9 / 22 / 15


Greater Sage-Grouse – Not Warranted!

The Greater Sage-grouse Does Not Require Endangered Species Act Protection

Office of the Secretary
Because of an unprecedented effort by dozens of partners across 11 western states, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has determined that the greater sage-grouse does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act.


Make sure to watch the Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Announcement Video and please feel free to share with any interested colleagues.

This exciting news is breaking on social media too! Here are links to some tweets and posts from the Department and the Secretary:

#sagegrouse #wildlifewin


John Blair

Director, Office of Intergovernmental & External Affairs

Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

W: 202-208-1923 | C: 202-412-3486 | john_blair@ios.doi.gov


4 / 2 / 15


REWARD: For observations of Montana’s banded & unbanded loons!

The Montana Loon Society is offering cash prizes for the greatest number of 2015 observations of unique banded loons or confirmed unbanded breeding loons!

One $200 award will go for the most observations of banded and unbanded breeding loons reported by May 31, another $200 award will go for the most observations (cumulatively) reported by July 20, and one $100 award will be decided by a random drawing from all individuals who submitted at least one observation. Federal and State government employees are not eligible for the cash reward if they observe loons as part of their job. Send band observations to Chris Hammond of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (chammond@mt.gov) before these dates. The most useful band reports are the ones that come in to Chris as soon as possible, so send them in as you see them, even if you are not 100% sure of your observation. Qualified observations will be determined and counted solely by Chris. See the reverse side for information about how to observe and report loon bands. Winners will be announced at the summer meeting of the Montana Common Loon Working Group on July 22th-July 23th.


See flyer for additional information.


Photo credit:  Dan Poleschook & Ginger Gumm

Photo credit: Dan Poleschook & Ginger Gumm

This contest is generously funded by Plum Creek Timber Company.

Loons are very sensitive. Please enjoy them at a distance.


3 / 31 / 15


Breeding Bird Survey Expands in Montana – Birders Needed!

McCown's Longspur(M)1We all know that the Montana birders are increasingly lending their eyes, ears, and expertise to citizen science efforts. From sending sightings to eBird to joining in the Christmas Bird Count, we are greatly adding to our understanding of where birds are and how they are faring over time.  You may not be aware that much of what we know about trends over time stems from the long-standing and highly regarded Breeding Bird Survey.

Scientists and conservationists alike need a better understanding of these trends as we move forward in the 21st century, and the Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) has been shown to be an incredible tool. Unfortunately, in Montana, we have huge areas that are not adequately sampled.  One look at a map of BBS routes across the nation shows how “empty” parts of Montana are.

Which brings us to you.  If you have ever wondered about how BBS works and whether this could be a volunteer project for you, keep reading.  We are significantly increasing our routes this year, and we need talented birders.

McCown's Longspur Photo Credit:  Bob Martinka

McCown’s Longspur
Photo Credit: Bob Martinka

BBS started in 1964 and results from more than 50 years of data show that many of our breeding birds, formerly common, have seen significant declines in breeding populations. More than 60% of grassland bird species are experiencing declining populations. In Montana, grassland species including Sprague’s Pipit, Baird’s Sparrow, McCown’s Longspur, and Chestnut-collared Longspur are all declining. Bird populations are an excellent measure of environmental health and documenting declines helps private and public land managers make decisions for bird conservation.

More than 4,400 BBS routes have been established in the U.S. and Canada. The survey of the BBS routes is dependent on volunteer birders to conduct the surveys. Observers, traveling by car, conduct three minute point counts every half mile on a 25 mile long route established on existing roads. The survey for each route is conducted once each breeding season, most typically during June. Volunteers adopt one route (or more!), and they must be able to readily identify the birds (by sight and sound) that are typically found within the habitat of their adopted route(s). Observers who can survey a route for several consecutive years increase the statistical quality of the survey.

Montana has had 65 BBS Routes; however, in 2015 42 additional routes are being added to increase the survey density, particularly in grassland areas of Montana.  Information from the new routes will add to the existing survey database and provide additional information to land managers and researchers to provide better data for bird conservation. Members of the Montana bird conservation community are currently recruiting observers to survey vacant BBS routes. Training workshops to inform new and current observers about bird point count methods and BBS protocol are planned for this spring.

Information on the Breeding Bird Survey including location and species lists for vacant routes in Montana can be found hereThose interested are encouraged to become part of the largest bird survey effort in N.A. and provide a valuable contribution to bird conservation.

For more information, contact Dan Sullivan, Montana BBS Coordinator, at 406-443-4229 (ddsullivan001@gmail.com), or Sean Fields, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at 406-727-7400 x218 (sean_fields@fws.gov ).

2 / 4 / 15


Bald and Golden Working Groups meeting in Bozeman

There has been a great deal of hard work going on in the world of Eagles, and it is an opportune time to get together and discuss our progress and plans for 2015.  Given some of the overlap in conversations between these two groups, we are holding a “joint” or concurrently timed working group meeting for these two species’ working groups.  The meeting will take place in Bozeman on February 11 and 12, 2015.   For more information, please contact Allison Begley at abegley@mt.gov.

5 / 17 / 12


New Checklist of Montana Birds

The new and updated Checklist of Montana Birds is now available!  Download a pdf copy here.  This is set to print on 11″ x14″ paper.  Hard copies will be released at the Montana Audubon Wings Across the Big Sky Bird Festival in Kalispell, June 8-10, 2012. 

The Montana Bird Distribution Committee prepared the updated checklist while completing the 7th edition of P.D. Skaar’s Montana Bird Distribution book.  The 7th edition book is at the printers now and will also be released at the Bird Festival.   Montana Bird Distribution Committee members include representatives from Montana Natural Heritage Program, Montana Audubon, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Montana Bird Records Committee. 

Hope to see you in Kalispell!