by Amy Seaman, Conservation Program Manager

It’s April, and now officially spring in the Helena Valley – the Long-billed Curlews have returned!

Montana Audubon’s bird conservation efforts this month went into volunteer outreach and planning for the summer field season and our four focal citizen science projects: Long-billed Curlews, Rosy Finches, Chimney Swifts, and Black Swifts. In addition, we presented programs for the Flathead Conservation District and a Montana State University range and wildlife policy class. We also began a new partnership with the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute to survey grassland birds on the highline prairies.

Recently, we’ve had our fingers crossed for the timely completion of a new smartphone data collection “app” for the Long-billed Curlew surveys. As hoped, Montana Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks completed it, making in-field data entry easy. Now it’s simple to know your exact stop location at every point on any route, and eliminate hours of time spent hand-entering and proofing data. The app is free to all users. More information, including a printable version of 2018 projects and the ‘how to’ guide is available on our website ( and from there link to our Long-billed Curlew project). It has been a busy season for us as Montana Audubon.

Upcoming projects and events of regional interest include:

  • May 17th is the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Birds and Bears Festival at SKC College.
  • We are recruiting volunteers that are interested in searching for Rosy-Finches, Chimney Swifts (in eastern Montana), and Black Swifts.
  • Chimney Swift surveys take place June—July
  • Rosy-finch surveys take place June—July
  • We are also seeking Black Swift survey volunteers for training at Holland Lake (July 18th and 19th) and in Glacier National Park (July 17th) – Volunteers for Black Swift surveys must be physically fit with back-country travel experience, bear-safety knowledge, and a willingness to travel in rugged terrain at night. Black Swift surveys take place mid-July – August.

In May we begin our partnership work with Glacier National Park and the Glacier National Park Conservancy to mark Harlequin Duck pairs with transmitters to understand their full life-cycle conservation needs.