Paleontologist David Varrichhio will speak on "Dinosaur Eggs and Origins of Avian Reproduction" at the Sacajawea Audubon Society's meeting on February 13th. Dinosaur eggs come in an amazing variety of shapes, sizes, and arrangements. They show strange surface textures and unusual internal structures. The richest dinosaur egg deposits are from China but dinosaur eggs are now known from around the world. Unfortunately, most eggs remain unidentified to a specific dinosaur. Nevertheless, by studying eggs in the field and through careful laboratory work, scientists have come to understand nesting behavior in a few dinosaurs. Many reproductive features that distinguish birds among living animals had their evolutionary origins in carnivorous dinosaurs like Troodon. Recent studies suggest an unexpected system of parental care in Troodon and perhaps even the first birds.
David Varricchio is a professor of paleontology at Montana State University. In college he studied both geology and paleontology. Working with Jack Horner, he earned his doctorate at Montana State University. His research combines geologic fieldwork with anatomy to address questions on dinosaur paleobiology. Ongoing work includes reproduction in theropod dinosaurs and its significance for bird evolution, burrowing in small herbivorous dinosaurs, and dinosaur social behavior. He has participated in fieldwork in the Sahara, Argentina, Inner Mongolia, Yunnan and throughout the American West.
The Sacajawea Audubon Society meets the second Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m., at the Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th), Bozeman. Audubon invites the public to attend its meetings and participate in its field trips, listed on the chapter's website at www.sacajaweaaudubon.org/.
This adult Gyrfalcon was spotted recently in the Gallatin Valley. A relatively rare winter visitor to Montana, Gyrs are the most northern diurnal raptor. They inhabit circumpolar arctic and subarctic regions, but some birds will move south during fall and winter. The Gyrfalcon is our largest falcon, and extremely variable in plumage, ranging from nearly pure white to almost uniform dark gray-brown. The most common coloration we see in North America is an intermediate "gray" plumage. It primarily feeds on birds, mostly ptarmigan in the far north, but also will take passerines, seabirds, shorebirds, waterfowl and some mammals such as hares.
Gyrfalcons show pronounced reverse sexual size dimorphism, with males weighing 65% less than females.
This particular bird seemed unfazed by interstate traffic, ambulance sirens and a passing train.
Steve Hoffman, Executive Director of Montana Audubon, will provide an update on "Bird Conservation and Monitoring Efforts in Montana" at the January 9, 2012 meeting of the Sacajawea Audubon Society. This illustrated program will feature the latest information on priority birds and bird habitat conservation efforts in Montana, including recent research findings. New program initiatives are underway by Montana Audubon and its many partners. Hoffman will discuss grassland, wetland and riparian habitats, and the Important Bird Area Program, as well as provide species-specific updates for the Long-billed Curlew, Greater Sage-Grouse, Golden Eagle, Ferruginous Hawk, and various waterbirds of special concern.
A specialist in wildlife conservation, Steve Hoffman has been Executive Director of Montana Audubon since 2006. He earned an M.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University. He began his career as a Wildlife Biologist for the U.S. Bureau of Land Management in southern Arizona, and later worked as an Endangered Species Specialist for the US Fish & Wildlife Service in Albuquerque. After 10 years of government service, he launched HawkWatch International, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to research and conservation of hawks, eagles and other birds of prey. After 12 years with HawkWatch, Steve returned to his birth state to become the Director of Bird Conservation for Audubon Pennsylvania. In 2004 Steve moved to Bozeman to serve as Executive Director of Predator Conservation Alliance. Steve has written more than 30 scientific papers on raptor biology, conservation, endangered species management, and coyote ecology. He has given hundreds of presentations on various wildlife conservation and bird identification topics to varied audiences across the U.S. Hoffman is a member of the Sacajawea Audubon Society in Bozeman.
The Sacajawea Audubon Society meets the second Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m., at the Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf Street (off of South 19th), Bozeman. Audubon invites the public to attend its meetings and participate in its field trips.