Highlights from February 18th, 2019 Board Meeting 

  • Both Hawk Watch and the Education Committee will be wrapping up work and reports for 2018; after which the planning for the 2019 seasons will continue in earnest.
  • Denny Olson, joined by Flathead Land Trust and Montana FWP, is proceeding on work to create Sandhill Crane and Osprey education trunks and a school field trip program to utilize the West Valley Viewing and Own Sowerwine Natural Areas. Two-thumbs up!
  • Speaking of Owen Sowerwine, the lease is up for renewal and several options will be considered when that committee convenes the end of the week.
  • Maryland Pannell submitted her resignation from the Board. We thank her for her service and know she will be missed at our meetings. Pam Willison was appointed to replace her. 
  • Bob Lopp was appointed as the alternate representative for the MT Audubon Board.
  • Other items discussed included field trips, logos, native plantings at West Valley, insurance, investments, and improved efforts by Montana Audubon to keep us informed on public policy and legislation.

2019 Wings Across the Big Sky Bird Festival

Online registration will begin in early March 2019: stay tuned!

Montana Audubon will host its 20th annual Wings Across the Big Sky bird festival at the Cottonwood Inn, in Glasgow on June 79, 2019! This longstanding, community event celebrates Montana’ native bird species and typically draws hundreds of wildlife enthusiasts from across the state and beyond. For 2019 the festival lead sponsor is American Prairie Reserve (APR).

Numerous field trips are in the works that highlight the remarkable grassland habitats of Montana’s highline. The keynote address will be presented on Friday evening by Sean Gerrity, American Prairie Reserve founder, who will discuss the importance of the project to Montana’s grassland birds and other grassland species. 

There are many other fun activities to choose from at Wings Across the Big Sky including a Saturday evening banquet, Montana Audubon’s annual conservation awards, “Nature Adventure Tour” silent auction, “Cakes for Conservation” fundraiser and more. For more information, visit the “Outreach” section of Montana Audubon’s website: www.mtaudubon.org or call 406.443.3949.

Another New Species for OSNA Bird List!

Swamp Sparrow – Photo Credit: Jake Bramante

Last month we announced that 2 new species had been discovered at Owen Sowerwine, both by Jake Bramante. Turns out Jake was not yet finished with new species. On January 16 he was prowling around OSNA again when a Swamp Sparrow flitted up over to a stump to join a Song Sparrow. This was just south of the Montessori School along the Stillwater River – so inside the Natural Area. Jake went back down to OSNA the next day with some friends and this time they saw two Swamp Sparrows. A short video of one of them can be viewed on the Flathead Audubon Facebook page.

So – another species to add to the OSNA Bird List! The newly updated list is available in the OSNA section (under Conservation). This brings the number of species on the list to 149. Better get down to OSNA soon if you want to discover number 150!

Researching and Conserving Pollinators

“Bumblebees: Conserving Pollinators”, a presentation by Tabitha Graves, USGS Research Ecologist, will be featured at the next meeting of the Flathead Chapter of Montana Native Plant Society. The meeting will be March 20, 7 PM,  North Valley Community Hall, 235 Nucleus Ave, Columbia Falls. 

             Graves will talk about her research on bumblebees in the northwest, and recent efforts to monitor and research pollinators, including western bumblebees.

Nongame Wildlife Tax Check-off

When filling out your Montana tax form this year, think “wildlife” by donating to the Nongame Wildlife Program, found on Form 2, page 10, under Voluntary Contributions. If your taxes are prepared, tell your accountant that you want to donate to wildlife! Your contributions are tax deductible on next year’s return. Look for the soaring Bald Eagle in the instruction booklet. Montana has more than 500 species of “nongame” animals that benefit from public support each year at tax time. Since 1983, the check-off has contributed over $27,000 annually to this important wildlife program.