Sacajawea Audubon

Bird Photography Classes for DSLR with Carol Polich

Photo by Carol Polich

Photo by Carol Polich

Bird Photography - Level I for DSLR cameras only

This class is for those of you who want to get out of Program or Auto modes and learn how to shoot wildlife/birdlife in Aperture Priority mode. Learning where your functions  lie within the menu and on the camera plus understanding the relationship between ISO, Shutter Speed, and F stops & reading the histogram  are key ingredients in this level.

The class instruction includes:

 3 lectures of 2.5 hours each with” hands on” in class instruction  & possible outside shooting(weather permitting) plus a combined lecture and 4-5 hour field trip

Minimum: 4 people, maximum 10 people at $115 each (SAS Member), $140 each (non-member)

DATE: FEBRUARY 23, 24 and MARCH 2 and 4

TIMES:  THUR (both dates), FRI  5:30-8pm; SAT 10-2pm


 When you sign up you MUST have your own camera & mention your camera “Brand” and the Model such as Canon T3i plus which lenses you have. NO POINT AND SHOOT CAMERAS ARE ALLOWED.

**To sign-up, please contact Stephanie Nelson via email (preferred) at, or call (406) 587-3052. Payment will be required prior to the class.


Bird Photography - Level II for DSLR cameras only 

This class is for those with DSLR cameras who shoot in Manual or Aperture Priority & understand the relationship between ISO, Shutter Speed, and F stops. This workshop stresses how to get correct EXPOSURE and working with LIGHT QUALITY & your position to your subject.

 The class instruction includes:

 3  lectures of 2.5 hours each with” hands on” in class instruction  & possible outside shooting (weather permitting) plus a combined lecture/field trip of 4-5 hours.

 Minimum: 4 people, maximum 10 people at $115 each (SAS Member), $140 each (non-member)

DATE: MARCH 8, 9, 10, 11

TIMES: WED, THUR, FRI -5:30-8pm; SAT 10-2pm


 When you sign up you MUST have your own camera & mention your camera “Brand” and the Model such as Canon T3i plus which lenses you have. NO POINT AND SHOOT CAMERAS ARE ALLOWED.

**To sign-up, please contact Stephanie Nelson via email (preferred) at, or call (406) 587-3052. Payment will be required prior to the class.

Carol Polich has been widely published in the USA and internationally with her photos and travel adventure stories since the early 1990’s. She not only continues to travel and work with a variety of publishers but she also leads several photo workshops in the western USA. During the year, Polich currently teaches a variety of highly successful photography classes through the Bozeman Adult Community Education program. A list of her accomplishments can be viewed by googling her name and checking out her website.

Photo by Carol Polich

Photo by Carol Polich


SAS Board Letter to the EPA Regarding the Berkeley Pit

Snow Geese at Freezeout Lake (L. Harris photo)


The Sacajawea Audubon Board of Directors recently drafted a letter to the EPA Superfund Manager regarding the recent death of thousands of snow geese on the Berkeley Pit.  This letter was also sent to several newspapers around the state and has been published in 3 so far.  Please click on the link below to read the letter.

SAS Letter to EPA


Filed under: Chapter News No Comments

2016 SAS Mountain Bluebird Trail Summary

Photo courtesy Lou Ann Harris

Photos courtesy Lou Ann Harris

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Sacajawea Audubon 2016 Bluebird Trail Summary

Overall, 2016 was a productive year for Mountain Bluebirds.  A total of 676 bluebirds fledged from nest boxes on our 6 monitored trails.  181 boxes were used out of 272 available.  The remainder were used by tree swallows and house wrens.

Because of a relatively mild spring, the bluebirds began laying eggs over a week earlier than usual.  Even a mid-May snowstorm didn’t slow them down.  The Rocky Mountain Road trail had it’s earliest-ever nestling, found on May 4th.

On the Pass Creek Rd./Rocky Mountain Rd. trails, we banded a total of 310 birds, 268 nestlings and 42 adult females.  We also recaptured 8 females, a couple of which had been banded as nestlings the previous year.  It’s nice to know they are coming back to nest in their natal area.

Predation of nests was up from previous years.  The Rocky Mountain Rd. trail had a total of 24 predated nests (up from 18 last year).  The Pass Creek trail had 34 nests predated (up from 32 last year).  The causes were varied: snakes, raccoons, weasels, kestrels & house sparrows.  In fact one box was found to have a complete house sparrow nest built on top of a dead female bluebird.

One of the most interesting events of the nesting season was an epic battle between a resident male bluebird (whose mate and nestlings had died), and another bluebird pair for the occupancy of Box 70 on Rocky Mountain Road.  The three birds were so engrossed in their fight that they were oblivious to our presence and even slammed into my car on two occasions.  In the end, the new pair won out and successfully raised six fledglings.  And we thought bluebirds were such gentle creatures!

We took a total of 22 people out on the bluebird trails this summer, including 10 on the June 12th field trip.  Everyone loves to see those little bluebird nestlings and hold one in their hands.

The bluebird nest box sponsorship program was a great success, and we plan to do it again for 2017.  Following is a complete report of the success (or failure) of each box, along with its sponsor.  Please click on the link below for the full report.

Lou Ann Harris

2016 SAS Bluebird Trail Report


November 14th Program – Nonnative Species: Changing the rules for native animals

Artwork courtesy Nancy Seiler

Artwork courtesy Nancy Seiler

Join Sacajawea Audubon on November 14th for a talk by Andrea Litt on the effect nonnative plants has on animals.  Nonnative plants have established in nearly all ecosystems. Although many studies have documented major changes in the plant community when a nonnative plant invades, we know less about the effects on animals. Further, sometimes these changes are not predictable, as nonnative plants change the rules we have come to understand. Andrea will share some of the research that she and her students have pursued in Arizona, Texas, and Montana to better understand these complex responses.

Andrea is originally from southeastern Wisconsin and received a Bachelor's degree in Zoology from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. She completed a Master's degree at the University of Florida, Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation. She worked for The Nature Conservancy in northwest Florida for two years before beginning a Ph.D. program in the School of Natural Resources at the University of Arizona. Andrea also earned a minor in Statistics. She was a faculty member with the Caesar Kleberg Wildlife Research Institute at Texas A&M University - Kingsville before joining the Ecology department at MSU in January 2011.

Andrea and her students examine changes to wildlife resulting from various human activities including invasive plants, altered disturbance regimes, and changes in land use. They work on a diversity of taxa, based on the ecological question of interest.

When not working, Andrea enjoys road biking, hiking, and otherwise enjoying the natural beauty of Montana and beyond.

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.


2016 Skiing For The Raptors Raffle

Bridger Hawk Watch - 2016

Bridger Hawk Watch - 2016

Golden Eagle (photo L. Harris)

Golden Eagle (photo L. Harris)

Bridger Hawk Watch

Bridger Hawk Watch


Support the Bridger Mountains Raptor Count (now in it's 25th year), which records one of the largest concentrations of autumnal migrant Golden Eagles known in the Lower 48.  Help Sacajawea Audubon and Montana Audubon continue this important research project in our very own Bridger Mountains by purchasing a raffle ticket, and be one of two winners of a Bridger Bowl Season Ski Pass (2016-2017). Raffle tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50.

To purchase a ticket, call Mike Vivion at (406) 210-8071 or Loreene Reid at (406) 600-6666.  Tickets will also be available at our November 14th meeting.

Drawing Date: November 14, 2016 at the SAS November meeting, Hope Lutheran Church.




October 22nd, Ennis Lake Waterfowl Field Trip


Ennis Lake Waterfowl
Saturday, October 22, 2016

Trip Leader: John Parker  406-586-5863

Meet at 7:45 am at the Museum of the Rockies. Carpool and leave at 8 am.

This should be near the peak time for migrating waterfowl. 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.

Participants limited to 15

To reserve a spot on the trip or for more information please contact the trip leader.


Middle Madison Valley Trumpeter Swan Restoration Project



The goal of this project, started in 2011, is to establish 5 nesting pairs of Trumpeter Swans in the restoration area within a 5 -10 year time frame. On occasion 30 to 50 swans (marked and unmarked) have been observed near O'Dell Creek in the Madison Valley during winter and approximately 10 in early summer; no nesting to date, but birds have been seen in pairs in the spring. On August 1st, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks  released 5 cygnets on O'Dell Creek.  Sacajawea Audubon has been a partner in this restoration project for a number of years.


Photos courtesy John Parker


October 20th – SAS Book Group: Adventures in the Anthropocene



The SAS Book Group is meeting October 20th at 5:30 p.m. at Hope Lutheran Church.

The Sacajawea Book Group is reading Gaia Vince's - Adventures in the Anthropocene, A Journey to the Heart of the Planet.  Please join us to discuss this interesting book.

The group meets every 6 weeks, usually at Hope Lutheran Church, but not always. All are welcome, but if you are coming for the first time, please contact Adele Pittendrigh at 587-7710 or email,




October 16th – Big Belt Raptor Field Trip

Golden Eagle (photo L. Harris)

Golden Eagle (photo L. Harris)

Big Belt Raptors

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Trip Leader: Steve Hoffman 406-461-5714

 Meet at 7:45 am at the Museum of the Rockies. Carpool and leave at 8 am.
This is an opportunity to visit Montana’s newest hawkwatch site, with one of the founders of Hawkwatch International. Mid October is the peak period of the Golden Eagle migration through central Montana, and at this location the eagles are flying by at very close range affording stunning views. Many other late season raptor migrants, such as Bald Eagles, Northern Goshawks, and Rough-legged Hawks use this same corridor during migration. This location in the Big Belt Mountains east of Canyon Ferry Reservoir, is worth the trip just for the fabulous views of the reservoir and the mountains of south-central Montana. From Bozeman it is a two hour drive, and then another 1.4 mile (900 ft. elevation gain) hike to the hawkwatch site.

Participants limited to 20

 To reserve a spot on the trip or for more information please contact the trip leader.


2016 Bridger Raptor Festival – Oct. 7th-9th

RaptorBannerLogoNoDateIt's time for the 20th Annual Bridger Raptor Festival, October 7th, 8th & 9th at Bridger Bowl! Sacajawea Audubon is again co-hosting and will be offering several fun children's activities.

Friday night kicks off at the Museum of the Rockies with keynote speaker, Marco Restani of Montana Audubon, who will present a talk on Avian Migration. Saturday and Sunday's events begin at 10 a.m. at both Saddle Peak and Jim Bridger Lodge at Bridger Bowl. There will be LOTS of family activities including: Build a Bird House, Binocular Target Blitz, Face Painting, Nature Journaling, Sketch a Bird, Raptor ID with Steve Hoffman, interpretive walks with MOSS, and live raptor presentations. There will be an up-to-date raptor count board at the Montana Audubon/Sacajawea Audubon booth for you to see what birds are being seen up at the Bridger Hawk Count site. Bridger Raptor Fest is FREE and a great family-friendly, community event. So grab the kids & grandkids, (but please no dogs) and come up to Bridger Raptor Fest!

**We need VOLUNTEERS!  If you would like to help out at this year's raptor festival, please contact Loreene Reid at (406) 600-6666.

For more information and festival schedule, go to: