montana audubon - about birds
Here we describe interesting projects and studies related to Montana birds within which our colleagues are involved. We hope to include more stories about how birds make their living in Montana soon. If you are interested in birdwatching in Montana go HERE >>.
osprey and baling twine
Ospreys like to line their nests with soft materials, such as moss, grass, and lichens. As they are searching for suitable nesting material, they also tend to pick up baling twine left in fields. Because baling twine easily tangles in the Osprey’s sharp talons, it has been shown to entangle and kill about 10% of Osprey chicks and many adults.
Picking up all baling twine from fields is an easy way you can contribute to conservation of Osprey. A brochure on this issue can be downloaded HERE. Please consider sharing with landowners.
August 2010. Watch a short video from KXLH TV.
A group of individuals and organizations in Missoula have been working on this issue. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mercury in Our Air and Water
In Montana, coal-fired power plants are responsible for up to 92% of the mercury air emissions released, emitting 982 pounds of mercury into the air in Montana in 2001. Currently, 6 new coal-fired plants are proposed for our state. In addition to being a human health issue, mercury contamination is a wildlife issue: Montana has almost 420,000 acres of lakes and 1,300 miles of streams that are impaired due to mercury contamination; we also have statewide fish advisories for northern pike, lake trout, and walleye due to mercury contamination. Mercury also affects birds.
The Missoulian has a great article: Osprey power: Children and Riverside residents get a show as researchers check raptors’ health >>
- Bald Eagles.In the winter of 2006, 4 Bald Eagles were found with mercury poisoning. These birds were found in Roscoe, Choteau, Hauser Lake, and Fort Benton. Two of these birds died. Timing suggests that all toxicity was incurred in Montana. Consequently, the Montana Bald Eagle Working Group initiated studies on Bald Eagles and Osprey to determine how widespread this problem is. Studies have been completed in 2007 in the Missouri River system, Tongue River, and in the Missoula area. Several of these studies will be completed in 2009. Preliminary results reveal significant mercury levels in many of the tested raptors.
- Loons. According to a 2005 Common Loon Report (Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks) issued in 2005, average blood, feather and egg mercury levels found in Montana’s adult breeding loons were higher than levels found in loons breeding in other parts of the Northwestern United States. Several of the individuals tested “contained high enough levels of HG to be considered to have a negative impact on loons.”