Dear Friends,
Happy New Year!

A new year means new opportunities for conservation, birds, and fun! In this eNews, we provide more information about the Audubon Conservation Ranching Initiative and why it's so vital for our grassland birds. We are also welcoming back Peter Dudley and giving a heads up about the quickly approaching Climate Watch Surveys. Spread the news with your friends and fellow birdwatchers: Montana Audubon is soaring into 2022 with high hopes and goals!

Yours in Conservation,
Montana Audubon Staff
Montana Ranching, An Incredible Opportunity for Bird Conservation
In 2019 Montana Audubon partnered with the National Audubon Society (NAS) to launch the Audubon Conservation Ranching Program (ACR) in Montana. To date, we’ve enrolled approximately 92,000 acres across nine bird-friendly ranches in diverse regions of the state. These ranches partner with Montana Audubon to implement adaptive Habitat Management Plans, to maintain, create, and enhance bird habitat. This is critical work, due to the fact that grassland birds are imperiled.  

Current research shows grassland birds as declining and at-risk; with approximately 70% of grassland birds, like the Long-billed Curlew, Baird’s Sparrow, Burrowing Owl, Sprague’s Pipit, and Chestnut-collared Longspur, suffering massive declines (NAS; Cornell Lab of Ornithology; USFWS). Habitat degradation occurs through land conversion and fragmentation, poor grazing practices, invasive plants, pesticide use, and energy development. With only 40% of America’s Great Plains still intact, Montana ranches, with vast rangelands for cow-calf production, become pivotal in grassland bird conservation. Read the rest HERE.
Climate Watch Surveys are Around the Corner!
From January 15th through February 15th, 2022, National Audubon’s Climate Watch program is back! Winter surveys include 12 short point-counts for target species like White-Breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, and Red-Breasted Nuthatch; species that can often be found in your backyard. 

The Climate Watch program aims to document species’ responses to climate change by having volunteers in the field look for birds where Audubon’s climate models predict them to be through the 2020s. Volunteers who complete Climate Watch counts serve a critical role collecting data that will help us understand how birds are responding. 

We are excited to help Montana start up its third year of Climate Watch monitoring and have all the resources you need to get started here.

You can learn the step by step process of Climate Watch by going to

Or, tune in Thursday, January 13th, for a presentation by National Audubon partners.

Please email Peter Dudley at for more information and to get you set up for the survey. 
Grassland Birds Use Grass...Differently
The primary mission of Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR) is to conserve grassland birds. To do this, Habitat Management is one of three pillars of the program. But what makes good grassland habitat? To begin to answer this question, we need to consider what species constitute native prairie, and how these species evolved. Generally speaking, prior to significant European settlement in Montana, grassland birds evolved in habitats largely influenced by massive herds of roving American bison. Let’s look at how diverse grassland habitat, and grazing, supports three priority grassland species native to Montana. Read more HERE.
Welcome Back Big Sky Watershed Corps!
Montana Audubon welcomes Big Sky Watershed Corps member Peter Dudley for the 2022 season. Peter spent the last year building capacity within the Audubon Conservation Ranching program, our citizen science programs, and partnerships around the state. "With a full year under my belt with Montana Audubon, I can't wait to hit the ground running to support our critical conservation efforts in Montana," says Peter. Keep an eye out for updates from him. Citizen science programs are coming up soon!
See our Montana Audubon Center January eNews HERE!
Help secure the future of Montana’s birds at risk from climate change, habitat loss, and other threats. A monthly donation ensures Montana Audubon can protect birds and wildlife well into the future. Make your $20 commitment now!
Montana Audubon