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

About LCAS

Field Trips
Christmas Bird Count
Golden Eagle Migration Survey (GEMS)
Birding in the Helena Area

Chapter Programs
Monthly Newsletters
Natural History Lecture Series

Habitat Protection
Environmental Advocacy


Nest Searching in the Sagebrush Sea

When:  Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 7:00PM  

Where:  Montana WILD, 2668 Broadwater Ave.

Cookies and Conversation 6:30 – 7:00

What is field biology? How do scientists collect data on birds? Why should I care about the Sagebrush Sea? If you ever asked yourself these questions, you may be interested in this programabout science in the sage. Locals often call the Sagebrush Sea “The Big Empty”. Hilary Turner comes to us after spending three months in the sage on the Jonah Natural Gas Field of western Wyoming. As a nest searcher who fell in love with the sagebrush ecosystem, she can’t wait to share the wonders of the “big empty” with you. Hilary will introduce us to the methods used to collect scientific data on breeding birds and give us a visual tour of her summer on the Jonah. Be prepared for lots of photos of sagebrush obligate songbirds, their nests, and their stunning habitat.

Hilary Turner grew up in Helena, MT with an intense passion for natural history, especially birds. She graduated with a degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana in 2016. During her undergraduate career, she worked as a nest researcher in Dr. Tom Martin’s lab. Immediately upon graduating, she became employed by the Rim Rock Energy Facility as a raptor monitor. Hilary has a variety of work experience in field biology including a stint in Louisiana at a National Wildlife Refuge and also surveying for Flammulated Owls in the Helena National Forest.

Newsletter Editor and Membership Chair positions filled!

LCAS is pleased to announce that Shane Sater has agreed to serve as the chapter's newsletter editor. Shane has become a very vital part of our chapter and has singlehandedly stepped up to conduct avian surveys on the recently acquired Prickly Pear Land Trust property known as Sevenmile Creek. We are proud to welcome Shane to our team as newsletter editor!

In addition to a new newsletter editor, LCAS is also pleased to welcome Sharon Dewart-Hansen as the new Membership Chair.  Sharon comes to LCAS as a recent retiree of Blue Cross Blue Shield and comes to us bearing a background in spreadsheets and data maintenance.   Sharon is an avid birder (check her out on eBird!) and can be found around the state searching out and photographing those hard to come by bird species!  Welcome Sharon!


As part of International Hawk Migration Week, Amy Seaman, Conservation Program Manager with MT Audubon will teach a raptor ID class for all skill levels on Friday, September 29th, and lead a Field Trip to the Golden Eagle Migration Survey (GEMS) study site near Duck Creek Pass in the Big Belt Mountains, on Saturday, September 30th. Participants will practice identifying raptors, with GEMS observers, for several hours on Saturday. Raptors likely to be encountered: Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and possibly Bald Eagle. Other species we may see include: Wild Turkey, Dusky Grouse, Red Crossbills, Clark’s Nutcrackers, and Gray Jays. Field trip participants can choose either a hike of 1.4 miles, with 900ft. elevation gain, to our primary observation site or an easy stroll of 150 yards, to our lower observation site. Friday evening’s class will meet at Montana WILD, 2668 Broadwater Ave. from 6:30 - 8:30 pm. Saturday morning we will meet at 8:00am at Costco, north parking lot (near auto bays). Carpooling and high clearance and/or 4WD vehicles are strongly recommended. Home by 5 pm. Dress for hiking and for the often cool, breezy high-mountain weather conditions (8000ft. elevation). Bring lunch, water, snacks, day pack, binoculars, and camera, and possibly a walking stick

GEMS is a cooperative effort between the US Forest Service, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, Montana Audubon, and Last Chance Audubon to document migrating Golden Eagles and other diurnal raptors. All funds raised directly benefit the GEMS project. The workshop will be limited to 30 persons and pre-registration is required - early reservations are advised. To register online, please visit Raptor ID Workshop Registration or send your non-refundable $50 check, payable to “Montana Audubon” to: Montana Audubon, Attn: GEMS Workshop, P O Box 595, Helena, MT 59624. Please put “GEMS Raptor ID” on memo line of your check. For more information contact Janice Miller at

GEMS Daily Updates

Looking for updates to the GEMS project. Look no further! In addition to visiting the GEMS Facebook page, or GEMS website for daily updates, you can click on a link the takes you directly to data that has been uploaded each day by our observers. This year, a software company named Dunkadoo has sponsored the GEMS project and has created a unique website to view raptor migration data direct from the Big Belts! The graphs and charts provide in depth information on what species are migrating, how many there are and what the weather is doing on the mountain. Sound totally awesome? Check it out here - GEMS Daily Updates.


Last Chance Auduboners along with friends and neighbors took to the field on January 2, 2017 to conduct the 61st annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC). The count was conducted in cold temperatures that reached only into the single digits above zero. However... Read more...
Complete 2016 count results are available here