By Jim Hamilton
The North Bitterroot Valley lost one of its finest ornithologists with the passing of Wayne Tree on June 22, 2018. Wayne grew up in Illinois and came to Montana in the late 1950s to attend UM where he earned a B.A. and M.A. in Biology. He started teaching Biology in West Yellowstone and finished his career at Rattlesnake School in Missoula in 1992.
Wayne was a steady volunteer at the Lee Metcalf NWR and Teller Wildlife Refuges. He excelled in bird watching and helped the Bitterroot Audubon over the years with instruction, identification and leading school groups on nature trips. For many years he managed the monthly Backyard Birds list which he published on the web and this record included bird sightings from all over Montana and surrounding states.
Wayne was a great source of information on birds, their habits and the best place to find them. Whether it was a Snowy Owl visiting from the Great White North or a Harlequin Duck nesting along a clear mountain stream, Wayne would jump in his Subaru wagon to see it up close and get a picture. Some of his wildlife photos were spectacular.
His fellow bird-watching buddies already miss him a lot.