7:45 am at the Museum of the Rockies. Carpool and leave at 8 am.

This date should catch early migrant waterfowl and an assortment of other birds, including migrating raptors and passerines. Ennis Lake is one of the premiere staging areas for waterfowl in southwest Montana. Some birds will still be in alternate plumage, offering some interesting identification challenges. Large numbers of waterfowl should be present. Bring a lunch, since we’ll be out till at least mid-afternoon. Weather can be a challenge, so bring warm clothes and rain gear in case.

Participants limited to 16

To reserve a spot on the trip or for more information please contact the trip leader.

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Ennis Raptor ID Workshop with Steve Hoffman – August 20th

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk (photo by J. Harris)

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk (photo by J. Harris)

WHAT: Raptor (hawks, eagles, falcons, harriers, etc.) Identification Workshop (for all skill levels).

WHEN: Saturday, August 20th (8:15 AM – 5:00 PM); includes 90-minute classroom instruction, followed by field excursion to the Gravelly Mountains (NO hiking involved; carpooling will be required to minimize the number of vehicles on this fairly narrow gravel road).

WHERE: We will meet at Pronghorn Meadows Clubhouse (3 miles SW of Ennis on the highway to Virginia City) @8:15 AM.  At the conclusion of the classroom session we will arrange carpooling and then drive to the crest of the Gravelly Range, where we will search for soaring raptors that use the abundant updrafts along this high ridgeline.

WHY: This exciting late-summer period is ideal for viewing a diversity and abundance of pre-migratory, staging raptors that often congregate atop the Gravellys to hunt ground squirrels, pocket gophers, voles, grasshoppers & crickets. (Species likely to be encountered: American Kestrels, Prairie Falcons, Red-tailed Hawks, Swainson’s Hawks, Ferruginous Hawks, Northern Harriers, Golden & Bald Eagles & Ospreys).

WHO: Steve Hoffman, Executive Director of Montana Audubon (since 2006), began his career as a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in Arizona (1978-1980).  He later worked as an Endangered Species Specialist for the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Albuquerque (1980-1987). In 1986 Steve founded HawkWatch International (HWI), a not-for-profit working to monitor and protect raptors.  In 2000 Steve returned to his birth state of Pennsylvania to become Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Pennsylvania.  In 2004 Steve moved to Bozeman to serve as Director of Keystone Conservation.  Steve has authored more than 35 scientific papers on raptors and other wildlife-related topics, and has given hundreds of presentations on raptors to audiences across the U.S. & abroad. Steve has an M.S. in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University (1979).

COST: $50 for each participant (tax-deductible donation; lunch & snacks will be provided). Make checks payable to:  Montana Audubon, PO Box 595, Helena, MT 59624, or pay online by going to: (designate “Ennis Raptor Workshop” in “Notes” section).

QUESTIONS: Call 443.3949, or email – space is limited and pre-registration is required – register TODAY!  (This field trip will be limited to 20 participants.)


Complete and clip this form, and mail to:  Montana Audubon, PO Box 595, Helena, MT 59624.

Name:  ___________________________________________ Phone:  _____________________________

Address (city/zip):  _____________________________________________________________________

Email:  __________________________________________ Are you a MT Audubon member?  ________

Are you willing to drive on the field trip? ____________   If so, how many total passengers can you accommodate? __________


Volunteers needed to “Knock out Burdock”!

A Chickadee killed by Burdock

Join Sacajawea Audubon as we continue to work this summer to eradicate burdock from some of our favorite trails.  This nasty introduced plant has Velcro-like seed heads that entrap songbirds, slowly causing their deaths.  You may know burdock from brushing against it and getting the burs caught in your hair, your clothes, or your dog's fur.  Lucky for us this plant is a short-lived biennial. If we can keep a stand of burdock from setting seed by clipping off the seed heads early, it will eventually die out.

Audubon volunteers will be leading work groups to clip the seed heads throughout the summer and WE NEED HELP!  Join us if you can at any of these dates and locations:

  • July 28 - The “M” Trailhead
  • July 30 -   East Gallatin Recreation Area (meet at the beach)
  • August 3 - Drinking Horse Mountain Trailhead
  • August 10 - Story Mill Community Park  (park along Story Mill Road just south of the Story Mill)
  • August 13 -  Sypes Canyon Trailhead
  • August 16 - Gallagator Trail (meet on Garfield Street where it intersects the Gallagator Trail)
  • August 25 - Sourdough Trail in Bozeman **Evening Meeting time: 6 pm ** (meet at Gardner Park trailhead on Gardner Park Drive)

We will meet each morning at 7:30 am. (EXCEPT Sourdough Trail which is a 6 pm evening event!) Bring pruning clippers if you have them and wear gloves, long sleeves and long pants, all of fabrics that burs won’t adhere to.  Plan to work for an hour or two.  Whatever time you can afford.  With your help, we will "Knock out Burdock"!

Contact Paulette Epple at    or   580-6186  for more information.Or contact Janne Hayward at 587-6124 to help her remove burdock from other smaller sites, dates negotiable.

IMG_7239 (1)


Missouri Headwaters State Park’s program

July 30th Saturday, 7:00pm

Summer Speaker Series - Free

Amy Seaman: Bird Conservation Associate with Montana Audubon Society“Why Missouri Headwaters State Park is classified as an Important Birding Area

Missouri Headwaters State Park, behind park office.

Bring a chair! Marshmallow roast to follow.

Peregrine Falcon

Peregrine Falcon 

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SAS American Kestrel Project Update

Kestrel nestlings (L. Harris)

Kestrel nestlings (L. Harris)

Paulette Epple checking a nest box.

Paulette Epple checking a nest box.

Paulette holding a female kestrel after banding.

Paulette holding a female kestrel after banding.

Back of a female kestrel wing.

Back of a female kestrel wing.

Female American Kestrel

Female American Kestrel

Lou Ann Harris holding a recently banded female kestrel.

Lou Ann Harris holding a recently banded female kestrel.

In 2013, Sacajawea Audubon began installing kestrel nest boxes around Gallatin Valley with the help of the American Kestrel Partnership (AKP).  This international project was in response to long-term population declines of kestrels in North America.

No boxes were used by kestrels in the first two years of the project.  Then in 2014, SAS Project Leader Paulette Epple found 3 active boxes.  Success!  In 2015, there were 2 active nests.

This year there are 8 active nests. The AKP also requested that we band the nestlings/adults and collect body feather samples as part of the American Kestrel Genoscape Project.  The genetic data from the feathers will be analyzed to understand the migratory connectivity of kestrel populations and how the connectivity changes with climate.

Lou Ann Harris, who is a licensed bander, received the necessary permit modifications to band kestrels and collect feathers.  On June 27th, Paulette and Lou Ann checked 6 boxes with the hope of catching an incubating female.  They did indeed catch 3 females in the box and banded them.  Once the nestlings reach the age of about 18 days, the team will band them and collect the feathers.

This has become a very exciting conservation project for Sacajawea Audubon!  It's so rewarding to know that our efforts are making a difference.



Birdathon Awards Party – Time & Location Change

Birdathon Party

Calliope Hummingbird nestlings (L. Harris)

Calliope Hummingbird nestlings (L. Harris)

Time and Location Change

We have changed the time and location of the Sacajawea Audubon Birdathon Awards Party!  We will meet at 5:30 p.m.Thursday, June 30th at MAP Brewing, located at the south shore of the East Gallatin Recreation Area on Manley Road.  We may be upstairs in the mezzanine, or if it's too hot, we will be on the patio.

Please come and help us celebrate a successful fundraising effort and find out which teams won Most Species, Most Magpies, Most Raptors, Most Money Raised and more.  Sacajawea Audubon will buy your 1st beverage!


Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – June 29th

Summer has arrived, all the birds are back, and now its time to survey our IBAs and document the breeding birds in the area.  We will watch ospreys with their young, waterfowl with their broods, and be challenged to count up all the warblers, flycatchers, swallows, orioles, grosbeaks and Sandhill Cranes.  Can you believe we actually counted 148 Yellow Warblers last year!  It will be a great morning of birding, hopefully ending by 1 or 2 pm.  This count will take place on a Wednesday, June 27th, to avoid the weekend recreationists on Ennis Lake.  Since daylight comes early now we will be meeting earlier too.  We will meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café in Ennis and be ready to head out for the survey at 7 am   I believe the Café opens at 6:30 if you want a quick breakfast there.
If you can help, email Paulette at or call 580-6186.

It’s Time To Do Your Birdathon!

It's not too late to form a team and complete a Birdathon!  birdathon

Birdathon is the chapter's biggest fundraiser and over the past two years has raised over $7,000.  That's a lot of moolah to be used for our conservation and education projects!  It's easy to do.  Call up your favorite birding friends and form a team.  Each team should have at least 2 members.  Fill out a team registration form (Team Reg Form 2016 ) and send it in with a $50 donation fee to Sacajawea Audubon.  Then call up all your family, friends, hair stylists, insurance agents, yoga instructors, etc. and collect pledges.  They can pledge per species or a set amount.  Schedule a day to do your Birdathon between now and June 26th.  You can do a full day or half day.  You can bird in your backyard, or cover a 3-county area.  You can even do a Birdathon in another state!

There are all sorts of awards to compete for:  Most Bird Species, Most $$ Raised, Most Pledges, Most Magpies, Most Raptors, Carbon Footprint Award, Most Species in an Important Bird Area, Most Bird Species in a Half-Day, etc.  There will be a Awards Party at E. Gallatin Recreation Area on June 30th.  How can you pass up this much fun?

For more information, click on the "Birdathon 2016" tab on this website, or call/email Lou Ann Harris at 600-3585 or


Red-tailed Hawk (Lou Ann Harris)

Red-tailed Hawk (Lou Ann Harris)

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May 24th – Whooping Cranes: America’s Symbol of Survival and Hope

Join Sacajawea Audubon for a special presentation on the Whooping Crane.

WHCR jan 2015 territory dispute KE


Whooping Cranes: America's Symbol of Survival and Hope

 Presented by Elizabeth H. Smith, Ph.D.

Director, Texas Whooping Crane Program

International Crane Foundation


When:  Tuesday, May 24th at 7 pm

Where: Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street in Bozeman


How does a species, reduced to a mere 21 birds in 1941, recover to over 600 today? Learn how this endangered species has faced unnatural hazards with natural instincts to survive. Become part of the world that we and cranes hope to coexist and thrive in.


Liz Smith is the Director of the International Crane Foundation’s Texas Whooping Crane Program, and has been conducting important research on cranes and their habitat in coastal Texas for over 20 years. Liz continues to expand her research on sea-level rise and storm surge effects on coastal habitat change, and promoting community advocacy for conservation planning and coastal protection.  These efforts are being undertaken with the specific goal of ensuring quality wintering habitat for the Whooping Crane as its’ populations continue to increase.


Most of Liz’s career has been focused on coastal Texas, and she has been nationally recognized in receiving the Coastal America Partnership Award for Restoration at Bahia Grande and Protection at Shamrock Island, EPA Award for Environmental Excellence in Wetlands, as well as regionally recognized in receiving the Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award for Higher Education and Pathways to Success in Science Programs.

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