Birds & Science

Montana Bird Records Committee

Rare Species and the Official State Bird List

The Montana Bird Records Committee was formed in 1991. It exists to serve Montana professionals and amateurs interested in bird distribution by promoting and maintaining a high degree of quality, integrity, and professionalism in evaluating reports of rare birds in the state.

The Committee has three main functions of equal importance: (1) to solicit, review, and verify reports, documentation, photographs, sightings, tape recordings, specimens, or other material relevant to the distribution of the birds of Montana; (2) to review at least once per calendar year the documentation submitted to the Committee for species new to the state or of sufficient rarity (locally, regionally, or statewide) to merit such review, and in so doing to offer an objective, scientifically based opinion of the validity of these reports, and to maintain an official list of the birds recorded for Montana and an official tally of the number of accepted records for each “rare” species (i.e., documented fewer than 20 times in the state); and (3) to act as ambassadors for the role that scientifically rigorous review of bird records plays in maintaining a meaningful list of Montana birds, and of the important role that birders can play in furthering our understanding of bird distribution.

Here is some helpful information:

Montana Bird Records Committee meeting minutes and annual reports:

Supplemental bird list (as of 1 october 2014):

The following species are not on the official state list of Montana birds for reasons explained after each species’ name. For each of the modern reports, evidence was convincing, but the report was not accepted because of the conservative stance taken by the Committee on adding new species to the state list. See Part XI(B) of the Bylaws for more information on the state list.

  • Harris Hawk, QLL 14B, 2013. Adult seen and photographed by many observers. Wild origin questionable.
  • Common Crane, QLL 12B, 1999. Single-observer sighting with convincing details.
  • Pacific Golden-Plover, QLL 9C, 2001. Single-observer sighting with convincing details.
  • Red-breasted Sapsucker, QLL 27B, 1984. Single-observer sighting with convincing details.
  • Bell’s Vireo, QLL 24B, 1995; QLL 12B, 2007. One independent write-up with convincing details, and single-observer sighting with convincing details, respectively.
  • Phainopepla, QLL 3A, 1962. Carried over from previous edition of MBD.
  • Virginia’s Warbler, QLL 41C, 2005. Single-observer sighting with convincing details.
  • Hermit Warbler, QLL 38B, 2005. Single-observer sighting; hybrid could not be ruled out.
  • Cassin’s Sparrow, QLL 29C, 1999. One independent write-up with convincing details.

For information contact Jeff Marks, Secretary, at 503-774-4783 or [email protected]


The following 102 species are on the State List but are scarce enough (fewer than 20 records) to require that a rare bird report be submitted for any sighting EXCEPT for locations noted in parentheses for a particular species (QLL = quarter-latilong, LL = latilong). The MBRC reviews such records before they can be included in Montana Bird Distribution. Any species not on the Bird List of Montana also needs documentation. Species not previously documented in the state will be added to the list only if the MBRC accepts written accounts from two independent observers, or if the record is verified by a photograph or specimen.

Please send your Rare Bird Report Form (2015) to Montana Audubon, P.O. Box 595, Helena, MT 59624, or preferably to Jeff Marks at [email protected].

Montana’s Rare Birds:

Tufted Duck
Baikal Teal
Black Scoter
Willow Ptarmigan
Greater Prairie-Chicken
Red-throated Loon
Yellow-billed Loon
Manx Shearwater
Wood Stork
Least Bittern
Little Blue Heron
Green Heron
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
Glossy Ibis
White-tailed Kite
Mississippi Kite
Red-shouldered Hawk
Crested Caracara
Yellow Rail (no report needed for LL 12)
Common Gallinule
Snowy Plover
Black Turnstone
Sharp-tailed Sandpiper
Curlew Sandpiper
American Woodcock
Red Phalarope
Black-legged Kittiwake
Little Gull
Ross’s Gull
Laughing Gull
Western Gull
Iceland Gull
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Great Black-backed Gull
Arctic Tern
Pomarine Jaeger
Parasitic Jaeger
Long-tailed Jaeger
Long-billed Murrelet
Ancient Murrelet
White-winged Dove
Inca Dove
Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Whip-poor-will species
Ruby-throated Hummingbird (no report needed east of 108°W)
Anna’s Hummingbird (no report needed west of 111°W)
Costa’s Hummingbird
Red-bellied Woodpecker
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (no report needed for LLs 9, 10, 11, 12)
White-headed Woodpecker
Eastern Wood-Pewee
Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (no report needed for LL12)
Gray Flycatcher (no report needed for QLLs 36B, 36D, 37A, 37C, 46A, 46B)
Eastern Phoebe
Vermilion Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Great Crested Flycatcher
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Blue-headed Vireo (no report needed for LLs 9-12 & 21-24)
Philadelphia Vireo (no report needed east of 108°W)
Western Scrub-Jay
Carolina Wren
Bewick’s Wren
Winter Wren
Sedge Wren (no report needed for LL 12)
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (no report needed for QLL 41C)
Gray-cheeked Thrush (no report needed east of 108°W)
Wood Thrush
Curve-billed Thrasher
Siberian Accentor
Smith’s Longspur
Golden-winged Warbler
Blue-winged Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler
Connecticut Warbler
Kentucky Warbler
Hooded Warbler
Bay-breasted Warbler (no report needed for LLs 10, 11, 12)
Blackburnian Warbler (no report needed east of 108°W)
Pine Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler (no report needed east of 108°W)
Painted Redstart
Eastern Towhee
Black-throated Sparrow
Sagebrush Sparrow (no report needed for QLLs 36B, 36D, 37A, 37C)
Golden-crowned Sparrow
Summer Tanager
Northern Cardinal
Blue Grosbeak (no report needed for LL 41)
Painted Bunting
Eastern Meadowlark
Great-tailed Grackle
Hooded Oriole

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