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Raptor Migration

Monitoring Migratory Raptor Populations

During the past decade, Montana Audubon has helped support education about migratory raptors and raptor migration surveys in 4 Western Montana locations, including the Bridger Mountains near Bozeman, the Big Belt Mountains south of Helena, Jewel Basin near Bigfork and Mt. Brown in Glacier National Park. These sites are part of a network of ten, long-term, fall migration count sites between Alberta and southern Montana. 

Bridger Mountian Hawk Watch

You can keep up with the information on this site here.

View reports from previous seasons here: 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019

Duck Creek

Between 2015 and 2019, Montana Audubon lead an exploratory count in the Big Belts at a site known as Duck Creek Pass.  First recognized as a significant Golden Eagle migration flyway by Rob Domenech and Vince Slabe with Raptor View Research Institute (RVRI) in 2007, our counts followed exploratory counts conducted by Steve Hoffman, founder of HawkWatch International and former Executive Director of Montana Audubon, in October of 2014. 

The site is ideal for observing and monitoring the migration because strong southwesterly winds typically prevail across the crest of the Big Belts. These consistent winds, combined with the Big Belts’ steep west-facing slopes, generate powerful orographic lift, thus providing ideal flying conditions for migrating raptors. The ‘lake-effect’ of Canyon Ferry Reservoir may enhance the consistency and speed of these westerly winds over the Big Belts. These factors, along with the prominent “leading line” created by the Rocky Mountain Front (which extends to the north well into Canada) make the southern end of the Big Belts a profoundly significant concentration point for migrating raptors in autumn. Thousands of Golden Eagles migrate south past the site each fall, with some October days seeing over three-hundred birds pass during survey hours. Unfortunately, our count was discontinued due to a loss of consistent survey days throughout the season because of weather and road access. Our 2019 season was cut especially short!

A count in this area is being continued independently, and those surveys can be followed here:

You can view the reports from our exploratory Big Belts seasons here: 201620172018 and a short wrap-up2019

Jewel Basin

You can keep up with day-to-day reports and happening at the Flathead Audubon webpage here.

Mt. Brown in Glacier National Park

You can keep up with daily counts here on Dunkadoo.

View reports from previous seasons here: 2018, 2019

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