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

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

Helena BirdsBlue Jay Mueller.jpg
The Bohemian Waxwing is an unpredictable winter visitor to Helena from areas far to the north. The name "Bohemian" refers to the wandering, nomadic movements of these winter visitors. They appear in small groups to large flocks foraging on fruits of wild and ornamental shrubs and trees. Bohemian Waxwings certainly are observed every winter in Helena but some years they are uncommon and perhaps only seen in small flocks. In other years, they may be seen over many weeks, sometime in large flocks of several hundred and occasionally several thousands of birds. These flocks typically fly in tight-knit groups, landing together in a tree or shrub and then taking flight again as a group, often in an explosive manner.

Both Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings are somewhat larger than bluebirds. Both species have black marking through the eyes and on the throat and have a head crest. The Bohemian Waxwing is distinguished from the Cedar Waxwing by its overall pale gray color and a rusty color under the tail feathers. Waxwings' voice is a distinctive high, thin trill often inaudible for those of us with high frequency hearing loss.

Waxwings have red, waxy appendages on the tips of their secondary feathers that are actually flattened extensions of the feather shafts. Both males and females show wax on their wings, with the number of tips in both sexes correlating positively to their age. Research supports the hypothesis that the birds match and mate according to age. Most observed mated pairs were composed of two birds with similar number of tips correlating closely with age. Young birds pair up with other members of their peer group while the older birds mate within their own circle. (Dan Sullivan) (Photo - Higgins)

Last Chance Audubon Society meets the second Tuesday of the month, September - May, 7:00 pm (excluding March) at St. Paul's Methodist Church, located at the corner of Cruse and Lawrence Avenues in downtown Helena. (map)

Tuesday, April 8, 2014. Implications of Landscape Surveys for Curlews and Cranes presented by Jennifer Stadum

In this interactive presentation Jennifer Stadum will provide the background on the first year of the crane and curlew study conducted at Red Rock Lakes NWR. Participants will have time to consider GIS data, obtained by Jennifer walking the landscape, and then to collaboratively form conclusions that she will verify in a creative presentation. She will also discuss the uses of the study beyond that first year and how it has benefited curlews not only in Montana, but also the Pacific Flyway.

Jennifer Stadum has an MS in Science Education from MSU-Bozeman in 2010. An avid birder, she spent her first day in Helena, in 2011, on the Christmas Bird Count with Last Chance Audubon. She currently serves on the LCAS Board as the Education Committee Chair. Stadum volunteers at the Montana Wild rehabilitation center, and loves to photograph nature. She also guides yearly llama treks into the backcountry of Yellowstone. Her full time position is with the Montana Office of Public Instruction as an Indian Education and Science Implementation Specialist. Her career in education has spanned 15 years and includes an additional Masters degree in teaching English Language Learners.