Montana Audubon Center - April 2018
Member Appreciation Event: April 8th
Earth Day Celebration: April 21st
Earth Day Celebration!
Looks like fun!

The "outdoor classroom" that is the Center, from its gravel-pit origins to the mature cottonwoods today, is a at its core a community landscape. For the last 15 years, thousands of volunteers have labored to create a habitat for local wildlife and a space for learning. The result is a treasure of a natural area for the community to enjoy. 

To both celebrate this evolution and to continue the progress, the Montana Audubon Center is hosting its 10th annual Earth Day Celebration on April 21st, 2018. Projects this year include trail work, weeding, fence removal, and our ever-popular trash pickup / nature hike opportunities. We anticipate up to 200 participants for the day and invite everyone to a BBQ lunch in appreciation. Bring yourself, your family, and your friends! We're also in need of extra fence pliers, so bring those too if you have them. We also welcome groups to join in the fun, but ask that they register ahead of time by clicking here.
Program Spotlight: All About Birds

This could be you!
Birding (a.k.a. bird watching) is one of the fastest growing hobbies in the country and there are a lot of things to love about it -- birds can be found nearly anywhere, it requires minimal equipment and it's an enjoyable pursuit you can practice in a group or by yourself.

At the Montana Audubon Center, we offer a variety of programs that feature our feathered friends: Saturday Bird Strolls have become a popular year-round program, with group sizes ranging from 3-12. Participants have included grandparents with grandkids, beginning birders, young adults, and even a few regulars who keep an eye on the birds throughout the season.

Our three most exciting bird finds on these walks have been a Chimney Swift, a MacGillivray's Warbler, and a rare-bird-alert-worthy Indigo Bunting! Our favorite part of the program, though, is helping people learn about the birds they might see anytime: chickadees, finches, red-tailed hawks, and flickers. One grandmother even told us that, after getting home from our program, her granddaughter "got out the Audubon book and spent the rest of the morning drawing picture of birds." That's exactly the kind of feedback we love.

Another great part of these walks is our growing partnership with the Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society, whose members frequently volunteer to help, sharing their expertise (and their spotting scopes) with the group.

Want to join in the fun? Our Saturday Bird Strolls are returning to twice a month, on the second and fourth Saturdays, in April, and shifting an hour earlier to start at 7:00. Cost is $10/person or free for members. No registration required!
Phenology Feature: Spring Migration

The Mountain Bluebird: a sure sign of Spring throughout Montana! Photo courtesy of Bob Martinka
This month we bring you a perspective from Coulee Creek Ranch near Lavina, the home territory of our teacher-naturalist, and author of this piece, Heather Bilden.

As spring marches into Montana, there is a surprise awaiting me every time I step out the door. Day by day the spring migrants are returning from their warm winter locales. The first harbinger of spring is the Sandhill crane. This year they arrived on March 15 th to a world still blanketed in snow. Their long legs maneuvered lithe bodies across the crusty snow in search of patches of bare ground. Within a week, their graceful courting dances began as the world around them melted out.

Next to return to the neighborhood were the mountain bluebirds. Their brilliantly colored feathers are a delight to my eyes, which had become accustomed to the flat white light of old snow and mud. Within days, they were busy bringing twigs and grasses to the hollow post in our yard where they nest each year. On the Equinox, the official start of spring, the red-winged blackbirds made their first appearance. Their buzzy "konk-a-ree" song will become the backdrop of life along any body of water for the next six months.

As March comes to a close, the Western Meadowlark at last arrives. Its sweet, flute-like melodies permeate the summer days on the prairie and grasslands of our state. Within a few weeks, we may become so accustomed to birds' songs that we forget how utterly silent the winter was without them. Even the black-capped chickadee, a year-round resident, is singing more frequently and ardently now than in the dead of winter.

As many bird species arrive to spend the summer with us, so too do some species depart. These winter residents prefer cooler climates, and head north as far as the Arctic to breed during the summer months. The Rough-legged Hawk, for example, breeds in the far northern tundra and only winters in the northern United States. It is more difficult to notice the departure of these species. They exist in the fabric of our daily lives for months, and then one day we realize that we haven't seen them for a while. Their return in the fall will signal the arrival of winter, just as the many birds this month are heralding spring and the warm months to come.
Upcoming Programs

Get ready for Spring!

More info and registration on our  program pagePrograms marked w ith an * require pre-registration.

For Adults
April 7, 10am: Raptors - Keys to ID

April 14th, 4-6pm: Sip & Sketch Nature Journaling (Part I)*

For Kids
April 4 - May 23rd, 3:30-5:30:  Afterschool Adventures in Nature*

April 2nd - May 24th (Mondays or Thursdays), 2:00-3:45: Hands-on Homeschool Science -- Bug Out!*

April 9th (SD2 days off), 8am-3pm: Break Camp: Fishing and Fort Building*

Every Tuesday, 10-11am:  Nature Nuts

For Everyone
April 7th, 11:30 - 2:30:  Open House

April 14th and 28th, 7-8:30am: Saturday Morning Bird Stroll

April 15th, 3-4:30pm: Weekend Wonders Family Program  -- Signs of Spring!

April 21st, 9-12:30: 10th Annual Earth Day Celebration!


The best and deepest of our thanks to the following individuals and organizations for donations to the Montana Audubon Center in February and March, including memberships and donations to our Yurt Fund!

Lara and Brian Guercio
Jenna and Brian Murphy
John and Debbie Miller
Harry L Willett Foundation
Joshua and Krystal Muir
Misty Martin
Maria Mikkelsen
Olga Shatalova
Jennifer Wadden and Billy Clyburn
Tricia and Matt Jansen
Michael and Erica Weaver
Hannah Ennis
Karen Johnson
Oscar Lebaron
Phic and Thuy Huynh
Claire Overholt
Brian and Andrea Ludwig
Kristi Schell
Kathie and Steve Shandera
Cindy Meccage
Suzanne Vaira
Debra Barrow
Boo Davis
Cara Waitman
Kris Miller
Ruth and Dave Torrence
Lionel and Vicki Tapia
Catherine Young

Montana Audubon Center
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