Sacajawea Audubon

Madison Valley IBA Bird Census – April 26th

LongbilledCurlewHi Birders,

The birds are coming back!!  April 26th (Saturday) we will conduct a bird survey on the Madison Valley IBA.  This is an exciting time in the valley with up to 20 species of waterfowl on Ennis Lake, 52 Common Loons counted last year, large flocks of avocet and of course lots of Sandhill Crane and Long-billed Curlews around.  If you can help, email Paulette 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 1 pm.

Please note that there will also be a Headwaters IBA survey the next Saturday, May 3rd.  Martha Collins will be sending out an email soon with all the details.  So as you plan your weeks ahead consider joining one, or both, of the surveys.  It will be fun to be out birding as we gather important data to track long term trends on the IBAs.

Yours for the birds,



Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – Oct. 26th


Photo by Beth Johns

Photo by Beth Johns

Please join us on October 26th (Saturday) as we conduct one last survey of the Madison Valley IBA.  We are timing this survey to catch large numbers of migrating waterfowl, loons and grebes on Ennis Lake and of course we will be surveying the riparian of the Madison River Valley also.   Join us and use your bird watching skills to add to our data base on this Important Bird Area.  Please meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café before 8am.  Come early enough (7:15 am) for breakfast if you want, but plan to be ready to head out for birding at 8 am.


Please let Paulette Epple know if you are going to be able to help out with the count.  Phone:  580-6186 or email:


Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – June 26th

A summer bird census of the Madison Valley IBA will be conducted Wednesday, June 26th.  This one will capture a snapshot of the birds during the breeding season and should be rich with diversity and numbers.  We are scheduling this count on a weekday instead of a weekend simply to avoid the numbers of recreational users on the lake on the weekend.  Jet skis and beach parties at the fishing access sites on the weekends make for unsatisfactory birding.

Since the birds are starting earlier these days - we will too.  Meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Café ready to leave at 7 am.

Please let us know if you can help out with the survey.  This is last survey we will conduct until late in the fall.  You can email or call Paulette Epple at 580-6186.


Headwaters IBA Bird Census – May 18th

Please consider joining us this Saturday, May 18th at the Headwaters State Park for our second 2013 Sacajawea Audubon IBA census.  We'll meet at 8:00 am at the Visitor's Kiosk across from the campground.  The weather has warmed and this count should be excellent as a result!
For questions or to sign-up for this opportunity to participate in citizen science please contact me at 406-581-7202


Annie Sisk
Headwaters IBA Citizen Science Coordinator 

Sacajawea Audubon 

Madison Valley IBA Bird Survey – March 2nd

Its time to do our annual late winter bird survey on the Madison Valley IBA. This year's survey will take place on Saturday, March 2nd with the hopes that we will find lots of raptors still hanging around the valley. Last year's survey surprised us with some early migrants-- Killdeer, Robins, Red-winged Blackbirds, Meadowlarks, and a Gull as well as 12 species of waterfowl using the open edges of Ennis Lake.

We will again meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Cafe in Ennis at 7:15 a.m. if you want to eat breakfast there, or a little later if you don't need breakfast. We will want to leave the cafe for our bird counts by 8 AM. We should be done and ready to leave by noon.

We hope you can join us and help to add to the data base for the IBA. If you can come or have questions please call Paulette at 406-580-6186 or email her at


Ennis Lake Waterfowl Field Trip – Saturday, Oct. 20th

Green-winged Teal (Photo by Ed Harper)

This should be near the peak time for migrating waterfowl and loons.  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. If the weather is too extreme, we will reschedule for the following Saturday, October 27.   Please contact John Parker at 586-5863 for more information or if you plan to attend.


All field trips meet at the Museum of the Rockies.  Come at 7:45 a.m. to carpool and depart at 8:00 a.m.


Madison Valley IBA Fall Census – Oct. 13th

SAVE THE DATE!  October 13th (Saturday) we are going to do one last survey of the Madison Valley IBA.  We are trying to time this survey to catch large numbers of migrating waterfowl on Ennis Lake.  Hopefully we will have good luck on that account.  We are not promising anything but last year's fall count picked up both a Pacific Loon and a Surf Scoter as well a couple of late warblers.
Please meet at the Ennis Pharmacy Cafe.  Come early enough for breakfast if you want, but plan to be ready to head out for birding at 8 am.
Please let Paulette Epple know if you are going to be able to help out with the count so she can plan accordingly by phone at 580-6186 or email

Madison Valley IBA Summer Bird Survey – June 27th

Birders needed!  The summer bird survey for the Madison Valley IBA has been scheduled for Wednesday, June 27th.  Meet at Ennis Pharmacy cafe at 7 a.m. (earlier if you want breakfast).  The survey concludes around noon.  If you need more information, please contact Paulette Epple at or 580-6186.


John Parker Awarded 2012 Citizen Scientist of the Year

John Parker accepts Citizen Scientist of the Year Award

John Parker  - Montana Audubon 2012 Citizen Scientist of the Year

Although birdwatching is a hobby for many, it can also be an important source of information about Montana’s birds. When birdwatchers carefully record and catalog data on the time, environmental conditions, and location birds seen, as well as nesting behaviors—and then take the time to input this data into eBird or the Montana Bird Distribution system—this information is extremely helpful for Montana’s scientists and resource managers.

This record keeping of wildlife by volunteers is commonly called “citizen science.” Citizen Scientists have been around for a very long time, lending a helping hand to researchers around the world. They are particularly critical for our knowledge base on birds—especially in a large state like Montana.

Because of his important work to increase our understanding of our state’s birds, Montana Audubon would like to present John Parker with our 2012 Citizen Scientist of the Year Award. As examples of some of the Citizen Scientist projects that John has worked on:

* John has organized Bozeman-area (citizen science) Christmas Bird Counts for over 20 years. This work includes much coordination, including ensuring that there are leaders for the four counts held in the area. Annually he personally leads the Bozeman CBC, and then volunteers on at least two other local Christmas Bird Count efforts.

* In the last several years, John has spearheaded the work of Sacajawea Audubon to nominate Harrison Reservoir, located between Ennis and Three Forks, as an Important Bird Area. In this work, John has carefully and systematically documented over 155 species of birds in the area, including 30 species of waterfowl, 3 kinds of loon, 6 species of grebe, 12 raptors, 29 species of shorebirds, and 12 types of gulls and terns. Of these birds, 27 of these species are of conservation priority, with at least 23 of those use the IBA area on an annual basis. Through this work, John has shown that this 1,552 acre reservoir attracts an exceptional bird diversity including, at times, large concentrations of waterfowl and shorebirds. This information shows how Harrison Reservoir plays a critical role as one of a chain of lakes and reservoirs whose presence facilitate the movement of waterfowl, shorebirds and other migrants from the Rocky Mountain Frontthrough the semi-arid mountain valleys of west central Montana.

* John’s long-term record keeping also helped determine the boundary and importance of the Madison Valley Important Bird Area in 2006. This IBA is located south of Harrison Reservoir.

* And finally, John has contributed hundreds of records to the 6th and 7th edition of Montana Bird Distribution, most of them confirmed breeding records (Big “B”). We also understand that John is a new convert to eBird!

Montana Audubon—and Sacajawea Audubon—are honored and pleased to recognize John with this award. His interest in and commitment to increase our understanding and knowledge of Montana’s birds and their habitats is inspirational. Thank you very much, John, for all your good work.


Headwaters IBA May Bird Census – May 20th

The next Headwaters' IBA Citizen Science effort will be Sunday May 20th, 2012.  We'll meet at the Headwaters' State Park across from the campground in the Visitor's Kiosk parking lot at 7:30am to walk the trails in an effort to record species data.  May has been historically a very active count with a wide variety of species to be seen.  Wet conditions are possible, please wear appropriate foot wear.

Please feel free to call Annie Sisk at 406-285-6596 with any questions.  Consider printing a copy of the attached data form for the count if you're attending.


Hope you're all well and enjoying Spring!


Annie Sisk

Citizen Science Coordinator - Headwaters IBA