Field Trips

Downy Woodpecker 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.   All field trips are free for LCAS members. For non-members, they cost $15 – which includes an annual membership. RSVP required – contact the field trip leaders (listed below) to sign up (or if you’ve already signed up and need to cancel).

LCAS 2024 Field Trips Are Here – Join Us!

Join Kyle Strode for a morning of birding at the K-Mart Wetlands – an urban ecotone site that includes a marsh, ponds, woody thickets, and small patches of open grass-land. An impressive 188 species have been observed here over the years, including many waterfowl, sparrows, and warblers. Meet at 7:30 am at the intersection of Cole Ave and N Harris St. Most of this area has dry ground; footing is uneven in some spots. This meandering walk will last roughly two hours. Contact Kyle Strode to sign up
Keeping an observational journal is a great way to add to and improve your birding skills. Nature journaling combines words, pictures, and numbers to help focus our observations, and can enrich the time we spend in the outdoors. There are many ways to journal, and artistic talent is definitely not a prerequisite! The most important skill is simple curiosity, which birders have in abundance. This field trip will provide some ideas and resources to help you start your own journaling practice. Cindy Greiman will share information, resources, and tips on some different ways to approach journaling, and then we’ll find a good spot to sit and make some observations. Bring something to sketch on, a pencil, an eraser, binoculars, and water. If you’d like, you can also bring colored pencils or ink pens, and a blanket or camp chair to sit on. Meet at the fishing access at the west end of the Helena Regulating Reservoir at 7:30 am. This trip will last until around 11:00 am. Contact Cindy Greiman by May 16 to sign up or call 406-422-7033.
Leaders: Bob Martinka and Stephen Turner. Meet at Albertson’s Parking lot on Prospect Ave at 6:30 am for carpooling. 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.
The premier birding event in Montana will be held in Helena this year at Carroll College. Visit the Montana Audubon website for more information and to register.

Elliott’s Eden, formerly known as Stansfield Lane, is adjacent to Upper Prickly Pear Creek, and as such has cottonwood trees with warblers and flycatchers, and a pond full of waterbirds. In the trees we’ll look for Lazuli Buntings, Bullock’s Orioles, and Western Wood-Pewees. On the pond we hope to find Wood Ducks, Sora, Spotted Sandpiper, Northern Waterthrush, and Great Blue Heron. Overhead and nearby, we’ll keep our eyes open for Bald Eagles and Sandhill Cranes. Thanks to Kim and Pete Elliott for allowing us to visit their bird-rich ‘Eden’. Meet Janice Miller and Dan Ellison at the northeast corner of the Costco Parking lot at 6:30 a.m. and expect to return by noon. We will walk a distance of just under a mile. Bring binoculars, light rain parka, insect repellent, and footwear for swampy ground. To reserve a place, email Janice at Trip limit: 10 participants.
Join Seth and Mattie’s Big River Adventure author and ecologist, Sara Owen for an afternoon trip to Ten Mile Creek Park to learn about aquatic insects and the hidden world in the stream bed. Participants have the option to get their feet wet or participate from the bank. Participants will also have a chance to look for emerging insects and predatory spiders. Wear shoes or boots for getting wet (or not). Sara will have bug guides, a few hand lenses for magnifying bugs, and a few shallow containers for viewing bugs up close. Meet at 3:30pm at the shady picnic table near the kiosk at the bridge between Ten Mile Park and Spring Meadow Lake. Email Sara at to register.
Welcome to the Ranch on Trout Creek! Belted Kingfishers, Great Blue Herons, and Osprey regularly fish the creek. Watch for Golden and Bald Eagles soaring overhead. The songbird residents include Mountain Bluebirds, Lazuli Buntings, and Common Yellowthroats. A pair of Sandhill Cranes inhabit the wet-lands. Let’s not forget the Hummingbirds, Broad-tailed, Black-chinned, and Calliope. Nearby at Vigilante Campground we’ll find Ovenbirds, Western Flycatchers, warblers, thrushes and swifts. Thanks to Tia and Derek Nelson for inviting us to their ranch. Meet Sharon Dewart-Hansen and Janice Miller in the northeastern corner of the Costco parking lot at 6:30 am. We’ll return by 12:00 pm. Contact Janice to RSVP:

Coburn Currier will lead a trip to one of our favorite areas. Birding will be primarily through the Little Prickly Pear Canyon from the Chevallier Ranch to the Sieben Ranch at the I-15 inter-change. Riparian habitat along with dry, rocky hillsides should produce species such as Lark Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhee, House Wren, and maybe Yellow-breasted Chat. To register contact Coburn at Meet at the west end of the Lundy Center at 7 am and expect to return by 12 or 1 pm.
Join Don Skaar and Ray Breuninger for a combined trip looking at the fascinating big picture geology between Wolf Creek and Holter Dam. We’ll drive from the Helena Valley to Holter Dam. We’ll see typical basin and range topography, and the Rocky Mountain fold and overthrust belt. We’ll collect fossil clams in Wolf Creek. We will look at birds along the way too, which should include grassland birds above the Missouri River,
waterbirds on the river, and birds along the canyon walls (hopefully swifts and wrens). Contact Don Skaar to register: Meet at the east side of the Albertson’s (11th Ave) parking lot at 7 am. Return by 1-2pm.
Stephen Turner will lead a trip to Canyon Ferry WMA to survey for migrating shorebirds. Several shorebird ID experts will be on hand. Meet at the northeast end of the Costco parking lot at 7:00 am (please arrive a few minutes early). Return no later than 1:00 pm. This trip has limited space. Expect a 1.5-mile round-trip walk on dirt roads. Contact Stephen to register: