by Shannon Donaldson

On Saturday, June 17, Flathead Audubon Society hosted the Flathead Valley Birdathon. Twenty-six participants on nine teams spent the day birding for a “caws” – raising money for the conservation easement in the Owen Sowerwine area. 

Although the morning began with plenty of rain showers and low visibility, by about

9 a.m. it began to let up and it turned out to be a great day of birding. Teams tallied 149 species in roughly 14 hours, covering hundreds of miles and a wide range of habitats between Red Meadow and Brown’s Meadow, and from Ashley Lake to Bigfork. We all know the early bird gets the worm and it turns out that “Turtlehawks” are early birds. The “slow but dangerous” Turtlehawks team set out birding while most of us were still in bed and it paid off! They identified 131 species, the most of any team, finding several birds, such as Varied Thrush, which others did not see. 

Trumpeter Swans with Common Loon – photo by Bridger Donaldson

Highlights from the day included a family of Trumpeter Swans, along with a Common Loon on the firehouse pond along Foys Lake Road, nine Black Swifts spotted from Bojangle’s Diner and a rare Grasshopper Sparrow singing his buzzy song in the tall grasses along the southern end of Brown’s Meadow Road. Many of us wrapped up the day by looking for American Dippers near the Creston Fish Hatchery before gathering at the pavilion, sharing our stories and tallies, and enjoying a potluck dinner along with prizes and a raffle.

Due to all the individuals who participated and made thoughtful contributions, Birdathon raised nearly $800 to help secure Owen Sowerwine! Flathead Audubon would like to thank each of our sponsors who donated so many exceptional items to our raffle this year: Vortex, Snappy’s Sport Senter, Plant Land, Montana Coffee Traders, Patagonia, Ceres Bakery, Glacier Restaurant Group, Center for Native Plants, Norm’s News, Hike734, and both Kay Mitchell and Tom Roberts. Thank you all for your generous support!  

Thanks to our sponsors!

Center for Native Plants

Plant Land

Norm’s News

Hike 734


Glacier Restaurant Group

Snappy’s Sport Senter


Ceres Bakery

Kay Mitchell

Tom Roberts

Montana Coffee Traders