Black-capped chickadee

A black-capped chickadee is pictured here. They are commonly found during the Christmas Bird Counts.

Gary Swant

Three bird counts are planned in southwestern Montana in conjunction with the 118th annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count taking place throughout the Western Hemisphere from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5.

The Pintlar Audubon Society invites interested volunteers — birders of all skill levels -- to join local birders. All start at 8 a.m. The schedule follows:

  • Tuesday, Dec. 19, Grant Kohrs National Historic Site, northern edge of Deer Lodge. Meet at the headquarters’ office. Lunch will be provided afterwards.
  • Saturday, Dec. 23, Clark Canyon CBC south of Dillon. Meet at the south parking lot of UM-Western in Dillon.
  • Monday, Jan. 1, Warm Springs CBC. Meet in the parking lot at Uncle Buck’s at the Warm Springs exit off Interstate 90.

The CBC counts consist of a 15-mile radius count circle divided into six sections with a team of at least two birders searching each area. Less experienced bird watchers are paired with experienced birders, providing a great way for beginners to learn the skills of field identification. The task of each team is to identify, count and record every individual bird, by species, within their section of the circle. This information is later tabulated for the entire count circle and reported to the National Audubon Society via their website.

The Warm Springs count has run consecutively for 43 years and Grant Kohrs is in its 11th season. Last year the Grant-Kohrs count had 16 participants, and identified 38 species. Warm Springs CBC tallied 43 species, and had 18 participants. Statewide, there are 32 CBC count circles.

Pre-registration is not necessary, but it is helpful for count leaders to know how many volunteers will be participating. Contact Gary Swant at birdmt@charter.net for Grant-Kohrs and Warm Springs and Jack Kirkley at j_kirkley@umwestern.edu for the Clark Canyon count.

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