Sacajawea Audubon
11Nov/16Off

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

3Jul/16Off

SAS American Kestrel Project Update

Kestrel nestlings (L. Harris)

Kestrel nestlings (L. Harris)

Paulette Epple checking a nest box.

Paulette Epple checking a nest box.

Paulette holding a female kestrel after banding.

Paulette holding a female kestrel after banding.

Back of a female kestrel wing.

Back of a female kestrel wing.

Female American Kestrel

Female American Kestrel

Lou Ann Harris holding a recently banded female kestrel.

Lou Ann Harris holding a recently banded female kestrel.

In 2013, Sacajawea Audubon began installing kestrel nest boxes around Gallatin Valley with the help of the American Kestrel Partnership (AKP).  This international project was in response to long-term population declines of kestrels in North America.

No boxes were used by kestrels in the first two years of the project.  Then in 2014, SAS Project Leader Paulette Epple found 3 active boxes.  Success!  In 2015, there were 2 active nests.

This year there are 8 active nests. The AKP also requested that we band the nestlings/adults and collect body feather samples as part of the American Kestrel Genoscape Project.  The genetic data from the feathers will be analyzed to understand the migratory connectivity of kestrel populations and how the connectivity changes with climate.

Lou Ann Harris, who is a licensed bander, received the necessary permit modifications to band kestrels and collect feathers.  On June 27th, Paulette and Lou Ann checked 6 boxes with the hope of catching an incubating female.  They did indeed catch 3 females in the box and banded them.  Once the nestlings reach the age of about 18 days, the team will band them and collect the feathers.

This has become a very exciting conservation project for Sacajawea Audubon!  It's so rewarding to know that our efforts are making a difference.

 

14Jun/16Off

Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – June 29th

Summer has arrived, all the birds are back, and now its time to survey our IBAs and document the breeding birds in the area.  We will watch ospreys with their young, waterfowl with their broods, and be challenged to count up all the warblers, flycatchers, swallows, orioles, grosbeaks and Sandhill Cranes.  Can you believe we actually counted 148 Yellow Warblers last year!  It will be a great morning of birding, hopefully ending by 1 or 2 pm.  This count will take place on a Wednesday, June 27th, to avoid the weekend recreationists on Ennis Lake.  Since daylight comes early now we will be meeting earlier too.  We will meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café in Ennis and be ready to head out for the survey at 7 am   I believe the Café opens at 6:30 if you want a quick breakfast there.
If you can help, email Paulette at bigskyepples@msn.com or call 580-6186.
5May/16Off

Important Bird Area Surveys Scheduled – Birders Needed

This past winter has just been declared the warmest winter on record for the United States. On March 5th volunteers conducted a survey of the Madison Valley IBA and noticed the effect. The warming trend had certainly played out in the Madison Valley with little snow remaining on the valley floor and Ennis Lake already one quarter open. In-spite of strong winds that kept many of the songbirds down and less visible we had the highest number of species (43) for any of our counts this early in the month. The number of individual birds seen for an early March count was also the highest ever due to the large number of waterfowl on Ennis Lake.

Some other highlights and observations: The number of Bald Eagles seen (64) was about double the average! They were concentrated on, and around, Ennis Lake, probably feeding on the waterfowl present. Only 1 Rough-legged Hawk was seen. It seems they left early due to the mild winter. Early migrants found included Tree Swallows (3), Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Mountain Bluebirds, and an American Kestrel. The most unusual bird seen was a Green-tailed Towhee which wintered over at the El Western Motel and has been coming in to their feeders.

If you would like to put your birding skills to good use, join us on our next IBA surveys. We’d love your help!

 

June 18th – Headwaters IBA                Contact Martha Collins – marthacoll@msn.com (579-0506)

June 29th – Madison Valley IBA        Contact Paulette Epple – bigskyepples@msn.com (580-6186)

 

Ennis Lake (L. Harris photo)

Ennis Lake (L. Harris photo)

 

8Feb/16Off

Great Backyard Bird Count, Feb. 12-15th

Common Redpoll (Photo by Missy Mandel)

Common Redpoll (Photo by Missy Mandel)

February 12 - 15, 2016

HOW TO COUNT THE BIRDS:  Easy as 1–2–3!

The Great Backyard Bird Count is a 4 day event held every year in February.  Bird watchers from across the world are asked to count and report the birds they see to create a real-time snapshot of where the birds are.  Everyone is welcome—from beginning bird watchers to experts.  You can count birds anywhere you find them --in your yard, your neighborhood, out on a walk, or at any of your favorite birding spots.   Take as little as 15 minutes on one day or make it a whole weekend of birding.  The steps are easy:

  1. Count birds anywhere you like for at LEAST 15 minutes or longer.  Keep track of the kinds of birds you see and how long you watched.
  1. Make your best estimate of how many birds you saw of each species.  For example, 4 Black-

capped Chickadees, 2 Northern Flickers.  Huge flocks may be a challenge, but your best guess is still valuable

  1. Enter your list(s) online at www.BirdCount.org.  You put in a new list for each time you count, whether it’s on the same day, a different day, at the same place, or at a new location.

Go to www.Bird Count.org to learn more about this valuable way you can contribute to bird science.  Look for the “Submit Observations” button on the Great Backyard Bird Count website (or eBird).  You can start entering bird lists after midnight local time on the first day of the count anywhere in the world.

14Dec/15Off

2015 Christmas Bird Count Schedule

ChristmasBirdCount_OnlineGraphic_2015-16 (1)

 

 

Come join the fun on one of our area’s Christmas Bird Counts.  The Christmas counts, started in 1900, are an opportunity for beginning and expert birders to get together and enjoy this holiday tradition.

 

 

 

 

 

Ennis

2014 Ennis CBC

Wednesday, December 16th

Compiler: Robin Wolcott (406) 581-5418  pajaros@wewocotts.com

Meet at Yesterday’s Café in the Ennis Pharmacy,

By 7:30 AM or sooner for breakfast

 

Bozeman

Saturday, December 19th

Compiler: John Parker (406) 586-5863   conundrumjp@gmail.com

Meet at Perkins Restaurant, 2505 West Main, in Bozeman, between 7-7:30 AM

 

West Yellowstone

Sunday, December 20th

Compiler: Brad Barth (406) 640-2628   barth.brad@gmail.com

Meet at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

West Yellowstone at 8:30 AM

 

Livingston

Sunday, December 20th

Compiler: Sally MacDonald (406) 223-9167   smacbirder@msn.com

Meet at the Northern Pacific Beanery, in Livingston, between 7:00-7:30 AM

 

Yellowstone

Sunday, December 20th

Compiler: Woody Martyn (406) 224-1476   woodymartyn@hotmail.com

Meet at the Yellowstone Grill, in Gardiner, at 7:00 AM

 

Three Forks

Monday, December 28th

Compiler: Tom Forwood (406) 570-6432   tjfishing75@gmail.com

Meet at Wheat Montana at exit 274 at 8:30 AM, or by 8:00 for breakfast

 

For more information, contact the area count compilers. Please Contact the area compiler before the count, as this will give them the opportunity to plan and organize the count before the count day.  Participation in all counts is free.

30Sep/15Off

Oct. 17th – Madison Valley IBA Bird Count

EnnisLakeFTMadison Valley IBA Bird Survey – October 17th

The birds are on the move again with Ennis Lake serving as an important stopover for large numbers of migrating waterfowl, loons and grebes.  Also, the first returning Rough-legged Hawks have been sighted and you never know what else we may find in the Madison Valley.  Last year's treat was a Harris Sparrow.   On October 17th (Saturday) we will conduct one last survey of the Madison Valley IBA and its always a fun time to put your bird watching skills to a good use.

If you can help, email Paulette at bigskyepples@msn.com 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.

25Jun/15Off

Rocky Mountain Rd. Bluebird Trail Field Trip – June 28th & 29th

Mt Bluebird pair  (L. Harris)

Mt Bluebird pair (L. Harris)

➢June 28 and 29: Rocky Mountain Road Bluebird Trail

Leaders: Janne Hayward 587-6124 jannehayward@juno.com , and Lou Ann Harris 600-3585 montlou311@gmail.com
(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.

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.

6Jun/15Off

Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – June 24th

Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – June 24th (Wednesday)

The birds are all back now so its time to survey our IBAs and document the breeding birds in the area. The great numbers of waterfowl will be gone and instead we will be challenged to count up all the warblers, flycatchers, swallows, orioles, grosbeaks and Sandhill Cranes (101 seen on last year's June count). This count will take place on a Wednesday, June 24th, to avoid the weekend recreationists on Ennis Lake. Since daylight comes early now we will be meeting earlier too. We will meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café in Ennis and be ready to head out for the survey at 7 am.

If you can help, email Paulette at bigskyepples@msn.com or call 580-6186.

16Mar/15Off

Kestrel Nest Box Reminder

Kestrel Nest Box  (P. Epple photo)

Kestrel Nest Box (P. Epple photo)

TIME TO CLEAN THAT KESTREL BOX!

American Kestrels will be winging their way back soon, looking for nest sites and beginning to use the boxes we have put up around the valley.   If you have a kestrel nest box out now is the time to check it and clean it before the birds are back.  Remove any old dirty nesting materials.  Often boxes are used by house wrens, tree swallows, and other species, even if a kestrel hasn’t  taken advantage of the box.  Throw out old nests and scrape out debris and whitewash.  Then add 2 inches of clean softwood shavings for bedding (pine or aspen are good).  Avoid cedar shavings as they are too strongly aromatic.   Sacajawea Audubon will have bags of clean wood shavings available for free at the March 9th program.  We will also have a few kestrel boxes available for sale if you are interested in installing one.