Curlew volunteers needed starting in April!  Optional volunteer training April 17 at the Blackfoot Challenge office in Ovando.

Are you ready to hear the currlleeee’ of the Long-billed Curlew?  Well, grab your binoculars and get ready, because it’s almost curlew season!  These charismatic shorebirds will be trickling back into the state in less than two months and we need your help finding as many as possible in the Blackfoot Valley!

We have known that Montana harbors the very important grassland and wetland habitat that curlews rely on during breeding and migration. The Blackfoot Challenge is partnering with Montana Audubon to help document curlews and curlew habitat in our valley.

It’s easy. Survey routes consist of early morning roadside stops repeated every half mile for five miles. At each stop, you will get out of the car for five minutes and look and listen for curlews.  Along the way you will collect important data on the time, habitat, and presence or absence of curlews. And, the great thing is that you only need to look for one big beautiful bellowing bird. The Sandhills are just a bonus! All you have to do is choose a route and catch up on curlew identification and you are all set to go!

For more curlew fun, you can also join our volunteer training session on Tuesday, April 17 at 6:00 p.m. at the Blackfoot Challenge Ovando office at 405 Main St!

The best way to get involved is to visit the curlew project website: https://missionvalleycurlews.weebly.com/blackfoot-valley.html where you can find the available survey routes and details such as the protocol, data sheets, and maps.  For more information or for any questions just contact Elaine at elaine@blackfootchallenge.org /793-3900 or Amy Seaman at aseaman@mtaudubon.org /210.9449.  And feel free to take a partner,  do a route more than once, or do more than one route. The curlews are just waiting to be found!

To brush up on your curlew identification before heading into the field visit Montana Audubon’s webpage: http://mtaudubon.org/birds-science/long-billed-curlew-initiative/ for a link to the curlew’s call and much more.  You can also visit Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All about Birds: http://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Long-billed_Curlew/id.