Last Chance Audubon Society
Promoting understanding, respect, and enjoyment of birds and the natural world
through education, habitat protection and environment advocacy.

Photo credits - Bob Martinka unless otherwise noted

LCAS web site funded by a bequest from the estate of Nancy Tunnicliff

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Montana Wild Grasslands are for the Birds

Presented by Allison Begley

Grassland communities in eastern Montana provide some of the last vestiges of native prairie in the U.S. Birds such as Sprague's Pipit and Baird's Sparrow depend on intact grassland habitats. Fish, Wildlife & Parks is developing a strategy to provide a statewide focus on grassland conservation and coordination with conservation partners. Protecting and restoring grasslands is the objective to provide habitat for grassland-associated wildlife. The focus of this presentation will be the status of grasslands, grassland birds and the conservation of these habitats.

Our speaker, Allison Begley, is the Avian Conservation Biologist for Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. She graduated from the University of Alberta with an MSc in 2002 after working on wetland restoration. She has been a biologist with the department for over 13 years, and coordinates the Montana Bird Conservation Partnership as part of her duties..

Where: Montana WILD
When:Tuesday, October 11th, 7:00 PM



After many wonderful years of gathering at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, the LCAS board, after much deliberation, agreed to utilize the meeting space at Montana WILD for the upcoming 2016-2017 program season. The decision was based on a number of driving factors, chief among them was the facilities ability to expand in size. In addition, the audio/visual setup at St. Paul's was just not sufficient for many of our presenters, and Montana WILD is using state of the art equipment. We are very proud and honored to partner with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks! We will continue to gather at 6:30 PM for a bit of social time - cookies, drinks and bird stories, and the meetings will begin at 7:00 PM. We look forward to seeing you there!

NOTE: Montana WILD is located at 2668 Broadwater Ave. near Spring Meadow Lake.


Steve Hoffman, Executive Director of MT Audubon and raptor expert, will teach a raptor ID class for all skill levels from 6:30 - 8:30 pm on Friday, September 30th, at MT WILD in Helena. The Saturday, Oct 1, field trip will go to the Golden Eagle Migration Survey (GEMS) site near Duck Creek Pass in the Big Belt Mountains. Field Trip participants will practice identifying raptors all day. Species likely to be encountered: American Kestrel, Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper's Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle, and Golden Eagle. Dress for hiking and for the high mountain weather conditions. Bring lunch, water and snacks. Carpooling strongly recommended. High clearance and/or 4WD vehicles recommended. Home by 5 pm. Cost of $40/person for the classroom and field trip is tax deductible. All funds raised go to benefit the GEMS project. 25 person limit for Field Trip on Saturday. Pre-registration is required. Early reservations are advised. To reserve your place send your $40 check, payable to LCAS to: Janice Miller, 815 11th Ave, Helena, MT 59601. For those who would like the option to attend the Friday classroom session only, a donation of $25/person, all to benefit the GEMS project, is encouraged. Contact Janice Miller at for more info.

NEW!!! - SECOND RAPTOR ID WORKSHOP AND FIELD TRIP ANNOUNCED - October 14 and 15 (This field trip is filling fast!!!)

The September Raptor Identification Workshop is Full! However an additional workshop has been added!

LCAS is pleased to announce an additional opportunity to attend the raptor ID workshop. On the evening of October 14th, Steve Hoffman will conduct the raptor ID workshop followed on Saturday, October 15th by a field trip to the Big Belt site. The details for the second workshop (cost and contact info) are the same as those listed above. The option to attend the Friday classroom session only is offered, and a donation of $25/person is encouraged to benefit the GEMS project.


One of the most exhilarating experiences that one can have is watching a Golden Eagle soar on open wings along a ridge line at roughly 40 miles per hour. It appears absolutely effortless. Strength, beauty, freedom... are all adjectives that come to mind watching these outstretched wings. GEMS! Yes! It is about to happen again! Plans to conduct the 2016 Golden Eagle Migration Survey - GEMS, are well underway, and LCAS, along with Montana Audubon, US Forest Service and MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is taking a leading role in the effort. The GEMS committee has hired two "volunteer" observers for the 2016 season which begins September 1st and runs through November 5th. LCAS is looking for assistance with this year's survey. If you have that desire to watch a raptor cruise by heading for more temperate climates, please plan to join the effort. There is no experience necessary. Our observers love visitors and will teach all you need to know. Just bring a pair of binoculars and let the raptors do the rest! For more information or to volunteer to help, please contact Janice Miller at

Directions to the GEMS site:

Coming from Helena/Townsend on the west side, drive up Duck Creek Road to Duck Creek Pass. You will see a sign for Hidden Lake Trailhead. Duck Creek Road to the Trailhead is usually accessible in a 2WD. Be aware that conditions may change throughout the season. At the Hidden Lake Trailhead there is ample room to park. The road from here becomes steep and is only accessible in a high clearance 4WD. If you choose to drive (not recommended), please park at the radio tower. From the trailhead it is a 45 minute hike with a 900ft elevation gain (approximately 1.5 mi.) to the observation point. The observation point is located 300m below the radio tower. If you are coming from White Sulphur Springs on the east side, follow the dirt road passed Gypsy Lake and then on to Duck Creek Pass. Turn left at the Hidden Lake Trailhead sign. This road is also accessible by 2WD car and has been kept in excellent condition. Please note that if there is low cloud/fog over the radio tower then we will be counting from a knoll just north of Duck Creek Pass (Lower Observation Point).