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 February 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. 

“Why Grasslands?” An Exploration of the Ecology and Conservation of Imperiled Lands

John Carlson, Regional Grassland Conservation Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Speaker

Monday, February 19th, at 7:00 PM

On Monday, February 19th, John Carlson will provide answers to the question of “why grasslands?” John Carlson is the Regional Grassland Conservation Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service Prairie and Mountain Region based in Billings, MT. He was formerly the Branch Chief for Resources and Sage-Grouse Implementation Lead for Montana/Dakotas Bureau of Land Management in Billings. Other positions include Wildlife Biologist with the BLM in Glasgow, MT and the Zoology Program Manager at the Montana Natural Heritage Program in Helena.

Sprague’s Pipit, Photo by J. Carlson

 John obtained his BA in Zoology from the University of Montana and MS in Zoology and Physiology from the University of Wyoming. Additional inforamation can be found in the February Flyer.

A social with coffee and cookies begins at 6:30 PM; the program begins at 7:00 PM. YVAS programs are free and open to the public. 

‘Seeds of Success’ References & Resources List and Power Point Program Available

Following Wendy Velman’s January 15th presentation of ‘Seeds of Success,’ YVAS has received requests for her list of References and Resources included in her talk on restoring native habitat to public lands in Eastern Montana and the western Dakotas. Wendy, BLM Botany Program Lead, has given YVAS permission to post this list as well as her Power Point Presentation in PDF.  Her list of resources can be found here and her Power Point 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. 

Currently there are no February Birding Trips scheduled.

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.

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!