UMBA’s 2023 Christmas Bird Count – Invitation

UMBA invites anyone interested in helping with this year’s census to come to the Monday, December 11, 2023 chapter meeting, 7:00 PM in the FWP Regional Headquarters conference room (4600 Giant Springs Road).

Nora Gray will assign participants to one of 10 area teams with experienced team leaders. Inexperienced birders can serve as spotters or the team scribe while learning to identify the birds. The leader packets will be given out at the meeting.

We also hope that anyone not in one of the CBC section car groups will count birds in their yards! You can email or call Nora Gray to report your yard Count Day findings by Sunday, December 17. Remember, “Count Week” is 3 days before & 3 days after “Count Day”. During Count Week, we count only species not see on Count Day, not numbers of birds in a species. If you have sightings on these additional days, please inform Nora! Count Day this year: Sat., Dec.16; Count Week: Dec. 13, 14, 15 & 17, 18, 19.

On count day – Saturday, December 16 – dress WARMLY, bring a thermos with a hot drink and a lunch, binoculars, a scope and a bird field guide (if you have them), AND a sense of adventure. Let Nora know the week before the meeting if you need to borrow a pair of binoculars. She has to go pick them up.

Most teams begin their count around 8:00 AM and finish between noon & 5:00 PM, depending on the weather and size of their count area. Check with your area team leader about where & when to meet Saturday morning.

At 5:00 PM Count Day, participants and other interested folks may join UMBA for the wrap-up session that includes pizza & salad in the FWP Regional Headquarters confer- ence room. Each area leader reports the number of species and birds seen that day and then gives highlights of that area’s sightings. UMBA will pay for CBC participants’ dinners; nonparticipants will pay $7 each. Please let Nora Gray know if you’ll join us for pizza by Thursday, December 14, so that we order enough!

In case of inclement weather, the dinner will be canceled, and the count will be held Sunday, December 17.

For the birds,

Nora Gray     781-4153

Wings Across the Big Sky—2023

Mark your calendars for June 9-11, 2023. Montana’s premier birding festival is coming to Great Falls next summer! Wings Across the Big Sky sponsored by Montana Audubon and co-hosted by our own Upper Mis- souri Breaks Audubon group is a 3-day festival that includes dozens of field trips, a kid-friendly family event, and a keynote presentation. This festival will be held in Great Falls June 9-11, 2023 and headquartered at the Heritage Inn. It celebrates Montana’s diverse birdlife while highlighting important conservation issues. UM- BA will be planning and organizing the field trips for the festival. We are looking for 1) field trip leaders 2) field trip suggestions with an emphasis on “family/kid/teen friendly” style field trips. Do you have some places you like to take the kids? We’d like to know. As we get closer we may be asking for volunteers to fill various roles, but the field trip planning is a priority. Contact Beth Hill—

UMBA’s 2021 Christmas Bird Count

The National Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC) began in 1900 as a way to count rather than kill birds. 2021 marks the 122th National Audubon CBC. For UMBA it is our 48th CBC.  26 participants rallied to tally the avian species and their numbers on a cloudy, cool and increasingly windy day. 2 folks called in the count from their bird feeder again this year. We invite more folks to send me their bird feeder lists on CBC day!  We sure hope that more people will be able to join us next year! Covid once again kept our participant numbers down. Happy holidays to all of you!

For the birds!

Nora Gray


We spied 57 species on Count Day (December 18th this year) and 4 during Count Week (3 days prior to and 3 days after Count Day).

Species followed by a number = a Count Day sighting + number counted.  CW = Count Week species, but we can’t count the numbers seen outside of Count Day.

Not surprisingly, Canada Geese topped the chart: 15,327, followed by Mallards: 2093.  Bald Eagles were active and seen everywhere.  A frozen river and duck hunting season can provide an attractive amount of food items for a Bald Eagle.  Bald Eagles will consume large numbers of injured waterfowl – we hope that hunters are using lead-free shot.  The lone Junco was seen in a horse corral (an odd place for a junco).  Most of the Cackling Geese were in one flock found by Wayne Phillips and his counting crew.  Some years few or no Common Redpolls and Rough-legged Hawks are seen.  This year was a good year for both species.


Cackling Geese: 174                Tundra Swan:  2                      Northern Pintail: 1

Canvasback:  2                        Redhead: 42                            Ring-necked Duck: 4

Lesser Scaup: 22                     Bufflehead: 416                      Common Goldeneye: 1499

Barrow’s Goldeneye: 61         Hooded Merganser: 9             Red-Breasted Merganser: CW

Ruddy Duck: 8                         Gray Partridge (Hun): 3           Sharp-tailed Grouse: 13

Wild Turkey: 184                     Pied-billed Grebe: 1                Eared Grebe: CW

Bald Eagle:  55                        Northern Harrier: 8                Sharp-shinned Hawk: 1

Red-tailed hawk: 5                  Harlan’s Hawk: 2                     Rough-legged Hawk: 44

Golden Eagle: 4                       American Kestrel: 2                Merlin: 2

Prairie Falcon: 2                      American Coot: 552                Ring-billed Gull: CW

Rock Pigeon: 991                    Eurasian-collared Dove: 258   Mourning Dove: 1

Great Horned Owl: 1               Belted Kingfisher: 1                 Downy Woodpecker: 8

No. Flicker(unkn.sp): 23          No. Red-shafted Flicker: 26    Northern Shrike: 3

Black-billed Magpie: 248        American Crow: 43                 Common Raven: 10

Horned Lark: 112                    Black-cap.Chickadee: 155       Red-breasted Nuthatch: 4

White-breasted Nuthatch: 1   Brown Creeper: 1                    Townsend’s Solitaire: 1

American Robin: 8                  European Starling: 804           Bohemian Waxwing: CW

American Tree Sparrow: 32    Dark-eyed (Slate)Junco: 1       House Finch: 473

Common Redpoll: 37              American Goldfinch: 31          House Sparrow: 1825

Chipping Sparrow: 3               American White Pelican: CW    Common Merganser: 9

Ring-necked Pheasant: 118    Song Sparrow: CW                  Unknown Duck sp.: 1

Unknown Buteo sp.: 4             Unknown Falcon sp.: 1