Montana Audubon works at the local, state and national policy levels to protect our natural heritage.
The North Shore IBA is one of Montana’s newer IBAs, added to our system in 2010. It encompasses more than 3600 acres of public and private lands, including 7 miles of high quality shoreline, wetlands, and adjoining uplands that support a high number and wide diversity of resident, migratory, and wintering birds. Over 220 bird species have been observed. A list can be viewed HERE.
The area is an important refueling stop for tens of thousands of Central and Pacific migratory birds with Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Tundra Swan, and Canada Goose being the most common. Offshore habitats are important overwintering areas for up to 2000 mixed diving ducks each year (Redhead, Canvasback, Greater and Lesser Scaup), as well as Tundra and Trumpeter Swans. Hundreds of shorebirds per day feed on the shore during spring migration, and it is a major staging and roosting area for gulls during both spring and fall migration – up to 5000 per day. Four Bald Eagle nesting territories lie along the shore.
This IBA includes two publicly owned tracts. The Flathead Lake Waterfowl Production Area (1,887 acres, administered by US Fish & Wildlife Service) covers much of the lake shore and its associated wetlands. The North Shore State Park (70 acres, administered by MT Fish, Wildlife, & Parks), is located just east of the Waterfowl Production Area, near the Eagle Bend /Bigfork communities. Both are open to the public from July 16 through the end of February; the closure from March 1 through July 15 is for the protection of migratory and nesting birds.