Sacajawea Audubon

Feb. 12th Program – Research on the Pacific Golden-Plover

Sacajawea Audubon's February 12th program features a talk on the Pacific Golden-Plover, one of the world’s longest distance migrant birds. They make remarkable nonstop transoceanic flights in spring and fall that cover thousands of miles. Oscar W. (Wally) Johnson, an affiliate research scientist in the Department of Ecology at Montana State University, is a plover expert having studied these birds for many years. He became fascinated with plovers in the ‘60s while conducting bird research at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and this fascination eventually led to his long-term research on the species, ongoing since 1979. Johnson’s research has involved fieldwork throughout the Pacific (the birds’ wintering grounds) and in Alaska (the breeding grounds). His talk will cover various features of plover ecology with an emphasis on new technology that enables the tracking of their amazing hemispheric travels.

Wally Johnson is a graduate of Washington State University (PhD Zoology), he taught for many years in the Minnesota State University system, and moved to Bozeman in 1990. Almost all his research has focused on birds, primarily their anatomy and ecology. He has published about 60 scientific papers (more than half involve plovers) along with two monographs (Pacific Golden-Plover and American Golden-Plover) for The Birds of North America series, and a recent popular book on Pacific Golden-Plovers. Johnson’s work has been funded by the National Geographic Society and numerous state and federal agencies.

Sacajawea Audubon meets every 2nd Monday of the month, September through May. Our meetings are held at Hope Lutheran Church (unless otherwise indicated), 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.

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Jan. 8th Program – “A Lost History of Arctic Grayling Found by Digitization”

Join Sacajawea Audubon on January 8th, 2018 at Hope Lutheran Church in Bozeman for a special evening with Red Rock Lakes National Wildlife Refuge Manager Bill West. The program, “A Lost History of Arctic Grayling Found by Digitization”, is a fascinating story set in a remote Montana valley, once filled by homesteads. It is now mostly public land or large ranches.

Arctic grayling are a beautiful fish once abundant in the upper Missouri River in Southwest Montana. Today grayling are relatively rare in Montana and many think of the Big Hole River when discussing recovery. However, the grayling of the Centennial Valley have a fascinating history that has been rediscovered in recent years. This is the southernmost population of grayling in North America. They are normally found in the Arctic. The Bozeman Fish Hatchery was established in 1892 and one of its early missions was to help “save” the fast declining “Montana grayling”. The hatchery was run by the U.S. Fish Commission, a branch of the Department of Commerce. There was no US Forest Service then, no BLM, no National Park Service and no U.S Fish and Wildlife Service or National Wildlife Refuge System. The “Commission” came to the Centennial Valley in 1898 and harvested over 33 million eggs in eleven years in an attempt to save the fish. Grayling are still struggling, but we now have clues to how and why they declined and never recovered given significant efforts over the past 120 years.

Bill West is a wildlife professional employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for the past 35 years to manage National Wildlife Refuges. Thirty years are on refuges in Montana. He is a MS graduate of the University of Missouri. His knowledge is land management for furred and feathered creatures such as Trumpeter swan and bison. Red Rock Lakes NWR introduced him to an amazing fish with a tough history, caused by human alterations to the landscape. Biologists/managers may be close to untangling issues that caused the decline. The Red Rock Lakes NWR home page is:

Sacajawea Audubon meets every 2nd Monday of the month, September through May. Our meetings are held at Hope Lutheran Church (unless otherwise indicated), 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.


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December 11th – The Owl’s of Montana At the Ellen Theater

NOTE: We will NOT be meeting at Hope Lutheran.

Owls are arguably the most widely recognized group of animals in the world. They occur on all continents except Antarctica and have populated the most remote groups of islands in the world (i.e. Hawaii). Owl lore, myth, and stories have been verbally passed along in many native cultures throughout the world.

Join Sacajawea Audubon on December 11th at the Ellen Theatre in Bozeman for a special evening with owl expert, Denver Holt. “The Owls of Montana” will focus on owl species that occur in Montana only, or the United States and Canada. He will discuss the differences between the two owl families and also cover a general overview of owl identification, natural history, breeding and non-breeding biology, evolutionary adaptations, habitat affinities, and conservation.

Owls are difficult to find, however, if you learn a little about the breeding seasons, and owl vocalizations you will be able to find owls. Because voice is the major means of communication among owls, we will review the primary songs. Based upon Denver Holt’s 35 years of surveying and researching owls in Montana and elsewhere, we will outline survey techniques. These techniques can be used to increase your chances of finding owls for scientific reasons, or just enjoyment.

Denver Holt is a wildlife researcher and graduate of the University of Montana. He is founder and president of the Owl Research Institute and the Ninepipes Wildlife Research Center, a nonprofit organization located in Charlo, Montana. As a dedicated field researcher, Holt believes that long-term field studies are the primary means to understanding trends in wildlife populations. Since 1978, Holt’s research focus has been owls and their ecology. He has published about 100 papers and technical documents, including four species accounts for the Birds of North America project. His research on Snowy Owls has been showcased on documentaries for National Geographic Explorer, NHK Natural History Unit of Japan, and the Norwegian Broadcasting Company Natural History Unit, and the focus of the British Broadcasting Company’s (BBC) documentary series called Frozen Earth.
To learn more about Holt and his efforts in wildlife research, education, and conservation, visit

Please join SAS for a social at 6:30. The program will begin at 7 p.m. A suggested donation of $5 will help Sacajawea Audubon offset the cost of renting the Ellen.



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Lodgepole Pine Invasion in the Southern Hemisphere – Nov. 13th Program


Join Sacajawea Audubon for an enlightening presentation Nov. 13th on the problem of invasive lodgepole pine in the Southern Hemisphere by Bruce Maxwell.

Bruce is a professor in the Department of Land Resources and Environmental Sciences in the MSU College of Agriculture and is lead author of the agriculture chapter of the Montana Climate Assessment, published in September.

Maxwell specializes in applied plant ecology, including agroecology, invasive plant ecology and weed biology. He has researched the design and development of sustainable production systems and adaptive management strategies for annual and perennial weeds in crop and natural ecosystems.

Maxwell is currently studying precision agriculture technologies to improve profitability and sustainability of small grain production in the northern Great Plains. He has also studied crop-weed competition, herbicide resistance evolution and economic thresholds of weeds and invasive species, as well as land use change and the consequences of fire as a disturbance in plant communities.

Come for our social at 6:30 p.m. A short business meeting begins at 7 p.m. with the program following after. Sacajawea Audubon programs are free and open to the public. We meet the 2nd Monday of each month, September through May, at Hope Lutheran Church. Join us and learn something new about our natural world.

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“Montana’s Mysterious Bats” – October 9th Program

Come and discover the fascinating and mysterious world of bats. This program will explore the importance of bats to our ecosystem and agriculture, bat biology, threats to bat populations, current research, rabies, myths, echolocation, and more! You’ll also learn what you can do to help promote bat conservation in your own back yard.

Matt has been leading bat walks and bat education programs for the past six years as a volunteer for the Montana Wild Education Center (FWP) in Helena. As a passionate bat advocate, Matt also volunteers to help humanely resolve bat/human conflicts in homes. He has a B.S. in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana and currently works for the Montana Land Reliance.

Photos courtesy Matt Bell

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.

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Ecology of Autumn Raptor Migration in the Rocky Mountain West – Sept. 11th Program

Ferruginous Hawk (photo by Ed Harper)


Steve Hoffman began investigating raptor migration in the late 1970s in northern Utah. In subsequent years Steve’s exploratory studies expanded to encompass much of the Rocky Mountain Region and beyond (including Montana’s Big Belt and Bridger Mountains). This work eventually led him to launch HawkWatch International (HWI), a nonprofit raptor research and conservation group. From HWI’s modest beginnings to more recent research efforts, much has been learned about raptor migration ecology and conservation in western North America over the past 40 years. Steve’s presentation will summarize key findings, including migratory routes (including exciting new information from satellite tracking efforts), current health and trends of Golden Eagles and other western migratory raptors, how raptors’ migration activity is influenced by regional weather patterns as well as climate change, and much more. Join Steve to learn about the fascinating migration ecology of these majestic aerial predators!


Recently retired as Executive Director of Montana Audubon, Steve served in this capacity for more than decade. He has devoted his entire 38-year career to wildlife conservation. After 10 years of government service (primarily as Endangered Species Biologist for the US Fish & Wildlife Service in the American Southwest), Steve founded HawkWatch International in 1986. He has authored more than 35 scientific papers on raptor migration, ecology, and conservation, as well as endangered species management and recovery. Steve has given hundreds of presentations throughout the US and abroad on identification, migration and conservation of raptors. He received his M.S. degree in Wildlife Ecology from Utah State University in 1979, and resides in Bozeman with his wife Lisa and their 23-year old son Merlin.


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Sweet & Savory Potluck & Program – May 8th

"The Pantanal of Brazil" with Forrest Rowland​

May 8th, 2017

6 p.m. Potluck, 7 p.m. Meeting/Program

Hope Lutheran Church

The Pantanal of Brazil, for those who have heard of it, conjures images of vast swamplands, impenetrable forests, and pristine waterways spanning beyond the horizon. To those who have been there, the reality is even more impressive than the fantasy! Spanning the borders of three countries, the mixed riparian forests, grassy plains, and rich waters of the Pantanal encompass an area of nearly 80,000 square miles. It covers roughly the land area of Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and New Jersey combined, and then some. Within this mosaic of mixed habitats more than 450 species of birds reside and flourish, alongside the most impressive array of megafauna (large mammals) in the Western Hemisphere. This program is a photo essay of some of the most charismatic creatures that inhabit this vast wildnerness, with a sampling of nearby areas often visited in conjunction with a trip down the famed Transpantaneira Road.

Forrest Rowland’s first birding trip, at the tender age of 9-years-old, was to the beautiful island nation of Trinidad, and the world-renowned Asa Wright Nature Center. Among the riot of Toucans, Trogons, Hummingbirds, and tropical foliage, he found his calling. 28 years later, Forrest still spends much of the year guiding tours, conducting research, and traveling the World for the sake of birds and birding.

Not restricted to the Western Hemisphere, Forrest has lived and worked in the Sultanate of Oman, and birded in some 34 countries. While Rowland’s birding expertise is centered in the North Andean countries of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, he has published articles on various aspects of birds and birding in the United States. Rowland has participated in research projects and led trips from the hottest deserts of Arizona, to the wet Northwest forests of Oregon, across the nation to Ohio and the Appalachian Mountains. Currently, Rowland works full-time as New World Product Director for Rockjumper Birding Adventures, leading a variety of tours across the globe, and organizing new itineraries from his home office in Livingston, Montana.

This is the final program of the season, and will be proceeded by a Sweet & Savory potluck and a short business meeting, beginning at 6 p.m.  The public is welcome to attend.  Please bring a dish to share.


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April 10th – SAS Program

Animal Alert - Cutting-Edge Research

Speaker: Erick Greene

Our season of monthly programs continues on April 10th with a fascinating look at the warning system that birds use to alert other birds and animals to danger. UM Biology Professor Erick Greene will present a program on his research about how birds and mammals share information about predators.

Birds are exceptionally good at detecting predators, and they have a variety of important alarm calls that they produce to warn others. These alarm calls can convey very specific information (e.g. “snake,” “perched raptor,” “flying raptor,” “coyote”). Many species of birds and mammals understand the alarm signals of others. Together, all the watching eyes and ears in the forest form a complex communication network that acts as a distant early warning system about predators. This talk will share some of the latest results of cutting-edge research about how birds and mammals share information about predators.

Erick Greene is a professor in the Division of Biological Sciences and in the Wildlife Biology Program. He grew up in Quebec, Canada, with twin passions for music and nature. Erick dropped out of high school and lived for a year in the Galapagos Islands, helping out on studies on Darwin’s Finches. He worked on Ospreys in Nova Scotia for an undergraduate senior thesis. He then received a PhD from Princeton University. Erick has been able to combine his interests in music and biology by studying how animals use sounds to communicate with each other. He has also been able to come full circle and return to studying Ospreys in Montana. He has received numerous awards for teaching and conservation.

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.

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February 13th SAS Program

American Bison (photo courtesy Tom Murphy)

Wildlife and Their Wild Land Homes Around the World

Speaker: Tom Murphy

Monday February 13th, 2016 at 7pm

Hope Lutheran Church
2152 W. Graf Street in Bozeman

Wildlife, especially the particularly sensitive birds, can not live without healthy secure wild land. Protecting and conserving wild land habitat is the first requirement for the continued survival of all creatures. SAS welcomes Tom Murphy for a presentation and slide show of his wild land and wildlife photography from around the world over the last 30 years showing the beauty and truth of our wild earth.

Tom Murphy was raised on a 7500 acre cattle ranch in western South Dakota and graduated with honors from Montana State University in 1984 with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Anthropology.

Tom’s interest in photography began in 1972 and in 1978 he established a professional career in photography when he moved to Livingston, Montana and built a studio there. Through Wilderness Photography Expeditions, which he established in 1986, Tom built an internationally respected photography seminar series teaching natural history photography primarily in Yellowstone Park. His photographs have been used, both editorially and commercially, in numerous regional, national, and international publications including Life, Architectural Digest, National Geographic, Audubon, Time, Newsweek, The New York Times Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Esquire and others. He was Cameron Diaz’s guide in Yellowstone for an MTV project and for Martha Stewart for her television show. He photographed for Meredith Brokaw’s cookbook, Big Sky Cooking.

His first book Silence and Solitude: Yellowstone’s Winter Wilderness won a 2002 Montana Book Award, and the accompanying video, produced by Montana PBS, earned an Emmy nomination. In July 2010, he completed a set of books named The Seasons of Yellowstone that includes four volumes: The Light of Spring, The Abundance of Summer , The Comfort of Autumn, and The Spirit of Winter (Crystal Creek Press). He is featured in “Landscape Photography: American Master Photographers on Their Art” published July 2015.

PBS Nature’s show “Christmas in Yellowstone”, airs nationally and internationally and features Tom’s winter photography and some of his backcountry skiing stories.

Tom’s latest film “The Four Seasons of Yellowstone” will be aired on PBS March 13th, 2017.


March 13th Program – An Evening With Wildlife Filmmaker Bob Landis


In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Sacajawea Audubon presents a special evening with wildlife cinematographer Bob Landis.

Bob Landis will present his lectured video, Y to A: 2016 High Lights, on Monday, March 13th at the Ellen Theatre in downtown Bozeman.  The program is a summary of the best sequences filmed in Yellowstone and Denali this past year by Landis.  It includes the usual cast of characters; wolves, coyotes, foxes, bears and a variety of birds, with emphasis on interesting behavior.  A few sequences have already been incorporated into current projects; most are waiting in line for future programs.  Outstanding sequence goes to the golden eagle attacking a coyote in an attempt to steal its food.  The program is suitable for all audiences with kill sequences left on the cutting room floor.  A review of a just-completed program about the Hayden and Canyon wolf packs is included as a trailer.
Bob starting filming wildlife with his father in 1960 as a rank amateur.  His father took extensive big hunting trips in northern British Columbia.  These were documented in 16mm film.  On these hunts, Bob was told to go "shoot".  It was left to him to decide to shoot with camera or gun.  Landis has long put the gun aside, but continues to "shoot" with a camera, full-time professionally since 1993.  He was lucky to be on the scene and fully equipped when wolves were reintroduced into Yellowstone.  In the succeeding 21 years, Bob co-produced eight one hour programs for NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC and NATURE.  His favorites are IN THE VALLEY OF THE WOLVES for NATURE on PBS, and THE RISE OF BLACK WOLF for the National Geographic Channel.  Bob considers himself semi-retired, mostly tired, and has gone back to his roots of producing, with a partner, his own programs.  The most recent being:  WHITE WOLF OF THE HAYDEN PACK, and WHITE WOLF OF THE CANYON PACK.
The program begins at 7 p.m. with a social starting at 6:30.  Beer, wine & coffee will be available for purchase. There is a suggested donation of $5.00 to help support Sacajawea Audubon conservation programs.