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.

*The field trip schedule for 2020 has been impacted by COVID-19.  Please watch the website for cancellation updates or contact the field trip leader for updates.

2020 Last Chance Audubon Society Field Trips and More


Freezout WMA – Photo be Janice Miller

April 3, 4, Sat/Sun: Freezout Lake WMA.  CANCELED
Leader:  Janice Miller 

Witness the thrill of thousands of white geese during lift-off, with the snow-capped Rocky Mountain Front as a back-drop.  It’s a phenomenal sight you don’t want to miss!  This is an over-night field trip as the spectacular events are best at sunset and again at sunrise.  Contact Janice Miller for details at:

May 10th, Sunday – Warm Springs Ponds.  CANCELED
Leaders:  Brian Shovers & Jo Lace

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 7:15 am. on May 10th and carpool to Warm Springs, where we will meet the Stierles.  Bring a sack lunch and dress for the weather. We will return to Helena no later than 3:30 pm.  Led by Jo Lace & Brian Shovers, and Don & Andrea Stierle. If you’re interested please contact us at 406-443-6640 or at  Limit 10 people.

May 23, Saturday: Canyon Ferry WMA.
Leader:  Bob Martinka

Meet at Albertson’s Parking lot on Prospect Av at 6:30 for car-pooling. We should arrive back in Helena shortly after noon, so bring lunch and drinks if you wish. Species we will likely see include a good variety of waterfowl, gulls, pelicans, warblers, and other small birds. We may make several other stops to view grassland birds and riparian associated species. Possible species list of 65+. Contact Bob by email or phone: or 406-449-3313.

June 20th, Saturday: Sevenmile Creek at the Solstice.
Leader:  Shane Sater

On the longest day of the year, what are birds up to on Prickly Pear Land Trust’s stream restoration property? Just miles from downtown Helena, this patchwork of grassland, riparian thickets, and small ponds is rich with summer birds. We regularly spot 40 to 50 species on June surveys. Look for Yellow Warblers, Gray Catbirds, Lazuli Buntings, Spotted Sandpipers, and up to six species of swallows. There could be surprises, too: past Junes have turned up a Broad-winged Hawk, Swainson’s Hawk, and Red Crossbills. To be led by Shane Sater. Meet at 5:30 am at the west end of the Lundy Center. Bring snacks, water, optics, and layers. Back by 12:30 pm.

American three-toed Woodpecker – Photo by Janice Miller

June 21, Sunday: Rice Ridge Forest Burned Forest area, near Seeley Lake.  CANCELED
Leader: Megan Fylling, UM Bird Ecology Lab

We will meet in Seeley Lake at 7:45am and travel to Rice Ridge from there, which is another ~15 minutes. We will have chances for Black-backed Woodpecker, American Three-toed Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Cassin’s Finch, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Townsend’s Solitaire, Mountain Bluebird, and more. Participants can expect to walk around a mile off-road to look for species, but it is possible to stay on the road if you are uncomfortable walking off trail. Please wear sturdy hiking shoes, bring sunscreen, lunch, and water. We will conclude the trip around 11:00 or when bird activity starts to die down.  Meet at the west end of the Lundy Center at 5:45 a.m.  Returning to Helena mid-afternoon.

June 23, Tuesday: Beck Hill Road near Garrison.
Leaders: Rich Wirak & Earl McCurley

Rich and Earl 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 Hawks might also be seen. Be prepared for some moderate uphill hiking. Meet in the Van’s/Hardees 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 30, Tuesday: Elliot Pond-Marsh, Helena.
Leaders: Earl McCurley & Rich Wirak

Rich and Earl 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, 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 Van’s/Hardees parking lot (on Euclid) at 7:00 AM. Expect to be back by 2:00 PM.

August Date-TBD – 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).   Please let Sara know you want to be a part of this exciting opportunity or to ask questions:  Details will be forthcoming.

World Shorebird Day 2019 Photo by Janice Miller

September 6, Sunday: World Shorebirds 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 6th.  Several experts in identifying shorebirds will be on hand. 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 return from the WMA no later than 1PM. 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



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.