Sacajawea Audubon

Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – Oct. 26th


Photo by Beth Johns

Photo by Beth Johns

Please join us on October 26th (Saturday) as we conduct one last survey of the Madison Valley IBA.  We are timing this survey to catch large numbers of migrating waterfowl, loons and grebes on Ennis Lake and of course we will be surveying the riparian of the Madison River Valley also.   Join us and use your bird watching skills to add to our data base on this Important Bird Area.  Please meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café before 8am.  Come early enough (7:15 am) for breakfast if you want, but plan to be ready to head out for birding at 8 am.


Please let Paulette Epple know if you are going to be able to help out with the count.  Phone:  580-6186 or email:


Ennis Lake Waterfowl Field Trip – Oct. 19th

Ennis Lake    (Photo by Beth Johns)

Ennis Lake (Photo by Beth Johns)

Saturday, October 19th
Meet at 7:45 am at the Museum of the Rockies
Carpool and depart at 8:00 am

This should be near the peak time for migrating waterfowl and loons.  Ennis Lake is one of the premiere staging areas for migrating waterfowl in southwestern Montana.  Thousands of ducks can be spread across the lake on any given day.  As is typical with high concentrations of birds, there is always the possibility of a rarity being found.   Bring a lunch as we’ll be out until at least mid-afternoon.  Also, remember to bring plenty of warm clothes as it will likely be cold and windy.   For more information and to make reservations, call John Parker at 586-5863.

Filed under: Field Trips No Comments

October 14th Program – “Birding The Four Seasons Of Montana”

Great Gray Owl  (photo by Ed Harper)

Great Gray Owl (photo by Ed Harper)



October 14th, 7 pm, at Hope Lutheran Church


Join us October 14th at 7 pm as Ed Harper takes us through Montana’s varied seasons, sharing with us the great diversity of birds he has managed to photograph over many years of intensive coverage.  Whether it is a majestic Gyrfalcon in winter or an Upland Sandpiper in summer, you will find a myriad of images that are not only pleasing to the eye but are also very informative.  


Ed Harper's interest in birds goes back to his early childhood while growing up on a ranch south of Livingston, Montana.  Following graduation from Montana State and subsequent graduate school at the University of Wyoming, Ed engaged in a career in education as a college math teacher.  With his passion for birding, he also taught a variety of classes in field ornithology. An experienced world traveler, Ed Harper has traveled to all the continents in search of birds. Presently he serves on the board of Western Field Ornithologists.


An avid photographer, Ed has photographed over 2000 species of birds, with many of his photos found in books and periodicals. In North America alone, he has photographed over 750 species of birds.  Starting out as a tour leader for the Massachusetts Audubon Society in 1980, Ed now operates Sandpiper Journeys with his wife, Susan Scott.  Together they have conducted many birding and natural history tours throughout the world.

Ferruginous Hawk  (photo by Ed Harper)

Ferruginous Hawk (photo by Ed Harper)

Yellow-rumped (Audubon's) Warbler in flight Ennis Lake        MT

Yellow-rumped Warbler (photo by Ed Harper)


Eyes To The Skies – Bridger Raptor Count Underway

Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon

Eyes to the Skies - Bridger Raptor Count in 23rd Season
Visitors are welcome!

Montana Audubon and HawkWatch International announce the 23rd season of raptor migration research along the crest of the Bridger Mountains, 15 miles NE of Bozeman, running now through November 5th. The best overall raptor viewing is mid-September to mid-October. Birders, hikers, and nature lovers are welcome at the observation station, where two expert observers are there daily, systematically counting all birds of prey on their annual southern migration. Bret Davis and Kalon Baughan are excited to return as our raptor count experts again this year.

According to Kalon, “Bret and I are stoked to be back on the mountain. At 8600 feet we have a spectacular 360 view to enjoy. We both love the birds and the challenge of identifying hawks and eagles in flight. We also take great pride in conducting this important population monitoring project in a rigorous, scientific manner.”

The long-term data collected at the Bridger Mountains site helps scientists learn more about raptor migration patterns as well as regional and continental population trends. Most importantly, the Bridger project is designed to monitor environmental changes, using these apex predators as valuable barometers of ecological health. The Bridger site consistently records the largest concentration of autumnal migrant Golden Eagles known in the lower 48 states. Recent Golden Eagle count totals have varied from 1,000 to 1,400 eagles per season, and up to 200 individuals on a peak migration day (usually during the first two weeks of October).

Steve Hoffman, Executive Director of Montana Audubon and Founder of HawkWatch International, emphasizes: “The Bridger Project is the most important migration site in the western United States for monitoring the health and trends of Golden Eagle populations.  The Bridger data are especially important now because there is credible scientific evidence for long-term declines in Golden Eagle numbers across much of the West.”

Visitors should drive to the parking area above the Bridger Bowl Ski Area facilities for an approximate two-hour hike to the observation point (2200’ elevation gain). For further information, including more specific directions for visiting the site as well as annual project reports, visit:

Montana Audubon, in partnership with HawkWatch International (HWI), has coordinated this scientific project for the past 5 years. HWI initiated these annual counts in 1991. Eagles, hawks, and falcons use the energy-saving updrafts created by strong winds along the crest of the Bridgers to migrate south, sometimes within close proximity to the viewing platform. Migrant raptors originate from breeding locales in northern Montana, western Canada, and Alaska, and their destinations include a wide range of latitudes (varying by species and populations), from the American Southwest & Mexico all the way to Central and South America.

Funding for the 2013 count is being provided by NaturEner USA (a wind power company with multiple projects in north-central Montana, including the recently commissioned 189 MW Rim Rock Wind Farm), USDA Forest Service (Gallatin National Forest), Sacajawea Audubon Society (Bozeman-based Audubon chapter), and several individual Montana Audubon donors.


The mission of Montana Audubon is to promote appreciation, knowledge, and conservation of native birds, other wildlife, and natural ecosystems to safeguard biological diversity for current and future generations. Incorporated as a nonprofit organization in 1982, Montana Audubon uses public policy, education, science, and habitat protection to fulfill its conservation mission. For more information please go to:

HawkWatch International, a nonprofit organization operating eight raptor migration research sites in western North America and the Texas Gulf Coast, collaborates with many organizations to maintain scientific, long-term raptor monitoring programs across western North America.  HawkWatch International’s mission is to conserve the natural environment through education, long-term monitoring, and scientific research, using raptors as indicators of ecosystem health. 

Montana Audubon

Montana Audubon


September 9th Program – “Montana Songbird Habitat in 2063”

Photo by Ed Harper

Photo by Ed Harper

Join Sacajawea Audubon September 9th at 7 p.m. for an interesting program that looks into the future of songbird habitat diversity in Montana.  This presentation by Richard Keigley describes how ungulate browsing is causing declines in songbird habitat diversity, and outlines a role that citizen science can play in habitat conservation.  It begins with a simple method of interpreting habitat trend based on the relationship between plant height and plant age.  The method is used to describe how wild and domestic ungulates are affecting habitat across a broad swath of Montana.  Richard Keigley is a retired Research Ecologist with the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey.  For the past 20 years, he has focused on the development of methods to document changes in habitat due to ungulate browsing.

The 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, listed here on the chapter's website.

Filed under: Program No Comments

Introduction to eBird Class – Oct. 2nd

Introduction to eBird Class              

October 2, 2013   6:30 pm
Bozeman Public Library, Small Community Room

You've probably been hearing about eBird and wondering how this new online birding tool works.   Join Sacajawea Audubon for a 2 hour class to learn how you can add your bird observations to this valuable citizen-science data base.  Forrest Rowland, international tour guide with Rockjumper - Worldwide Birding Adventures, is passionate about eBird and will be presenting an Introduction  to eBird class.  Come learn to enter and track your bird records online and share them with the birding community while making them available for science and conservation efforts.  eBird allows birders to post sightings, keep life lists, and manage their personal records. eBird is also a remarkable tool to learn more about birds and birding.


This is a free class but a reservation is required.  Contact Paulette Epple to register at or call 580-6186.



Sacajawea Audubon Wages War On Burdock

Yellow Warbler caught in Burdock  -  photo by Robin Wolcott

Yellow Warbler caught in Burdock - photo by Robin Wolcott

You’ve probably noticed over the past several years that Burdock has proliferated at many of Bozeman’s most popular trailheads, and along the trails themselves.  Burdock is a particularly obnoxious weed which, in its second year of growth, can reach six feet in height and produce innumerable clusters of spiky flower balls.  As these flowers develop and mature into seed heads, they become an increasing danger to song birds, whose feathers can get caught in their grip and cause the birds to perish.  Beyond the threat to birds, burdock is a nuisance for dogs, livestock, and other forms of wildlife whose fur gets hopelessly tangled in the spiky flowers after brushing up against the plant.   So effective is burdock at attaching to fur, hair and clothing, that it was the inspiration for the invention of Velcro adhesives, which replicate the hook-tipped spikes of the seed-bearing flower head.

But now, as the end of summer nears, there is far less burdock to worry about in and around Bozeman’s popular trails.  This past August, a small army of Sacajawea Audubon volunteers has been diligently chopping off thousands of clusters of spiky burdock seed heads, bagging them up, and hauling them off to their final resting place – the Logan Landfill.  Once buried there, they can do no more harm to the environment.   And fortunately, because burdock only lives for two years, when the seed heads are destroyed, the plant will not produce again and will die.

This is the second year Sacajawea Audubon has spearheaded a movement to eradicate burdock from our area trails and favorite recreation sites.   Much progress was made last year to initially thwart the spread of millions of burdock seeds into the environment.  This year, two-year old plants were preparing to unleash their fusillade of seeds upon Gallatin Valley when Audubon volunteers successfully counter attacked – an estimated sixteen 15-gallon bags of seed heads have been hauled to the landfill as the result of this herculean effort.  (Incidental amounts of spotted knapweed and hoary alyssum have also been removed from the environment in this process…)

Depending on how long burdock seeds remain viable after dispersal (hopefully not more than two years), there is an excellent chance that the scourge of burdock-infested trails in and around Bozeman could be all but eliminated in the next couple of years.  So plans are already being made to attack the burdock problem again in 2014, and again in 2015, until victory has been achieved!

Areas where significant progress toward the eradication of burdock has been made thus far include: East Gallatin Park and trail system; the “M” trailhead and trail; the Drinking Horse trailhead; the Story Mill Spur Trail and the Sourdough Trail.

Please plan on volunteering next year and join in the effort to control burdock.  The birds (and dogs and horses and deer and bear) will thank you!