Montana Owl Workshop

owl_workshop_2008 082Montana Owl Workshop

Missoula & Charlo, Montana
May 4th-8th, 2020

Register for this Tour



Join biologist Denver Holt for five days of owl observation and research. The state of Montana holds the largest number of breeding owl species in any state in the United States. Fifteen species of owls occur in Montana, of which 14 species breed: Flammulated Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Boreal Owl, Eastern and Western Screech Owl, Burrowing Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl, Barred Owl, Great Horned Owl, and Great Gray Owl. Snowy Owls can be seen somewhat regularly in the winter. With some luck, we will be able to observe 5 to 8 species of owls during the workshop.

During the workshop, you will observe biologists capture, band, weigh, and measure Long-eared owls as part of an ongoing long-term study conducted by the Owl Research Institute. We will also collect and dissect owl pellets in the field. We will take time to address questions about the natural history and adaptations of owls. One evening (weather permitting) will be used to “owl prowl” for Western Screech Owl and we will attempt to observe the sky-dancing courtship display of Short-eared owls.

There will be some light to moderate hiking involved in our quest for owls. We will systematically check woodpecker and natural cavities in trees for Northern Pygmy and Saw-whet owls. We will also check stick nests in tree groves and woody thickets for the other species of owls. Please remember that the schedule, locations, and numbers of owls can change, depending upon prey species populations and the timing and whereabouts of the owls.


Day 1: Arrival in Missoula, Montana; Doubletree.  Participants should plan to arrive in Missoula. Travel arrangements from the airport to the hotel are available through the Doubletree Hotel.  We will meet in the Doubletree lobby, where we will depart for one of Missoula’s finest restaurants for a get-acquainted dinner. Night: Doubletree Hotel, Missoula, MontanaDay Day Day 2: Arrival in Charlo, Montana; Ninepipes Lodge.This morning after breakfast, we will meet in the lobby at 8:30 AM. We will be packed and ready for our departure to the Mission Valley. Along the way we will look for Pygmy Owls and Long-eared Owls around Missoula before heading north for the hour trip to Charlo and the Mission Valley. We will return to Nine-Pipes Lodge for dinner. Night: Ninepipes Lodge, Charlo, Montana

Day 3: Charlo, Montana; Ninepipes Lodge. This morning after breakfast, we will meet in the lobby at 8:00 AM. We will collect and dissect owl pellets in the field. We will then search for Pygmy, Saw-whet, and Great Gray owl nests.We also hope to observe the “sky-dancing” display of the Short-eared Owls in the evening. After an early dinner, we will get together for an evening viewing or calling for owls.Night: Ninepipes Lodge, Charlo, Montana

Day 4: Missoula, Montana. After breakfast, we will make a long drive to search for Boreal owls at their nests before heading back to Missoula. This evening there will be a farewell dinner at one of Missoula’s best restaurants. Night: Doubletree Hotel, Missoula, Montana

Day 5:  Depart for home.

Participants may leave at any time today.

We will be traveling in a suburban or a van, depending on group size.


During this time of the year in Montana, it is advisable to dress for the unexpected.  We recommend warm, cold and wet weather clothing.  A hat, gloves, coat or jacket, shelled parka or overcoat, and boots are a must.  We recommend layered clothing, as opposed to bulky, heavy clothing.

You should pack a pair of binoculars that are in good repair, along with a belt pack or day- pack (good for carrying books, water, sunscreen, extra film, etc.). Your leader will have a spotting scope, but if you have one and wish to bring it, please feel free to do so.


Tour size will be limited to fourteen participants.

Costs: The fee for the tour is $1,700 per person for double occupancy.  This includes all meals from dinner on Day 1 to dinner on Day 4, lodging as stated in the itinerary, ground transportation during the tour, and guide services provided by the tour leader/s.  It does not include airfare, airport departure taxes, alcoholic beverages, special gratuities, phone calls, laundry, or items of a personal nature.  Rates are based upon group tariffs; if the tour does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may have to be charged. As noted in our itineraries, tipping (restaurants, porters, drivers, local guides) is included on our tours.  However, if you feel your leader/s has given you exceptional service, it is entirely appropriate to tip.

Single: The single supplement for this tour is $300. You will be charged a single supplement if you desire single accommodations or if you prefer to share but have no roommate and we cannot provide one for you.

Registration: closes 45 days prior to tour departure. To register for this tour, please complete our Tour Registration Form and read/sign our Agreements Form and return both with a deposit of $300 per person to the address on the form.  The full payment of the tour fee is due 45 days prior to tour departure.