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Learn Why Birds Matter at the National Bison Range

MOIESE — Celebrate "International Migratory Bird Day 2014" at the National Bison Range on Saturday, May 10, 2014. This year’s theme, “Why Birds Matter”, focuses on the benefits of birds to humans and nature. We will share the many ways in which birds matter to the earth, to ecosystems, and of course, to us.

Some bird species provide practical solutions to problems, such as the need for insect and rodent control. Others disperse seeds, helping to revegetate disturbed areas. Others help with pollination, ensuring that we are graced with flowering plants, trees, and shrubs. And beyond the utilitarian, birds are inspirations for the arts. For example, Amadeus Mozart had a pet starling that motivated the opening theme of the Third Movement of his Piano Concerto No. 17 in G.

As usual, the BIG event of Bird Day is the opening of Red Sleep Mountain Drive for the summer season, weather and road conditions permitting, of course. This is a 19-mile, one-way gravel road which climbs 2,000 feet to the high point of the Range. Because it travels through a variety of habitats, including grassland and forest, the scenic drive is a great place to see a broad spectrum of birds which have migrated back for the nesting season.

For those who are new to birdwatching, or those just wanting to dust off the winter cobwebs, the Refuge will conduct a Beginning Bird Walk early on Saturday morning. The group will take an easy stroll around the Nature Trail to see which birds have completed their migration and have returned for the season. We will also hold a Backcountry Birding Adventure along some of the back roads of the Refuge. Both activities have limited space and will require registration. Call the office at (406) 644-2211, extension 207, to register and get details about meeting place and times.

Wildlife photographer Donald M. Jones will be available from noon to 2 p.m. to autograph his wildlife books, including “Buffalo Country; America’s National Bison Range”. And at 5:30 p.m. he will lead a wildlife photography trip (registration required). Additional activities for the day include special bird games, bird videos, trivia contests, tips and tidbits, coloring pages, and free posters.

The Refuge and its scenic drives will open at 6:30 a.m. and the Visitor Center opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Visitors coming in the evening will need to start Red Sleep Mountain Drive by 6 p.m. to complete the trip before the Refuge closes as dark. All Bird Day events are free but fees are charged for the scenic drives.

International Migratory Bird Day celebrates the incredible journeys of migratory birds between their breeding grounds in North America and their wintering grounds in Mexico, Central, and South America. For more information about migratory birds and about events happening throughout the nation, you can check the website at http://www.birdday.org/birdday.

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