Highlights from the September 2nd Board Meeting

  • We had a chance to meet Kat Petersen, who will be serving as a primary observer for Hawk Watch for 30 days this fall.  Welcome Kat.
  • President Gael Bissell would be interested in partnering with an FAS member who could assist her in writing acknowledgement and thank you cards. If interested, see Gael.
  • Kay Mitchell and Rod Wallette are working on a Conservation District grant application to fund a more comprehensive effort at controlling invasive plants in OSNA.
  • We are reviewing better ways to publicize field trips next year to improve attendance.
  • The Board approved the expenditure for preparing the membership cards, member stickers, and pileated woodpecker stickers. They will be available soon.
  • Mike Fanning reminded everyone that it’s time to renew your annual membership.

Lead Bullets and Wildlife

Big game hunting season is approaching. If you are hunter using lead bullets you can help wildlife by switching to non-lead bullets. Lead bullets, even copper jacketed lead bullets, fired from high velocity guns fragment on impact losing 20-40% of their mass when they hit an object. As many as 200 fragments disperse throughout the carcass and are often too small to see. The fragments may permeate the meat you bring home and often riddle the gut piles and carcasses left in the field.

Why are lead fragments a problem? Avian and mammalian scavengers feed on the gut piles and carcasses and ingest the lead fragments. Overwintering eagles in many parts of Montana test positive for elevated lead levels and several die each year from acute lead poisoning. Raptor View Research Institute tested 32 Golden Eagles and 11 Bald Eagles from the Bitterroot Valley from 2011-2014 and found that 86% had elevated blood lead concentrations. Evidence from multiple studies points to lead fragments as the culprit behind elevated lead levels in eagles and other scavengers.

What can be done? It’s fairly simple. Switch to a non-lead bullet. Over the last several years they have become available in factory loaded ammunition and multiple choices are available to those who handload their own ammunition. Non-lead bullets are normally all copper or copper alloys and retain virtually 100% of their weight upon impact. Non-lead ammunition costs more than many traditional jacketed-lead bullets but the cost of ammunition is typically a very small portion of the total spent on the entire hunting experience. I personally switched to non-lead bullets several years ago and have been entirely happy with their performance in every way.

Does switching to non-lead bullets make a difference? A voluntary program in the Jackson Hole area of Wyoming in 2009-2010 to get hunters to switch to non-lead bullets resulted in a corresponding decrease in the blood-lead levels of eagles using the area so it can make a difference,

Give our eagles and other wildlife a break and consider switching to non-lead bullets.

Thank you Field Trip Leaders!

A huge THANK YOU to our incredible and knowledgeable field trip leaders this past season for sharing their valuable time and expertise. Nine participants even braved the big storm in mid-August to attend ‘Going Batty’.

Our great Field Trip leaders

  • Diane Boyd
  • Laura Katzman
  • Lisa Bate
  • Chris Hammond
  • Steve Gniadek
  • Lewis Young
  • Beverly Skinner
  • Paul Rossi
  • Bruce Tannehill
  • Gail Cleveland
  • Jeanette Oliver
  • Denny Olson 
  • Cory Davis
  • Kathy Ross


Please renew your membership in Flathead Audubon as soon as possible. For those who don’t renew by October 18, this will be the last issue of the Pileated Post they will receive. Don’t miss an issue of our very interesting newsletter! The dues now are $25 for a basic membership and $40 for a supporting membership. This year we really need support for our excellent education program. We are the only organization in the Flathead Valley which offers free environmental education.

When you renew your Flathead Audubon membership please include your email address. We would like to compile a list of members’ email addresses so we can send occasional notifications of events or important news.  by Mike Fanning

Amazon Smile

If you are shopping online at Amazon don’t forget to support Flathead Audubon Society by using “Amazon Smile” at smile.amazon.com and select FAS as the organization to support. Then Amazon donates to Flathead Audubon Society.

To see the impact of your shopping, visit the AmazonSmile Metrics Dashboard for Flathead Audubon Society. Simply log in at org.amazon.com and click the “View metrics” button.

Here’s How to Save on Your Taxes for This Year

 If you have an IRA and are “of an age” that you must take a Required Minimum Distribution each year, you have probably griped about having to include that RMD amount in your income when you do your taxes. A good way to avoid having to pay tax on those dollars is to have your institution (bank, credit union, investment company, etc.) that holds your IRA transfer that amount directly to a qualifying nonprofit organization before the end of the year. Flathead Audubon Society is such a “qualifying nonprofit organization.”

The rules are pretty strict for this, so you need to talk to your institution ahead of time to get everything set up correctly. We welcome your transfer and will provide you with a receipt for your donation, as well as many bird songs and programs for your generosity!   

The Effects of Management Practices on Grassland Birds

Seven updated and expanded species accounts (Mountain Plover, Upland Sandpiper, Long-billed Curlew, Marbled Godwit, Willet, Wilson’s Phalarope, and American Bittern) were recently published by the U.S. Geological Survey, Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center. The accounts provide land managers with a summary of information on the effects of specific management practices on grassland birds and help to identify the most critical research gaps in the understanding of grassland bird ecology, habitat needs, and responses to management practices.

The published accounts are linked on the following parent page:  https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/pp1842. An additional 33 species accounts are making their way through the publication process and are expected to be published within the coming year. The Greater Sage-Grouse account and several grassland raptor accounts will be published and uploaded soon.

The Montana Native Plant Society- Flathead Chapter and the Northwest Montana History Museum

 invite the public to:

Making Their Mark: John and Carrie Leiberg in the Salish Country 1884-1907.  Friday, October 18, 7:00 PM. The Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 Second Avenue East, Kalispell (formerly Museum at Central School) 

Jack Nisbet’s latest book, The Dreamer and the Doctor, unveils the remarkable adventures of John and Carrie Leiberg. John was a Swedish immigrant who carried out landmark forest reserve surveys across northern Idaho and western Montana in the 1890s and loved plants. His wife Carrie, a practicing physician, carved out her own role with the Northern Pacific as “the only female railroad surgeon in the known world.” Join author Jack Nisbet for a slide presentation that explores how the Leibergs fit into the western Montana and Idaho frontiers, and how their adventures resonate with issues that still confound us today. Doors will open at 6:15 at The Northwest Montana History Museum, 124 Second Avenue East, Kalispell (formerly Museum at Central School). Beer and wine will be for sale before the program, and Jack will be selling copies of his book The Dreamer and the Doctor, after.

Jack Nisbet’s influential books Sources of the River and The Mapmaker’s Eye tracked fur trader and cartographer David Thompson across the Intermountain West. Nisbet is also the author of an award-winning biography of naturalist David Douglas and several collections of essays that explore the human and natural history of our region