John James Audubon wrote of Ospreys: “The habits of this famed bird differ so materially from those of almost all others of its genus, that an accurate description of them cannot fail to be highly interesting to the student of nature.” His words still apply today. Watching an Osprey dive feet first into the water, sometimes submerging completely, before rising from the surface with a struggling fish leaves a lasting impression for birder and non-birder alike. Ospreys are one of Montana’s most recognizable and charismatic raptors, nesting throughout the western third of the state and along large rivers in the prairies.
The Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society in Billings has monitored Osprey nests along the Yellowstone River since 2009. YVAS focuses conservation efforts on Ospreys because the population is increasing, most pairs are building nests on power poles and thereby coming into conflict with utility companies, and nestling mortality from entanglement in baling twine is evident. In 2009 three volunteers located 22 nests while today 30 volunteers hustle along 300 miles of river during summer to monitor over 85 nests. Marco Restani, Director of Conservation for Montana Audubon, directs the research components of the YVAS Osprey project. His presentation will review population ecology, behavior, and conservation of this widespread, unique raptor.
Dr. Marco Restani joined Montana Audubon in December 2015 to serve as Director of Conservation. Originally an ‘Army Brat’, Marco has lived and worked throughout Montana since 1983. He received a BS from the University of Montana, MS from Montana State, and PhD from Utah State studying Bald Eagles along the Missouri River near Helena. Following post-doctoral research at the University of Washington, Marco was a Professor for 15 years at Rocky Mountain College in Billings and at St. Cloud State University in Minnesota. He spent seven summers in Greenland studying Peregrine Falcons and Common Ravens, two summers in Australia studying Tasmanian Devils, and four winters guiding ecotourists to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and Antarctica. Since 2012 Marco has been collaborating with Yellowstone Valley Audubon to monitor nesting Ospreys along the Yellowstone River. He is an ‘Elective Member’ of the American Ornithologists’ Union and a ‘Certified Wildlife Biologist’ with The Wildlife Society.
Sacajawea Audubon meets every 2nd Monday of the month, September through May. Our meetings are held at Hope Lutheran Church, 2152 W. Graf (off of S. 19th). Come for the social, beginning at 6:30 p.m. A short chapter meeting starts at 7 p.m. with the program following after. Our programs are free and open to the public.
**TRIP FULL WITH WAITING LIST**
Join Sacajawea Audubon for our annual Owl Prowl on Saturday, April 2nd. MT State Park Naturalist and avid birder Tom Forwood, Jr. will lead the field trip. Some of the owl species we hope to hear, and possibly see, include Western Screech-Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-Whet Owl and Great Horned Owl. This is an evening field trip, so please dress for cold weather, including warm boots. Snowshoes are not necessary, but grippers might be helpful if conditions are icy. The location of the Owl Prowl is TBD.
Interested participants need to contact Tom Forwood to sign up at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 406-570-6432. Field trip limit is 10 people. Registered participants will meet at the Museum of the Rockies parking lot at 7:00 p.m. for carpooling.