Sacajawea Audubon

Happy New Year

Sacajawea Audubon Society wishes you the best birding in 2018

Sharp-shinned Hawk (Photo by Hobart Collins)


2017 Christmas Bird Counts

2010 Bozeman Christmas Bird Count

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.

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.

Bozeman     Saturday, December 16th

Compiler: John Parker (406) 586-5863

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

West Yellowstone     Sunday, December 17th

Compiler: Brad Barth (406) 640-2628

Meet at the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center West Yellowstone at 8:30 AM

Livingston     Sunday, December 17th

Compiler: George Kelly (406) 220-0282

Meet at Pinky’s, on Main Street, in Livingston between 7:30-8 AM

Yellowstone  Sunday, December 17th

Compiler: Woody Martyn (406) 224-1476

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

Ennis  Wednesday, December 20th

Compiler: Robin Wolcott (406) 581-5418 email preferred

Meet at Yesterday’s Café in the Ennis Pharmacy, by 7:30 AM or sooner for breakfast

Three Forks  Tuesday, December 26th

Compiler: Tom Forwood (406) 570-6432 email preferred

Meet at Wheat Montana on US 287 at exit 274 at 7:45 AM or by 7:15 for breakfast

Ruby Valley  Thursday, January 4th

Compiler: Tom Forwood (406) 570-6432  email preferred

Meet at Fritt’s Dream Bean Cafe, in Sheridan, at 7:45-8:15 AM

Please let Tom know if you plan to eat breakfast at the cafe.

Note: cross country skiers are needed for some sections


RAFFLE FOR THE RAPTORS – Drawing Dec. 18th


Sacajawea Audubon is selling raffle tickets to win one of 2 Bridger Bowl Season Passes for 2017-2018. Raffle tickets are $10 each or 6 for $50.   Even if you have already purchased a season pass, if you win, Bridger Bowl will reimburse you. If you don’t ski, you can give your pass to a family member or friend.

The money raised will go to help fund our annual Bridger Raptor Survey, which just wrapped up it’s 27th season. Raptors are counted each year between the end of August until early November on top of the Bridger Ridge. This long-term study is critical in the study of Golden Eagles and their steady decline in numbers.

Tickets are available at Wild Birds Unlimited off of N. 19th.

Drawing will be held Dec. 18th and the winners will be notified by either phone or email.

Please help us help the raptors!

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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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Dec. 6th SAS Book Group Discussion: The Hidden Lives of Trees


The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate, Discoveries from a Secret World by Peter Wohlleben asks us to consider the life and relationships within healthy forests. Wohlleben worked for the forestry commission in Germany for 20 yearsand now “runs an environmentally friendly woodland where he works for the return of primeval forests.” He is described as following in the tradition of “great naturalist story-tellers.”

The discussion will be on December 6, 2017, at the Hope Lutheran Church from 5:30-6:45pm. If you are new to the book group please email Adele Pittendrigh and let her know. (


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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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Bridger Mountains Hawk Watch Featured on Yellowstone Public Radio

Bridger Hawk Watch - 2016


Hawk counters Bret Davis and Adam Bradley were recently featured in a story on Yellowstone Public Radio.  Click HERE  to listen to the story.



2017 Bridger Mountains Raptor Count – 27th Season

Bridger Hawk Watch

The Bridger Ridge provides viewing one of the largest Golden Eagle migrations known in the lower 48 states. Recent Golden Eagle count totals have varied from 1,000 to 1,400 eagles per season, with up to 200 individuals tallied on peak migration days (usually during the first two weeks of October). Data obtained over the last 27 years has provided scientists with valuable information about trends in Golden Eagles and other raptor populations.

Thanks to the generous support of Sacajawea Audubon Society, August 27th marked the start of the 27th consecutive season of raptor migration research along the crest of the Bridger Mountains. The count will continue through the first week in November.  Montana Audubon, in partnership with HawkWatch International (HWI), coordinated this scientific project for the past 8 seasons. HWI initiated these annual counts in 1991.  This year, Sacajawea Audubon has taken over coordination of the project from Montana Audubon.  This means a financial committment of $13,000.

These majestic birds use the energy-saving updrafts created by strong winds along the crest of the Bridgers to migrate south. The long-term data collected at the Bridger site helps scientists learn about regional and continental raptor population trends. Most importantly, the Bridger project is designed to monitor widespread environmental changes, using these apex predators as valuable barometers of ecological health.

Steve Hoffman, former Executive Director at Montana Audubon emphasizes: “The Bridger Project is the most important migration site in the western United States for monitoring the health and trends of Golden Eagle populations.  The Bridger data are especially important now because there is scientific evidence for long-term declines in Golden Eagle numbers across much of western North America. As a result, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and other wildlife conservation agencies are intensifying research efforts to learn more about Golden Eagles and what might be causing this downward trend.”

Hawk counters Bret Davis and Adam Bradley welcome visitors on the ridge, so grab your binoculars, down jacket and make the hike up!


2017 Fall Field Trip Schedule

Eastern Kingbird (L. Harris photo)

Headwaters-Three Forks

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Trip Leader: Robin Wolcott          406-581-5418

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

Early September is the peak of fall migration with an amazing diversity of birds passing through Montana. This field trip will take advantage of the many birding opportunities in the Headwaters State Park and Three Forks area. The trip will last until early afternoon but let’s be prepared for anything. Bring a lunch. Bring a scope if you have one. Bring your enthusiasm and your flexibility.

Participants limited to 14  

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

Harrison Reservoir

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Trip Leader: John Parker  406-586-5863

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

September is the peak of the fall migration, with an amazing diversity of birds passing through southwestern Montana. The emphasis of this trip will be on waterfowl and shorebirds, while exploring all the shorelines and other habitats around Harrison Reservoir. This trip will last until mid-afternoon, so bring a lunch and anything else you may need for a day in the field. Scopes will be especially useful on this trip, as many of the birds will be distant.

Participants limited to 15  

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

Ennis Lake Waterfowl 

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Trip Leader: Mike Vivion   406-210-8071

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

This date should catch migrant waterfowl and an assortment of other birds, including migrating loons and raptors. Ennis Lake is one of the premiere staging areas for waterfowl in southwest Montana. Some birds will still be in alternate plumage, offering some interesting identification challenges. Large numbers of waterfowl should be present. Bring a lunch, since we’ll be out till at least mid-afternoon. Weather can be a challenge, so bring warm clothes and rain gear in case.

Participants limited to 16

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

Bridger Raptor Migration Field Trip

Saturday, September 30, 2017 (if bad weather plan for alternative date of October 1st)

Trip Leader: Steve Hoffman 406-461-5714

We will meet at 7:45 am at the Museum of the Rockies to organize a carpool, and plan to depart around 8 am.

Late September and early October is typically the peak of the fall raptor migration atop the Bridger Mountains, with a good diversity of raptors likely passing by our observation point above Bridger Bowl Ski Area. At this time of year we are likely to see good numbers of migrating Golden Eagles, Red-tailed, Cooper’s and Sharp-shinned Hawks, as well as American Kestrels. There is a strong likelihood that we may also see small numbers of the rare Broad-winged Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Merlin, and Peregrine Falcon, as well as Bald Eagles and Northern Harriers! We shall plan to be back in Bozeman no later than 6pm (or sooner, if needed).

PLEASE NOTE that this field trip will require a vigorous, 3-mile hike each way, with a 2,100-ft. gain in elevation. Be prepared for a 2-hour hike to the top, and a 1.5-hour hike back down to the parking area. However, we will NOT be in a rush, but instead will enjoy a leisurely hike to the observation point. Please wear sturdy hiking shoes, and bring several layers of clothing (including a windbreaker), warm hat & gloves, and of course lots of food & water. If the weather is not cooperative we will postpone the trip until Sunday. In the event the weather is poor both days we will likely cancel the trip.

Participants limited to 20   

To reserve a spot on the trip or for more information, please contact the trip leader at your earliest convenience, as this trip is likely to fill quickly!

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SAS Book Group: Seeking New Members & Songbird Journeys, Oct. 18th

Book Group Seeks New Members; Third Year Opens with Songbird Journeys

Songbird Journeys: Four Seasons In the Lives of Migratory Birds by Miyoko Chu explores lives of songbirds and their migrations. “Songbird Journeys pays homage to the wonder and beauty of songbirds while revealing the remarkable lives of migratory birds and the scientific quest to answer age-old questions about where songbirds go...."

The discussion of Songbird Journeys will be on October 18th, 5:30-6:45PM, in the comfortable youth room of the Hope Lutheran Church. The book group seeks new members, and all SAS members are warmly invited to participate. Discussions are informal, lively and fun.


Please send email to Adele Pittendrigh if you are participating for the first time. (

Happy Reading!


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