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Field Checklist of Montana Birds

Several changes have been made since the bird checklist was last published in 1996. Twelve new bird species have been documented in Montana. The latest two species documented were the White-tailed Kite and the Siberian Accentor. The White-tailed Kite is a small species of hawk that is normally found in western Oregon, California, Texas, Florida, Mexico, and nearby coastal areas. One lone bird was observed for several weeks at Lee Metcalf National Wildlife Refuge near Stevensville. The Siberian Accentor is a small sparrow-like bird that belongs to a family distantly related to the thrushes. It is normally found in Eurasia, and the few Accentors observed in North America have mostly been in northwestern Alaska. This was only the third record for the Siberian Accentor in the lower 48 states. The accentor spent the winter in Paradise Valley north of Gardiner, Montana to the delight of over 400 birders who came to see it.

Two additional species were gained when the Solitary Vireo was split into three species-the Plumbeous Vireo (more common in eastern Montana), the Cassin's Vireo (more common in western Montana), and the Blue-headed Vireo (which migrates through Montana to reach its breeding grounds in Canada). Other species have had their name changed or their family relationships changed. The Rock Dove (the common feral pigeon that frequents cities and farms) is now officially called the Rock Pigeon. Experts now believe the Turkey Vulture is more closely related to storks than to birds of prey. It now resides on the list between the Wood Stork and the Greater White-fronted Goose.

The new list is based on the 6th edition of Montana Bird Distribution, published in 2003. Copies of this book can be purchased for $15 from:

  • Montana Audubon

  • PO Box 595
  • Helena, MT 59624-0595

Interested birders can also visit the Montana Bird Distribution web page to enter their bird observations or to query the database for information.