Birds & Science

We use the best available science to ensure the survival of Montana's birds and other wildlife..

Montana Bird Distribution

The Montana Bird Distribution (MBD) database contains information on the distribution and seasonal occurrence for each species found in the state. The database is housed at the Montana Natural Heritage Program (MNHP) and is a cooperative project of Montana Audubon, the MNHP, the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP), and the Montana Bird Records Committee (see below).

Information from MBD database is used extensively to help us manage and conserve birds, determine Montana’s Species of Concern, inform MNHP and FWP’s Field Guide, and is presently being used in writing the Birds of Montana Book Project.

The Montana Bird Records Committee evaluates all reports of rare birds in Montana. For more information about the committee, its role in analyzing records and how birders are involved in understanding bird distribution, please contact Amy Seaman at [email protected]. Information about this committee is currently moving to a new website; we will add a link to that website when we receive it.

For online submission of general bird sightings, there are two methods for birders to share observations with the MBD database. Additionally you can submit spreadsheets or paper copies of your sightings. These methods are detailed below.

Montana Bird Distribution - Current EDITION, 2012:


The 7th edition of P.D. Skaar’s Montana Bird Distribution was released in June 2012. This book is an excellent companion to a field guide because it shows where birds are found in Montana: for every bird species ever observed in the state, maps show breeding and wintering areas. This edition contains maps for 427 bird species observed in the state.

This book comes with a 2012 Bird Checklist. Paper copies of the checklist are available from the Montana Audubon office. However, if you want a copy immediately, please visit our Birding Montana page to download.

Purchasing Montana Bird Distribution:

The 7th edition of P.D. Skaarr’s Montana Bird Distribution is available for purchase. This new edition costs $15, plus $5 shipping and handling ($20 total). There are several ways to order the book:

  • Order by Mail. Send Montana Audubon a check for $20, to PO Box 595, Helena, MT 59624.
  • Order by Credit Card. Fill in the “Amount” of $20. Under “Gift Designation,” select Montana Bird Distribution Book.
  • Wholesale Orders. Book stores can order books at wholesale prices. To receive an order form, send an email to [email protected]

For more information about this project, contact Janet Ellis, Senior Policy Director, at 406.443.3949 or [email protected].

How to Submit Bird Records:

If you would like to contribute bird observation records to Montana Bird Distribution, including future editions of the book, you can enter records online, enter them into a spreadsheet, or mail us a paper copy of your records:


  • Simple Animal Observations. A simple web-based data entry tool is available for general entry of bird sightings. This form can be used from any web browser, computer platform, or connection speed. To use this form (or check it out), click HERE.
  • eBird. Users can enter bird data through eBird, a cooperative project between the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the National Audubon Society. eBird is an internet-based checklist program that allows birders to post sightings, keep track of their bird lists, manage their personal records, and explore bird observations being reported by other birders. It also has a variety of informative reports available. eBird data will be incorporated into the MBD database annually.
  • Natural Heritage Program – MapViewer. This web application can be used to view bird records via a dynamic map interface and allows the user to see detailed information associated with individual records. The MapViewer is compatible with all web browsers and computers. This application also allows users to generate bird lists for each QQLL. Observations can be entered in MapViewer under the “Generalized Observation” task option by clicking on the “Add an Animal Observation” link under the Tools menu.

Other Submission Methods:

  • Adopt a small area called a quarter-quarter latilong (QQLL) and complete a simple Excel spreadsheet: Learn more about this easy to use system. This simpler spreadsheet should be submitted by email to Janet Ellis at [email protected].
  • Download a detailed Excel spreadsheet from the Natural Heritage Program: Use the spreadsheet located HERE to enter your bird sightings. Instructions on how to submit these records electronically can be found on the Tracker website.
  • Submit written records to: Montana Audubon PO Box 595 Helena, MT 59624. One simple way to record your handwritten records is to print a copy of the simple QQLL spreadsheet (see above), and use that spreadsheet to write in your records.

Montana Bird Records Committee:

The Montana Bird Records Committee, formed in 1991, serves everyone interested in bird distribution.  The Committee is primarily known for its work:

  • Reviewing and scientifically verifying bird distribution records in the state, primarily focused on:
    • “Rare” bird records ((i.e., birds documented fewer than 20 times in the state), and
    • New-to-the-state bird species records;
  • Maintaining the state’s official state bird list; and
  • Reviewing other distribution records from the state.

For more information about the Montana Bird Records Committee, visit:

Montana Audubon depends on your financial support


Support Reintroduction of Beaver in a Remote Site Near Dillon

Please respond by June 22 – do it today! Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP)…

Center Activities and Updates- June 2018

Click here to read the Montana Audubon Center’s activities and updates for June 2018!

View All Articles

Join Our Online Network

By joining our online network, you will receive timely conservation updates, action alerts, legislative news, our monthly eNews, information about upcoming events and more.

Make an Online Donation & Support Our Efforts

Montana Audubon depends on your financial support to continue our ambitious conservation work around the state.

Take Action

Take action on timely conservation issues Montana Audubon is engaged with. Your help will protect Montana’s birds and other wildlife into the future.

Join Our Online Network

Get updated on the latest Audubon programs and initiatives

Montana Audubon - © Copyright 2018 All Rights Reserved