Sacajawea Audubon

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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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.


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


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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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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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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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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