Dear Montana,

Summer is easing into fall, and our Conservation Ranching team is back home from the field, entering and analyzing the data they painstakingly collected over the course of the season across 13 Montana ranches enrolled in Audubon's Bird-Friendly Beef Program - a marketed-based approach to saving grasslands in Montana and the birds that depend on these critical habitats.

Meanwhile at the Crown of the Continent, our science team is wrapping up another year of monitoring waterfalls in search of the climate-sensitive Black Swift. 

At the Montana Audubon Center, we’re preparing for our annual gala Evening Under the Big Sky on Saturday September 16. A night dedicated to supporting our efforts to get more kids in Montana's largest city, connected to the outdoors in - we hope you can join us in Billings!

Hope you are staying cool on these hot days, and enjoy learning more about our work this month. 


Yours in Conservation,

Larry Berrin
Executive Director

A Fond Farewell to Amy!

Montana Audubon recently said farewell to Policy and Science Director Amy Seaman. After almost 10 years she has played many roles with the organization, from representing Montana Audubon at the state legislature to working with volunteers to conduct bird research.

While we will miss Amy’s enthusiasm for many projects, the Conservation team are well versed in their programs’ mission and direction, and poised for success. As she said “the staff know birds and habitat; they have tracked hundreds of miles across the state to know how to detect some of the tougher ones, and are working hard towards their conservation.”  

Amy will be moving on to other projects that further her professional development, but will continue to support all of the natural places and vast spaces that Montana supports. She is excited to continue working in conservation in the future and will continue to be a part of the birding community for many years to come.

Amy would like to extend a big “thank you” to all who have supported her in her role with Montana Audubon!

Welcome To Our New Communications Specialist

Welcome to Lauren Smith, Montana Audubon’s new Communications Specialist!

Lauren’s background is in science communication, nonfiction writing, editing, and bird research (songbird banding is her favorite, and she has handled wild birds ranging in size from Rufous Hummingbirds to Trumpeter Swans). Originally from Ohio, she has called Montana home for about a decade now. She’s excited to be joining Montana Audubon and to help connect people with birds and important conservation issues!

Learn more about our staff on the Montana Audubon staff page.

ACR Field Season Wrap-up

After a summer of wheeling all over the state of Montana, the Audubon Conservation Ranching team has put the summer field season to bed. It’s now August and the bird songs are winding down, which signals the transition to data entry and ranch enrollment. While the team readjusts to life back on Fuller Avenue, we would like to share a few highlights of the season.

Our team completed avian point count surveys on 13 ranches, painting a picture of what’s present across 110,000+ acres of Audubon Certified Bird-Friendly land and a few ranches in the onboarding process. As you would expect, we had a handful of interesting bird encounters. A highlight of mine was covering several miles from mountain islands down to the Missouri Breaks while surveying in Chinook. My transect (pictured above) moved from grassland to sagebrush, and Ponderosa forest to the riparian, where I picked up obligate species for each habitat along the way.

Amazingly, Christian and Bo encountered 6 Black-billed Cuckoos while surveying in Big Horn County! While the ACR program primarily focuses on grassland species conservation, moments like these remind us that ranches can support many other State Species of Concern. It wasn’t all fun and games though, as Bo and Christian had a few close encounters with rattlesnakes too. Needless to say, snake gaiters have become an everyday carry this season.

As you may have seen our write-up about Iinnii Days in the last newsletter, we’ve also been active at ranching and agricultural events around the state, Peter and Malia traveled to Helmville for the Old Salt Outpost Festival in late-June to represent the Audubon Conservation Ranching program. The three day event hosted a number of musical acts, authors, speakers, and wonderful representatives and partners from the conservation community.

Now that we are back to crunching numbers in the office, we look forward to sharing our survey results with you soon. Keep an eye out for more updates on our findings from this field season in future eNews!

-Peter Dudley, Conservation Ranching Assistant

Image: View from a survey point outside of Chinook, MT

Montana Audubon Submits Comments on Grizzly Bear Management

Montana Audubon is submitting comments to the Fish, Wildlife, and Park administrative rule making process on Grizzly Bear management.

With the passage of Senate Bill 295, the legislature directed the Commission to create guidelines in the event that grizzly bears are removed from the Endangered Species List. We will be opposing the passage of these rules until the Commission addresses what conservation organizations consistently voiced throughout the session.

Namely, current rules:

  • Use ambiguous terms to allow for take by private individuals on public land
  • Emphasize sport hunting of bears over non-lethal management
  • Create a scenario where bears taken outside of the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem Demographic Monitoring Areas do not count towards the commission quota.

We would like to see the Commission create rules to support livestock owners in taking non-lethal measures, designate department experts to manage bears on public lands, and bring the plan closer to Federal guidelines for recovery.

Learn more on the FWP website: Fish and Wildlife Commission Meeting: August 17, 2023

Fall Programs Are Just Around The Corner At The Montana Audubon Center!

After a few abnormally quiet weeks between programs we’re excited to start our fall session with the return of the Fledglings Preschool and Flyers Kindergarten program. Soon the grounds will once again be filled with the sounds of laughter, excitement, and the squeals of trying new things. 


Our school year sessions are always a joyous time for staff as they start to build relationships with participants and get to see first hand how they grow and build their own understanding and confidence on our 54 acres of restored landscape. 

Upcoming programs include:

  • Nature Nuts every Tuesday 10-11am 
  • Homeschool Science: September 12th 
  • Morning Bird Stroll: September 9th 8:30-10
  • Weekend Wonders Family Programs: September 9th 10:30-12

For more information and to join the fun and excitement, visit the Montana Audubon Center website.


Upcoming Event: Evening Under the Big Sky

Join us on Saturday, Sept. 16 for an Evening Under the Big Sky at the Montana Audubon Center in Billings.

The night features a catered dinner, open bar, and silent & live auctions, all to support the Center and outdoor nature education in the Billings area.

Childcare during the event will be available- see ticket link (below) for more information.

Learn more and purchase tickets online.

Tickets are $75 each, or $500 for a table of 8.

Thank you to Phillips 66 for sponsoring this event and supporting education programs at the Montana Audubon Center!

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