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 April 2024 newsletter, The Flyer.

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

Join a birding trip – 2024 Bird Field Trip Schedule.

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


Steve McConnell, City Forester, Speaker

April 15th at 7 p.m.

The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 provided $1.5 billion in federal funding directed specifically at Urban Forestry. This unprecedented investment is aimed at improving our quality of life using a tool that has been all around us but seldom been recognized as a tool for creating positive change – TREES.

Recognizing the value of trees and their importance to the community, Billings applied for and was awarded a $1 million grant to plant trees in the boulevards of neighborhoods in Billings that were identified as being “disadvantaged.” His talk will focus on the two overarching goals the funding was created to address, Climate Mitigation (especially of “heat islands”) and Social Equity, sometimes also called Tree Equity.

Steve McConnell, Billings City Forester since January 2017, will be the speaker at Yellowstone Valley Audubon Society’s monthly Chapter Program. His talk will include the progress to date on this grant and what people can expect to see over the next 5 years. For more details on Steve’s presentation, see the April 2024 Flyer.

Coffee and cookies served at 6:30 p.m. at the Mayflower Congregational Church (corner of Rehbgerg and Poly). The evening’s program begins at 7:00 p.m. YVAS programs are free and open to the public. 

How to Build a Barn Swallow Nesting Structure…

In 2023 YVAS awarded a $1,000 conservation grant to Isaac Augustine to make and erect a Barn Swallow nesting structure in Rose Park as part of his Eagle Scout qualification. Boy Scout Troop 52 worked on the posts and roof over the winter and Langlas Construction helped put it up on March 15th. Isaac has included an informational sign as part of his project to educate the public about Barn Swallows and their role in mosquito mitigation. Consuming up to 850 insects a day–what’s not to love about a Barn Swallow! KTVQ was on site when the installation was installed. There news article can be viewed here.

Upcoming YVAS Birding Field Trips 2024

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 and carpooling arrangements ahead of time if possible.

March 24, Sunday – Big Lake: migrating swans, sandhills, water birds. Meet at 8 a.m. at Rocky. Sack lunch. Mike Weber, leader.

April 13, Saturday – Pryor Mountains: Search for the Sagebrush Sparrow. Meet at 7:30 a.m. at Bridger Park on the south end of Main St in Bridger. Sack lunch. Stan Heath and Susan Hovde, leaders.

April 27, Saturday – Phipps Park: Bluebirds & Blooms. Meet at 8 a.m. at Phipps Park parking lot. Three miles total with a STEEP HIKE to the top. Hiking poles recommended. Carolyn Jones and Sue Weinreis, leaders.

For the current status of bird trips, check the YVAS website, YVAS Facebook or the Flyer. Links to these and the 2024-25 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).  

 We want your photos!