by Kay Mitchell

The 2018 Wings Across the Big Sky Bird Festival is in our rear-view mirror – hurray! For Flathead Audubon, the festival involved a lot of work, since we were the host chapter. There were equal amounts of bird chatter, catching up with old friends and serious talk about everything from politics and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to Montana Audubon’s projects. And three of our own flock took home big commendations. Lewis Young was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award for his years of continuing commitment to conservation (and making awesome newsletters!) Steve Gniadek became the Citizen Scientist of the Year and Denny Olson is the new Educator of the Year. You can go to and search on “awards” to see mug shots and brag lists on these three guys. They are our home town heroes!

Flathead’s famous ever-changing weather provided something for every field tripper. It made me feel proud to see every single field trip go out – no cancellations, no no-show leaders, no weather-whiners. Our own Cory Davis and his hotshot field trip committee impressed the guests and Cory got his own standing ovation.

And the food – ahh, the food! The Red Lion came through with some very fine meals. But the pièce de résistance was our own Dessert Auction. When our co-chairs, Linda Winnie, Paula Smith and Gail Cleveland asked 30 of our own members to either make a dessert or arrange for a bakery to make one, you answered with the most beautiful, diverse and professional appearing desserts I have ever seen. Just before the banquet, all 30 dishes were arranged on a long table; people were actually walking around taking pictures of the display! The photos here show just a couple of the offerings, but there were many more equally as enticing. If you were one of the baker/contributors, please accept our thanks for going the extra mile for your Audubon chapter!

Our Volunteer Corps made the whole event run smoothly. Everywhere I looked, Flathead Audubon people were handing out information packets, helping set up tables, shuttling field trip groups to their destinations, putting out birchbark-wrapped table decorations, distributing lunches, working at our sales table, greeting guests, giving directions. Marylane Pannell made chairing this important group look effortless but herding cats might have been easier!

If you attended the Festival, I hope you enjoyed the days. To everyone who had a part in the celebration, Flathead Audubon thanks you and is proud to count you as One of Us!

Field Trip Leaders To Thank For The Festival

  • Amy Seaman
  • Beth Watne
  • Beverly Skinner
  • Bob Lee
  • Brent Mitchell
  • Bruce Tannehill
  • Corey Davis
  • Costanza von der Pahlen
  • Craig Hohenberger
  • Dan Casey
  • Denny Olson
  • Doug MacCarter
  • Gael Bissell
  • Jake Bramante
  • Josh Covill 
  • Karen Nichols
  • Kathy Ross 
  • Laura Katzman
  • Leslie Kehoe
  • Lewis Young
  • Lou Bruno
  • Lynn Kelly
  • Pat Jamieson
  • Paul Rossi
  • Pete Fisher
  • Ryan Hunter
  • Steve Gniadek
  • Tom Banzack
  • John Hughes