Dear Friends,

Thanks for hanging tight with us through this past month. For those of you signed up to receive our printed newsletter, keep an eye on your mailbox this week!

Fall migration is beginning (or well under way in some areas!) which means that it's time to "dim the lights for birds at night." By ensuring dark skies, we can help birds get where they're going. If you want to keep an eye on where the largest clusters of the fall migration are occurring, check in HERE.

Read on for ACR and Harlequin Duck updates, as well as where you can find us for the Bridger Raptor Festival--it's free, btw!
Montana Audubon Staff
Montana Audubon's 1st Annual ACR Rancher Roundup!
On July 19, Montana Audubon facilitated the 1st Annual Audubon Conservation Ranching (ACR)- Rancher Roundup. Kristi and Tom Patterson hosted the event at their gorgeous, ACR certified ranch- the P Bar Ranch in Mcleod, MT. The event brought together, face-to-face, Montana Audubon Conservation Ranching staff, partners, and ACR certified ranchers. Ranchers in attendance included operators from P Bar Ranch (including Hay Mama and Cowgirl Meat Co.), from Birdtail Ranch in Chinook, MT, and from
Montana Better Beef Ranch in Kila, MT. Partners attendees included staff from National Audubon’s Marketing and Communications team, Western Sustainability Exchange, and from Abundant Montana.

After chatting over coffee and snacks, attendees took a bird walk on the floodplain at P Bar Ranch. Folks mingled and shared expertise on grazing, birds, grasses, plants, and pollinators as the group meandered
through the extensive cottonwood bottoms along the Boulder River, and then out onto the prairie foothills east of the ranch houses. French dip sandwiches, made with grass fed ACR Certified beef from P Bar Ranch, were served for lunch. After lunch, Montana Audubon facilitated a forum on “Markets and
Marketing for ACR Beef/Bison Products.” Initially, we defined the difference between Market Development and Marketing. A “Market” is where you want to sell your product. “Marketing” is identifying and appealing to your audience and
customers. Once defined, attendees shared their expertise. Farley Green, Marketing Specialist from National Audubon shared ideas on how to find and reach your audience. We also introduced two of our partner organizations with Kelsey Miller, Local Food Coordinator (Central Montana) from Abundant Montana and Chris Mehus, Program Director from Western Sustainability Exchange, who gave a brief overview of the burgeoning carbon markets that may become available to ACR certified ranchers. Best of all, the ACR Ranchers in attendance shared their experiences finding suitable markets, and with challenges maintaining and entering new markets.

We at Montana Audubon Conservation Ranching want to thank Kristi and Tom, at P Bar Ranch, for hosting the event. And, thanks to all the MT ACR ranchers and partners who travelled from all reaches of Montana to attend this event. We hope to see you all next year, location TBD!
The Harlequin Duck: How Do You Study a Boom and Bust Species?
For the last thirteen years, biologists from Glacier National Park have led a partnership to study Harlequin Duck populations in Montana. As a boom and bust species that breeds in fast moving creeks and rivers, researchers have struggled to find the best way to survey the birds. Historically, data is primarily collected through ground-based surveys, with observers walking miles upstream in waders in search of Harlequin broods. Advancements in technology and sampling methods might just turn that formula on its head.

Holli Holmes, a graduate student with the University of Montana and Glacier National Park, is researching the effectiveness of traditional ground-based surveys, trail-cam surveys, and a new method: environmental DNA. Researchers are now able to collect DNA samples from the environment and send them off to the lab to determine presence and or relatedness of individuals. For Harlequin Ducks, eDNA is collected by pumping stream water through a small paper filter at set increments along the 3-5 mile focal area of a waterbody. Christian Meny (ACR Program Manager) and Peter Dudley (Big Sky Conservation Corps (BSWC) Conservation Ranching Assistant) joined biologists from the U.S. Forest Service and Montana FWP for two surveys along Rock Creek in the Kootenai National Forest and the Boulder River in the Gallatin National Forest. The surveyors collected dozens of samples, setting up trail cameras, and hoofing it up some rowdy rivers. If eDNA surveys proves to be a successful method, Harlequin Duck surveys could be as simple as collecting water samples.

While this research project has the potential to revolutionize how Harlequin Ducks are studied in Montana, it will also have major implications for the viability of eDNA in avian research and we can’t wait to see the results! Keep an eye out for updates on this project as we learn more from this summer’s research. Feel free to reach out to Peter at for more details on the surveys.
Legislation Season is Quickly Approaching: Back to the Capitol Halls
After the 67th’s remote Legislative Session we are looking forward to returning in-person to the halls of the Capitol Building in 2023. Along with the biennial debate surrounding our state’s budget, we anticipate changes targeting land-use planning regulations, zoning and subdivisions, and wildlife habitat and harvest.

In 2023 our voices will be more important than ever as we work to reauthorize funding for Habitat Montana, Upland Game Birds, Fishing Access Sites, Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS), pollinators and their habitat, Greater Sage-grouse conservation, and more.

As we prepare for the session we hope you are preparing to tune in along our side. By joining our online action network, you can help us speak up for the issues that matter most to birds and wildlife in our state this coming session. No matter the setting, our Action Alerts will be there to keep you informed of the issues coming forward!
Join us on October 7-9th, 2022 for the Bridger Raptor Festival: A party for fall migration!
Join Montana Audubon’s Avian Specialist, Bo Crees, for two days of free raptor identification courses, and expert answers to your avian inquiries.
This annual raptor migration survey and event at the Bridger Mountain Ski Resort is free to the public; hike up to the observation site, enjoy workshops and presentations on raptors and mingle with fellow birders. For more information about this event, click here.

See our Montana Audubon Center September 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