Christmas in April

If you are a bird watcher or maybe a bird lister it is notable when you spot you “first of the year” bird (FOY).  The anticipation of finding a “new” bird is similar to a child’s anticipation of Christmas morning.  April is full of birds showing up for the first time or showing up on their way to somewhere further north.  It is also a month when we say good-bye to some of our winter visitors, but you don’t know they are gone until you just haven’t seen them for too long.  Most of my observations this year have been from the West Bank Park area in the early morning or after 6 in the evening.  A few exceptions were a couple trips to Benton Lake NWR.  A quick look at my April 2021 list shows quite a few FOY’s (all from West Bank Park area unless noted).  April 1 – Short-eared Owl, Sharp-tailed Grouse (Benton Lake); April 4 – Tree Swallow (Giant Springs); April 6 – Franklin’s Gull; April 8 – Marsh Wren, American Avocet; April 10 – American White Pelican; April 11 – Black-necked Stilt; April 16 – Wood Duck, Horned Grebe; April 17 – Yellow-headed Blackbird, Long-billed Curlew, Cinnamon Teal, Ross’s Goose (Benton Lake); April 18 – Red-tailed Hawk; April 20 – Swainson’s Hawk; April 21 – Osprey; April 22 – Grackle, Marbled Godwit; April 23 – Willet, Mourning Dove; April 23 – Wilson’s Snipe, Common Loon; April 25 – Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-tailed Duck (although not a FOY – it was in late April plumage and quite remarkable); April 26 – Blue-winged Teal, Common Tern; Turkey Vulture; April 27 – Northern-rough-winged Swallow.

Christmas Bird Count 2020

What a crazy year this has been! Even the Christmas Bird Count is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic! Na- tional Audubon has requested chapters to choose to have their count or to cancel it this year. They have strict guidelines that participants will follow. Because of social distancing, we can’t have our usual carloads of participants, nor can we invite the public or even additional UMBA members to join us this year. No pizza party afterwards to share tall tales or short tales of the day’s sightings. Sigh.. …

Christmas Bird Count 2019

(above – Sarah and Jaye take a closer look at a Great Horned Owl at Giant Springs State Park during “count day”-photo-Beth Hill)

Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon 2019 Christmas Bird Count is in the books. It was UMBA’s 47th Christmas Bird Count and the 120th National Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC).

CHRISTMAS BIRD COUNT 2019

UMBA invites anyone interested in helping with this year’s census to come to the December 9, 2019 chapter meeting, 7:00 PM in the FWP Regional Headquarters conference room (4600 Giant Springs Road). Participants will be assigned to one of 10 area teams with experienced team leaders. Some areas are primarily drive/stop. Other areas involve a lot of walking. Inexperienced birders can serve as the team scribe, help spot, take pictures or count while learning to identify the birds. The leader packets will be given out at the meeting. If you can’t get out for the day (or half-day) you can add to the data collected by counting the birds in your yard or at your feeder. Take 10 minutes to observe and count. Send your results to our compiler – Nora Gray by December 28th.

Land & Water Conservation Fund Awareness

Montana Audubon is hosting a free, public event in at Giant Springs State Park on October 5th, 2019 highlighting the importance of one of our nation’s most effective and important tools for protecting habitat and recreation, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Guided bird walks in and around Giant Springs will occur on a rotating basis during the morning. A brief speaking session (~20 min) will occur about 12:30 pm, with live music and food provided.