The Killdeer’s Keep essays focus on common Montana birds whose numbers are declining in much of their range. In most cases, the fact that these birds are declining will come as a surprise to many people, including some of the most experienced birders in the state. In contrast, the notion that North America’s grassland birds are in trouble is much less surprising. However, we believe that grassland birds deserve even more attention than they have received in recent years.

Montana encompasses significant portions of the global ranges of Sprague’s Pipit, Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown’s Longspur, and Baird’s Sparrow. Each of these grassland birds is experiencing a widespread decline in numbers, but they are consistently doing better in Montana than in other parts of their range. Despite the attention that has been given to the plight of grassland birds, no single entity has emphasized the uniqueness of Montana in supporting healthy populations of the above-named species. A critical need exists to keep a constant vigil for threats to the high-quality habitat that Montana provides for grassland birds of global conservation concern. The Montana Bird Advocacy is committed to publicizing issues related to grassland birds, and to keeping an eye out for possible threats to these species and the habitats that support them.

Valley County native prairie                                                         (John Carlson photo)

Baird’s Sparrow                                                                             (Bob Martinka photo)