Increase your Knowledge at the Montana Bird Festival

Rocky Mountain College in Billings, Montana, will serve as the host venue for the 2008 Montana Bird Festival to be held 6 to 8 June. Montana Audubon will be joining up with Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society to invite birding enthusiasts to enjoy three days of seminars, workshops, field trips and much more.

More than twenty guided field trips are planned to take participants to the area’s premium birding locations, from local parks through to the majestic Pryor Mountains and Pompey’s Pillar. Birders will explore diverse habitats including prairies, wetlands, mountain forests and river beds. All field trips will be led by experienced and knowledgeable leaders who are sure to add to the educational value of the trip with interesting facts about each habitat and the many birds that live there.

Depending on which habitat they choose to visit, birders can expect to see Blackbirds, Orioles, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Creepers, Doves, Dippers, Ducks, Swans, Geese, Flycatchers, Grosbeaks, Finches, Sparrows, Buntings, Grouse, Hawks, Falcons, Eagles, Hummingbirds, Jays, Crows, Kingfishers, Kinglets, Larks, Nighthawks, Shrikes, Starlings, Swallows, Swifts and Thrushes.

The festival will be opened on the Friday evening by Zoo Montana. Guests can look forward to meeting some interesting animals, as well as a presentation about the native animal and bird species that intrepid adventurers Lewis and Clark discovered during their travels along the Yellowstone River. The seminars planned for Saturday afternoon will cover a range of fascinating topics, which will include: raptors; bird identification; birds of Yellowstone River; surveys relating to wetland birds; C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge; bird photography; oil and gas development threats; wind energy; global warming and climate change; and Ethiopian Birding and Culture.

On Saturday evening, keynote speaker Kevin Doherty’s presentation “Sage-grouse, Energy Development, and Conservation Planning” will address the impact that habitat loss is having on Sage-grouse populations in the Rocky Mountain West. The presentation will include a number of strategies aimed at protecting existing habitats, as well as plans for the restoration of lost habitats. As the Senior Ecologist with the National Audubon Society, Kevin Doherty is well qualified to address these vital issues.

An art show with the theme “Birds of the Big Sky Country” will be running in conjunction with the Montana Bird Festival. Visitors will be able to view the artworks at the Rocky Mountain College’s Ryniker-Morrison Gallery from 15 May, and an artists’ reception and awards ceremony will take place on 23 May 2008.

Tours through the Montana Audubon Conservation Education Center will give visitors insight into the ongoing efforts being made to ensure that the diverse local bird population will be around for future generations to enjoy. Workshops will be on offer to introduce the joys of bird watching to visitors who are new to this rewarding past-time. Certainly this popular event will have something for everyone – so be sure to make a note in your diary that 6 to 8 June 2008 is reserved for the Montana Bird Festival.