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

Field Trips
Christmas Bird Count
Birding in the Helena Area

Chapter Programs
Monthly Newsletters
Natural History Lecture Series

Habitat Protection
Environmental Advocacy


Tuesday, May 10, 7:00PM - St Paul's United Methodist Church, Choir Room

Over 40 adult Golden Eagles have been captured and tracked by Rob Domenech and his team of researchers using the latest in satellite tracking technology. Learn about where these eagles winter and summer and the amazing migrations they undertake. An adult male Golden Eagle "Diego" was captured during the 2013 fall migration in Montana. Diego has been tracked for 3 years from wintering grounds near Mazatlan, Mexico to summer range in northern Alaska, logging over 24,000 migration miles! Domenech will highlight aspects of their on-going research, discuss wing-tags vs. standard banding and how Citizen Science participation, using smart phones and trail cameras, have helped keep tabs on wing-tagged eagles. He will discuss the current status and conservation issues of Golden Eagles in North America.

Our speaker, Rob Domenech, Executive Director and founder of Raptor View Research Institute (RVRI), in Missoula, graduated from the University of Montana in 2002 with a Wildlife Biology degree. He worked throughout western Montana during much of the 1990s scouting for suitable sites to establish the first fall raptor migration ridgeline banding study in Montana. He founded RVRI in 2004 to further pursue his raptor migration studies. Domenech leads one of the most in-depth studies on Golden Eagle migratory ecology in the West, including point count monitoring, satellite tracking, feather isotope analysis, wing-tagging, blood contaminant levels and more. Please visit Raptor View Research Institute's webpage for additional information regarding ongoing projects and support.

MAY 14, 2016

Global Big Day is a single day, that unites birdwatchers worldwide, across political boundaries and language barriers, and is all brought together by our shared passion for birds. The idea is to get out and explore your bird world. By listing what you've seen using eBird, you can help identify distribution and migration patterns. This in turn helps Cornell Lab of Ornithology (eBird creator), to identify bird species of concern and the risks they face globally. It also promotes education and awareness of birds. In 2015, 14,000 people from 135 countries took part in Global Big Day. Let's do our part to make this the biggest Global Big Day ever! Follow Global Big Day 2016 and support Cornell Lab in their efforts toward conservation.


Save the dates! June 3rd - 5th Montana Audubon, in cooperation with the Missoula area chapter, Five Valleys Audubon, will host this year's bird festival. Please follow Montana Audubon's Bird festival page to stay up to date as organizers plan this year's event.


Complete results of Last Chance Audubon's 2015 Christmas Bird Count have been finalized and available at Christmas Bird Count 2015. ENJOY!


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