Field Trips

Great gray Owl by Bob Martinka

Last Chance Audubon Society offers birding trips lead by experienced birders to local areas around the Helena valley. Trips are free and open to members and nonmembers. Participants at any level of skill and experience are encouraged to attend. Trip leaders provide information on bird identification, natural history and conservation. Bird trips are most commonly scheduled between March and June.  Trips are a half day or longer depending on the area visited and usually involve car pooling among trip participants.

Each trip participants needs to have binoculars. Bring snacks or lunch if appropriate, water, and dress for the weather. A bird identification field guide is useful.  Please contact trip leaders to let them know your interest in attending their trip.

2019 Last Chance Audubon Society Field Trips and More


May 18th, Saturday – Upper Blackfoot Valley/Browns Lake
Leader: Bob Martinka 

The group will do some birding along the way to Brown’s Lake (about 90 miles). The area is quite a birdy location and we can expect to see perhaps as many as 70+ species. Grassland birds along the way, cranes, marsh birds, waterfowl, grebes, swallows, terns, flycatchers, sparrows, warblers, possible orioles, perhaps Vaux’s Swifts, raptors, eagles, and others. Meet Bob Martinka at west parking lot of Lundy Center on Euclid Ave. at 6:30am. Carpooling at the meeting location will be requested. We will return to Helena about mid-afternoon, so bring lunches and drinks.  To reserve a spot please contact Bob Martinka at 449-3313, or

May 19th, Sunday – Warm Springs Ponds
Leaders: Jo Lace & Brian Shovers, and Don & Andrea Stierle

The Warm Springs Ponds attract a wide variety of waterfowl, passerines, and raptors, especially during the spring.  Gary Swant monitors the ponds on a regular basis and has recorded as many as 140 species over time.  We will meet at the west end of the Lundy Center parking lot at 7:15am on the 19th and carpool to Warm Springs, where we will meet the Stierles.  Bring a sack lunch.  We will return to Helena no later than 3:30 pm. If you’re interested please contact us at 406-443-6640 or at  Limit 10 people.

May 26th, Sunday – Sevenmile Creek Breeding Birds
Leader: Shane Sater

Bird Prickly Pear Land Trust’s stream restoration project just a few miles from Helena! This is a rare opportunity, since the site is not yet open to public access due to continuing restoration work. By late May, most of the breeding bird contingent should be on territory, and some may even have nestlings. We will very likely see Western Meadowlarks, Red-winged Blackbirds, Gray Catbirds, Yellow Warblers, Barn Swallows, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows, as well as many other breeders and transients. Meet at 6:30 am at the west end of the Lundy Center to carpool. Back by 12:30.

June 1st, Saturday – Mullen Road
Leader: Sharon Dewart-Hansen   

Sharon Dewart-Hansen will lead a trip to Mullen Road on the west side of McDonald Pass. As many as 46 species can be seen. Possible birds in this area are:  Veery, Northern Waterthrush, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Red-naped Sapsucker and Lazuli Bunting. Contact Sharon Dewart-Hansen at by May 30 to reserve a spot. Meet at the west end of the Lundy Center (on Euclid) at 6:30am and expect to return by around 12:00pm. 

June 18th Tuesday – Beck Hill Road near Garrison, MT
Leaders: Rich Wirak and Earl McCurley

Rich Wirak and Earl McCurley will lead a trip to the Beck Hill Road area near Garrison. Past sightings have included: Wilson Snipes, Long-billed Curlews, Bobolinks, Sandhill Cranes, Lazuli Buntings, Red-napped sapsuckers, and various warblers and sparrows. Nesting Swainson’s Hawks might also be seen. Be prepared for some moderate uphill hiking. Meet at the Vans-Hardee parking lot (on Euclid) at 7:00 AM. Expect to return to Helena by 2:00 PM. Contact information for the trip is Rich 406-443-5189 and Earl 406-461-7352.

June 25th Tuesday – Elliot Pond/Marsh   
Leaders: Rich Wirak and Earl McCurley

Rich Wirak and Earl McCurley will lead a trip to the privately-owned Elliott Pond-Marsh located off York Road near Helena. Over 35 various species of birds are spotted on this easy walk around the pond-marsh complex to include:  various flycatchers, warblers, sparrows, kingbirds, Swainson’s Thrush, Marsh Wrens, House Wrens, Great-horned Owls, Great-blue Herons, Bullocks Orioles, Belted Kingfishers, Blue-winged Teal, Wood Ducks, Yellowlegs, Wilson Snipe etc. The trip will be limited to 20 people.  Reserve a spot by calling Rich (406-443-5189) or Earl (406-461-7352). Meet at the Hardee-Vans parking lot (on Euclid) at 7:00 AM. Expect to be back by 2:00 PM.

July 20th, Saturday – Sevenmile Creek Mid-summer Early Bird
Leader: Shane Sater

Get a pre-sunrise start to catch the activity of mid-summer at Sevenmile Creek. By now many birds have fledged young. The latest arrivals have been here for a while already: Common Nighthawks, Willow Flycatchers, Lazuli Buntings, and Cedar Waxwings. And as always, expect the unexpected. Surprises on previous July surveys have included Ferruginous Hawk, Long-eared Owl, Clay-colored Sparrow, and Grasshopper Sparrow. Meet at 5:30am at the west end of the Lundy Center and come prepared for a streamside walk.

September 8th – World Shorebird Day
Leader: Stephen Turner

LCAS will once again support the World Shorebird Day effort by surveying shorebirds and other bird species at the Canyon Ferry WMA on Sunday September 8th.  The field trip will meet at the northeast end of the Costco parking lot at 7:00 AM. Please plan to arrive a few minutes early. The trip will leave the WMA no later than noon. This field trip is free to current LCAS members and has limited space availability.  Members are encouraged to register for the field trip as soon as possible.  Non-members are welcome.  The cost of the field trip for non-members is $15 which includes a one-year membership to LCAS.  Registration can be made by contacting Stephen Turner at

September 12th – Aquatic Insect Trip (Evening)
Leader: Sara Owen

Sara Owen, Ecologist for MT Natural Heritage Program, will guide us alongside a nearby stream to find aquatic insects, both by day and after sunset, to help us understand their importance – both to the stream itself, and also to birds and bats.  Bring flashlight and/or headlamp, warm clothes, and shoes that can get wet (optional).  Meet at 6:00 p.m. at the west end of the Lundy Shopping Center.  Please let Sara know you want to be a part of this exciting opportunity or to ask questions:



Meet at Birds & Beasleys, 2 S. Last Chance Gulch at 7:30am each Saturday to enjoy two hours of local bird fun. Locations rotate throughout the summer but include Spring Meadow Lake, Fairgrounds Pond, and the Cement Plant trail along Prickly Pear Creek and anywhere the group decides to go. Trips are led by staff or experienced local birders. Families and beginning birders welcome. Call 449-0904 for more information.