Where can you go on a one hour hike and arrive at a breathtaking vista point from which you can watch a grizzly bear foraging for hours from a safe distance, mingle with mountain goats, and see hundreds of migrating raptors that regularly pass so close that you can actually see the color of their eyes? I know of only one such location: the Jewel Basin hawkwatch. This site sits atop of a narrow, steep ridge less than a mile northwest of the summit of Mt. Aeneas and about 9 miles northeast of Bigfork. The dozens, if not hundreds over the years, of dedicated staff and volunteers that monitor raptor movement at this site every fall know how incredible this hawkwatch is. Even on slow days, when less than a handful of raptors pass by every hour, it is a fantastic place to be. On good days, when Sharp-shinned Hawks, Golden Eagles, Cooper’s Hawks and Red-tailed Hawks, in addition to 14 other raptor species, may fly by at a rate of one or more every minute, the experience is simply unforgettable.
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Photos and Writing by Bo Crees, Avian Specialist