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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Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – March 15th

Ennis Lake

Ennis Lake

March 15th (Sunday) we will conduct our first IBA survey of the year in the Madison Valley.  This has been a most unusual winter and during the extended warm spell in the middle of February Ennis Lake opened up and became almost ice free.  It will be interesting to see how the mild open winter affects our bird counts.  Raptors should be present in good numbers, Ennis Lake should be attracting many swans as well as a variety of ducks, and there should be some early songbird migrants back in the valley.

If you can help, email Paulette at or call 580-6186.  We will meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café in Ennis by 7:45 am.  Come early if you would like to eat breakfast there.  We should be finished by noon or 1 pm.

FYI:  Other IBA survey dates for the year will include:

  • Madison Valley IBA survey - April 25
  • Headwaters IBA survey - May 2
  • Headwaters IBA survey - June 17
  • Madison Valley IBA survey - June 24

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