Birdathon 2012

In early June, two teams birded from dawn to dusk in their efforts to tally birds and raise funds to support our chapter. For the most part the two teams went quietly about their planning with some bantering and probing of the other team to uncover their strategy. The Chit Chats birding team of Larry Weeks, Paul Loehnen, Cynthia Hudson, and Rose Leach birded from Missoula to the Freezout Refuge. They tallied 142 species for the long day.  The Coffee Swallows team of Jim Brown, Amy Cilimburg, Gary Knudsen, Vick Applegate and Terry Toppins birded from Missoula to the Browns Lake area and tallied 124 species.

The Chit Chats won hands down for funds raised by collecting $6,062. The Coffee Swallows raised $3,423. The total money raised by the birding teams and a mail appeal to members who could not be reached by phone was $9,485. This was an outstanding response by members of the Five Valleys Audubon Chapter and some non members too. A huge thanks goes to the 154 people who generously made donations to the birdathon. And, a huge thanks also goes to the group that made phone calls to members, including Beth Loehnen, Rocky Healy, Betsy Griffing, Cynthia Hudson, Larry Weeks, Gayle Knudsen, Bill DeCou, Carolyn Goren and Jim Brown.

These funds allow our Chapter to support conservation of bird habitat in the Clark Fork-Grass Valley Important Bird Area (IBA), the Community Naturalist Program, the Audubon Adventures program for middle aged grade school students, and research awards for high school and college students. To highlight the past year, we provided about 30 school classrooms with four Audubon Adventure kits that included materials for each student and a guide for teachers. We donated $2,000 toward the purchase of a conservation easement by Five Valleys Land Trust of a key wetland and agricultural property located in the IBA near Frenchtown. Our birding surveys helped secure about $450,000 of grant money to help purchase this easement. We testified about the impact of a proposed subdivision in the IBA and were successful in getting the no build riparian setback changed from only 25 feet to 100 feet. We made presentations about birds and where they live to a number of grade school classrooms. We paid for the bus and conducted a day long fire ecology field exercise for two fourth grade classes.

Look out—next year the Coffee Swallows might resort to Espresso!

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