Welcome to Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society

“Building on the tradition of special interest in birds, Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society is organized to promote enjoyment and protection of natural environment through education, activism, and conservation of bird habitat.”

Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society hosts a Public Program Series with a featured speaker September through May on the 3rd Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at the Mayflower Congregational Church. Members, the general public and visitors to the Billings area who are interested in birds, bird habitat and conservation are invited to join us. YVAS sponsors birding field trips, ornithology classes, the Christmas Bird Count, a monthly newsletter, and various conservation and educational projects. Feel free to contact any Board or Committee member for more information.

For the latest news and updates, see the November/December 2023 newsletter, The Flyer.

Visit us on Facebook – the link is in the upper right-hand corner.

Join a birding trip – 2023 Bird Field Trip Schedule.

The YVAS mailing address is YVAS, PO Box 1075, Billings MT 59103. 

Bob Landis, Emmy Award-winning Wildlife Cinematographer

Monday, December 18th, at 7 p.m.

Mayflower Church

Bob will share his latest Yellowstone videos with new footage on Yellowstone’s ravens, including commentaries by John Marzluff and Doug Smith on their raven research findings. Please check back for additional information. The program is free and open to the public.

The Christmas Bird Count 2023 is Coming!

Saturday, December 16th

Conact Jerry Dalton, Billings CBC Organizer/Compiler for more information and/or to sign up.  Please the November/December 2023 Flyer for the details and the meeting places that go along with the event.  The link to the current Flyer can be found above.  Jerry’s contact information is jerrydalton96@gmail.com or 406 656-3656.

Upcoming YVAS Birding Field Trips 2023

Unless otherwise noted, field trips are open to the public and depart at 8:00 a.m. by car from the Rocky Mountain College parking lot on Rimrock Road next to Billings Studio Theater. Make transportation arrangements ahead of time if possible. Carpooling cannot be guaranteed due to Covid.

January 1, 2024, Monday – Annual New Year’s Day Bird Trip to Yellowtail Dam Afterbay. Meet at Rocky at 8:00 a.m. Sack lunch. Brian Henderson, leader.

January 14, 2024, Sunday – Mid-Winter Eagle Count. Meet at Rocky at 8:00 a.m. Sack lunch. Brian Henderson, leader.

For the current status of bird trips, check the YVAS website, YVAS Facebook or the Flyer. Links to these and the 2023 Bird Trip Schedule can be found above. To be added to the Bird Trip Notification List, contact Carolyn Jones by text at 406-670-4449 or email at carolyn684@gmail.com

Killing of Native Migratory Birds to Save Nonnative Fish

Steve Dubois

In 2018, the US Fish Wildlife Service began issuing Osprey Depredation Permits to the Miles City Hatchery allowing them to kill native migratory Ospreys that were eating their nonnative largemouth bass. With the approval of the US Fish Wildlife Service and the Dept. of Agriculture’s Wildlife Services, the eastern most breeding population of Ospreys on the Yellowstone River was lethally removed by the MT Fish Wildlife & Parks’ Hatchery Division at the Miles City Hatchery in less than two years.

YVAS and others immediately protested this practice and the permit process (and continue to). Yet the Miles City Hatchery continues to apply for and receive Depredation Permits from the US Fish Wildlife Service to shoot Ospreys indiscriminately in order to protect nonnative fish.

The Hatchery’s brood stock of largemouth bass spend three summer months at the Miles City Hatchery before being hauled by trucks to the Bluewater Hatchery outside of Bridger, MT, for nine months. Due to an outbreak of invasive New Zealand mudsnails at the Bluewater Hatchery in 2021, the bass brood stock were destroyed in late 2021. In May 2022 another outbreak of the invasive snail occurred at the Bluewater Hatchery.

Still the Miles City Hatchery continues to apply for and receive Depredation Permits from the US Fish Wildlife Service to shoot native species of birds to protect nonnative fish. Great Blue Herons, Double-crested Cormorants and Canada Geese are also included in their Depredation Permits. 

YVAS, Earthjustice and others are vigorously pursuing corrective measures to this lethal management of native birds and misguided permit process.

For more information see: 

Journal of Raptor Research – Range Contraction of an Osprey Population Following Lethal Control at a State Fish Hatchery in Montana by Dr. Marco Restani

Billings Gazette – FWP’s Bluewater Hatchery contaminated by mudsnails 2nd time in 2 years

Shooting Birds at the Miles City Hatchery (070821) and Protect The Wild Fishing Birds Of Eastern Montana (121321).  

NOTICE:  The Twine Collection & Recycling Site is Closed

Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society supports twine recycling whole-heartedly, however, we do not have enough volunteers to run the equipment needed to maintain the Twine Collection & Recycling Site. The Site is permanently closed.

Twine is a polypropylene plastic (#5 PP) and can be readily recycled. It is hazardous to wildlife and livestock. Please see the below links to publications on the dangers of twine.

Plastic Twine is Killing Osprey Chicks” by Joshua Rap Learn, The Wildlife Society, August 11, 2023. 

Baling twine entanglements of ospreys along the Yellowstone River” by Dr. Marco Restani was published in the ‘open access’ journal, Global Ecology and Conservation in April 2023.

Baling Twine and Ospreys: A Deadly Combination but now a practical solution by Dr. Marco Restani published in the March 2022 issue of Trader’s Dispatch. 

 We want your photos!