Sacajawea Audubon

2011 Christmas Bird Count Reports

Photo by Ed Harper

Ennis Christmas Bird Count Smashes Previous Record

On Wednesday Dec 14, 2011 twenty-six intrepid souls gathered at Yesterday's Cafe prior to scouring the countryside for the  Ennis CBC.  The participants came from Ennis, Stevensville, Helena, Livingston, Deer Lodge, Sacramento and Bozeman.  The Ennis CBC was established in 1958 by Dr P. D. Skaar and, as luck would have it, his son Don was on hand to contribute to this year's stunning new record high count of 73 species.  Ed Harper was around way back in 1977 when an earlier record of 55 species was set and was also on hand for last year's new high count of 61.

Among the celebrated highlights of the count were Northern Goshawk, Ferruginous Hawk, Virginia Rail, Northern Pygmy Owl, American Three-toed Woodpecker (2), Marsh Wren, Gray Catbird, Western Meadowlark and Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch.  In addition, a Blue Jay and 6 Evening Grosbeaks were seen today for count week.  But the bird of the count was certainly the Barn Owl that Ed Harper observed and photographed.  Clearly the CBC gods were smiling on Ennis on this December 14, 2011, the first day of the Christmas Bird Count season.  To read a recent article about the Ennis count in The Madisonian newspaper go here:

Photo by Ed Harper

Warm Temps and New Species Highlight Bozeman CBC

The Bozeman CBC was held Saturday December 17th, with near ideal conditions, sunny skies, calm, with highs in the forties. Thirty-nine participants from around Gallatin Valley covered 13 different routes within the Bozeman count circle.   A total of 59 species were seen this year, including three new species:  Snow Goose (8), Ross' Goose and Hermit Thrush.  Other unusual birds for the Bozeman count included Gadwall, American Wigeon, American Coot, Marsh Wren (only the second time on the count, with 4 wrens seen at two locations) and White-throated Sparrow. Also, there were lots of Bohemian Waxwings, and record numbers of Cedar Waxwings.  Because of an extra effort to cover the foothills of Gallatin Valley, there were new high counts of Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee and Townsend's Solitaire.

An extra special "thank you" goes out to Jean Perkins, who has hosted our after count gathering for many years.  She greets each person at the front door with a mug of hot cider and a smile, and of course, we all look forward to her delicious cookies!  Thank you, Jean!

Jean greets Joel Evers with a cup of cider.

The Keefer daughters select their cookie.

Ed Harper about to sample one of Jean's cookies.



The thirtieth Three Forks CBC took place on December 26.  Weather was pleasant and mild, with temperatures ranging from 25-39 degrees.  The wind came up later in the day, but probably did not exceed 10 mph.

Twenty observers participated, and recorded 6,568 individual birds of 59 species, not a record, but still a very impressive count.

Three species new to the Three Forks count were recorded, including one Sora, one American Dipper, and 3 Chipping Sparrows.  A high count was recorded for 8 species, including Trumpeter Swan (30), Canada Goose (1971), Sharp-shinned Hawk (4),Prairie Falcon (6), Eurasian Collared Dove (273), Black-billed Magpie (343), Canyon Wren (2), and Lapland Longspur (200).

Virginia Rail

Following the count, the group gathered at Joan Ryshavy's house to consolidate totals from the various teams.  Joan hosted the group for chili and crackers.  Thanks, Joan!


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