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Owls of the Mission Valley

Owls of the Mission Valley

Matt Larson of the Owl Research Institute

This course will provide a thorough introduction to the ecology and identification of the Owls of the Mission Valley.  Montana boasts the largest number of breeding owl species of any state in the nation.  The Mission Valley provides habitat for approximately nine of these species.  By the end of the course, you should be able to correctly identify Montana’s owls, understand their adaptations, life histories and overall ecology.  In addition, students will have a grasp on some owl research techniques that will help you locate owls on your own.

Meeting place: The lobby of the Kwataqnuk Best Western Hotel in Polson, MT.

Itinerary: We will begin with an introduction to Montana owls and then head out and drive the back roads to search for owls. We will spend time in the field looking and learning about the natural history of Montana’s owls. We will have our lunch in the field and may make a visit to the Owl Research Institute in the afternoon. The course will wrap-up by 4pm.

Food:  Students are responsible for their own meals.  Please bring a sack lunch and ample snacks.

Required Equipment (all seasons): Warm Layers

Course Equipment:

  • Binoculars or Spotting Scopes (optional)
  • Field Guides (optional)

Physical Requirements: Easy hikes.  We will be taking short cross-country hikes looking for tree holes, whitewash and other signs of owls and their habitats.

Transportation: Glacier Institute Vehicle

Recommended Reading:

  • A Photographic Guide to North American Raptors, B.K. Wheeler and W.S. Clark
  • The Birder’s Guide to Montana, T. McEneaney
  • Birds of North America, Golden Guide, C. Robins, B. Bryan and R. Zip, 1966.
  • A Field Guide to Birds of North America, National Geographic Society of America, 1987.
  • Owls: Whoo Are They!  Kila Jarvis, and Denver Holt
  • Western Birding by Ear (audio recording), Peterson’s Field Guide, R. Walton and R. Lawson, 1990


 * Please print out your course packet under ‘course details’.