Montana Day 1

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Jun 26, 2016 | by Greg Miller
Lazuli Bunting singing

Beautiful male Lazuli Bunting singing – photo by Sandra Brown


Flash! Bang! Montana Big Year tour starts off with bravado! We had everyone picked up from the airport and hotel before noon. So we went birding with the remainder of the day. The weather was sunny and warm and the mountain scenery surrounding us was breathtaking. Ahhh! Montana. It isn’t called Big Sky country for nothing.

Our first stop was Cherry River Fishing Access Site. It’s wonderful little marshy area chock full of Yellow-headed Blackbirds. It was a fun hike and a great “hello” to Montana. And Black-billed Magpies greeted us everywhere.

Yellow-headed Blackbird

A stunning male Yellow-headed Blackbird – photo by Sandra Brown


Our second stop was at East Gallatin Recreation Area in Bozeman. A sunny Sunday afternoon saw lots of visitors at the lake. We hiked some of the trails and found some good birds like the fantastic Lazuli Bunting pictured above. Here we also found Western Wood-Pewee, Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart, and lots of Yellow Warblers.

Our last birding destination was Bench Road west of Bozeman. It’s mostly grassland with some rocky, dry areas and some marshy potholes. Good birds here included Sage Thrasher, Brewer’s Sparrow, Ring-necked Pheasant, Lark Bunting, Long-billed Curlew, and a light morph Ferruginous Hawk.

We had 64 species of birds this afternoon. We added 8 new species for the Year! Our grand total is now at 399–so close to the 400-mark!

I’m bushed. Tomorrow will be a fun day. We’re heading west again to include locations like Missouri Headlands State Park and Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park. More tomorrow.




  1. Richard Lauren Sandvig Hughes on June 28, 2016 at 1:31 AM

    Can’t wait to follow your tour! Loved our Maine trip. Say ‘hi’ to Julie.

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