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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







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FEBRUARY 9, 2016 PROGRAM ANNOUNCED NEW!!!

WHERE: ST PAUL'S UNITED METHODIST CHURCH - CHOIR ROOM

WHEN: 6:30 PM SOCIAL TIME - 7:00 PM PROGRAM

TALES FROM THE FIELD: Montana Bird Conservation and Citizen Science

Have you ever wondered how to find current, accessible information about Montana birds, or felt inspired to be involved in a project that collects data about birds and their habitat? Learn how Montana bird monitoring and conservation efforts have matured over the past three decades from Dan Casey. Dan's presentation will provide examples and anecdotes of this evolution, drawing from his experiences with joint ventures, Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs), Jewel Basin Hawk Watch, eBird, and more. In addition to enjoying photos of Montana's birds and habitats, the presentation is intended to inspire attendees to play a personal role in "citizen science" birding to help advance bird conservation.

Dan Casey has been a fixture in Montana's birding community for nearly 35 years. He was the primary author of the 2000 Montana Bird Conservation Plan, and received Montana Audubon's Conservationist of the Year Award in 2006. He served 25 years as the regional editor for Montana CBCs, is a member and past Chair of the Montana Bird Records Committee, a moderator of the Montana Online Birding (MOB) Yahoo Group site, regional eBird reviewer, and co-author of the upcoming "Birds of Montana" book. He has worked for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, the American Bird Conservancy, and now for Ducks Unlimited as the Northern Great Plains Joint Venture Coordinator based in Billings

WINTER WILDLIFE TRACKING FIELD TRIP

How about a little wander in the woods in search of carnivore tracks and all things wild? Winter brings out an opportunity to find signs of wildlife that seem to be absent for much of the year. Melissa Cain, MWA intern, will be leading a tracking field trip into Beartrap Gulch near Helena on February 21st. For details on how you can participate, just click on the LCAS Field Trip page.

LCAS NATURAL HISTORY LECTURE SERIES ANNOUNCED

Last Chance Audubon has announced the March 2016 Natural Heritage Lecture series beginning March 3rd and running throughout the first four Thursdays in March. The theme of this years' series will be "Restoration". Natural History Lecture series' coordinators, Brian Shovers and Don Skaar have put together a sensational lineup for this season. For a complete listing of dates, times and location, please visit our Natural History Lecture Series page.

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT 2015

In the early dawn hours of Saturday, December 19, 2015, Last Chance Audubon members and friends gathered in the back room of Jorgenson's Restaurant and prepared for a day in the field. We swapped stories of Christmas Bird Count's past, spun yarns about the most recent bird sightings in the area, and, in general, had a great time visiting. All of this was a precursor to a day spent searching the Helena area for feathered friends that call Montana home in the winter months. Many groups posted high, or near high, species counts. Section 5 appears to have topped the list with a whopping 40 species seen (which includes count week birds)! Complete results have been posted to the LCAS Christmas Bird Count link. ENJOY!


BIG BELTS GOLDEN EAGLE CENSUS

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 jan2854@gmail.com