OSNA Volunteer Monitoring Program


Flathead Audubon has been the local manager of the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area since 1997.

Crucial to this management is monitoring the Area – to discover what birds and other wildlife are frequenting the Area, to find out when walkways or fences need fixing, look for signs that Natural Area rules are being violated, watch for parking problems or trail blockages, and generally keep track of what is happening there.

The Owen Sowerwine Volunteer Monitoring Program was instituted in 2007 . The Program recruits volunteers who provide regular reports on what they encounter when visiting OSNA. This allows us keep up on maintenance chores, identify problems, estimate visitor numbers and learn about visitor activities, and develop a more complete list of the plants, birds, and wildlife at OSNA.

Volunteer Monitors serve as the eyes and ears of Flathead Audubon at Owen Sowerwine.

We are looking for Monitoring Volunteers for the months of March through November.


Take an OSNA Monitoring Form and an OSNA map on a monitoring visit to Owen Sowerwine. The Form indicates what sorts of things to look for and where to look. The map shows the areas and trails referenced on the Form. If you wish, you may use a camera to document your observations.

Use the Form to record what you see as you walk around Owen Sowerwine. If you have a chance to talk with other visitors to Owen Sowerwine, or with Owen Sowerwine neighbors, find out what they like to do at Owen Sowerwine, how often they visit and what wildlife they’ve seen, and get their comments and suggestions. Record this information in the “Comments” portion of the Monitoring Form.

Send the completed Form (and any pictures you’ve taken) to Kay Mitchell, who records the information on the form for our OSNA records. She will notify Rick Mace, On-the-Ground Manager of OSNA, when a maintenance need is reported. (Kay’s address is on the Form).

The OSNA Monitoring Form and OSNA map are available in this section of our website.


OPTION 1. Sign up for a Scheduled Monitoring Visit.

Each month from March through November is divided in half to form a total of 18 Volunteer Monitoring Periods. We aim to schedule at least one volunteer to cover each of these Periods. “Covering” a Monitoring Period simply means making at least one monitoring visit to Owen Sowerwine during the half-month.

A scheduled monitoring visit should be as thorough as circumstances allow. The goal is to take a look at all the places mentioned on the Form and fill out all the relevant sections. If some parts of OSNA can’t be reached because of conditions such as heavy snow, high water, bad weather, or mosquitoes, this should be noted under “Comments.”

A weekend visit is best, since weekends are busier times at Owen Sowerwine, but this is not required. A full monitoring visit usually takes about 2 to 2½ hours.

To volunteer for a Monitoring Period, or to get more information, please contact Linda Winnie.

OPTION 2. Send us feedback whenever you visit Owen Sowerwine.

Whenever you go to Owen Sowerwine – whether for just a short time to walk on the trails, or for a few hours of birding, take a Monitoring Form with you. Indicate on the Form what parts of Owen Sowerwine you visited, and what you saw there, and then send it off to Kay.

Even without a form, you can provide helpful information. If you forget to take a Form on your visit to OSNA but see something of interest, just contact Linda Winnie.

Whichever way you choose to help, BE SURE TO LET US KNOW ABOUT THE BIRDS YOU SEE! Use the “Comments” portion of the Monitoring Form.