By Sydney MacDonald  EBS Editorial Assistant

The Big Sky Community Organization is offering a series of free educational hikes and lectures every week this summer, a continuation of a program that launched last year. 

The Hike and Learn series aims to engage community members with local trails, wildlife and adventures while providing tips about staying safe in the outdoors. 

BSCO Program Coordinator Shannon Odom says it’s been a great way for Big Sky to showcase its trails. “It’s a really good way to get people out and enjoying nature, and it helps people learn about things they haven’t experienced before,” Odom said. 

This year’s series started with a bird spotting and identification hike, and a wildlife and nature walk. 

BSCO Asset Manager Scott Hoeksma  guided the bird spotting and identification hike along the South Fork Loop Trail on July 11, leading avian enthusiasts through a variety of bird habitats. 

The group spotted about a dozen local bird species including sparrows, robins and a rare sighting of a western tanager, a songbird with a brightly-colored head that ranges from red near its beak to yellow along its neck.“You would be amazed at what you see while you’re observing,” Hoeksma said. “It’s one of the best ways to slow down and experience nature.” 

With more than 250 breeding populations of bird species in Montana, Big Sky is a great place to learn more about bird identification this summer.

Sherry Lucas participated in the bird spotting activity, and says she’s very excited about the Hike and Learn series. “I want to learn everything that I can about birds and animals while living here,” Lucas said.   

This summer BSCO will be offering classes on subjects ranging from navigating in the backcountry to learning about bear habitat. The free guided hikes and activities will be offered every Tuesday and Saturday through Aug. 22.

Visit bscomt.org/hike-learn for more information or to register for upcoming events.