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Yellow-rumped warbler

Citizen scientists participating in Glacier National Park's alpine bird bio-blitz might see high-altitude species like the yellow-rumped warbler, above.

Bats, birds and weeds become special attractions in Glacier National Park through mid-July.

The park’s citizen science program has three opportunities to get outside, analytical and physical in the pursuit of citizen science coming up. The first is a bat bio-blitz on July 10, where volunteers will go out after dark to learn about the flying mammals’ role in Glacier’s ecosystem, and observe their nighttime activity.

At least nine species of bat inhabit the Glacier Park area, including three only recently inventoried. Participants in the bat blitz will visit a netting site near West Glacier and use listening devices that detect the ultrasonic calls bats use to navigate and find food.

While Park Service biologists may capture some bats in mist nets and display them, the participants will not handle any bats. Everyone should bring their own headlamps or flashlights, have sturdy shoes and clothes for nighttime conditions, bear spray, and any snacks or water desired. This field trip is limited to 25 participants and advance registration is required. For more information and to sign up, contact Renata Harrison at 406-888-7944 or renata_harrison@nps.gov.

Birders can join a daytime bio-blitz on July 19, when the park solicits help cataloging the bird species that prefer high alpine environments.

“Things like the Breeding Bird Survey and the Christmas Count often miss birds at high elevations,” said Anya Tyson at the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center, which organizes the bio-blitzes. “Those surveys occur in places that are more peopled. You need to be a pretty good birder with specialized information to recognize these birds.”

Center ornithologists will be on hand to help novices identify species including the American pipit, Brewer’s sparrow, Clark’s nutcracker, fox sparrow, gray-crowned rosy finch, hermit thrush, mountain bluebird, pine grosbeak, pine siskin, white-crowned sparrow, white tailed ptarmigan and yellow-rumped warbler.

“We have reason to believe these birds are in ecosystems that are changing rapidly,” Tyson said. “More ears and eyes on the landscape equals more birds spotted.”

The Alpine Bird BioBlitz will occur at various designated locations accessible by hiking. Participants should be able to hike moderate to strenuous trails and have some prior birding experience. Start time for most hiking destinations will be as early as 5:30 a.m. Early-morning starts are necessary to ensure bird detections. End times will vary, with some hikes lasting into the late afternoon.

The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. To register, visit nps.gov/rlc/crown/bioblitz.htm.

And while picking flowers isn’t allowed in national parks, volunteers can yank up as many weeds as they can handle on July 18 at the annual Noxious Weed Blitz. The 10 a.m.-3 p.m. event targets five invasive plant species, and NPS integrated pest management biologist Dawn LaFleur asks participants to “bring your muscles, gloves, appropriate footwear and drinking water.” The Glacier National Park Conservancy will provide a complimentary lunch for all participants. To sign up, RSVP by July 15 by emailing glac_citizen_science@nps.gov or by calling 406-888-7986. Once registered, participants will receive specific details about meeting location and parking.

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Natural Resources & Environment Reporter

Natural Resources Reporter for The Missoulian.