The annual Audubon Christmas Bird Counts are essential to helping determine the health and population of a wide variety of birds. In the Bitterroot Valley, we count in two separate events. The first was at Hamilton December 14. The next is one of the oldest Montana bird counts - the Stevensville Christmas Bird Count, coming this weekend. Bird counters on last year’s Stevensville CBC found 12,051 birds of 77 different species.

The 55th annual Stevensville Christmas Bird Count will be Saturday, December 28th, with observers meeting at the conference room of the Stevensville Range Station, which is on the north end of Main Street in Stevi. The counting circle extends seven and half miles in all directions from the ranger station. In fact, there's a "bird feeder" count for those who have feeders set up inside that circle - you stay at home. For the roaming counting crews, they will meet between 7:30 a.m. and 7:45 a.m. Inexperienced birders will be paired up with experienced birders, which is great for those just starting out on bird watching. The routes are well-established, with some of them into the Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge, where the staff will be helping. By the way, you don’t have to spend all day counting birds. Any time you have is helpful to the Bitterroot Audubon Chapter.