Highlights from October 1, 2018 Board Meeting

  • Derrick Rathe was nominated and approved to fulfill Barb Summer’s position on the Board.
  • Kathy Ross will create a native plant garden at the West Valley Viewing Area. Suggestions were made for other donations from FAS including benches, bluebird houses and a spotting scope.
  • Denny Olson stated approximately 800 attended the Birds of Prey Festival at Lone Pine Park in September.

Lost, not found

Flathead Audubon’s sound system has gone missing. It disappeared over the summer months and we would like to welcome it back home. Many members have commented on being able to hear better during programs because of the amplification. The system is about 3 feet tall, has roller wheels and is housed in a large silver suitcase. Can you help? Anybody who helps find our “noise box” will rate a standing ovation and picture in The Pileated Post! Contact Kay Mitchell at 756-8130.

Policy Regarding Access to Flathead Audubon Adopted

     At its October meeting, the Flathead Audubon board passed the following operational policy:

Requests for Access to Flathead Audubon Board and General Meetings

Upon receiving a request for access to Flathead Audubon, the following shall provide guidance. This operational policy includes proposals from any source outside of Flathead Audubon requesting access through an in-person address to members, visual displays, or distribution of printed materials.

  • No for-profit or commercial access shall be allowed.
  • Flathead Audubon continues to share membership data only with Montana Audubon.
  • Requests from individuals or nonprofit organizations shall be first presented in writing to
    • Program Chair, if request is for access to general meetings
    • Conservation Co-chair, if request is for Flathead Audubon to support or oppose an issue
    • President, if request is for access to Flathead Audubon Board of Directors
  • Decisions by the Program Chair, Conservation Co-Chair or President will be made after receiving written request. Topics must pertain to birds, conservation or education and should be consistent with the mission of Flathead Audubon.
  • If the Program Chair, Conservation Co-chair or President are uncertain about a request, final decision will lie with Flathead Audubon Board of Directors.
  • Flexibility will be allowed for program speakers and recipients of Flathead Audubon recognitions and honors at the time they give a program or receive an honor.

The Gray Jay Will Officially Be Called the Canada Jay Again

And as it turns out, the bird’s name should have been switched back more than 50 years ago. Recently, the American Ornithological Society, a scientific body that’s responsible for the classification and naming of birds in North America, agreed to officially change the name of the Gray Jay to Canada Jay. The history of the name “Canada Jay” runs deep: It was the name Perisoreus canadensis had gone by from at least 1831 to 1948, and it was the name John J. Audubon used on his original, hand-engraved plates. A scientist studying the birds searched the American Ornithological Society’s archives and found there was little reason the AOS shouldn’t change the name back to Canada Jay. In fact, the bird’s name should have already been changed in 1954 due to changes in the AOU naming convention. For some reason, however, Gray Jay stuck. In 1957, when the AOU published the Fifth Edition of its “Checklist of North and Middle American Birds,” Perisoreus canadensis was listed as “Gray Jay.”

Beginning in July 2018 the bird is once again officially the “Canada Jay.”          adapted from National Audubon Society, news release


We have just a few of the 2019 Workman Audubon calendars for sale this year:  Songbirds in the Garden, Little Owls, and one each Songbird Calendar (the big one) and Engagement Calendar. Various prices apply.  They will be at the next monthly meeting.

Thanks To Those Who Have Renewed Their Membership

Thanks to all our loyal members who have renewed for this year! Flathead Audubon could not accomplish the important things we do without you. Most important, our education program would not exist without your support.

Note to those who have not yet renewed:  Normally you would not be receiving The Pileated Post this month without renewing but this year we are allowing an extra month because the Pileated Post notice did not make it clear that October was the last month. However, if you do not renew by November 15 you will not receive December (and succeeding) issues. Thanks again!

Owen Sowerwine Long-term Vegetation Plots

On a beautiful sunny day recently, the long-term vegetation monitoring plots at Owen Sowerwine Natural Area were read for the third time. The plots were established in 2008 to monitor large-scale changes in the vegetation over the long-term and are read every 5 years. The 12 randomly located plots are permanently marked with steel fence posts and measure presence of water and water channels, number and size of live and dead trees, down woody material, and abundance of grasses, forbs, shrubs, and weeds. Plot photos in each of the 4 cardinal directions visually document the current vegetation.

The data from this year has not been analyzed yet but will be in the coming months. Findings will be reported in the Pileated Post.

Plot readers this year were Kay and Brent Mitchell and Lynda and Lewis Young.

Check Out Montana eBird!

Montana Audubon launched its Montana eBird portal during our 19th annual Wings Across the Big Sky bird festival in Kalispell this past summer. On the website you can access a great deal of Montana-specific bird information on species, hotspots, recent checklists and links to data collected by other eBirders across the state.

In addition, photos from local birders, sightings of uncommon birds and Montana Audubon’s news feed can easily be found there.

Make Montana eBird your homepage today: www.ebird.org/mt

New Checklist of Montana Birds

The 2018 Checklist of Montana Birds is now available. This new checklist follows the official state bird list reviewed by the Montana Bird Records Committee annually, as well as recent taxonomic changes by the American Ornithological Society (June 2018). It boasts 433 bird species, with 283 documented breeders, and 233 overwintering residents. Species are identified as breeding (B, b) or wintering (W,w) or ‘t’ (no evidence of breeding).

The 2018 Checklist was a collaborative production by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks; Montana Audubon; Montana Natural Heritage Program; Montana Bird Advocacy; and the Montana Bird Records Committee, .

Funding for the printing costs was provided by the Montana Nongame Wildlife Checkoff. We all owe a special thanks to Janet Ellis, Jeff Marks, and Bryce Maxell, who worked to get the update completed. The 2018 Checklist of Montana Birds can be downloaded at https://www.montanabirdadvocacy.org/state-list/ and will be available in printed form by November at local FWP offices.

A Message From Montana Audubon

This past summer, Montana Audubon officially signed on to a statewide effort in support of Initiative 186, which is now on the November election ballot. If passed, I-186 would require the state to issue permits for new hard rock mines only if such facilities can prove they would not generate waste that must be treated in perpetuity.

Montana has 3,500 abandoned mines, more than 200 of which are known to be discharging contaminants and polluting our clean water. Our state has nearly 2,500 miles of streams polluted by acid mine drainage, lead, arsenic, and mercury from abandoned mines. Montana Audubon is keenly interested in protecting our state’s water quality and riparian habitat. I-186 would be a positive step toward conservation of our precious water and wildlife resources. For more information, visit www.yeson186.org and don’t forget to VOTE YES on I-186 this November!

A Tiny Tag That Tracks Little Birds

David Winkler, a professor at Cornell University working with Tree Swallows, has developed a tag to track their movements. Since the birds only weigh 20 grams (0.7 ounces) he wanted a tag that weighed less than 0.7 grams (0.025 ounces) that would allow monitoring their movement for a long time. Working with a team of engineers they figured out how to use parts from remote-access car keys and tiny pieces of leftover solar panels to create a tag that transmits a digital identification code every few seconds when the sun shines. Because it lacks a battery it can function for many years. The tags are attached to harnesses specifically designed for the birds and allow it to “float” around their chest without hindering movement or causing discomfort. The only downside of the small tags is a limited range of a mile or two. These tags have been successfully used to track Tree Swallows from upstate New York to wintering grounds in Florida.                adapted from an article in The Wildlife Professional by David Frey