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


WHERE: St. Paul's United Methodist Church
WHEN: October 13, 2015, at 7:00 pm.

The Nature of the Night Sky

Just 136 years after Edison's first lightbulb patent, we are losing our dark, night skies. Without realizing it, we have traded the Milky Way for an alien orange glow that smothers the stars. This relatively sudden shift to brighter nights is causing human health problems and ecological havoc for most plants and animals that share our planet. Too much artificial light, too little darkness. John Ashley will discuss artificial lighting and its impact on animals, places and people. His program will help you to rediscover the night sky.

Our speaker, John Ashley, is a Montana photographer, author, biologist and educator. In 1977, his grandmother gave him $200 to start his college fund. Instead, John used the money to buy his first 35mm camera, and then used the camera to put himself through college. He earned a biology degree from the University of Montana and became an award-winning photojournalist at newspapers in Florida and Montana. Ashley also worked as a field biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and National Park Service to conserve California condors, bald eagles, common loons and harlequin ducks. He recently published his new book, "Glacier National Park After Dark". His photography can be found at NIGHT SKY MT. REYNOLDS photo by John Ashley


At the August LCAS board meeting, Montana Audubon's Executive Director, Steve Hoffman presented the board with an opportunity to participate in a new project that involves counting raptors in the Big Belt Mountains. This project will be similar to the ongoing raptor census that is currently being conducted in the Bridger Mountains near Bozeman. The Big Belt census will focus on Golden Eagles although other raptor species will be counted as well. Preliminary counts from last year's migration indicated that the Big Belt Mountains may support a higher concentration of migrating Golden Eagles (50-100% more) than the Bridger's. One day count last season tallied over 270 Golden Eagles. Beginning September 15 and running for 50 consecutive days, two volunteers will station themselves approximately one mile south of Duck Creek Pass and spend eight hours each day counting migrating raptors. Additional volunteers are welcome and encouraged to visit the site during the census period. For additional information, please contact our census coordinator Janice Miller. Periodic updates will be posted on this website.


On the east side of the interstate about 1/2 mile south of Sierra Rd. is small wetland that belongs to Montana Department of Transportation (MDT). The ~20 acre parcel was created when the area was excavated for fill to build the Interstate overpass at Sierra Rd. The area filled with water, and willows, cottonwoods and other plants were able to thrive here. Naturally birds took up residence and the area now hosts a good diversity of species from early nesting Great horned Owl to autumn family groups of Sora. Apparently some of the water remains open in the winter.

Seventeen year old, Helena Boy Scout, Brian Salter is working to become an Eagle Scout. He is working with MDT, Last Chance Audubon, Prickly Pear Land Trust and Helena Land Reliance to develop a trail around the wetland. In addition, the project would create a parking area, place signage on the property, put up bird and bat boxes and install a number of benches. Brian is looking for volunteers to assist with the project and has scheduled a work weekend October 9-12. If you are willing and able to help with trail work, put up bird and bat houses, put together benches and so on, you are a great candidate for the weekend. Brian will be attending our October membership meeting to give us a brief synopsis of the project, and what he was able to achieve. LCAS has committed to host refreshments for the work weekend. This site will be updated as additional information becomes available. If you are able to help with this project, please contact Stephen Turner by email or by phone at 406-521-0000.


Last Chance Audubon Society has been invited to participate in supporting a collaborative event this fall called Helena Run for the Sun. The event, which takes place on Sunday, October 11th at 1 p.m. at the Lewis and Clark County Library, is a three mile run and/or one mile walk/bike and will feature a sustainability expo. Organizers have partnered with the Lewis and Clark County Library to raise funds for a solar energy system for the library, and to raise public awareness in the Helena community about clean energy and energy efficient solutions. The event is a group effort of the Sleeping Giant Citizen's Council, Helena Vigilante Runners, Montana Solar, Montana Environmental Information Center (MEIC), Montana Audubon, Alternative Energy Resource Council (AERO), Northwest Energy Coalition and the Green Group of Helena High School. The event is encouraging support through (tax deductible) donations and sponsorship. Please visit the Sleeping Giant Citizen's Council facebook page for more information.


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.