Highlights from April 2016 Board Meeting

  • Heard report that IRS Form 990 due by May 15.
  • Board meeting scheduled for June 6 to make up for the one missed earlier.
  • Heard that Bruce Tannehill will be doing the annual financial examination.
  • Tabled Montana Audubon request for 2 year donation commitment until obtain more detailed information.
  • Heard Education Committee report that Strategic Plan accomplishments are on track and at a high level.
  • Heard that the Conservation Educator will be leaving for a new job at the end of June.
  • Heard report that the people involved with 2017 Calendar project are discussing strategy options and will need a decision on the theme soon.
  • Heard Field Trip Committee report that field trips are set and that the American Prairie Reserve trip is filled but names are being taken for a waiting list.
  • Decided to purchase 10 screen covers for toilet vents to prevent entrapment of birds and donate to the US Forest Service in Eureka to supplement their ongoing efforts.
  • Heard that the final 2015 Hawk Watch report is out and agreed to continue the project in 2016.

Whitefish Soroptomists Team with Flathead Audubon

The Soroptomists of Whitefish have recently contributed a significant sum to Flathead Audubon, to further our work with local girls and young women, in education about the outdoors, nature, birds and the Flathead watershed. The Soroptomist grant will support our mentoring program, in which older students support and assist younger students in outdoor activities. Flathead Audubon is pleased to have this opportunity to make an impact on young people with the generous support of the Whitefish Soroptomists.

We also thank the Soroptomists, and Mary Nelesen in particular, for a separate grant, and for their help in distributing our remaining 2016 calendars to outlying schools.

Birds Of Montana

Available for Pre-Order

The long-awaited book, Birds of Montana by Jeff Marks, Paul Hendriks, and Dan Casey, is now available for pre-order until May 15. It provides a thorough review of the status, distribution, relative abundance, ecology, and conservation of the 433 bird species that have been found in the state since Montana entered the Union in 1889. Get a 20% discount when you preorder. For more information see the Montana Audubon website.

Recognize Your Peers!

Each year Montana Audubon recognizes individuals who work for the conservation and protection of birds and other wildlife by presenting Awards at the Saturday evening banquet.  We are currently seeking nominations in the following categories:  Lifetime Achievement Award, Educator of the Year, Conservationist of the Year, Citizen Scientist of the Year, and Special Achievement Award.  To make a nomination, download a nomination form from http://mtaudubon.org/about/award/.  Nominations are due at the office by May 19, 2016.  Mail completed forms to Montana Audubon, PO Box 595, Helena MT 59624.

Volunteers Needed for Curlews!

Long-billed curlews are back in Montana for the summer, and already volunteers are reporting their whereabouts in the Mission Valley. This year’s surveys are off to a great start, with many of the survey routes getting covered at least once. But our goal is to have each route covered TWO TIMES. Fortunately there is plenty of time left to help us locate this charismatic shorebird, as surveys will continue until May 31st. What’s fun is that birds should be getting very vocal as they initiate and later defend their nests, so now is a great time to go birding. You will also see and hear a lot of other great species on the way.

Surveying for curlews is easy! Routes consist of early morning road-side stops repeated every half mile. At each stop, you will get out of the car for five minutes and look and listen for curlews.  Along the way you will collect important data on the time, habitat, and presence or absence of curlews. And, the great thing is that you only need to look for one big beautiful bellowing bird. So, choose a route, catch up on

Curlew identification, and you are all set to go!

To read more or get involved, visit our weebly website and view the routes available in the Mission Valley and Flathead Indian Reservation: http://missionvalleycurlews.weebly.com/. Here you will find survey details such as the protocol, data sheets, and route maps. You can also contact Amy or Janene if you would like us to send you a route packet or if you have any questions. Feel free to take a partner, do a route more than once, or do more than one route. The Curlews are just waiting to be found!

To brush up on Curlew identification visit Montana Audubon’s webpage: http://mtaudubon.org/birds-science/long-billed-curlew-initiative/. It has a link to the Curlew’s call and much more. Also visit Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All about Birds: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Long-billed_Curlew/id.

For more information contact Janene Lichtenberg: janene_lichtenberg@skc.edu, 406.275.4896; or Amy Seaman: aseaman@mtaudubon.org, 406.210.49449.

 Cash Rewards for Loon Reports

Montana Loon Society is offering cash prizes for the greatest number of 2016 observations of banded and unbanded confirmed breeding Common Loons in Montana. The contest is generously funded by the Weyerhaeuser Company.

One $200 prize will go for the most observations of banded and unbanded breeding loons reported by May 31. A second $200 prize will go for the most observations reported by July 18. And one $100 prize will be decided by a random drawing from the names of all individuals who submitted at least one observation. Federal and State employees are not eligible if they observe loons as part of their job.

Send band observations before these dates to Chris Hammond, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (chammond@mt.gov) . The most useful band reports are ones that come to Chris as soon as possible, so send them in as soon as you observe a loon, even if you are not 100% sure of your observation or have trouble reading the bands. Qualified observations will be determined and counted solely by Chris.

Winners will be announced at the July 20-21 summer meeting of the Montana Common Loon Working Group. Chris will notify winners soon after.

Further details about the contest, including how to write a report on observed bands and tips for spotting and reading loon bands, are on the Montana Loon Society website www.montanaloons.org; click on “Click here” about half way down the home page.

Loons & Lead — you can help!

Here in northwest Montana we are fortunate to have both a population of common loons and good fishing in many lakes that support loons. Unfortunately, the lead sinkers and jigs often used for fishing pose a significant threat to loons. Loons often swallow fishing tackle and lead is toxic to loons. One lead sinker can kill a loon. Lead sinkers and jigs 1 ½ inches or smaller along the longest axis are known to cause loon mortality. In our neighboring state of Washington, 1/3 of loon mortalities from 1999-2010 were attributed to lead poisoning. Numerous other studies around the country have documented the same adverse effects. Many other species such as waterfowl and fish also suffer from lead toxicity.

The good news is that non-toxic alternatives for fishing tackle are available at local fishing supply stores and online from many sources. A list of 35 companies that sell lead free tackle is available on the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency website: go to www.pca.state.mn.us then search for nontoxic tackle. Tell all your fishing friends about the problem with loons and lead tackle and be sure to add that non-toxic alternatives are easily available. The quicker more people become aware of the problem and switch to non-toxic fishing tackle the quicker the lead poisoning rate in loons will decline.

More information about loons and lead poisoning is available from the Montana Loon Society (www.montanaloons.org) and the Montana Common Loon Working Group (chammond@mt.gov).

May Flathead Audubon Meeting

  • Monday, May 9. 2016
  • Whitefish Community Center,121 Second Street, Whitefish.
  • Doors Open 5 PM, Potluck Dinner 6 PM,
  • Meeting Begins 7 PM.
  • Arrive early to look over and bid on silent auction items!
  • Officers and Board Members will be elected at the meeting

Silent Auction

It’s Coming! – The annual Silent Auction at the Flathead Audubon May Potluck.
Now’s the perfect time to gather all of the valuable “stuff” that you might be able to live without. Popular items at past Silent Auctions have been bird books, outdoor gear, art work, live bedding plants, homemade pies and cookies, bird houses and feeders.

Candidates for Officers and Board Members

FAS Nominations Committee recommendations for Secretary, Treasurer and two Board of Directors positions:

 Marylane Pannell – Secretary:

Marylane will be entering her third full term as Board Secretary. The Board depends on her to record and promptly publish minutes of our board meetings each month. She has been our quiet “rock” during sometimes tumultuous board meetings. We are very pleased that Marylane has accepted the nomination for Board Secretary for another two-year term.

Joe Batts – Treasurer:

Since last July, I have served as the appointed treasurer of Flathead Audubon Society (FAS). I have enjoyed that role and I look forward to becoming the elected Treasurer. I have been very fortunate to receive the support of the Board and especially from Bruce Tannehill and Bob Lopp, to make the transition as smooth as possible. The message that I have received – and fully support – is that the membership and the board love their organization and want FAS to be both financially sound and responsive.

In my wife’s and my businesses, I currently handle five small accounting systems using QuickBooks and Quicken. As a result, I know that every organization has different financial needs.  Being treasurer of FAS is more than knowing where to correctly put the credits and debits; FAS is unique, especially in the areas of grants and donations. In this regard, the board has been very diligent in the pursuit of grants and contracts and the members have been very generous with their donations. Some members have been extremely generous in their wills to fund endowment investments for allocation to conservation and education. And accordingly, the board has been respectful, responsible and conservative in the use of those resources. Correspondingly, our financial system does–and should continue to remain–transparent to all.

My wife and I have been birders for 30 years. We were introduced to birding by friends and found it an activity that we could do together. In 2013, we moved permanently to the Valley after having lived here part-time since 2006. I am a graduate of Flathead High School and we both are graduates of the University of Montana. Since returning to the Valley, we have become very involved with Flathead Audubon Society activities. The responsibilities of the Treasurer have been an extension of that involvement.

Therefore, I ask for your support for my election to position of Treasurer of Flathead Audubon Society.

Cory Davis – Board of Directors: 

Cory Davis is a Research Associate in the University of Montana’s College of Forestry and Conservation and the Coordinator for the Southwestern Crown of the Continent Collaborative. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from UC Santa Barbara where he first started studying birds while working at the campus Vertebrate Museum. After graduation, Cory went on to live the life of an itinerant field ornithologist working jobs in the Blue Mountains of northeastern Oregon, Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, the sky islands of southeastern Arizona, Alaska’s interior, and in Belize. He finally got tired of living out of his car and went on to get an M.S. degree in Biology from Arkansas State University where he studied the effects of forest fragmentation on songbirds around McCall, Idaho. He also spent four years in a PhD program at Montana State University researching the effects of land use change on national parks, though that degree still eludes him. In his current position, Cory coordinates a group of partners from NGOs, local agencies, and private citizens that work closely with the Forest Service to implement forest restoration projects on the Swan Lake District of the Flathead National Forest, the Seeley Lake District of the Lolo National Forest, and the Lincoln District of the Helena National Forest. He coordinates a monitoring program consisting of projects on wildlife, vegetation, aquatic systems, and socioeconomic conditions resulting from these Forest Service management actions. He also works with local school groups and community members to help monitor forest conditions and water quality.  Cory grew up in California and moved to the Flathead Valley in 2003. He currently resides in Whitefish where he enjoys cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and brewing beer to share with friends.

Barbara Summers – Board of Directors:

I am a retired Physical Therapist, who has spent a lifetime roaming mountain ridges.  I discovered birding later in life and am so grateful for all I have learned and all there is yet to learn.  Probably my most favorite thing is to sit quietly and observe.  I have been a part of monitoring loon nesting success for 9 years and have been part of a team monitoring Harlequin Duck populations for 8 years.  I can spend hours watching these species and love returning to the same habitat over and over.

And then I was introduced to raptor migration.  WOW, what an incredible learning curve and what an incredible experience.  So consequently, I have been a part of the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch for several years.

I would like to be on the board, because I believe that wildlife conservation needs every little bit of help it can get, and hopefully this is another way that I can help.  I believe that FAS is an incredible organization and plays a vital role in sharing the wonder of the natural world with others.

Spring/Summer Field Trips for You!

All Flathead Audubon field trips are free and open to the public and are geared for all ages and levels of field experience. They are led by area biologists, retired professionals, and some of the best birders in the region. For all Field Trips, dress for the weather, bring binoculars or sporting scope if you have them, sturdy footwear, and drive and pull off the road safely. All drivers must have their own vehicle insurance. For more information, contact Kathy Ross, 837-3738, or Gael Bissell, 261-2255, or the individual field trip leader listed in the trip description. Visit the Activities & Field Trips page to learn more about upcoming events!