Last Chance Audubon Society
Promoting understanding, respect, and enjoyment of birds and the natural world
through education, habitat protection and environment advocacy.

Photo credits - Bob Martinka unless otherwise noted

LCAS web site funded by a bequest from the estate of Nancy Tunnicliff

About LCAS

2015 Bird Festival
Field Trips
Christmas Bird Count
Birding in the Helena Area

Chapter Programs
Monthly Newsletters
Natural History Lecture Series

Habitat Protection
Environmental Advocacy


*Due to an anticipated large gathering, the meeting has been moved to Montana WILD. *

WHERE: Montana WILD Education Center, 2668 Broadwater Ave.

WHEN: Tuesday, December 8, 2015. Refreshments and fellowship begin at 6:30 pm and the program starts at 7:00 pm.


Ecuador supports one of the most diverse bird communities in the world. The country is about the size of Colorado and boasts of over 1,600 bird species, with well over 100 species of hummingbirds. Some of its mountains rise over 20,000 feet, with the west slope supporting a cloud forest habitat, and the east slope areas descending into the Amazon River basin. To say it is a birders paradise is a huge understatement. And the brilliant colors and patterns that many of the birds sport are a sight to behold! Bob Martinka's presentation will cover the birds, scenery, culture and other aspects of this beautiful country that straddles the Equator. His exceptional digital photography is not to be missed!

Bob Martinka worked for nearly 30 years with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks. In his career with FWP, he began as a field biologist and then held a number of positions, closing his career as Deputy Director. Since retirement, Bob has become an avid photographer, traveling to numerous locations around the globe to pursue his interest in most wild things, including birds, mammals, dragonflies, and flowers. His passion for digital photography has allowed him to share his outdoor experiences and exceptional images with many others. Martinka obtained degrees in Wildlife Biology and Ecology from Colorado State University, Purdue University, and a PhD from Montana State University.


Mark your calendars for December 19th! Get out your long johns and mittens! Throw your binoculars, scopes and bird books in the car - gently. The 2015 Helena area Christmas Bird Count is on! Come join the search for the birds that call Montana home in the winter.

In the early dawn hours of Saturday, December 19, 2015, Last Chance Audubon members and friends will gather in the back room of Jorgenson's Restaurant and... more


On Monday, November 2nd, the inaugural Big Belt Golden Eagle Census ended. As the counters exited the steep slopes of Mt. Baldy toward Duck Creek Pass, smiles were the prevalent feature of the wind and sun burned faces. After 49 days of counting raptors at 8300 feet, the feelings of success were obvious. An unbelievable 2600 Golden Eagles were counted during the census, and a total of over 4300 raptors of 17 species were seen. Early data counts from around the country indicate that this may well be the largest concentration of Golden Eagles found in the lower 48 states.

The location was discovered by Executive Director of Montana Audubon, Steve Hoffman. In the fall of 2014, Hoffman, founder of HawkWatch International, spent an afternoon in the Big Belts watching Golden Eagles speed by on strong prevailing west winds and knew that this was someplace special. He contacted LCAS and the US Forest Service to coordinate funding and volunteer assistance to staff the location during the 2015 migration season. Anticipating a large eagle push through the mountains during the first two weeks of October, Hoffman outlined a 50 day count strategy that would highlight this period. On October 7th, counters watched as 329 Golden Eagles passed by within eight hours!

The count had an enormous amount of support. LCAS coordinator Janice Miller insured that the safety and well being of the counters was paramount and spent many a morning (and evening!) driving the rutted, twisting mountain road to deliver supplies and provide relief for counters, Bret Davis and Ronan Dugan. Additionally, The USFS provided assistance through seasonal employees that were well versed in conducting counts, and also provided financial backing for the project. Numerous volunteers made their way to the windswept west slope of Mt. Baldy to help spot and identify incoming birds, and the Helena Independent Record sent an intrepid reporter to interview counters. An account of the project is detailed in an amazingly well reported article (Raptor Rapture in the Big Belts) that ran on October 5th.

Plans to conduct the count next year are already underway and LCAS is planning to take a leading role in the effort. We are counting on a host of volunteers that will help in supporting this project, and we are actively pursuing sponsors that will assist with backing this project. The scientific, educational and recreational opportunities for the census are limitless. We are looking forward to watching this project grow. To support our efforts please contact Janice Miller at


On October 10th and 11th, a few hearty souls representing the Boy Scouts of America, Prickly Pear Land Trust, Montana Department of Transportation and Last Chance Audubon Society, gathered at the MDT Wetlands site on Frontage Road and worked diligently to complete a trail from the parking area, approximately 1200 feet to the east side of the wetland. The project was the brain child of Eagle Scout candidate Bryon Felter who developed the plan and worked closely with several organizations toward earning his Eagle Scout badge. The project included the trail work, and coincided with a fellow Eagle Scout candidate who placed benches at the site and installed bat boxes and bird houses. LCAS hosted refreshments for the work party and provided a little elbow grease in the trail building. Bryon was welcomed at the October 13th LCAS member meeting and gave a short synopsis of his vision and work that was completed in the area. Take a moment to visit MDT Wetlands and enjoy this small gem.


Pat yourselves on the back! Helena's own Last Chance Audubon Society along with Montana Audubon, pulled off our very first bird festival! Read More...


This past spring, Last Chance Audubon lost a faithful member, mentor, conservation advocate and friend. Dr. Jean Smith passed away in the waning days of May, and friends and family gathered on May 29th to celebrate Jean and the memories that we shared of our times together. Jean was professor at Carroll College for 32 years and was inducted into the Carroll College Alumni Hall of Fame in 1992. Her involvement in the community naturally made its' way to the local chapter, Last Chance Audubon. Jean served as a board member of LCAS for many years and chaired the Habitat Protection committee. In addition, she was a faithful "Birdathoner" and joined her team, The Sage Hens (wise old birds) in raising money for our local chapter. In 1998, at the Montana Audubon Bird Festival, Montana Audubon awarded Jean the Environmental Educator of the Year Award. This award was a fitting tribute to Jean and demonstrated her efforts at conservation awareness through education. It is with deep sadness that we say goodbye to Jean.