President Kay Mitchell at 2016 Potluck - Photo Credit: Linda Winnie
President Kay Mitchell at 2016 Potluck – Photo Credit: Linda Winnie

Hi Birdwatching partners! I hope each of you has had a great summer, filled with feathers of every color in the rainbow. Welcome to a brand new season of Flathead Audubon. We plan to bring you a wide variety of activities based around our local Flathead birds.

We have already kicked things off with our citizen science monitoring of raptors near Mount Aeneas in the Jewel Basin. Our intrepid volunteer hikers spend their days spotting, identifying, codifying, sexing, aging, and most of all enjoying hawks, owls, falcons and other birds passing the site during the fall migration. The statistics collected go into national and international databases that help scientists follow bird population trends and spot problems if they occur.

If you’re not into a 2-mile hike at O-dark thirty, then you will probably like our new “Birds of Prey Festival,” held September 10 at Lone Pine Park. Formerly called Raptor Day, the Festival will include all of our usual kids and family events, and this year, there will be a special afternoon orientation for anyone interested in becoming a volunteer observer at the Hawk Watch site.

There’s our monthly general meeting on September 12, complete with treats, a program given by Dan Casey, and some fun surprises by our new Conservation Educator, Denny Olson. It’s a great place to meet up with old friends and make new ones. There are definitely no strangers walking out of our door after an Audubon meeting!

And if you are up for a little early fall work in the woods, be sure to mark your calendar for FAS’s annual Owen Sowerwine Work Day, September 24. In just a couple of hours, you can earn your “OSNA Supporter” badge and help us take care of Montana’s one and only Natural Area, with golden leaves and bird calls all around you.

Our Flathead Audubon Board of Directors is a dynamic group of hard-working bird lovers like you, all volunteers who help run our chapter just because they believe in what we do. We miss and thank two members, Jim Rychwalski and Jan Wassink, who have had to step back from the Board because of employment conflicts, but we know they are waiting in the wings to rejoin us after retirement. And we have added two new Board members, Barbara Summer and Cory Davis. They are already part of the team and involved in our activities.

So here’s your invitation to do a quick, painless makeover of your life. Do something important for yourself and the natural world around you. Show up for an Audubon activity (they are all free of charge), enjoy a program, challenge your bird ID skills, join the chapter, bring a friend. We look forward to seeing you!

Kay Mitchell, President