Sacajawea Audubon

Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – April 30th

Photo by Lou Ann Harris

Spring migration is on and the next Madison Valley IBA survey is scheduled for Sunday, April 30th. This count usually yields a good diversity of 75 to 80 species and is a fun opportunity to get out and see some of our favorite birds back in the valley. We should be seeing curlews, avocets, loons, grebes, pelicans, swallows, sapsuckers, wrens, sandhill cranes, and ospreys by that time.

Let me know if you would like to help. Email me 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 early afternoon.



GIVE BIG – May 4-5th

Have you dreamed of making history? Of course, we all have. And now we have a chance to be a part of Gallatin Valley's day of giving - an opportunity to unite our community around causes in which we truly believe and help nonprofit organizations connect to the larger community. We need your help! Please join our campaign and help us reach of our goal of $1,000 and 100 donors! We need you to tell your friends and family members about the important bird conservation work we do and ask them to join us in helping to make a difference.

Get ready to give! On May 4-5, starting at 12:00AM midnight, visit audubon-society and make a donation to us, and/or to any of the great participating nonprofit organizations in our state. You will have 24 hours to make your donation, and all giving will end at 11:59pm on May 4-5.
Questions? If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact Lou Ann Harris at or call (406) 600-3585. Thank you in advance for your generosity to Sacajawea Audubon Society!

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Headwaters IBA Survey – May 4th

Western Meadowlark (Photo by Lou Ann Harris)

Headwaters IBA (Important Bird Area) Survey Carpool at Albertsons Grocery in Belgrade at 7:10 am

Please join us for a walking Spring IBA Survey at Headwaters State Park, Three Forks, MT, on Thursday, May 4th. We will meet at 7:30 am at the State Park kiosk at the entrance across from the Camp Ground. With 3 survey groups we hope to catch early nesting species as well as a few migrants. There is usually lots of activity on the cliffs when we all meet at 11 to survey the Boat Launch site.

Bring your eyes, ears and good ID skills on May 4th.

Contact: Martha Collins at 579-0506



Black-headed Grosbeak (Lou Ann Harris)

REMINDER: Sacajawea Audubon Society is offering a BEGINNING BIRDING WORKSHOP and INTERMEDIATE BIRDING SHORT COURSES. All courses will be taught by Ashley Martens, an experienced birder, naturalist, and outdoor educator. Ashley’s approach to teaching birding engages all of your senses to tune in to what you see, hear, and love about the wild birds around us. Contact Ashley at or 208-883-4998 for more information and to register for all classes detailed below.


Participants will be introduced to the basics of birding through 3 evening classroom sessions and 3 field trips to a variety of habitats in the valley. We will cover bird families, common birds in our region, and what to look and listen for when seeking out the identity of a bird. There will be 2 sections of this course this year. Section A will have field trips on Saturday mornings. Section B will have field trips on Sunday mornings. Sections A and B will meet together classroom sessions.

Classroom Sessions:

Sections A & B: Thurs evenings April 27, May 18, & June 8 6:30-8pm Hope Lutheran Church

Field Trips:

Section A: Saturday mornings April 29, May 20, & June 10 7-10am Various Locations
Section B: Sunday mornings April 30, May 21, & June 11 7-10am Various Locations

Cost for Beginning course: $95 for Sacajawea Audubon members; $115 for non-members. Please make checks payable to “Sacajawea Audubon Society” and mail to Ashley Martens at 42 Hitching Post Rd., Bozeman, MT 59715.


These are the perfect classes for birders who want to boost their birding skills up a notch and start studying more details of plumage, bird behaviors, and more sight and sound identification tips for specific bird families or groups. Choose as many courses as you like!


Together we’ll explore the ecology of birds in our region who either excavate their own cavities (like woodpeckers and nuthatches) or nest in existing cavities (like bluebirds, chickadees, and some owls). We’ll also hone in on how to identify woodpeckers by calls, drums, and more. This trip happens early because most of these species breed early (and there are not so many leaves out so we can spot them easily)!

Classroom Session: Thurs, April 20th 6:30-8pm; Field Trip: Sat, April 22nd 7-10am


Birds are the true messengers of the forests. They can tell us if there's a fox hiding in the brush, a person about to run down the trail, or a sharp-shinned hawk or owl about to fly through. Come learn the ancient art of bird language. We’ll learn the 5 voices of the bird and some alarm patterns in class. We’ll practice identifying these voices and patterns in the field and conduct a “bird sit” together. Awareness of bird language also inevitably leads to a deeper awareness of self.

Classroom Session: Thurs, May 11th 6:30-8pm; Field Trip: Sat, May 13th 7-10am


Those little brown birds can be difficult to tease apart. We’ll hone in on plumage, habitat, and songs and calls clues for the sparrows of our region so that we can begin to appreciate their subtle beauty and differences.

Classroom Session: Thurs, June 1st 6:30-8pm; Field Trip: Sat, June 3rd 7-10am


What is better than yellow feathers?! We’ll learn to identify differences between these wonderfully little flashy, fidgety birds and sort them out with plumage, song/call, and habitat clues.

Classroom Session: Thurs, June 15th 6:30-8pm; Field Trip: Sat, June 17th 7-10am


The songs of the thrushes are some of the most magical sounds of summer. We’ll learn to identify these birds by sight and song, as well as the many other lovely songsters in our region. This class will focus more on birding by ear than by sight, but of course we will take some time to explore and enjoy visual identification as well. Other bird families we will be sure to include are: vireos, flycatchers, grosbeaks, and the western tanager.

Classroom Session: Thurs, June 22nd 6:30-8pm; Field Trip: Sat, June 24th 7-10am

Cost per short course: $45 for Sacajawea Audubon members; $55 for non-members. Please make checks payable to “Sacajawea Audubon Society” and mail to Ashley Martens at 42 Hitching Post Rd., Bozeman, MT 59715. Maximum 8 students. Supply lists will be provided upon registration.


2017 Sacajawea Audubon Spring Birding Series

Photo by John 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. Bring any food or beverages that you will need during the course of the trips, and some of the longer trips might require that you pack a lunch. 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 all skill levels of birders to participate. Come have a good time and learn something new.

 April 16 Sunday: Owl Prowl

Leader: Tom Forwood 406-570-6432

Meet at the Museum of the Rockies at 7 PM. 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 possibly including several locations. 10 person limit

April 29 Saturday: Shields Valley Driving Tour

Leader: Forrest Rowland 814-573-1391

(Options for half to full day) Visit Shields Valley’s birding hot spots. 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. Meet at the Clyde Park Post Office parking lot, at 7:00 AM for car-pooling.

 May 6 Saturday: 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 13 Saturday: Paradise Valley Driving Tour

Leader: George Kelly 406-220-0282

(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 near the peak of songbird migration, this trip should yield a huge variety of birds.   Meet at Livingston Albertson’s parking lot, northeast corner at 7:30 AM for car-pooling.

 May 13 Saturday: Middle Cottonwood Canyon

Leader: Brad Barth 406-640-2628 

(4-5 hours; moderate walking with some rocky terrain; 2 to 3 miles total) This is an opportunity to stretch your legs and look for some early arriving migrants in the Bridger foothills north of Bozeman. Middle Cottonwood has a mix of riparian habitat, mature north facing conifers, and relatively dry open south facing hillsides. We’ll be looking for species such as Western Tanager, MacGillivray's Warbler, Calliope Hummingbird, Lazuli Bunting, Green-tailed Towhee, Swainson's Thrush along the lower reaches of the canyon. 12 person limit

May 20 Saturday: Old Town Road and Milligan Canyon

Leader: Tom Forwood 406-570-6432  

(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 21 Sunday: Triple Tree Trail

Leader: Lou Ann Harris 600-3585

(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 24 Wednesday: East Gallatin Recreation   Area

Leader: John Parker 406-586-5863

(4-5 hour trip; easy walking-two miles at most) There are lots of possibilities with this local area. Over 180 bird species have been seen in the recreation area.  This will be near the peak of migration, so we hope for some surprises.   With a pond, riparian habitat, limited grassland, and mature cottonwoods we hope to see good diversity of what Gallatin Valley has to offer.   Species may include flycatchers, Warbling Vireo, Gray Catbird, several warblers, Lazuli Bunting, and Black Headed Grosbeak. 12 person limit

May 27 Saturday: Sweet Grass County Prairie Bird Tour

Leader: Beth Madden 406-224-1012

(The 5-6 hour driving tour should wrap up by early-mid afternoon) Celebrate the arrival of spring on the prairies! We will follow an approximately 40-mile driving route through prairie and agricultural landscapes north of Big Timber. Past trips have yielded curlews, cranes, raptors, and prairie songbirds from Bobolinks to longspurs. Stops at wetlands will feature water birds. Meet in Big Timber (Big Timber is 63 miles east of Bozeman on Interstate 90) at the Town Pump located at I-90 Exit 367 at 8:00 AM for car-pooling.

 May 27 Saturday: Mount Ellis

Leader: Audrey Evers 218-742-7885

(4 -5-hour trip; moderately strenuous walking 3 miles) This slow-paced hike of approximately 3 miles, 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 many 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.

June 3 Saturday: Paradise Valley Driving Tour

Leader: Mitch Hurt 406-223-4919

(Options for half to full day) Visit Paradise Valley birding hotspots with local guides – spring creeks, prairies/hillsides, and possibly as far as Dailey Lake. The diversity of habitat covered on the trip, along with it being near the peak of songbird migration, should yield a huge variety of birds. Early on this trip we will visit a bird banding station along the Yellowstone River.   Meet at Livingston Albertson’s parking lot, northeast corner at 7:30 AM for car-pooling.

June 3 Saturday: East Gallatin Recreation Area

Leader: Andrew Guttenberg 406-451-5427

(4-5hour trip; easy walking at most two miles) There are lots of possibilities with this local area. Over 180 bird species have been seen in the recreation area.  This will be near the peak of migration, so we hope for some surprises.   With a pond, riparian habitat, limited grassland, and mature cottonwoods we hope to see good diversity of what Gallatin Valley has to offer.   Species may include flycatchers, Warbling Vireo, Gray Catbird, several warblers, Lazuli Bunting, and Black Headed Grosbeak. 12 person limit

June 4 Sunday: Spanish Creek

Leader: John Parker,

(until mid afternoon; moderately strenuous walking on forest trail, with several hundred foot elevation gain) This trip follows Spanish Creek through the Flying D Ranch, to the edge of the Lee Metcalf Wilderness. We will spend much of the morning birding along the road focusing on the grasslands and forest edges. Once at the trailhead there is an interesting juxtaposition of habitats, which support an interest mix of birds. In one direction the trail borders the wet willow riparian area along Spanish Creek, while going in the other direction, the trail climbs through dry open slopes. 12 person limit.

 June 6 Tuesday: Sourdough Nature Trail

Leader: Adele Pittendrigh 599-5086

(4-5 hour easy walking) After leaving the MOR parking lot, this trip will begin at the Gardner Park entrance. The trail is an easy, level stroll following Sourdough Creek.   This trip is at the peak of the breeding season so we should see and hear a variety of flycatchers, thrushes and warblers. Some of the neotropic birds nesting here are Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart, and Black-headed Grosbeak. 8 person limit.

June 9-11:

Please join us at the 2017 Montana Audubon Bird Festival in Great Falls, MT.

Contact Montana Audubon at (406) 443-3949 or go to

Come join the fun.

 June 17 Saturday: Mission Creek

Leader: Robin Wolcott 581-5418

(until mid-afternoon; mostly driving with light walking on roads)  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, and 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. After leaving Bozeman, we will reconvene at Albertson’s parking lot in Livingston at 7:30 AM and then leave from there at 7:45 AM Car-pooling is essential. 14 person limit


June 18 Sunday: Rocky Mountain Rd 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.

June 23 Friday: Montana's Nightjars at Lewis & Clark Caverns

Leader: Tom Forwood at 406-570-6432

(2 1/2 hour; 2-3 mile walk) 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 flying Poorwills with the possibility for some owls and several bat species as well. Insect repellent, good walking shoes and layering clothing for changing conditions are recommended. Meet at the lower Visitor Center parking lot at 7:30 PM. 15 person limit

June 24 Saturday: 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. 12 person limit


Photography Workshop with Tom Murphy – May 12th & 13th, 2017



SAS 50th Anniversary Field Trip – Red Rock Lakes NWR, June 2-4

Lower Lake - Red Rocks NWR

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Trip   **TRIP IS FULL**

June 2- 4, 2017

Join us as we celebrate Sacajawea Audubon Society’s 50th anniversary with a 3-day 2-night trip to the world-renowned Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge.  This is a wonderful guided trip for beginner to advance birders.

Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge is located in the scenic and isolated Centennial Valley of southwestern Montana, approximately 40 miles west of Yellowstone National Park. The refuge has a vast array of habitat, ranging from high elevation wetland and prairie at 6,600 feet, to the harsh alpine habitat of the Centennial Mountains at 9,400 feet above sea level. It is this diverse, marsh-prairie-sagebrush-montane environment that gives Red Rock Lakes its unique character.

Birds are special residents at Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. The refuge’s rich wetlands and nearby forests makes ideal habitat for breeding and feeding birds in early June.  Red Rock Lakes is best known as the primary location for the efforts to save the Trumpeter Swan from extinction.  In addition to the beautiful trumpeter swan, there are a minimum of 232 other species of birds that have been recorded within the refuge.  Some of the many species we hope to see are: Long-billed Curlew, Sandhill Crane, Sage Thrasher, Brewer’s & Vesper Sparrow, White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Willet, Ferruginous Hawk, Northern Harrier, Prairie Falcon, Golden Eagle, Swainson’s Hawk, Short-eared Owl, and various ducks, flycatchers, kinglets, warblers, vireos, tanagers, thrushes, woodpeckers, and if we’re lucky, Sage Grouse.

Details for this special Red Rock Wildlife Refuge trip:

  • Departs from Bozeman at 3:00 PM on Friday, June 2, returning to Bozeman by 5:00 PM on Sunday, June 4.
  • Limited to 12 participants
  • Guided by Wildlife Biologist & Endangered Species Specialist, Steve Hoffman,  past director of Montana Audubon and Hawkwatch International
  • Cost $450 (includes transportation to-and-from Bozeman, lodging & all meals at Elk Lake Lodge and Steve Hoffman’s professional guiding)

For more information, a full itinerary or to register contact Loreene Reid at or 406 600-6666.