Program Meeting – Common Poorwills

March 14, 2016 @ 7:30 pm – 9:00 pm
UM Gallagher Building, room L14
Susie Wall

We know little about the Common Poorwill, a member of the nightjar family, and its natural history and habitat needs in Montana. Most published range maps do not show the species occurring west of the Continental Divide in Montana. Kate Stone, an Ecologist for the MPG Ranch, will present the program. MPG is a private conservation property near Florence in the Sapphire Mountains. Surveys conducted on the ranch targeting other birds led to numerous incidental detections of Common Poorwills.

In 2015, biologists started a pilot project to more closely examine Poorwill distribution, habitat use, and breeding ecology. They also used Citizen Scientists from Bitterroot Audubon to survey for Poorwills in other parts of the valley. Volunteers detected Poorwills throughout the Sapphire Mountain Range. On the MPG Ranch, they found Poorwills widely distributed in habitats with a mixture of a shrubby overstory, steep terrain, and talus slopes. In some cases Poorwills roosted and/or nested in areas with tree cover. They captured 11 individuals and tested radio telemetry techniques to approximate range size, roost use, and site fidelity. They monitored activity at six nests and deployed motion-sensing cameras when possible to observe nesting behavior. They also used acoustic monitors and roadside observations to document arrival and departure dates. In this presentation,

Kate will summarize the initial findings and share other parts of Poorwill natural history not often observed. She will also be looking for volunteers to conduct Poorwill surveys this summer — maybe that could be you? Kate’s research focuses on using bird populations as a means of evaluating the success of restoration treatments. She also oversees several projects aimed at learning more about little-known bird species.

Kate Stone has an undergraduate degree in Conservation Biology from Middlebury College, and an M.S. in Forestry from the University of Montana. She lives in Stevensville and is a board member for Bitterroot Audubon and Ravalli County’s Open Lands Board.

Preceding Kate Stone’s program, Ian Anderson, a Senior in Wildlife Biology at UM and winner of a 2015 Philip L. Wright Memorial Research Award, will present the results of his project titled: “Influence of fine sediment on Arctic grayling (thymallus arcticus) egg survival: field experiments.”

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