Sacajawea Audubon

2015 Spring Field Trip Schedule

Western Meadowlark (Photo by Lou Ann Harris)

Western Meadowlark (Photo by Lou Ann Harris)

Participants in all trips will meet at the front parking lot of the Museum of the Rockies at 6:45 AM and depart at 7:00 AM unless otherwise noted. Car pools will be arranged at the museum; an offer to help with gas to the person driving is always appreciated but not mandatory. Dress for the weather; good footwear is a must as field trip conditions are not always dry. Turn off your cell phones and keep unnecessary conversations to a minimum. Some field trips are limited to a certain number of participants. Contact the trip leader for more details about any trip, and to sign up for the trip. We encourage beginning birders to participate. Come have a good time and learn something new.

➢May 9: Headwaters State Park
Leader: Martha Collins 586-9478 or 579-0506 (1/2 day trip; easy walking)
The Headwaters area includes a variety of habitats, including sage/grassland and riparian, so anything from waterfowl to sparrows can occur. One of the unique features of the Headwaters area are the limestone cliffs, which support several cliff nesting species such as Prairie Falcons and White-throated Swifts. The park, which is situated along the Missouri River corridor, is an ideal location to observe early spring migrants. Those wishing to meet at the Headwaters area contact the trip leader. 15 person limit.

➢May 9: Shields Valley Driving Tour
Leader: Forrest Rowland 814-573-1391
(Options for half to full day)
Celebrate International Migratory Bird Day by visiting Shields Valley’s birding hot spots with local guides. The array of habitats visited will range from dense riparian, lush agricultural, shortgrass prairie, and sage flats at lower elevations, up through mixed Douglas Fir and Pine forests to high-elevation Sub-alpine Fir, depending on road conditions. We will also spend plenty of time birding Cottonwood Reservoir , which will surely be loaded with waterfowl and shorebirds at this peak time of year. Options for half- to full day.
Meet at the Clyde Park Post Office parking lot, at 7:00 AM for car-pooling.

➢May 16: Old Town Road and Milligan Canyon
Leader: Tom Forwood 570-6432
(1/2 day trip; mostly driving with light walking on roads)
This trip begins along the cottonwood bottomlands of the Jefferson River, and then abruptly moves into dry greasewood/sage scrubland habitat. Birds along this section will range from Dusky Flycatchers and Bullock’s Orioles, to Sage Thrashers and Brewer’s Sparrows. The route then cuts through the arid limestone cliffs of Milligan Canyon. Canyon Wrens, Rock Wrens, and Spotted Towhees frequent this dry landscape. Golden Eagles and Pinyon Jays are also a possibility along this portion of the trip. 15 person limit

➢May 23: Triple Tree Trail
Leader: Loreene Reid 600-6666
(5 hour trip; moderately strenuous climbing 500 ft, 4 miles)
As this trail climbs the hillside it passes through a number of habitats, and transitional edges between them. At the bottom of the mountain, grassland quickly gives way to brushy deciduous habitat as the trail crosses Limestone Creek, where Ruffed Grouse, Calliope Hummingbirds, and Lazuli Buntings are some of the birds to expect. The trail then ascends through Douglas fir and lodgepole pine forests with a wide variety of nesting birds, including Cassin’s Vireo, Swainson’s Thrush, and Western Tanager. This trip features perhaps the greatest diversity of any short hike in the Gallatin Valley. 12 person limit

➢May 23: Sweetgrass County Prairie Bird Tour
Leader: Beth Madden 406-224-1012
(The 5-6 hour driving tour should wrap up by early- afternoon)
We will follow an approximately 40-mile long driving route through prairie and agricultural landscapes north of Big Timber. Past trips have yielded Long-billed Curlews, Sandhill Cranes, raptors, and prairie songbirds from Bobolinks to longspurs. Stops at wetlands will yield water birds. (Big Timber is 63 miles east of Bozeman on Interstate 90). Meet in Big Timber at the Town Pump located at I-90 Exit 367 at 8:00 AM for car- pooling

➢ ➢May 30: Mount Ellis
Leader: Audrey Evers 218-742-7885 or
(4 -5-hour trip; moderately strenuous walking 3 miles)
This slow-paced hike will explore a number of habitats on State and Forest Service lands, including grassland, aspen meadow, and conifer forest edge. At this time of year all of the nesting birds, such as Calliope Hummingbirds, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Dusky Flycatchers, Orange-crowned Warblers, and a wide variety of sparrows will have arrived on their territories. Along with terrific views of the Gallatin Valley, the wildflowers on this walk will likely distract you from the diversity of birds. 12 person limit.

➢May 30: Paradise Valley Driving Tour
Leader: Mitch Hurt 406-223-4919
(Options for half- to almost full day)
Visit Paradise Valley birding hotspots with local guides – spring creeks, Yellowstone River, prairies/hillsides, and Dailey Lake. The diversity of habitat covered on the trip, along with it being the peak of songbird migration should yield a huge variety of birds. Meet at Livingston Albertson’s parking lot, northeast corner at 7:30 AM for car- pooling.

➢June 5-7: Please join us at the 2015 Montana Audubon Bird Festival in Helena, MT.
Contact Montana Audubon at (406) 443-3949 or go to Come join the fun.

➢ June 13: Kelly Canyon and Battle Ridge
Leaders: Ron and Cheryl Farmer 586-3987
(1/2 day trip; driving and walking along gravel roads)
This trip passes through open fields, then climbs past dry juniper- covered hillsides, mature wetlands, mixed woodlands, and eventually reaches into the conifer forest. Mountain Bluebirds, Spotted Towhees, Calliope Hummingbirds, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Western Tanagers are just a few of the species that we should see along this route. After Kelly Canyon, this trip will continue up Bridger Canyon to Battle Ridge. At this higher elevation a new suite of breeding birds makes this area home. Williamson’s Sapsuckers, Brown Creepers, Swainson’s Thrushes are a few of the nesting species in this area. Four car limit

➢June 19: Montana's Nightjars at Lewis & Clark Caverns
Leader: Tom Forwood at 406-570-6432
Check out Montana's two species of Nightjar, the Common Nighthawk and the more elusive Common Poorwill. The park is known for some of its interesting breeding bird species and the Poorwill is one of the more unusual. We will walk up the park road for a mile or so at dusk to check out some of the arid country daytime species such as Mountain Bluebirds, Spotted Towhees and Rock Wrens. Once it gets dark we will look for high flying Nighthawks and low lying Poorwills with the possibility for some owls and several bat species as well. We will meet at the park's campground parking area at 8:30 PM for a 90 minute to 2 hour walk. Insect repellent, good walking shoes and layering clothing for changing conditions are recommended. 15 person limit

➢June 20: The Kelly Ranch on the Gallatin River
Leader: Andrew Guttenberg 451-5427
(4-5 hour easy walking)
This trip will explore the Kelly Ranch along the Gallatin River which has been fully protected under a conservation easement with The Montana Land Reliance, Montana’s statewide land trust. The ranch includes wet meadow, cottonwood gallery forest, and dry juniper habitats. It will be at the peak of breeding season, so you can expect a wide variety of the local breeding birds to be in full song, and busy tending to their nests and young. Some of the birds that breed on the property are Sandhill Crane, Wilson’s Snipe, Gray Catbird, American Redstart, and Rock Wren. Kathryn Kelly, ranch owner and Greater Yellowstone Manager for the Montana Land Reliance will join the group to discuss a bit of history of the ranch, and the process and benefits of creating conservation easements, one of the most powerful tools to accomplish habitat protection, for birds and other wildlife. 15 person limit

➢June 27: Mission Creek
Leader: Robin Wolcott 581-5418
(mostly driving with light walking on roads)
(Until mid-afternoon; bring a lunch)
After leaving Bozeman, we will meet at Albertson’s parking lot in Livingston at 7:30 AM and then leave from there at 7:45 AM Car-pooling is essential.
In the rolling prairie just east of Livingston we will seek McCown’s Longspur and Long-billed Curlew. Along Little Mission Creek we will watch for riparian species, then search for residents of the spruce/fir forest. On our return along Mission Creek we could find a Cordilleran Flycatcher or a Golden Eagle. Over 130 species have been seen along this route including Sprague’s Pipit, Upland Sandpiper, Green-tailed Towhee. Spectacular views, abundant wild flowers, and wildlife make the trip through the northern foothills of the Absaroka Mountains a trip to remember. 18 person limit

➢June 28 and 29: Rocky Mountain Road Bluebird Trail
Leaders: Janne Hayward 587-6124 , and Lou Ann Harris 600-3585
(1/2 day)
Get up close and personal with Mountain Bluebirds. Join bluebirders Janne Hayward and Lou Ann Harris, as they check bluebird nest boxes and band adults and nestlings along Rocky Mountain Road. This is a rare opportunity to get an inside look at the lives of these amazing birds, including nest building, egg laying and raising young. Due to the sensitive nature of the work, we are limiting these field trips to 8 participants.

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