On Monday, February 15, MPG Ranch hosted members of Five Valleys Audubon and Bitterroot Audubon for the 19th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC). The GBBC is a joint effort between the National Audubon Society and Cornell Lab of Ornithology using ordinary citizens to create an annual snapshot of bird populations around the world. From February 12-15, birders submitted 158,468 checklists, recorded 5556 species, and counted 18,165,425 birds. In Montana, birders submitted 877 checklists and counted 131 species.
A pair of Golden Eagles overhead draws the attention of birders. Photo Kate Stone.
On the MPG Ranch, we split 19 participants into three groups and birded several different habitat types. We all agreed that the birding seemed slow compared to previous winters. We still counted 35 species. Our most unusual species included an early-arriving Say’s Phoebe, a Barrow’s Goldeneye, and a lone Snow Bunting.
Birds seen on the MPG Ranch for the Great Backyard Bird Count
February 15, 2016
Great Blue Heron
American Tree Sparrow
Northern Shrikes breed in the far north, and only visit us in the winter. Photo Nicholas Ramsey
Kate graduated from Middlebury College with a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Conservation Biology in 2000. She pursued a M.S. in Forestry at the University of Montana where her thesis focused on the habitat associations of snowshoe hares on U.S. National Forest land in Western Montana. After completing her M.S. degree in 2003, Kate alternated between various field biology jobs in the summer and writing for the U.S. Forest Service in the winter. Her fieldwork included projects on small mammal response to weed invasions, the response of bird communities to bark beetle outbreaks and targeted surveys for species of concern like the black-backed woodpecker and the Northern goshawk. Writing topics ranged from the ecology and management of western larch to the impacts of fuels reduction on riparian areas.
Kate coordinates bird-related research at the MPG Ranch. She is involved in both original research and facilitating the use of the Ranch as a study site for outside researchers. Additionally, Kate is the field trip coordinator and website manager for the Bitterroot Audubon Society. She also enjoys gardening and biking in her spare time.