by Lisa B. Flowers, FAS Conservation Educator

Fostering and increasing knowledge and appreciation of birds, wildlife habitat, and ecosystem diversity is the purpose of the Flathead Audubon Society’s conservation education program and indeed is a team effort. The volunteers that have stepped forth from the FAS membership to work and help organize the educational trunks and materials used by our local teachers, to discuss how and where to continue offering resources, providing classroom and outdoor programming, and developing local partnerships, and to dedicate their time and passion for birds and their habitats by teaching students of all ages in the classes we offer in the Flathead Valley. All the dedicated time and efforts are much appreciated and help make this a thriving program!!

The national Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) took place from February 12 – 15th. Locally, Somers school 6th graders and their teachers enjoyed a preparatory session February 11th learning about how to identify common birds in their community, how to use their observation skills and binoculars to conduct their local bird count, and the importance of their personal involvement in citizen science. Kathy Ross had a successful day with more than 50 enthusiastic students and their teachers on February 12th. On February 14th and beginning at the Swan River School, Kathy also conducted another GBBC with a group of all ages. Flathead High School biology teacher Renee Cordes and her students hiked around Kalispell to conduct their GBBC, it was a successful event in the drizzling rain on February 12th. These FHS citizen scientists enter their own data onto the national GBBC website.

The FVCC Senior Institute course – Birds of Northwestern Montana begins Friday, February 19th and runs every Friday from 1 – 2:50 p.m. through March 25th. This course will provide seniors with information about the behavior, form and function of the avian world with a more in-depth look at several species that are native to Northwest Montana.  Students will be provided with instruction on bird identification and an opportunity to practice those skills during outdoor experiences to include a field trip to a local birding hotspot.  Additional birding resources and opportunities both locally and on-line will also be included. Volunteer class speakers include Bob Lee, Kathy Ross, Kari Gabriel, Denny Olson, and Joe & Lana Batts. The senior students are in for a treat!

The adult education class – Beauty of Birds will be held at Flathead High School on Wednesday evenings from 6 – 8 p.m. through the month of April.  Students will learn about local and regional birds, habitat, behaviors, sounds/calls, and identification. The first class is April 6th and students will enjoy a presentation on Glacier National Park Birds by Steve Gniadek. Other class speakers/volunteers for this class include Kari Gabriel, Denny Olson, Leslie Kehoe, and Bob Lee.

If you, or anyone you know, are interested in volunteering or learning more about FAS’s conservation education or outreach programs, please contact Lisa Flowers, conservation educator, 406-781-1721, anytime. Your interest and participation in FAS’s Conservation Education Program is appreciated!!